Blizzard Entertainment has released its v1.10 patch to Diablo II. Despite the minor version increment, this is a major update to the perennial favorite action game, and at long last offers performance improvements for Mac users who prefer to use the game’s hardware-based graphics acceleration.
Diablo II was first released in 2000. An isometrically displayed “hack and slash”-style dungeon crawl set in a fantasy world populated with monsters, demons and creatures of all sorts of descriptions, Diablo II borrows from role playing games by featuring a character leveling and item acquisition system, but it’s mainly an action game. It’s been enormously successful, and remains a popular diversion for online gamers who play through Blizzard’s own Battle.net gamefinding service. Blizzard even offered an expansion pack the following year called Lord of Destruction that offered more features and capabilities on to the original game.
Blizzard has consistently updated Diablo II with bug fixes, performance enhancements and changes throughout the game’s long life — even adding Mac OS X support to the mix once Apple’s operating system was ready for games.
Mac users have from the start complained of performance problems related to the game’s optional OpenGL-based hardware graphics acceleration. In most cases, Diablo II ran faster in software rendering mode, and looked almost as good (although certain parallax shifting, shadowing and lighting effects clearly looked better with OpenGL). This version release marks a change to provide users with improved OpenGL performance, as long as the target Mac meets the system requirements: MacOSX 10.2, 256MB RAM, and Radeon or GeForce AGP video card. What’s more, Diablo II gains support for widescreen resolutions in Mac OS X v10.2 and higher.
Overall, the Mac-specific changes in Diablo II mark only one aspect of v1.10’s improvements — in fact, the Web site lists dozens upon dozens of changes made to the game in this version. More challenging gameplay has been added, including what Blizzard describes as “an extremely challenging world-event” that occurs when gamers play Hardcore characters in Hell-level difficulty games.
Fundamental architectural changes have been made that affect collision detection, online stats and inventory, skill and monster systems. Specific improvements have been made to increase the challenge of certain parts of the game at certain difficulty level settings. Skill balances have been revised for all Player Character classes, new Rune Words and Horadric Cube recipes have been added, new Battle.net features have been added and Player vs. Player loopholes and exploits have been eliminated; major and minor bugs have been fixed, and dozens of other changes have been made as well.
Visit the site for all the details. Diablo II v1.10 is available for download by connecting your copy of Diablo II to Battle.net, where it will be automatically updated. An standalone updater will be available for download later.