Hunting monsters and gathering loot can take a while

I t is late 1996 and gamers everywhere eagerly await the release of a game the likes of which have never been seen before. Role-playing games had been around for ages in the West as well as in Japan. Featuring several towns, cities and castles to explore, turn-based combat (often determined by overtly complex dice rolls — a concept associated with board games), characters and fantasy settings, RPGs were a niche genre of video game that were played and enjoyed by few. But all of that was about to change, and Diablo would be the game to change it.

Enter the ‘action-RPG', a hybrid genre of game that combined the best elements of classic RPGs (such as character development, items, spells and abilities) and action-oriented gameplay (real-time combat), Diablo created an experience that was boldly unique. But that wasn't all. The game would feature ground-breaking features such as randomly generated dungeons, items and monsters — all of which essentially meant that the game would be entirely different every time you played it, resulting in literally countless hours of unique gameplay. In fact, it has been observed that it is almost impossible to encounter all of the game's ‘boss' monsters during a single play-through, which meant that players had to play the game several times just to get a feel of the massive amount of content packed into it. Its immense re-playability combined with bleak atmosphere, interesting plot and superb visuals (for the time) helped Diablo garner critical acclaim. The game would also be a commercial success, selling nearly 2.5 million copies by the time its sequel Diablo II (a game that would surpass its predecessor in several ways) came out in 2000. Both games have currently sold nearly 10 million copies since release.

The success of the action-RTS genre also resulted in an interesting phenomenon: the Diablo clone. Similar to GTA clones, Diablo clones would have to live in the shadow of the game that defined the genre. However, while the quality of GTA clones has been questionable, Diablo clones have managed to pleasantly surprise us at times. Westwood Studios' Nox put us in a parallel universe inspired by high-fantasy and allowed us to experience three unique stories or pit our skills against human opponents in a variety of multiplayer modes including deathmatch and capture-the-flag. Titan Quest made us wage a war against mythical beasts of old in an epic struggle that would decide the fates of man and god, while Sacred 2: Fallen Angel gave us a power metal soundtrack and enough campy humour to make up for the seriousness of its competition, and Torchlight let us crawl through beautiful dungeons on a budget. But what's the biggest appeal of these games (other than the near-infinite hours of gameplay on offer)? Well, it's the loot, of course — armour, swords, axes, bows, crossbows, rings, gems, amulets, potions and well, a billion other things. Each dungeon crawling experience is unique, and there's seldom the chance that the loot you find during one play-through is identical to the next. Put in a few hundred hours on Divine Divinity, Fate, or a few thousand on Diablo, and it will become clear to you — there's never the same loot, and you can never have too much of it.