Diablo Belzebub [Mod] (PC) Review

Click here to visit the Diablo Belzebub (Windows PC) description page for screenshots, saves, and more information.

Review by tankMage (September  2017)

Score: B-

Overview

    Belzebub is an ambitious mod of the classic hack n’ slash title: Diablo. So before I begin, I want to say that I would have loved to have been able to give this mod an A, it’s just that good. Unfortunately, it’s also incomplete. The creator of Belzebub abandoned the project some time ago in favor of another mod: Tchernobog (also an extensive overhaul of the original Diablo), which will hopefully end up being more complete than Belzebub. At any rate, Belzebub is fun to play and has a lot to offer despite being buggy and lacking multiplayer.

New Classes and Abilities

   Belzebub adds three new classes to Diablo, which may seem familiar to fans of the series: Barbarian, Necromancer, and Assassin. Each class has its own abilities, which are generally well thought out. The Necromancer can raise hordes of skeletons and zombies to fight for him. The Barbarian is a close combat expert who focuses on dealing damage, and the Assassin can move about unseen as well as perform sneak attacks. In addition to the new classes, the original three classes are present in this mod and have their own new abilities. The Warrior has a mixture of offensive and defensive skills that allow him to strike fast moving targets with a charge attack or defend himself better with a shield. The Rogue can fire specialized arrows. Finally, the Sorcerer features an improved mana shield and can even negate enemy magic resistance.

   If that’s not enough for you, the entire magic system has been expanded to include ice spells, new variants of classic spells, and an eclectic category of spells known as blood magic. Of course, any character can learn magic, just like in vanilla Diablo, so the mod really adds to the player’s options and there’s plenty of room for experimentation.

   All in all, the new spells, classes, and abilities are a spectacular addition to the game. These new additions are for the most part well designed, and add an extra dimension to gameplay, since players will need to utilize them effectively in order to survive. With that said, you’ll probably find yourself relying on particular spells and skills for each class more than others, unless you have certain items that allow for special builds. Sadly, a few of these skills are bugged and don’t work as advertised, particularly some of the special attacks of the Assassin, which didn’t seem to stack properly with her stealth bonus. Balance also was an issue and the game is much more difficult with some classes than others. I struggled in the final stages of the game with the necromancer and eventually had to abandon the character, because he simply couldn’t stand up to the hordes of wizards who could cut his skeletons down with ease. The barbarian was a different story and the game was a breeze with him (though the final boss was still a welcome challenge), thanks to his powerful abilities and natural hardiness.

New Foes and Quests

   I really don’t want to spoil the surprises that lay in wait for those who play this mod, so I’ll keep this section superficial and brief. There are a ton of new quests and monsters in this game along with new rewards for exploring the dark underbelly of Tristram. Even familiar quests like The Butcher have new twists to them and you’ll find yourself having to adapt to new challenges. My only complaint here is that there is maybe too much in the way of new content, but is that such a bad thing?

More Gear and Crafting

   So there’s a lot of new stuff in the way of equipment. Unique weapons and armors have been overhauled and made more worthwhile. Sets have been introduced, which consist of multiple pieces of equipment that add extra bonuses to the player character when worn together. There are now rare items which have multiple random magical properties on them and can be incredibly powerful. Better yet, new magical properties such as health regeneration, increased item drop rate, and cold damage never been added to the game.

   Players can also craft pieces of equipment after completing a special quest and finding recipes. You’ll need components that are acquired by sacrificing equipment in order to make a new piece of gear, which works out pretty well, since you get tons of useless drops from the RNG as usual. Unfortunately, the crafting system is a bit fiddly, since you will have to store the components you make using the forge and then take them out when you wish to create items. It’s also possible that there are some bugged recipes, because I was unable to create certain items despite the fact that I had all of the components. Speaking of recipes, there’s another problem with the crafting system: players need to find special recipe scrolls to make a piece of equipment, which is nearly as time consuming as farming for unique or set items.

Yup, not goin’ down the crafting rabbit hole.

   While all the new equipment is exciting and fun to use, the item drop system felt less stable than that of the original game. The overall quality (if not utility) of dropped items improves steadily as you progress in vanilla Diablo, but this isn’t the case in Belzebub, where just about anything seems to drop, making it even harder to find or buy stuff you need. An item like “Sword of the Pit” ,which reduces the player’s stats when wielded, was generally a rare find in vanilla Diablo, but gear with negative stats drops frequently in Belzebub. While this makes the game a bit more interesting in some regards, it is difficult enough to get good gear in vanilla Diablo and increasing the occurrence of undesirable drops in the mod was unnecessary.

Incompleteness

   As I pointed out earlier, this mod is incomplete and forever a beta. While the game is highly playable and enjoyable, players will notice all sorts of things that could use improvement or happen to be missing altogether. This is epically true in the case of multiplayer and the missing ending.

   Diablo was known for its fast paced online multiplayer action, which was a real novelty back in the mid nineties. Being able to play Diablo Belzebub with a friend would be great, right? Well, don’t get your hopes up, because multiplayer was never implemented in Belzebub. I’ll play devil’s advocate here (sorry for the pun) and defend the dev a bit, because there’s a lot more to adapting a game that was designed to connect to battlenet (Blizzard’s multiplayer server) than slapping together a couple lines of code. It’s likely that the creator of this mod encountered unforeseen problems when trying to create or alter the netcode for this mod and had to scrap the idea. Still, co-op is a major part of the Diablo experience and people who want to play with a friend will miss it, otherwise it’s not much of an issue.

   **Don’t read the following paragraph if you wish to avoid spoilers concerning the original game and the mod**

   Players familiar with Diablo will notice a new cutscene for the Butcher quest, which is a cool addition to the game, but they’ll also notice that the ending cutscene is conspicuously absent. This was certainly a conscious move on the developer’s part, because Diablo now drops loot upon dying. It seems that the dev was trying to decide when to implement the final movie when he ceased working on Belzebub. While the absence of a final cutscene isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it is a bit anticlimactic and the fact that there is so much new content in Diablo Belzebub makes one wonder what the dev had up his sleeve in regards to the ending.

Improved User Interface

   Belzebub’s user interface is like that of Diablo II. Shops use the same layout that displays the items available for purchase as well as clickable icons for repairs and other services. For the most part this is an improvement over Diablo’s list format, at least aesthetically, but I’ve found the original format easier to use in some cases since you’ll have to mouse over items to see their properties when buying things in Belzebub. At any rate, it is easier to sell things and repair gear with the Diablo II style interface.

   While the new shop system is something of a double edged sword, this mod makes a variety of other improvements to the UI that are clearly beneficial. Players can zoom the camera in or out a great distance, choose to incrementally increase movement speed in town, store items in a massive stash, and place loot in a chest designed for trading. Even the spell book has been upgraded and provides more detailed descriptions for magic and skills. Oh, and the belt has been altered to allow the player to hold more potions and scrolls, but you’ll need to find or buy belts to make use of this feature.

  Finally, a waypoint system has been added to the game which makes it far easier to pick up where you left off after finishing a session of spelunking. In fact the waypoint system is one of the best improvements to the game since it allows you to enter every even level, instead of the first section of an area, which was about every five levels in Diablo. It’s also very helpful considering the fact that there there’s so much new content to begin with.

Graphical Improvements

   Belzebub touts itself as an HD friendly mod and delivers on its promise… for the most part. The original Diablo was developed for late ‘90s era tube monitors and doesn’t look so hot on more modern screens. With its wide variety of resolution settings for both windowed and fullscreen modes, zoomable camera, and a few surprises, Belzebub brings the classic Diablo into the 21st century. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered screen tearing issues with the CG cutscenes on two different PCs which really damages immersion if you are playing in widescreen. Aside from that, the HD mod works really well and vastly improves upon Diablo’s visual presentation while preserving the look and feel of the game.

Muh Firewall.

Added Challenge

   Belzebub is a lot tougher than vanilla Diablo and players will need to build their character more carefully to succeed. While the original classes got a buff and the new characters have their own powerful abilities, the monsters got a boost as well. On top of that, there are a number of new or highly modified enemies that hold nasty surprises. As a result having the right gear and a good strategy is even more important in Belzebub. Needless to say, some players may relish the added challenge, while others may find it frustrating.

Final Thoughts

   Diablo Belzebub could have been one of the greatest mods ever made if it were completed, but what we have is pretty damn good despite being unfinished. A surprise waited around every corner of this mod and its creator, Noktis, did a fine job of preserving the spirit of the original game. While I was disappointed by the lack of multiplayer and bugs that will never be fixed, I still had a blast discovering new areas, using new abilities, and overcoming the challenges presented by this mod. Not only that, but Belzebub is free granted you have the original Diablo Hellfire and it’s hard to beat free.

Recommendations

If you liked the original Diablo, you’ll probably love Belzebub and I encourage everyone who enjoys classic hack and slash RPGs to try this out.

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