Tristram is Darkened - Diablo III PTR for Season 9 and Diablo's 20th Anniversary

Scored some time on the Diablo III PTR realm for season 9, my main goal was to take a look at what is happening with "The Darkening of Tristram" a brief 20th anniversary event happening in the game during the month of january, live before the actual release.

I found the trip through what the developers wanted to be a nostalgic experience into the depths of tristram to be more of a chore than something very special. There are nods to the original game, magic drops with a few predefined stats that somewhat mirror what you would find in the original game, but the tilesets are just a pixelation filter over the games existing maps and textures. It's literally playing the current game through a lens.
An image of a warrior encountering a ghoul from Diablo (PC) courtesy of Wikipedia.


I do have to give the devs credit for having voiced over the tomes from the original game and giving them new life. They've even included things like the halls of the blind. I would have been more impressed if they had low level or fixed stat unique items strewn throughout the quests but each little alcove or revisited quest seems to just score a resplendent chest, which is great but fits more the current game than any sort of trip back down nostalgia lane. And all of this culminates in a fight with a much less impressive Lord of Terror as was fitting in the first installment of the game and a nostalgic legendary gem to commemorate the journey.

The first trek into the original Diablo's Tristram Cathedral was harrowing. Little light made for low visibility so you could only see what was directly near you, some areas even darkened further and brought about this cautious sense of dread as you attempted to fight through a nearly unending horde with limited resources. Enemies did not respawn, progress through the dungeon was static, item space was extremely limited, and the only way back to town was to backtrack on foot or be lucky enough to happen upon a scroll of town portal or even luckier, a book to learn the spell directly, else you had to try to optimize all of your encounters to take little damage as health regeneration was not a thing.

Dungeon Music from Diablo, about 75% of the nostalgia lies in this alone

A lot of the nostalgia from the game lies in the music which fit heavily with the dark brooding imagery that one was immersed in when attempting to scrounge for the items to sustain your hero's existence. The Many features found throughout the game could both help or hinder the player in their journey and a lot of how action RPGs behave now are thanks to both the successes and the shortcomings of Diablo and other early action RPGs.

I applaud the devs at blizzard for caring enough to keep the original game in people's minds but it's also important to realize that certain elements of the experience being lacking definitely don't give off the same experience. For a true learning experience it would be best for people to actually experience the game in it's totality and as long as blizzard continues to sell the Diablo II battle chest it will still be available. I am happy to have had the opportunity to play all of the official releases of the game and have enjoyed each of them for their own merits, i'm sure plenty of others have as well. And I'm also looking forward to the future implementation of the Necromancer in Diablo III... let's hope that happens sometime soon as well.

-VP