Diablo 2 is the real Diablo Immortal, no matter how many people have phones in hand. The best aRPG of all time (opinions may vary) is still going strong more than 20 years after its initial release, with vanilla servers still populated and ladders still being reset. It's really the best way to wait out the Diablo 4 release date, which is still in the dark. It's fun to jump into the original Diablo 2 and its Lord of Destruction expansion pack, but I don't blame you if 20 years of the same ol' game has faded the appeal ever so slightly.
Diablo 2 might be one of the best PC games ever made, but it isn't perfect. Many items and builds have been unbalanced for more than a decade, multiplayer games are filled with bots and scammers, and the tiny stash space puts a real damper on a game where collecting loot is the main focus. Blizzard seems reticent about a Diablo 2 remaster — which might not be a good idea anyway considering what happened with Warcraft III: Reforged — but longtime fans of the game have taken it into their own gauntleted hands and have created some truly spectacular mods for the hack-n-slash game we all love the most.
If you don't already own a copy of Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction, it can still be purchased straight from Blizzard. Here are five of the best Diablo 2 mods to help you bask in nostalgic glory.
PlugY is a singleplayer mod for Diablo 2 that effectively turns the solo experience into something much more manageable. Perhaps the biggest change is to stash size, which is a serious issue when you can't use multiplayers friends to help you move good gear onto other characters for safekeeping.
The PlugY stash has been expanded to 10 blocks by 10 blocks, and there are more than four billion possible pages for the personal stash. There is also a shared stash among all characters, also with more than four billion possible pages. Bottom line: you're not going to ever fill up the stash, and you can now share items between all your characters.
That's how PlugY began, but it has since seen some other additions that make the singleplayer experience that much better. You can reset stats and skills at will without the need for Akara or a special token, there's an expanded stat screen with a ton of numbers (no more adding up magic-find percentages), Diablo Clone can spawn in any Hell game at any time, Ubers can be defeated for torches, ladder runewords can be crafted, and you can set an artificial player count to boost loot drops from monsters.
All of these features can be toggled on and off, but I've been playing with the stock settings for years without issue. This is a great way to go for the Holy Grail challenge, in which you find every unique and set item possible in the game. Check out this guide by FORFITZ to get it set up in about 15 minutes.
Path of Diablo
Path of Diablo is a private multiplayer server mod that's been going strong now for about five years. There are many servers hosted around the world that can be chosen on a per-game basis, and there are ladder resets that bring changes to the game to keep it fresh. Yes, items, runewords, and skills have seen changes to better balance gear, resulting in a more diverse collection of characters and builds. Changes have also been made to some areas of the game, with troublesome spots (like the Maggot Lair) now much easier to navigate. And our lovely mercenary companions have seen significant improvements so that not everyone is running around with Waheed from Act 2.
Path of Diablo does a great job of keeping the original Diablo 2 feel while also making some significant changes.
Ease of use has gone way up thanks to customizable loot filters, shift- and control-clicking items to move them around, advanced stat sheets, increased character stash and permanent stash space. Multiplayer games perm in 30 seconds for easier solo muling, stamina is boosted across the board (no more walk-running through the first few levels), and you can now create up to 18 characters on a single account. Maps also remain static as long as you remain on a difficulty setting, making it far easier to farm bosses. For example, if you find a map with the Durance of Hate level three entrance next to a waypoint in Hell, you can keep it that way for new Hell games as long as the character doesn't create a game in Normal or Nightmare.
Orbs of Corruption are a new unique item added to the game. They can drop from any monster over level 40, and they're used to shake up endgame gear. Have a Harlequin Crest Shako? Corrupt it for a chance to add extra stats or sockets that will truly make it powerful. However, there's also a chance that it'll turn your item into a different rare item, perhaps useless. Orbs of Corruption work on any rare, set, or unique items that aren't ethereal and do not have any sockets. This mechanic opens up a ton of opportunities and at times can be extremely frustrating. But if you don't corrupt your best items, are they really your best items?
There are a whole lot more small changes to the game, but I'll focus instead on endgame content. Original Diablo 2 really didn't have anything to do other than running Baal repeatedly trying to hit max level, and Path of Diablo has taken care of that. Relics — also known as maps — can now drop from monsters, and characters over level 80 who have beaten Baal in Hell can open new dungeons with randomized stats. Experience gained can be huge in these maps, as can monster density. There are varying levels of maps filled with varying monsters, and it takes truly powerful characters to get through them to reap all the rewards.
Despite all these changes, the original Diablo 2 flavor is still here. My original fears that the game would be too different were unfounded, and this is my new preferred way to play the game online. The ability to see the gear of other players in game and to trade your items on a dedicated trading site just ups the community feel. And that's another thing; the players here are always willing to help, and you won't see many (if any) bots or hackers in public games.
I'll admit I haven't personally tried the Median XL mod, but most people who have experienced it have nothing but positive feedback to share. It's undergone a bunch of changes over the years, but ultimately it's still an overhaul mod for Diablo 2. That means there are many significant changes to the game, ideal for those who are tired of the usual gameplay and want something quite different.
For example, each character class has 35 new skills to experiment with, which undoubtedly changes up the build selection. On top of that, there are thousands of new unique items to be found, some with particularly powerful abilities that can be the entire focus of a character build. If you're sick of making the same Hammerdin using a Shako, Enigma, Hoto, HOZ, and Treks, this is no doubt the mod for you.
Once you've created some wild character with new skills and items, try it out with the new endgame content added to the game. Yes, the original questline still exists from Normal to Hell difficulties, but once completed there are more than 40 new quests to undertake. New landscapes help make this new content even better, with new towns, cities, and areas ready to explore.
There's plenty more to discover if you decide to jump into Median XL, but know that this is best reserved for those who find Diablo 2 too stale for a lightweight overhaul. This is almost a whole new game, and it even comes with a graphics fix that makes the game look way better on the best PC gaming monitors of today.
What started as a private online server for a group of friends, SlashDiablo is now a bustling community. This is another mod I've not personally used, but by all means it seems to be beloved by anyone who tries it. That's especially true for anyone who's looking for the vanilla Diablo 2 experience, albeit with more frequent ladder resets (every four months) and no bots or cheaters.
Four accounts are allowed to log in under the same IP address, giving you the ability to run mules and not have them get in the way of your regular character roster. Uber Diablo can be forced to spawn with a special Horadric Cube recipe, you're free to use a maphack, and there's a strong economy built by a strong community. There's no added trading system like Path of Diablo has, but the SlashDiablo subreddit is a great place to go if you can't get things done in-game.
Project Diablo 2
Project Diablo 2 isn't technically available publicly yet, but it's deep into testing and is expected to release November 6. It's like Path of Diablo in a lot of ways, with some significant differences that set it apart. It's a multiplayer mod that will support players around the world, with loot filters, trading support, and four-month ladder resets to keep the game feeling fresh.
Unique and set items have been reworked in the hopes that useless items will be far more viable. There are a ton of items in Diablo 2 that simply don't work for the endgame, and Project Diablo 2 attempts to rectify that. Check out a bunch of the runeword changes, as highlighted by Diablo 2 expert Dbrunski125.
For endgame content there's a mapping system with various areas to clear for loot and experience, plus there are dungeons that will require you to work together with other players in specific roles. This will definitely promote teamwork, which is sort of lacking right now even in Diablo 2 mods. Corruptions also make a return, helping mix up endgame gear, and skills have been reworked for more varied character builds.
Something I'm especially looking forward to is a game lobby filter, helping you find public games. The standard lobby browser is quite limited, so this is a great change. Ultimately, this should be an alternative to Path of Diablo, and I hope the ladder resets don't coincide so players can switch back and forth when one ladder gets stale.