Diablo (series)

Diablo series

Original Diablo logo
Genres Action role-playing, hack and slash
Developers Blizzard Entertainment
Synergistic Software (Hellfire expansion)
Climax Group (PlayStation version co-developer)[1]
Publishers Blizzard Entertainment
Sierra Entertainment
Platforms Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Mac OS X, PlayStation, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Year of inception 1996
First release Diablo
December 31, 1996
Latest release Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
March 25, 2014

Diablo is an action role-playing hack and slash dungeon crawler video game series developed by Blizzard Entertainment (and Blizzard North). As of May 30, 2012, the series has sold over 24.8 million copies worldwide.[2] The series is made up of three core games: Diablo, Diablo II, and Diablo III. All three games are action role-playing and hack and slash games. Expansion games include the third-party published Diablo: Hellfire, which follows the first game, Lord of Destruction, published by Blizzard and released after the second game, and the recently released Reaper of Souls, which follows the third game. Additional content is provided through story elements explored in other media forms. To celebrate Diablo's 20th anniversary, the original game will be recreated in Diablo III in late 2016.[3]

The series is set in the fantasy world of Sanctuary. The three games in the series take place in similar geographic areas, with several common areas including the town of Tristram and the region around Mount Arreat. Additional setting is provided by the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, two separate realms with ties to Sanctuary. The series focuses on the battle between the humans living on Sanctuary and the Prime Evils, demons who are led by Diablo, the series' chief antagonist. The humans are occasionally aided by angels, notably the archangel of justice, Tyrael. The characters in the world of Sanctuary are primarily humans, angels, and various classes of demons and monsters.

The series has resulted in the publishing of several books relevant to the Diablo setting, covering a wide range of the timelines of the universe.[4] There are also comics that explore various stories within the world of Sanctuary.

Setting and plot

Diablo is set in the world of Sanctuary, created by the Archangel Inarius for angels and devils weary of conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells. When unions between Angels and Demons created powerful beings called nephalem, the archdemon Lilith sought to raise these creatures as her servants and rule Sanctuary, leading to her banishment and the destruction of most of the nephalem. When Lilith returned, a farmer named Uldyssian-ul-Diomed stopped her by destroying the cults of both Inarius and Lilith, sacrificing himself to protect the world.

In an attempt to keep the Lords of the Burning Hells from taking over Sanctuary, the Archangel Tyrael captured the three prime evils: Mephisto, Lord of Hatred; Baal, Lord of Destruction; and Diablo, Lord of Terror. The prime evils remained imprisoned until Diablo, through contacts with mortals living in the town above him (Tristram), began bringing minions from Hell into Sanctuary. While a hero managed to slay him, the hero soon transformed into a new host body for Diablo's soul. With Diablo setting about in his new host to free his brothers, a band of heroes went after him, managing to slay all three prime evils. In the process, the Worldstone, designed to keep Sanctuary hidden from the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, was destroyed.

Eventually, Diablo achieved resurrection once again, this time in the body of his daughter. Through subterfuge, he manages to obtain the souls of all the Prime Evils. Containing those souls within his own, Diablo begins to assault the High Heavens and nearly destroys them before a new hero kills him and banishes him yet again.


Timeline of release years
1997Diablo: Hellfire
2000Diablo II
2001Diablo II: Lord of Destruction
2012Diablo III
2014Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
Main article: Diablo (video game)

The setting of Diablo is the town of Tristram, the de facto capital of the Kingdom of Khanduras on the world of Sanctuary. The actual fighting takes place beneath the town in a maze of dungeons, catacombs, and caves that lead into the depths of Hell.

The plot of the original Diablo game centers around a player character undertaking a series of quests to free Tristram from Hell-spawned evil, descending through twelve levels of dungeons into Hell itself (the final four levels), where the player battles the titular character, Diablo, Lord of Terror — one of the seven "Evils" (devils) who once ruled Hell.

Diablo offers three character classes and the Hellfire expansion offers three more. Players can play as Warriors, Rogues (archers), or Sorcerers. Each class has its own place in the game's history, and all three classes make appearances as non-player characters in the sequel. All three classes have the same general skills and access to the same spells. Each of them has a class-specific skill (Item Repair, Trap Disarm, and Staff Recharge, respectively) that has as many drawbacks as benefits, except for Trap Disarm.


Diablo: Hellfire offers an additional character class: the Monk, in addition to two hidden character classes: the Barbarian and the Bard. The Monk fights best with staves or his bare hands and gains bonuses from wearing light or no armor. The Barbarian can wield two handed axes with only one hand but is entirely unable to cast spells throughout most of the game. The Bard is a character with relatively balanced statistics who can wield two single-handed weapons simultaneously. The Barbarian and the Bard can only be played using a file tweak, as they were unfinished. They utilize the art of the Warrior and Rogue, respectively, and have no lore. Additional quests and multiplayer capabilities (although not over Battle.net) are also unlockable through this simple tweak.

Hellfire also added two new dungeon environments on top of the four in the original Diablo: the Nest (more commonly referred to as the Hive) and the Crypt. Each of these environments contains various new monsters to fight, but they contain no random quests or bosses and the generated levels contain no shrines or libraries. Most players thus found them stale in contrast to Diablo's original levels. The final boss of Hellfire, Na-Krul, is found in the last level of the Sacred Crypt.

Hellfire's development was started by Blizzard but later passed to Sierra to finish. Though some of its characters and concepts like the Barbarian and Monk seem to overlap with later games in the Diablo series, Hellfire is not considered canon in the Diablo series.

Diablo II

Main article: Diablo II

At the end of the first game, a warrior tried to contain Diablo's soul within himself. The warrior was unable to do so, and, by the beginning of Diablo II, The Lord of Terror had taken control of the warrior's body and begun the process of freeing his two brothers, Mephisto and Baal. Players can choose from five distinct characters (seven when including the expansion) to control in their quest and explore the world of Sanctuary through four acts. At the end of each of the four acts, players face different devils, with Diablo at the end of the game.

Diablo II broke several sales records. Many reviews put forth that the game had the best plot for an RPG. It was also the first computer RPG to have a significant number of female players.

The character classes in particular were received much better than the previous game's. Unlike its predecessor, Diablo II provides an explanation for each character class to pursue Diablo:

Characters from the previous game are also present in Diablo II. The Rogues (as NPCs) are the hostesses of the player during Act I, and Sorcerers are seen regularly in Acts II and III. Unlike the original, each character has three distinct sets of skills/spells that they can use in the game. Several of the characters can also conjure magical minions, such as a Valkyrie (Amazon) or Skeletons and Golems (Necromancer). All players also have the option to hire a Rogue (Act I), a Warrior (Act II), or an Iron Wolf (a type of melee Sorcerer, Act III) to accompany them and help slay monsters. These "hirelings" have a few of their own skills and can be a great benefit to the player.

Lord of Destruction

Blizzard released Diablo II: Lord of Destruction on June 29, 2001. In this expansion, set immediately after the events of Diablo II, players seek to destroy Diablo's brother, Baal. The expansion includes a new act, new items, and two new character classes:

Barbarians can also be hired in the new Act. The summoned units of the expansion characters are called "minions". Hirelings can be resurrected in Lord of Destruction and can be equipped with armor and weapons.

Diablo III

Main article: Diablo III

Diablo III was announced at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational on June 28, 2008. At the same time it was announced, it was also revealed that behind the ice on Blizzard's splash page was the logo for Diablo III and a link to the website. The game has both a gameplay trailer and a cinematic trailer. Diablo III takes place 20 years after Diablo II.[5]

Five character classes are present in Diablo III:

The only directly returning class is the Barbarian. The Barbarians have a variety of revamped skills at their disposal based on the use of their incredible physical prowess. The Barbarian is able to Whirlwind through crowds, cleave through swarms, leap across crags, and crush opponents upon landing.[6]

The Witch Doctor is a new character reminiscent of the Diablo II Necromancer, but with skills more traditionally associated with voodoo culture. The Witch Doctor has the ability to summon monsters, cast curses, harvest souls, and hurl poisons and explosives at enemies.[7]

The Wizard is a version of the Sorceress from Diablo II or the Sorcerer from Diablo, though it is much more than a mere elementalist. The Wizard's abilities range from shooting lightning, fire, and ice at their enemies to slowing time and teleporting around enemies and through walls.[8]

The Monk is a melee attacker, using martial arts to cripple foes, resist damage, deflect projectiles, attack with blinding speed, and land explosive killing blows.[9]

The Demon Hunter is a ranged rogue class. It was the last class to be introduced, and specializes in ranged attacks, setting traps for enemies, and evasion skills.[10]

The combat system was redone as well. Instead of the previous skill selection system used in Diablo II there is an action bar at the bottom of the screen. This change replaces the area where the potion-belt used to be in Diablo II. For the first time in the series, players are able to choose the gender of their characters upon creation. The gender of the characters affects only visuals and voices. Diablo III's release date was officially announced on March 15, 2012 and the game was released worldwide on May 15, 2012.

Reaper of Souls

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is an expansion pack for the action role-playing video game Diablo III. It was revealed at Gamescom 2013.[11] It was developed for the PC and Mac versions of Diablo III and released on March 25, 2014 for those platforms.[12] Blizzard developers have stated that the expansion will also be ported to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 console versions. The game takes place after Diablo is defeated by the Nephalem protagonist and sealed in the Black Soulstone, leading to a brief period of peace. Diablo's essence, however, still lingers and cannot be destroyed. Therefore, Tyrael hides it, even from the angels in Heaven. Right as the Soulstone is being placed so that none may touch it, a death wind passes and Malthael is revealed as the "Grim Reaper". He used to be the Archangel of Wisdom, but became the Archangel of Death after the Worldstone was destroyed and he was corrupted. He kills almost everyone in the scene, except Tyrael (it is unknown why he does not kill Tyrael, though it is suggested that his motivations are to cleanse Sanctuary of evil, including mankind, as they are born of angel and demon. Tyrael, being an angel who became mortal, contains no part of a demon) and one survivor of the Horadrim, who is able to escape and, at Tyrael's orders, relay the event to the Nephalem hero. Malthael takes the Soulstone and exits; even now that he is corrupt, he is still trying to eradicate evil. However the issue is that humans are descendants of angels and demons. Even though the demon lineage has been diluted through millennia, Malthael still views all humans as evil. He then sets out to use the power of the Black Soulstone to eradicate humans and demons, and end the Eternal Conflict forever. The enemies that the hero fights throughout this Act are a mixture of angels, persuaded by Malthael and the Soulstone, that almost seem like demons, as they are murdering thousands of innocent humans. Malthael is able to absorb the soul of every human that is killed as a result of the Soulstone and continues to grow stronger with every death. In order to finally fight Malthael, the Nephalem hero must become death, just as Malthael had become. This is why Tyrael's sword passed through Malthael in the opening scene of this Act. Tyrael was unable to kill death because he was now a mortal. The Nephalem hero is able to absorb the souls of his deceased brethren towards the end of the Act in order to fight death (Malthael). During the last battle, Malthael merges with the Black Soulstone, possibly believing he can contain Diablo's essence (remember, Diablo's essence is still in the Black Soulstone) inside of him as well. Eventually Malthael is defeated by the Nephalem hero but this indicates that Diablo's essence has been released from within Malthael and can once again wreak havoc on the world of life.[13]

The Diablo III expansion includes a new character class, the Crusader, similar in style to the Paladin from Diablo II. A upcoming DLC will include the necromancer character class, similar to the same class from Diablo II.


There are many features that are universal in the Diablo series. Point and click means that the mouse is mainly used for moving and using abilities. Diablo heavily relies on a constant search for better weapons and armor, known as loot. Items are randomly generated and usually have many attributes assigned to them. Various maps in the Diablo world are randomly generated in each game, which increases the replayability.

Due to its randomly generated maps and "hack and slash" nature, Diablo may be loosely considered a roguelike, though with real-time gameplay, graphics, and sound. It was in fact originally conceived and pitched to Blizzard as what amounted to a graphical roguelike.[14] The adventurer being based in a town above the dungeon and being able to use "scrolls of town portal" is a specific influence from Moria.


Main article: Characters of Diablo

Nephalem (Humans)

The nephalem are the direct offspring of angels and demons and the first generation of humans on Sanctuary. They are also known as Sanctuary's Children in The Sin War books. With the potential to be even greater than both angels and demons, the nephalem's power has been slowly draining with each generation through the Worldstone, making each generation weaker than the last. It is believed that such beings as Bul-Kathos, Rathma, and Esu, to name a few, are the first Nephalem to be born, and that their children are the current barbarians, necromancers, and sorceresses whom we know today in the Diablo universe. After the destruction of the Worldstone it seems as though the power of the Nephalem has experienced a revitalization within the last generation of humans born after the event.


Angels are beings of Light and Sound from the High Heavens. They are ruled by the Angiris Council, consisting of the five archangels who each stand for a pure concept of Heaven: Malthael, Aspect of Wisdom; Tyrael, Aspect of Justice; Auriel, Aspect of Hope; Imperius, Aspect of Valor; and Itherael, Aspect of Fate. Archangel is an angel of higher rank or with greater spiritual power than an ordinary angel. Archangels outside of the Angiris are known to exist, but they are not mentioned as members of the Council. Archangels usually have their own specific spheres of influence, which define what they are and their functions in the High Heavens.


Demons are dire entities native to the Burning Hells. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can wield a wide range of magical powers, depending on their type. They cannot exist naturally in Sanctuary and must be summoned through a magical ritual or somehow take possession of a mortal's body. Notable demons include the Prime Evils: Diablo, Lord of Terror; Baal, Lord of Destruction; and Mephisto, Lord of Hatred; as well as the Lesser Evils: Andariel, Maiden of Anguish; Duriel, Lord of Pain; Belial, Lord of Lies; and Azmodan, Lord of Sin.


Main article: List of Diablo novels

The following books have been listed in chronological order, dates of publication are in the parentheses.


Tales of Sanctuary by Phil Amara, Dave Land, and Francisco Ruiz Velasco is a comic book released on November 9, 2001 by Dark Horse Comics. It features three stories:

In November 2011, DC Comics started producing a five-issue miniseries (Diablo III: Sword of Justice) by Aaron Williams with art and covers by Joseph LaCroix.[15][16]


Aggregate review scores
As of September 25, 2012.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Diablo (PC) 89%[17]
(PS) 80%[18]
(PC) 94[19]
Diablo II (PC) 89%[20] (PC) 88[21]
Diablo III (PC) 88%[22] (PC) 88[23]

The games in the Diablo series have been well received by critics and were financial successes. Diablo II sold 4 million copies in the year it was released. Diablo III sold 3.5 million copies in the first day and 6.3 million copies in the first week.[24] Another 1.2 million copies were given to subscribers to Blizzard's Annual Pass service. The Diablo III release was the fastest-selling PC game of all time.[25] In 2010, IGN ranked Diablo 74th in the "Top 100 Video Game Villains" and they stated that "Just saying the word "demonic" conjures up all sorts of imagery and thoughts about strange rituals, the spilling of blood, and a host of other things Sunday school teachers warn kids about".[26]


  1. "Diablo (PS) credits". Mobygames.com. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
  2. "Diablo III Unveiled" (Press release). Blizzard Entertainment. June 28, 2008. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
  3. "BlizzCon 2016: Overwatch's Sombra revealed, Diablo returns, Hearthstone's Gadgetzan, and more". PC World. November 4, 2016.
  4. "read the Diablo novels in chronological order". Amazon.com. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  5. "Blizzard Entertainment: Diablo III".
  6. "Barbarian - Game Guide - Diablo III". Blizzard Entertainment.
  7. "Witch Doctor - Game Guide - Diablo III". Blizzard Entertainment.
  8. "Wizard - Game Guide - Diablo III". Blizzard Entertainment.
  9. "Monk - Game Guide - Diablo III". Blizzard Entertainment.
  10. "Demon Hunter - Game Guide - Diablo III". Blizzard Entertainment.
  11. "Diablo® III: Reaper of Souls Unveiled". Blizzard Entertainment. August 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  12. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
  13. Bramblet, Matthew (September 5, 2013). "'Reaper of Souls' Definitely Coming to Console". Diablo Somepage. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  14. "[The idea for Diablo] was modified over and over until it solidified when [Dave Brevik] was in college and got hooked on an ASCII game called Moria/Angband. When we pitched Diablo to Blizzard, we pitched a turn-based, single-player DOS game." Pitts, Russ (June 6, 2006). "Secret Sauce: The Rise of Blizzard". The Escapist. Retrieved December 24, 2007.
  15. "Diablo". DC Comics.com. November 23, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  16. "Expanding the World of Diablo". IGN comics.com. January 18, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  17. "Diablo Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  18. "Diablo Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  19. "Diablo Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  20. "Diablo II Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  21. "Diablo II Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  22. "Diablo III Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  23. "Diablo III Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  24. "Diablo III sales pass 3.5M copies in 1st day". BusinessWeek. The Associated Press. May 23, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  25. Graziano, Dan (May 23, 2012). "Diablo III becomes the fastest-selling PC game of all time". BGR. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  26. Archived April 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
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