Hey all you Diablo II fans out there! Your wait is over. The Diablo II expansion set is finally out. Well, it’s been out for a few months but I have been too busy playing it to write this review.
In order to install the Diablo II expansion set, you must already have the original Diablo II installed on your system. So for all of you who have been chomping-at-the-bit for the expansion set, here are some of the new features and enhancements that you’ll find.
The first thing you will notice are the two new character classes: the Druid and the Assassin. The Druid commands the forces of nature-a way of thinking that holds harmony with the natural elements of the world. Plants and animals are the heart of their most intrinsic beliefs, so naturally a lot of the special powers you will wield will come from nature.
The Druid character comes with an interesting history, if you are into reading about such things. At the Tur Dulra, the greatest of the Druid colleges, the Druids shun the use of traditional magic. They instead practice a form of magic based on their close bond to nature. A Druid has the power to command fire, earth, and the winds. The Druid is a friend to the animals of the wild. He can call upon them for aid in battle and use heightened rapport with the animals to change shape, drawing on the strengths and abilities of his woodland companions to better serve his cause.
The Druid has a multitude of skills-too many to mention in this article. Even so, I found the Druid to be a bit of a let-down. He’s pretty weak when compared to the other characters in the game and a downright lightweight when compared to the other new arrival: the assassin.
Let me tap into one of the biggest negatives of the expansion pack now, since this will affect the review. A player choosing one of the new characters must start all over. This sucks for a guy like me who likes to totally dominate and kick butt right out of the gate. You start at level one again. Also, the expansion set has this whole dejavu thing-you know, the “been there done that” feeling-at least until you get to Act V: The Barbarian Highlands. (More on that a bit later.) Basically, you have to go through the entire game again, and the hack-and-slash gameplay is not really good for re-playability, no matter how many new characters you have.
Anyway, unfortunately for the Druid, I quickly became tired and bored with his lack of speed and lame battlefield abilities. I was reluctant to play long enough to build his powers where I’m sure they would be vastly improved. His first few powers include summoning a raven to help him fight, but the bird is pretty weak. Eventually you can transform into animals yourself which is pretty cool, but nowhere near as powerful as even the more basic assassin powers.
The Druid’s downfall proved to be the Assassin’s strength, not to mention that the assassin is a total babe and one bad beeyotch. The Assassin, quite honestly, kicked butt from the very beginning. She has really awesome weapons, including sets of metal blades and claws that strap onto her wrists. She expertly incorporates weapons with her martial arts abilities.
When wielding one weapon in each hand, look out! She can deliver a devastating double-attack. Another asset I found to be very valuable, (and helpful in keeping my interest), was her quick-footed speed. She covers a lot of territory in very little time, and is by far the quickest of all the characters. Moreover, her speed is dramatically increased with the addition of a stylin’ pair of magic boots. As if this is not enough, under ‘Shadow Disciplines’ a player can increase the Assassin’s speed by selecting the “Burst of Speed” skill-tapping into her psycho-kinetic energies”increasing the speed of her movements and attacks. This is way cool!
Another ability that the Assassin has under “Traps” is the “Wake of Inferno.” This trap, once the Assassin throws it to the ground, expels a large wave of fire at any opponent moving into its range. This is one of the two skills I used most”the other being the aforementioned “Burst of Speed.” In fact, it was TOO good because until I got to the new Act, the Barbarian Highlands, the Assassin was practically unstoppable. (I liked this.) I must admit however that killing everything in my path uncontested got a bit old. I would just go into a room full of bad guys and fire off a few Wake of the Inferno spells. Seconds later, I was the only one standing. This happened all the time.
During the new Act, however, things really picked up. You can reach this new level by defeating Diablo at the end of Act IV. This opens a portal to the new adventures in Act V. A player can start fresh with a new character (like I did) or use one already established. The graphics are great, even be better than in previous Acts. At one point in Act V, players battle their way up a mountain. Upon reaching the peak, players can look down and see where they came from. Trust me-it’s a cool view!
Along the way, players are treated with new items, elite items, unique items, class-specific items, improved item sets, hundreds of new magical properties, and new Horadric-cube recipes. Another big plus is the increased character stash. The stash chest has doubled in size. Each expansion character can store twice as much loot as before. This proved to be great for me, because I like to hold on to as much stuff as I can. I’m a pack rat, but you never know when you may need an extra fire-enhanced pike or a couple of million gold pieces and lucky charms.
All in all, the Diablo II expansion set receives a grade of 4.5 Gin Gems. Go out and get it if you are a true Diablo head like me! You won’t regret it as you complete six new exhilarating quests and delve deeper into the epoch that is Diablo.