So last Wednesday, Halloween, I decided to go out and pick up Hellgate: London. Obviously, there was more at work here than just me wanting to be festive and grab a game that fit the mood of the day. Hellgate: London was largely being touted as “the next Diablo 2”. So, now that the game has come out, and I have had at least a few hours to toil around and play within the world that Flagship Studios has created, is it the next Diablo 2?
Well, there are a lot of reasons why I would say yes, and a lot of reasons why I’d say no. The game is, in story and game play, very similar to Diablo 2. Imagine, if you will, Diablo 2 had been 3D and placed in the modern day and you’ll basically get the same concept as Hellgate: London. Which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. Diablo 2 was one of the high-points of PC gaming of all time. You’ll instantly notice when you jump into the game that some of the classes are very similar to their Diablo 2 counterparts (Blademaster is like the Barbarian, Guardian is like the Paladin). In addition you’ll also notice, about an hour into the game, that their is massive amounts of loot being thrown around, also very Diablo 2-esque. Overall, the surface of the game is almost shockingly similar to Diablo 2, which is to be expected since the game was created by the original Diablo 2 game designer.
Once you start to delve a little further into the game, however, you’ll begin to notice some stark contrasts between Hallgate: London and Diablo 2. Obviously, there is no battle.net to run your games. Everything is run off of a single U.S. server or EU server (depending on where you live, naturally). This means there is no out-of-game “lobby” area where you can assemble your team and head-off into a game with your buddies. This also means you won’t ever get any unexpected guests in your game. Everything about Hellgate: London’s instancing zones screams Guild Wars. You’ll find yourself in a “town” area where the players gather, and from there you’ll gather your quests and acquire your team members and head into the zone.
Overall, Hellgate: London gives it’s own unique feel for the Online RPG game, one that does not take the place of Diablo 2. Although their are some similarities, the overall gameplay management makes this game feel much more unique than if it were a direct Diablo 2 clone. Now bring on DIablo 3. . .