Since the PTR is out, I decided to give it a go and check out specifically the Darkening of Tristram event. I had seen Kripparian’s video where he posted a fairly scathing review and decided to see if it was worth his ire.
First, to get to the area, you need to go to the Old Ruins and search out a portal that leads you to the old Tristram zone. It pretty much pixelates the graphics and for someone like me who has eye problems, starts intensifying ones headache. You eventually need to wander up the road to get to the Old Chapel where you descend roughly 16 levels before facing the Dark Lord. Now mind you, they recommend that you start a character from scratch to do this event. However, in my case, I didn’t want to put the time into creating a brand new character and just copied my top demon hunter over. The event does scale so it’s not like the difficulty level gets gimped just by bringing over a higher level character.
Most of the levels pretty much use the same tile set as the current game and many similar monsters. Many floors have unique monsters which might be throwbacks to the original Diablo, including the infamous Butcher. But outside of the jumpscare, none of the uniques seems to pose much of a threat (at least for a properly geared and leveled character). A few floors have their own tiny puzzles, including areas that are blocked off. I didn’t really bother exploring every nook and cranny so I don’t know what some of those sections’ purpose was. However, some floors just continued to meander, kinda like the worst of the caves from a typical rift.
They attempted to bring back certain aspects of the original Diablo by using tile sets that tried to match up. However, you’re mostly reminded of the current game since the art is just a pixelated version of the current game. There’s one zone in particular that dropped the lighting to give it the tone from the game, but I’ll return to that in a bit. Probably, the one thing that I did enjoy with regards to the atmosphere was the use of the original music. If anything, the original Diablo score is probably one of the best ever made and stands the test of time.
In terms of loot, there’s a lot of basic loot from the game mixed in with a few transmog items. You can, for instance, get a butcher’s cleaver after killing The Butcher colored as a blue which might be useful for a low level character. Unfortunately, beyond transmog, I really can’t see how most of the loot here can be useful beyond leveling purposes.
Of course, the biggest piece of loot is a special legendary Red Soulstone Shard gem. It’s a weird gem that CC’s you but blast things around you and used in your helmet slot. Pretty much it looks to be a novel leveling gem that could make its mark in the next season. They did buff the damage recently but I don’t know how useful it’ll be going forward. Since the event only last during the anniversary month, future seasons won’t see a usage for it. So it seems more like a novelty item for a very small period.
Now, while going through the instance, I felt that there wasn’t a lot of monsters. Too many empty zones where I just kept wandering with no purpose. In fact, there’s a few areas where I wandered all the way to one section to find a dead end and was forced to retrace my steps. It felt like a complete waste of time.
So I want to talk about the thing that really bothered me most of all: the coloring. I completely understand that Diablo is meant to be a dark game. It’s supposed to capture the gothic feeling of hopeless and dread through having little light. However, for all intents and purposes, the coloring gives me migraines constantly. Even outside of this event, many rifts would either be too bright or too dark. In both cases, if I played too long, my temples would feel as though they could explode at any moment. And it’s not just myself but I know many others who feel the same. That’s partly why I didn’t explore the entire dungeon. I wanted to complete it as quickly as possible since the coloring began igniting that horrible feeling in my skull.
Overall, the event seems more like a novelty with a few monsters thrown in. The music is probably the only thing I enjoyed and I expect that people will use this event as another method to level just to obtain that legendary gem once January hits. The limited movement and coloring did little for me beyond annoy me. The monsters weren’t really a challenge and you could finish this in about an hour. It might be good as a one-off type of deal just to switch up leveling in seasons. But other than that, it’s not a huge game changer.