Image: Blizzard (Diablo II)
The Curse of Tristram: Destruction's End, a mod that takes the main campaign of Diablo II and recreates it using the StarCraft II engine, has been four years in the making. This weekend, creator Etienne Godbout finally released a playable version to the public on a test server.
The good news is, it works. While Curse of Tristram is still very much in beta, with lots of bugs and rough edges and only one person working in his spare time to fix all of it, the first six areas of the game that are currently available are pretty impressive.
10 years separate Diablo II and StarCraft II and the difference shows. Even though the former is an isometric action-RPG, and the latter is a real-time strategy game, Godbout was able to use StarCraft II's map editor to give Diablo II a much needed face-lift. The Curse of Tristram isn't a perfect one-to-one facsimile, but plays surprisingly close to the original, just with better graphics.
The mod offers all seven of Diablo II's character classes for you to start as and two new difficulty modes. "Heroic," the first, adds stronger enemies and equipment, but also something called "world curses" - global events in the game that randomly deactivate certain abilities like health regeneration.
The third one, "Mythic," turns all bosses into super-powered versions and also adds "world events," a mechanic Godbout plans to share more information about in the future.
I started playing the game as an Amazon and managed to go through the opening couple quests without any big hiccups (clearing out the Den of Evil and killing Blood Raven).
At first blush it might not look as good as you remember Diablo II looking, but that's because you don't actually remember how Diablo II really looked. In that regard, the StarCraft II engine actually offers a welcome facelift.
Godbout began working on the seeds of what would become this ambitious project back in 2014. Back then, his mod simply recreated Diablo II's Rogue Encampment using StarCraft II's Galaxy Editor. Years later, it's evolved into something much grander.
StarCraft II went free-to-play last November, meaning mods like The Curse of Tristram and others are now available to everyone with a modern PC.
Currently, you can access Godbout's homage to Diablo II by launching StarCraft II, going to the custom modes at the top of the game client, and then searching for "The Curse of Tristram" under Arcade maps. From there you can create a lobby where other people can join if you want to play the mod co-op.