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Diablo 3’s retro Diablo level is an annual event, comes with exclusive loot

Blizzard’s Diablo 1 throwback is full of fan service

Diablo art Blizzard Entertainment
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls players will be able to relive the original Diablo, which turns 20 years old this December, as part of an annual event called The Darkening of Tristram, Blizzard announced earlier today at BlizzCon. The limited-time retrospective will be available to play in January, and will return every year in an homage to the original action-RPG.

The original Diablo was officially released Dec. 31, 1996, but most players — outside of Blizzard, anyway — didn’t get their hands on it until January of the following year, Blizzard explained.

Diablo 3’s take on Diablo will come with all 16 levels present in the original and its four bosses. The Darkening of Tristam will be presented in “retro vision,” a pixelated filter than makes Diablo 3 look more like a game from the mid-’90s, and with audio that is “tinny on purpose.” When players walk through the retro version of Tristram, they’ll be restricted to eight directions of movement and see about 25 percent fewer frames of animation, giving the game an intentional stutter.

Blizzard even made a retro user interface for the game:

Blizzard said the Diablo 20th anniversary content for Diablo 3 originally started as a much smaller project; the developer simply wanted to put some Diablo 2 music into Diablo 3, and the retro revival “snowballed” from there.

Diablo 3 players who venture into the original Diablo’s Tristram will grant players some exclusive rewards, including portraits, sigils, banners and pets. The Darkening of Tristram will also feature some exclusive loot, notably Diablo 3’s first helmet slot legendary gem, the Soulstone from Diablo.

Diablo 3 - The Darkening of Tristram

Players will also have access to new transmogrifications, including a throwback cleaver based on the original Butcher and Wirt’s leg.

And since players could already find and equip Wirt’s Leg in Diablo 3, that means players will soon be able to dual-wield the unfortunate Tristram resident’s legs.

The Darkening of Tristram will be a free add-on for Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls owners on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The Diablo throwback level will be playable on Blizzard’s Public Test Realm next week.

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