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Diablo (video game)

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Diablo Coverart.png
Cover art
Developer(s) Blizzard North
Publisher(s) Windows, Mac
Producer(s) Bill Roper
Designer(s) David Brevik (senior)
Erich Schaefer (senior)
Max Schaefer (additional)
Eric Sexton (additional)
Kenneth Williams (additional)
Programmer(s) David Brevik
Writer(s) Chris Metzen
Bill Roper
Eric Sexton
Erich Schaefer
Composer(s) Matt Uelmen
Series Diablo
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, PlayStation
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows
Mac OS
  • NA May 8, 1998
Genre(s) Action role-playing, hack and slash
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Diablo is an action role-playing hack and slash video game developed by Blizzard North and released by Blizzard Entertainment on December 31, 1996.[1]

Set in the fictional Kingdom of Khanduras, located in the world of Sanctuary, Diablo has the player take control of a lone hero battling to rid the world of Diablo, the Lord of Terror. Beneath the town of Tristram, the player journeys through sixteen randomly generated dungeon levels, ultimately entering Hell itself in order to face Diablo.

An expansion pack, entitled Diablo: Hellfire, was released in 1997 by Sierra Entertainment. In 1998 Blizzard released Diablo for the PlayStation.[4] This version featured direct control of the main character using the PlayStation controller and was developed by Climax Studios. The game's success led to two sequels, Diablo II in 2000, and Diablo III in 2012.


Diablo is an action role-playing hack and slash video game. The player moves and interacts with the environment primarily by way of a mouse.[5] Other actions, such as casting a spell, are performed in response to keyboard inputs.[5] The player can acquire items, learn spells, defeat enemies, and interact with NPCs throughout the entire game.


A warrior engages in combat with a ghoul enemy. A "Level Up" button indicates the character has attribute points available to distribute. The icon at the lower right indicates that the character's head protection is damaged and in danger of breaking.

Diablo has three character classes: the warrior, the rogue, and the sorcerer. Each class has a different set of assigned attributes along with a unique skill. Although each class is capable of using almost all of the same items and spells, class defined skills and attributes reward play that utilizes them efficiently.

  • Warrior: The most physically able of the three classes. The Warrior is a close-quarters fighter and can generally take the most physical punishment. The Warrior's primary character attribute is Strength. The Warrior starts with the skill to repair objects in his possession at the cost of overall durability.[5]
  • Rogue: A master of ranged weapons. While not as strong as the Warrior, the rogue is very effective at attacking enemies from a distance. The Rogue's primary character attribute is Dexterity. The Rogue's unique starting skill is the ability to disarm traps.[5]
  • Sorcerer: A spellcaster being the most physically weak of the three classes, but can learn the most spells at the highest levels. The Sorcerer's primary character attribute is Magic. The Sorcerer's unique starting skill is the ability to recharge some magical weapons.[5]

In the expansion set, Diablo: Hellfire, the Monk was added. Two other characters, the Bard and Barbarian, were hidden characters in Diablo: Hellfire.[6]


Many items have attribute minimums to be used effectively. White-colored items are normal items, blue-colored items are magic items and gold-colored items are unique items. Any items that are not white in color must be identified to make use of their magical effects, however, characters can use unidentified items as they would the base item. Items wear down through use and only have a certain amount of durability. When an item's durability is zero, it is destroyed. The sword is typically one-handed, though two-handed varieties also exist. Axes are all two handed, and are for those who are willing to sacrifice defense for power. Maces and clubs add a 50% damage bonus against the undead. Bows are the ranged weapon of the game, best used by rogues. Staves, while capable of physical attacks, are mainly used for the spell charges they contain. The spell on the staff can only be used a certain number of times before they require a recharge. There are three classifications of armor: light, medium and heavy, and is available for the head and torso. Shields allow for blocking of attacks. Characters are allowed to wear two rings and one amulet. Books contain spell formulas. Spell books cannot be used more than once, but multiple books of the same spell will increase the spell level, up to a maximum of 15. Scrolls allow use of both spells not yet learned, and spells not available in book form. They vanish after one use. Many potions are available for use, including health and mana restoration, and elixirs that increase statistics.[5][7]


Multiplayer can be done with up to four players. Multiplayer characters' states are saved periodically. Players can either be aggressive towards, or play co-operatively with, other players. Players can connect by one of the following: direct connection, modem connection, connection or IPX network connection. The game lacks the stronger anti-cheating methods of Blizzard's later games and as a result, many characters online have been altered in various ways by common third-party programs known as trainers and/or game editing programs such as Cheat Engine.[5][8]



The setting of Diablo includes the world of Sanctuary, as well as Heaven and Hell. After eons of war between angels and demons, the ascension of man prompted the three Lords of Hell (including Diablo himself) to seek victory through influence, prompting their exile into the mortal realm. There, they sowed chaos, distrust, and hatred among the humans of Sanctuary until a group of magi trapped them in soulstones. Diablo's soulstone was buried deep in the earth and a monastery was built over the site.

Generations passed and the purpose of the monastery was forgotten. A small town named Tristram sprang up next to the monastery's ruins. When King Leoric rebuilt the monastery as a cathedral, Diablo manipulated its archbishop, Lazarus, to destroy his soulstone prison. Diablo subsequently possessed the king, sending out his knights and priests to battle against peaceful kingdoms, and then possessed the king's son, Prince Albrecht, filling the caves and catacombs beneath the cathedral with creatures formed from the young boy's nightmares.

Tristram became a town of fear and horror, where people were abducted in the night. With no king, no law, and no army left to defend them, many villagers fled.[7]


The game starts when the player's character arrives in Tristram. The labyrinth under the Cathedral descends from a simple dungeon to catacombs to the dark caves and finally the fiery pits of Hell itself, each full of the undead, monsters, and demons. Leoric has been re-animated as the Skeleton King, and the hero must kill him so he can be released from his curse. The hero must also kill Archbishop Lazarus, and eventually fight Diablo himself.

At the end of the game the hero kills Diablo's mortal form, leaving Diablo trapped in a soulstone once again. The hero, seen canonically as King Leoric's eldest son, Aidan (a.k.a. The Warrior), then drives the soulstone into his own skull in an attempt to contain the Lord of Terror. Diablo II continues the story, with Diablo having possessed the warrior hero who killed him.


According to Matt Barton, the game Telengard, released by Avalon Hill in 1982, influenced the development of Diablo.[9]

At first, Diablo was a turn-based RPG, but after Blizzard Entertainment decided to publish it, their executives, particularly Allen Adham, were adamant that Diablo should be played in real-time, like Blizzard's previous success Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. At first Blizzard North, at the time called Condor, resisted the idea, but after prototyping the first real-time version and playing it, they realized the potential of success for it and fully went with it. Later on, this would prove as a turning point for the success Diablo had.[10] The game was also originally conceived to be made in claymation (much like ClayFighter) but Blizzard convinced the development team to use 3D isometric style instead.[11][12]


Diablo normally requires the original CD to play, however also included on the disk is a shareware version of the software that could be played without the CD called Diablo Spawn. This version of the game allows access to only the first two areas of the dungeon, and locks out two of the three playable classes and many of the NPC townsfolk. It is playable in both single- and multi-player with those restrictions. The demo is also downloadable.

In 1998, a PlayStation version of Diablo was published by Electronic Arts. The game lacked online play, but featured a two-player cooperative mode. It also featured an option to learn the story through a narrator without having to find the books in the game. The European PAL version is fully translated and dubbed into French, German and Swedish in addition to the original English. This version was infamous because of its need for 10 blocks free on a PlayStation memory card; the standard size of memory cards for the platform was 15 blocks.

The only official expansion pack made for Diablo was Diablo: Hellfire in 1997. The expansion was produced by Sierra Entertainment rather than an in-house Blizzard North development team. The multiplayer feature of the expansion pack was disabled with version 1.01. The added content included two additional dungeon segments located within a new side storyline, several new unique items and magical item properties, new spells, and a fourth class, the Monk. There were also two possibly unfinished "test" classes (the Bard and Barbarian) and two quests which could be accessed only through a configuration file modification.

The original game was later re-released alongside Hellfire in a 1998 bundle, called Diablo + Hellfire. 1998's Blizzard's Game of the Year Collection contained copies of Diablo, StarCraft and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness. The Blizzard Anthology (2000) contained Diablo, StarCraft, StarCraft: Brood War and WarCraft II: Edition. The Diablo Gift Pack (2000) contained Diablo and Diablo II, but no expansions. The Diablo: Battle Chest (2001) contained Diablo, Diablo II and Diablo II's expansion, Lord of Destruction. Later releases of the Diablo: Battle Chest also have a strategy guide for Diablo II and Lord of Destruction,[13] though subsequent releases do not include the original game, instead featuring Diablo II, its expansion, and their respective strategy guides.


The music of Diablo was composed by Matt Uelmen. The soundtrack consisted of six tracks, it was released after 15 years, in 2011. It is called the "Diablo 15th Anniversary Music" CD.


The game has received critical acclaim. Diablo has an average rating of 94 on Metacritic.[14] Most praised the game's addictive gameplay, immense replayability, dark atmosphere, superior graphics, moody musical score, and its great variety of possible magic items, enemies, levels, and quests. This last aspect was praised by GameSpot editor Trent Ward in his review of Diablo: "Similarly, although a set number of monsters is included, only a few will be seen during each full game. This means that players going back for their second or third shot at the game will very likely fight opponents they haven't seen before. Talk about replay value."[15]

Reviewers commonly cited the online multiplayer aspect as one of the strongest points of the game, with it being described as greatly extending its replay value. Computer Games Magazine's Cindy Yans said that "weapons, armor and items are so numerous that you're always acquiring something new to try... not to mention the game's multiplayer universe"; she went on to say that "for anyone who enjoys a good multiplayer dungeon crawl, Diablo can't be beat".[16] The most common complaint about the game was the length of its single-player aspect, which many felt was too short. Cindy Yans finished her review, "Despite the rather pale storyline, [...] watered-down quests and a fair amount of necessary repetition, Diablo is a must for anyone interested in 'just plain fun.'"[16] On GameSpot's main page for Diablo, the subtext used to describe the game when it came out simply states: "Diablo is the best game to come out in the past year, and you should own a copy. Period."[17]


Diablo was awarded GameSpot's Game of the Year Award for 1996. As of January 7, 2013, Diablo has GameSpot's #1 spot of all PC games,[clarification needed] with a score of 9.6 out of 10.[18] In 2005 GameSpot chose the game as one of "The Greatest Games of All Time".[19]


As of August 29, 2001, Diablo had sold 2.5 million copies worldwide.[20]


  1. ^ a b "Blizzard Entertainment: Legacy Games". Blizzard. Retrieved 2011-11-30. 
  2. ^ Bailey, Kat (September 8, 2015). "In Their Own Words: An Oral History of Diablo II With David Brevik, Max Schaefer, and Erich Schaefer". USgamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved September 8, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Diablo - PlayStation - IGN". IGN. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Gamespot [1], Gamespot online games magazine, review of Diablo Playstation
  5. ^ a b c d e f g The book that came with the Diablo game (1996).
  6. ^ "Diablo Hellfire Tomb of Knowledge - Bard". Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  7. ^ a b Diablo Game Manual (PDF), Blizzard Entertainment, retrieved 2011-06-15 
  8. ^ "Download Diablo 1". GameGoldies Review of Diablo. 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  9. ^ Specifically, Barton states, "What is Diablo but an updated Telengard?" Matt Barton (23 February 2007). "The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part 1: The Early Years (1980-1983)". Gamasutra. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  10. ^ David L. Craddock (27 October 2012). "Stay Awhile and Listen, Chapter 8: Condor and Blizzard lock horns over Diablo". DM Press. Retrieved 13 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Blizzard Entertainment. "Blizzard Retrospective". YouTube. Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  12. ^ Goosebumps. "Thread: Jay Wilson responds to David Brevik interview.". MMO Champion. Retrieved 22 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "Diablo Battle Chest". Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  14. ^ "Diablo review(pc: 1996)". Metacritic. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Diablo for PC review". GameSpot. Retrieved November 21, 2006. 
  16. ^ a b Yans, Cindy. "Diablo Review". Computer Games Magazine. Archived from the original on July 10, 2003. Retrieved April 14, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Diablo (PC)". GameSpot. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 
  18. ^ "List of all PC games, ordered by score". GameSpot. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  19. ^ Colayco, Bob (2005-07-01). "The Greatest Games of All Time - Diablo". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 2014-10-13. Retrieved 2015-07-17. 
  20. ^ "Diablo II: Lord of Destruction Shatters Sales Records Worldwide With Over 1 Million Copies Sold" (Press release). Blizzard Entertainment. 2001-08-29. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Diablo (video game) at Wikimedia Commons