Clicking the mouse button ad nauseum was never this much fun before!
The first thing most people will notice is that for it's time, Diablo II didn't look too swell. The graphics are rather dated, and while beautiful artistry helps out, Diablo II is no technical beast. If you had a somewhat up to date computer at the time, you could play Diablo II without fully upgrading the system. But aside from those graphics, those sub par graphics, nothing quite matches up to Diablo II.
The game is bigger than the original, spanning four entire acts across huge cities and encampments and the deadly areas around them. This, in contrast to Diablo's single town, makes for a far more refreshing game. Rogue encampments, desert towns, a seaside jungle town, and inexplicably a few people hanging out near the entrance to Hell all await you on your adventure, but this adventure is different for everyone.
In the original Diablo, character classes weren't as well defined as in Diablo II, but in the sequel each of the five characters plays in a unique manner. Technically, all you're doing is clicking the mouse button with your right hand and keeping your potions handy with your left hand with each of the characters, but each of them brings unique skills which you can branch off on. The Barbarian leaps and attacks, often with two weapons, the Sorceress stands back and fires magical attacks, the Necromancer summons the dead to do his bidding, while the Amazon runs faster than all of the characters, and attacks from both a distance and up close, and lastly the Paladin combines melee attacks and magic. All of the characters can be explored in different ways with their extensive skill sets and each character provides a unique playing experience from the other. With my personal experience, I enjoyed playing with the Paladin and the Amazon more than the other three characters.
While the gameplay remains largely unchanged, the outdoor exploration and various side-dungeons with extra loot all help make Diablo II that much more addictive when compared to the original. This time around, there are oftentimes six main quests to do on each Act in the game. They are all loosely connected to help make a more cohesive story leading up to the end of an Act where you'll be allowed to face off against some of the deadliest bosses ever, and then you'll be treated to a well-made cinematic leading up to the next Act. All in all, having a story that matters makes Diablo II stand out in a far bigger way than the original game's lackluster single-player game.
Diablo II also brings to the fray a hefty multiplayer component with everyone running around looking for loot and killing one another, oftentimes, the reward is an ear…. Despite going through the game with a bunch of friends, I didn't enjoy the game online as much as I did alone. Something about just going and killing things without text popping up and people selling their loot on eBay appealed to me quite a bit more. The game was still fun online, but solitary adventurers aren't missing out; in fact, they can have just as much fun alone. Still, for the social butterflies in everyone else, Diablo II still offers one of the best online experiences if you're into this kind of game.
Sound effects in Diablo II are surprisingly better than the graphics. Once you play the game for a while, you'll be listening closely. Not to the stellar soundtrack. Not to the disgusting sounds of the demons. But instead, you'll be listening for one key sound, every time you open a chest, you'll have your ears perked up, listening for a creak to signal whether the chest, or even the area is booby-trapped.
Aside from the overall game being better, other little things have been done to improve the game from the original as well; one key standout element is gold. No longer is gold placed in the inventory taking up space, now it's merely set aside as gold, so you can rack up and save as much as you want of it.
There aren't many games that try to go head to head with Diablo II and that's for a good reason, it may very well be the greatest PC game ever made, and if not that, then it's at least one of the greatest ever made. Addicting gameplay isn't enough to make a standout game, but when everything is improved and added to that addicting gameplay, you're given a genuinely amazing game. Diablo II is that good, and it still holds up today as well.