Unlock Diablo II with Hell Unleashed

Ten years later, many are still playing vanilla DiabloWiki.com - Lord of Destruction Lord of Destruction and even vanilla DiabloWiki.com - Diablo II Diablo II, but maybe there's something to this whole modding business. Hell Unleashed creator Soulmancer (Terry) was kind enough to cover the bases on his controversial mod, including its fantastic new features, efforts made to challenge players, its quirky stance with Blizzard faithfuls and its private realm, and some of the more obscure.

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DiabloWiki.com - Hell Unleashed Hell Unleashed has been years in the making, dating back long before DiabloWiki.com - patch 1.10 patch 1.10. For Terry, the road has been long, as much a thing of personal fulfillment as one of entertainment. "It was a personal hobby to see what I could do," he told us in a short interview, "[although] I never [had] a defined goal in mind when I first started." What started as an aimless modification of one of the most renown ARPG's of all time grew into something much more important.

As he went, Terry learned what it meant to mod this age-old game. "Hell Unleashed [is] an entity that grew over time," he replied when DiabloFans asked him when the work really started, "[but as] my ambitions for Hell Unleashed grew . . . a final version began to take shape."

This "final version" would grow to address a multitude of concerns and ideas that Terry developed. When asked what the most important feature of Hell Unleashed is to him, Terry confessed that "the highlight for me would have to be the enhanced boss battles."

Certainly, Diablo II's bosses had their charm, if not a significant amount of lore behind them. Unfortunately, the difficulty of defeating these bosses became negligible when one considered how simple it was to port, pot, and pop back into the fray. "Fighting [the bosses] was fairly anti-climactic given that non-hardcore death and retreating to town via a convenient town portal had no impact on the outcome of the fight; essentially, you could never really 'lose' the battle."

All this changed when Hell Unleashed was born. "Bosses [now] rely on strategy and preparation to overcome as opposed to reckless persistence and a town portal scroll."

Enhanced boss battles aren't the only thing Hell Unleashed has to boast. The mod features updated enemy AI, tweaked graphics and animations, a plethora of new DiabloWiki.com - Horadric Cube Horadric Cube formulae, and, perhaps of principle concern, its controversial private realm access.

"Originally, I tried a TCP/IP and Open.net system, but these lacked any sense of a unified multiplayer community; games needed to be pre-arranged. . . Hell Unleashed began using the private server in its infancy and advanced largely because of the decision to utilize a private realm," Terry said. Much to Blizzard's dismay, the mod allows players to connect to his private realm dubbed "Arymith," coinciding with the mod's official website.

However, the long road to Hell Unleashed as we know it today was not all downhill. Terry faced his fair share of challenges. "A lot of time went in to trial and error and dealing with crashes, bugs, and hard-coded features, far more than it took to actually create new content."

Bugs and code weren't the only issues at hand. The mod's private realm also had its challenges. "Certain third-party plug-ins [that] I wanted to include in Hell Unleashed were not possible as they conflicted with the private server software."

Private realms aren't exactly all the rage with Blizzard, either, who would much prefer players to use closed or open realms on Battle.net. Blizzard's (often firm) stance on this matter has trickled down to its more devoted modding communities, including the Phrozen Keep. "The Phrozen Keep, the primary modding hub for Diablo II, has a very strict policy against private realms, so this was indeed an obstacle."

As vanilla Diablo II players can relate, balancing is always an issue. Terry came to notice that "Diablo II [is] very sensitive to small changes. Even slight tweaks to skills and items [can] turn an underpowered class into an overpowered one."

With the official release of patch 1.3 for Hell Unleashed, balancing has been at the very top of Terry's mind. "[Patch 1.3] was largely based off [of] community suggestions on how to best balance Hell Unleashed and improving and preserving the challenge for multiplayer."

The trick, as Terry noticed, was getting everyone to agree on what needed balancing. "A lot of people in the community had different ideas on how to balance the game and it was hard to get people to agree; the line between underpowered, balanced, and overpowered can be different depending on who you [ask]." However, responding to the mod's prodigious community feedback has become something of a source of pride for Terry. Now, Hell Unleashed "[tweaks] items and skills . . . [with] every update, and [is] then re-adjusted based on player feedback."

Aside from the technical, Hell Unleashed also added an amount of what some could consider lore. Many of us have seen it at one time or another, the mythic dragon posed at the Hellforge (see left - The Hellforge Dragon), but dragons are certainly no stranger to Sanctuary, considering the entity of DiabloWiki.com - Trag'Oul Trag'Oul. In order to keep with that classic Diablo vibe, though, Terry attempted to shy from the cliché world of High Fantasy in favor of darker demonic mythologies. "A lot of the bosses I included in Hell Unleashed were not part of Diablo lore," he said, "I decided not to limit myself based on the lore as I wanted to put my own spin on Diablo."

Specimens include the demons Moloch and Asmodeus, among others. Taking such lore from darker sources helped, in part, to keep the Diablo vibe while bringing something new to the table.

Hell Unleashed has a lot to offer new and old players alike, with new takes on old concepts as well as some nuance differences that distinguish it from the crowd. If you're interested, check out the official website for more information.

Disclaimer: DiabloFans does not in any way endorse the more controversial nature of this mod. This interview was for general enlightenment and entertainment purposes, only. Use of Hell Unleashed's private realm functionality is solely the result of the individual player's discretion and is forbidden by Blizzard's ToU/EULA. In addition, big thanks to Magistrate for conducting the interview and article.

Comments

  • #1 PhrozenDragon
    This actually does look interesting, though I get the distinct feeling that this mod, much like any other, will punch you in the face and brutally murder your character over and over again the first time you try i.
  • #2 Nekrodrac
    I greatly enjoyed reading this article.

    Hats off to the hard-work and commitment of Soulmancer.
  • #3 flobernoggin
    looks pretty snazzy, i dont do mods, but i like that he kept the same skilles per class, the other mods where theres crazy spells going on all over make me less inclined to try
  • #4 Sixen
    Quote from flobernoggin

    looks pretty snazzy, i dont do mods, but i like that he kept the same skilles per class, the other mods where theres crazy spells going on all over make me less inclined to try

    I agree, makes it more familiar leaving some mechanics the way they are.
  • #5 Aedelius
    Um so I dl'd all of that stuff, and now it says I need to have the disc in...which sucks because I no longer seem to be able to find one, plus prior to that I could access D2 all of the time without one. o.o Tried re-installing and all from b.net, same thing after dling this mod
  • #6 Ophion
    Quote from PhrozenDragon

    This actually does look interesting, though I get the distinct feeling that this mod, much like any other, will punch you in the face and brutally murder your character over and over again the first time you try i.


    Actually it tends to wear your out instead of kill you :P Enemies are not huge threats (you still have potions), but they are extremely durable. I think I used like 25 health pots, constant skeleton kiting/chasing, and two weapons (one broke during the battle) to defeat Blood Raven :P It probably took 10-15 minutes. I actually ran out of potions the first time so I had to go back and level up a bit (and find another player (yes, it was on the private realm(yes, I know...))) to be able to kill her. That was two patches ago so things might be different now though.
  • #7 Aedelius
    Anyone have an idea as to how I can make it not need me to have a cd in? =P Used to not have to...
  • #8 PhrozenDragon
    Quote from Aedelius

    Anyone have an idea as to how I can make it not need me to have a cd in? =P Used to not have to...

    The CD-requirement was removed with patch 1.12. Since this mod degrades your installation to 1.10, Diablo will require you to to insert he CD in order to play. You need a crack if you want to get around that, no other way.
  • #9 Aedelius
    Ah ok that makes sense, thanks
  • #10 italofoca
    I'm playing this mod now. Just finished Tristram with a bowzon.

    My opnion:

    Positive points
    * I loved what he did with bosses. By far the best thing on this mod.
    * The skills rebalance is cool. Liked most of it.
    * It's alot easier to find "-x enemey[insert element] resist" mods. Also, many bosses have just ridicolous resists in Hell, even throigh most of the time they are not immune (ex: Baal have 99 all resistances). So the casters really have to hunt for items, making then much more item dependent, wich is cool imo.
    * Extra levels and modification of vanila levels is one of the best things a mod can do imo. Totally refreshs the game.
    * Sockets and Glyphs are very nice, but not that surprising. Most mods use this same concept in a way or another, so imo it's almost like a "must have" in mods.
    * Super rare townportals = WIN WIN WIN.
    * The new sound track is great!

    Negative Points:
    * Non-bosses monsters are so easy to kill that it's not even funny (at least in normal).
    * I expected more new monsters...
    * It's way to much easy to find unique/rares. You basically skip magic all the time and find some freaking good items too easilly.
  • #11 Darkszero
    I've played this mod before, both the single player version and the multi player version (and online). I've got to say it's pretty amazing and a nice job. Even though the private server isn't quite legal, the experience it provides is really amazing.
  • #12 PhrozenDragon
    Quote from italofoca

    * It's way to much easy to find unique/rares. You basically skip magic all the time and find some freaking good items too easilly.

    I like it! Maybe I really should try this out :)
  • #13 italofoca
    Maybe it's because 'm playing the SP version. Since trade between players is not possible, i believe the drop rate is higher so you can hunt down your own gear. I just ended Act I and have completed Artic set and found 2 pieces of vindala's. Some bosses drops like 5 uniques when they die hehe


    Dunno if it's s first kill event though.
  • #14 PhrozenDragon
    That's what I'm talking about. Now there's just the little issue of PlugY, and I get the feeling this won't exactly work with PlugY :(
  • #15 Ophion
    You should be able to burn your D2 disc to an ISO file and mount it using something like Daemon Tools. That way you can play without the disc.
  • #16 Aedelius
    Hmm, anyone know a safe crack dl for a disc? I have it all installed and stuff -_-
  • #17 FingolfinGR
    i'm afraid it's not allowed to link to sites that promote piracy (aka no crack links).
  • #18 PhrozenDragon
    Quote from Ophion

    You should be able to burn your D2 disc to an ISO file and mount it using something like Daemon Tools. That way you can play without the disc.

    Well there's that, though he would require his disks in order to do that.
  • #19 Soulmancer
    Monsters on normal are pretty easy; normal was tweaked to be a bit more casual friendly. Magic blue items still have their use; as they are needed in crafting recipes and are also easier to modify to add sockets or re-roll enchantments.

    Phrozen; unfortunately PlugY isn't compatible with Hell Unleashed... It may function in offline single player but I know it doesn't work online. We did try to incorporate PlugY into the mod but it wasn't compatible with the server software. I'm not sure if you'd be able to get it to function properly.
  • #20 Aedelius
    Is it possible to patch it in to where you don't need a cd in to play, like Blizz did?
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