How WoW has been influenced by Diablo
Blizzard games are often distinct from one another — you’re not going to confuse Hearthstone with StarCraft, for example — but they are not conceived and executed in vacuum, and there is influence between each. Sometimes this is obvious, as in the case of Warcraft/StarCraft, where both are RTS games and thus share an evolutionary path. But lately, people have been looking at World of Warcraft and seeing a Diablo influence.
The incoming Torghast scalable dungeon in Shadowlands, for example, is held up as an example of a Diablo-esque dungeon crawl, one with replayablility and ascending challenge more akin to the action RPG. Likewise, the ascendance of World Quests has often been compared to Diablo 3‘s Adventure Mode, and the way Legion had legendary items seemed more akin to Diablo than the way WoW had approached them. This was seen as a sign of Diablo influence on the World of Warcraft.
A long association
I’m not here to contradict this opinion. I’m here to say, “Guys, World of Warcraft has been influenced by Diablo for the entirety of its existence.” Talent trees in vanilla WoW owed a lot to Diablo 2. The entirety of itemization in World of Warcraft owes a lot to Diablo, down to some item sets being imported into World of Warcraft from Diablo. And let’s not pretend that the inverse hasn’t also happened, with Diablo 3 Active and Passive Skills bearing a resemblance to World of Warcraft‘s revamped talents from Mists of Pandaria.
To a degree I’d argue that it would be unnatural for these two games, the respective titans in their fields, to have no influence over one another. While Diablo and World of Warcraft are distinct from one another and always have been, with the Warcraft setting being a more stereotypical high fantasy epic bearing the marks of the genre — I mean, it’s got Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Trolls and the like — it’s worth noting that before making World of Warcraft that Blizzard had not actually made another role playing game besides Diablo. The various Warcraft games are Real Time Strategy, and while the series kept bringing in RPG elements like hero units it’s fair to say that they weren’t in the genre.
These games are sisters
So it’s not surprising that when Blizzard sat down to make an MMO using its Warcraft setting, they drew upon lessons learned in the development of the biggest of the Action RPG genre, a game they happened to have pretty solid knowledge about. Now, it’s clear that Diablo 2 was published while both Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft were in development — after all, World of Warcraft originally used the Warcraft 3 engine and Warcraft 3 was published in 2002, a year after Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction came out.
I’m aware that Diablo 2 was created by Blizzard North, which was a separate team. I’m not arguing for direct descent here, but for influence — the ability for people working on the one game to see and be inspired by the other. Things like item quality, talent trees, and abilities make sense and work well for both games, so it’s not surprising that they would appear in both. And it’s important to point out that influence isn’t the same as ‘ripping off’ or ‘copying’, both because it’s hard to rip yourself off and because there’s a certain amount of cross contamination when it comes to any creative pursuit and that includes creating a game.
In the end we’re killing things and taking their stuff either way
I used paragraph structure to write this. I didn’t have to, but it works. Why reinvent the wheel every time you sit down to write something? Diablo helped create the entire genre of going into a dungeon and killing monsters for their stuff, why wouldn’t it have had an influence on World of Warcraft? It’s a game where we do exactly that with friends, it would be silly to try and avoid learning from its elder sibling.
So yeah, Torghast feels pretty Diablo-esque. But that puts it in some pretty august company, alongside talents, item quality being defined by color, Legendary items, and the Sacred Charge item set. I’m okay with WoW borrowing from Diablo. Heck, I’ve wanted a straight up crossover between the two for years, so if Torghast is the closest we get to that, I will take it.
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