Diablo 2 is old but not obsolete. This amateur mod aims to present enhanced adventuring experience—darker atmosphere, better item availability, more challenge and less grinding. With various classic Diablo 1 elements involved and substantial content improvements, it focuses on shaping Diablo 2 into a rejuvenated game of horror, strategy and diversity. In addition to fixing a few major bugs in original game, main features are listed below:
Note that this mod does not support official latest patch due to change of file structure. After unzipping TSW mod pack, copy the following files into Diablo 2 directory and then overwrite old files:
There are only two language versions: English (default) and Chinese (optional). Copy mpq file from language subfolder into Diablo 2 directory according to your preferred choice:
For users of D2SE Mod-manager, please consult tutorial page for detailed instructions.
Before introducing my humble modding, I would like to give my special thanks to The Phrozen Keep staffs and members for all tutorials and resources. TSW will never come to being without their share and help. All credits go to them.
TSW is primarily for experienced players, thus you are expected to have defeated hell difficulty in vanilla Diablo 2 and seek to advance your journey. However, in order to stay away from legal trouble, there is no private server in spite of its promotion for popularity, and please play multiplayer games over TCP/IP or Hamachi. Admittedly, I realize the lack of realm/server means the problems of players gathering, as a result hell difficulty is not designed to be too hard for a well-prepared character to overcome, including act boss fight.
Diablo 2 PvM endgame is all about grinding for items: ubers, cow/baal runs over and over again. It's an extremely shallow and disappointing concept if you ask me. Those items come down to get current meta builds to even faster AOE everything. No class difference, no intense fight, no depth of contents and options. I am so sick and tired of the quick and cheap fun Blizzard has been obssessed with that long ago I left vanilla Diablo 2 for good. This mod has been developed in private over a decade, and until now I believe it is complete enough to be public. Generally speaking, character skills and items are remarkably weakened and monsters are massively enhanced for the purpose of challenge. Hell difficulty is the very core of this mod, but you are not pictured as a god-slaying chosen one characer who knows he could save the world, the only question is when. Instead, you are nothing but a regular human trying to survive, and you can feel that every step of the way. Careful and skillful play will prove yourself a worthy hero who can fight alone in most areas, but team work is highly suggested if you want to defeat the Prime Evils in an easier way. Regardless of slight emphasis on multiplayer, TSW is still based on single player.
One of the biggest differences between vanilla Diablo 2 and TSW is that items which grant or cast skills are gone. I understand it is a significant change many players can't accept for the sake of strength, safety or build variation, but I insist on doing so. I strongly disagree the classless concept, and it is what Blizzard implemented in expansion to facilitate for item-hunting , especially after patch 1.10 where players can own several powerful skills exclusive to other classes at the same time by high-end rune words. That is absolutely absurd and overpowered. Skill trees shall be unique to each class and you can't learn them by items. In terms of character features, classes have to be meaningful distinctions and truly different in essence. These are role-playing boundaries that can't be blurred or stepped over, even though there is an urgent need of creating something new. You feel and play differently with inherent pros and cons of each class, thereby the game would be more interesting and divergent in thinking and fighting. Also, without omnipotent characters, team play becomes appealing and enjoyable.
The charm of Diablo 2 is customizing your character to defeat all kinds of evil, but meta builds as well as uber items make things too easy, just like an overwhelming massacre. Sadly, since patch 1.10 Blizzard regarded it as the success of game genre (ARPG), totally unaware that the pleasure of this game has been destoryed. With the lack of challenge, the real joy lies not in fighting but looting, and I don't think that's the way Diablo 2 has to be. What's even worse is that uber skills and items are always the first choices for battle. There is no room for other choices just because they are not so effective or viable. The truth is Blizzard didn't do a good job in balance, and it has led to a serious problem you can't ignore: most skills and items actually mean nothing in the end. No matter how many options you have, the final decision remains the same. Diablo 2 should not be ruled by dominant groups, so I greatly weakened uber skills/items/mercenaries and remarkably improved mediocre or insignificant options. TSW is a world of variety where underdogs deserve more attention and chances, and several profound policy changes are made especially for better skill balance.
First of all, defense and recovery skills are vitally important. Without endless power treadmill in vanilla Diablo 2, TSW is not planned on the route to power supremacy. As monsters are much stronger and more dangerous after nightmare difficulty, fast killing becomes the past and now the primary goal is to survive. You must keep defensive awareness in mind at all times, and skills are always handy.
Secondly, melee builds can compete with caster and ranged builds, which means melee skills deal more damage or suffer lesser (damage) penalty than missile skills. It is in fact the idea of high-risk, high-return. Logically, power and safety contradict each other, and it is rediculously unreasonable to have it both ways. Whatever build you choose, it has its costs and benefits, so you have to make trade-offs.
Lastly, the skill tree system in vanilla Diablo 2 makes character skills develope and heighten in a progressive way. This feature causes an inevitable consequence that most basic skills are doomed to be useless because they are intended to be replaced by advanced skills that can reach the best effect in the same category such as enhancement, target number or damage area. For example, Frozen Orb is definitely more effective than Ice Bolt; Whirlwind surely outdoes Bash in offense. The purpose of overall replacement underlying skill tree system is exactly the main reason why vanilla Diablo 2 is plagued by terrible skill balance and why Blizzard fails to fix this issue in a long patching history. As a result, contrary to official thinking of evolution, TSW presents another view for skill balance: jack of all trades, master of none. In other words, skills for single hit/target/function are greatly improved, and skills for multiple hit/target/function are significantly weakened. By bridging the gap of competence, advanced skills possess a few advantages on the whole, but basic skills are literally superior in specialized aspects. For example, Poison Explosion deals much more damage to a small group of monsters than Poison Nova; Resist Fire provides much more protection against fire damage than Salvation. Don't be shocked if you notice that damage of advanced skills is usually much lesser than that of basic skills. It looks weird enough to make no sense, but I believe all these tweaks are correct and necessary.
It is the core concept of balance that everything has its pros and cons. Nothing is too good to be replaced, and a perfect choice is never allowed despite our practical aspire to it.
Creating a new character will bring you full experience of role-playing, but note that this mod sets great limits for mobility and gold/potion supply, so it is much harder than vanilla game play in the beginning. A few feedback complains about this and let me explain. In vanilla setting, characters will never run out of stamina when they reach higher level and consequently modifiers and skills concerning stamina are almost useless. Similarly, the abuse of potions makes healing skills and modifiers play insignificant roles in combat. Vanilla game play just lacks minimal attention to these role-playing factors. Maybe stamina system is not a good design in a retrospective view, but it is my basic idea about TSW that if you can't remove it, refine it. I dislike overly nonstop killing and would like to address recovery and resting elements after each battle. If you suffer from low mobility and short supply, slow down your pace of fight, take a timely rest and use healing skills or scenery objects. Simply put, you have to stop speedruns and learn to be cured by some means other than potions.
My personal advice for anyone who tries to challenge greater evil in TSW: master the class you choose to play. Improve your knowledge of items and skills, play with strategy, and you can stand a chance in hell difficulty. That is to say, you have to realize items are no longer all that matter. I believe many players don't have correct and sufficient information about all character skills, let alone give more concern to tactics. What they learned from vanilla Diablo 2 experience is it is godly items that count, and that is awfully wrong in TSW due to a permanent fact that overpowered items don't exist. Now that you can't gain huge benefits and take great advantages from items, skills and tactics play more important roles in combat and survival. If frustrated by setbacks, remember to look into skills you rarely use which work wonders in most cases. Actually, the enemies out there are not too hard to handle as long as you freely use all kinds of methods, but always think twice before you act. TSW playing is made up of an infinite amount of making choices, and sometimes even the smallest decisions can change the results of battle.
Strong enemies and poor stamina to escape from danger will force you to play with slower, more cautious pace of fight, and which is how horror is adequately created. You can take this dark theme as the soul of Diablo series where D1 succeeded but D2 failed. For too long I have never felt terror or tension while exploring the vanilla world, and I want to relive those missing moments in TSW.
To save your time for leveling and quest completion, characters from vanilla Diablo 2 are compatible, and just remember to update old items in the cube for new properties. It is not a fair fight to equip your hero with something which is extraordinarily powerful but never exists in TSW.
Knowledge is power. Take some time to read pdf files in documentation folder packed in mod for detailed item information, so that you may have clear ideas to prepare proper gears for battle. So far I have no time for a wiki or web site, and those pdf files are the only available references. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.
Tempered item is an abandoned project prior to the official release of patch 1.10 and I reworked it in TSW. It is not a new item type but a concept of extra enhancement for all items. Just like crafted items, tempered items are generated by cube recipes but featured with fixed and unique benefits.
As utilities outside of closed Battle.net, character/item editors are neither forbidden nor approved. To use or not to use, that is not the question and totally up to you. I respect legit players who have zero tolerance for cheating, but I have no intention to take a strong and rigorous stance on editors because potential cases of reasonable use such as build/stuff testing are acceptable and should be allowed.
In all, burning in hellfire, TSW is an old world with new contents and concepts. I hope players would find their own niche and enjoy dark fantasy in this chaotic realm. Any feedback is very welcome.
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