Stay awhile and listen… to how I finally got Diablo 2 working

On my old PC I was able to install and play Diablo 2. The game is 20 years old now and has lots of janky bits to it. The characters walk awfully slowly around the landscapes, and they move like they have to go to the bathroom very badly. You have to hold town portal and identify scrolls in your limited inventory. And so on.

But still, the music is great and there is satisfaction in slaying a multitude of demons and picking new skills to slay a multitude more.

Last April I assembled a new PC. Still running, Windows 10, but now with a newer video card (still Nvidia) and a modern CPU (this time AMD instead of Intel). Among the games I installed was Diablo 2, grabbing the installer from Blizzard’s site, and using my license key from the same place.

When I ran the game I got an unhandled exception error. Visions of the early days of Tribes 2 came vividly back–these are not good visions. I began searching for, then attempting every fix or workaround I could find.

All of them failed. Diablo 2 would not run on my new PC.

Fast-forward to today, a year later. Diablo 2 will still not work. I am sad, but have moved on.

But wait, that’s a lie, because I am actually still quietly obsessed with getting the game to work. Periodically I try something new, or repeat something I’ve tried before, hoping it will magically work this time.

Yesterday I went looking for my original game CDs…and found them. I brought out my portable USB DVD drive, connected it to my PC and tried installing the game the same way I did back in the year 2000. Then it asked for a CD key. No problem, I went to my Blizzard account and…noticed that it has a license key, which is different than the CD key. The CD key is on the front of the CD case, but I found the discs in a binder of game discs.

I searched again…and found my original CD jewel cases! The one for Diablo 2 has a note on the back to assure you that it is “Year 2000 complaint.” Good to know.

The installation of the game and Lord of Destruction expansion is appropriately tedious, requiring me to juggle an Install Disc, a Play Disc, a Cinematics Disc and Expansion Disc.

I previously had installed a Glide (3dfx) wrapper, which was one of the recommendations in getting Diablo 2 to work on modern systems. I completed the installation and the game moved to the video test, which is sort of farther than it had gotten previously. I say sort of because the latest patched version of the game removes the video test entirely.

The test completes and it defaults to 3dfx. I leave this and without doing anything else, I click the Play button.

And it works.

It works with both the base game and expansion. Yes, for now I need to leave the DVD drive connected and have the Expansion Disc in it. Yes, it is only running version 1.07 (the version that the LoD expansion updates it to). But it works and everything is there, in glorious 800×600 resolution!

Behold my druid, DrewEd (no, I will not apologize for the name):

You may have to squint a little.

As for the actual game, after the opening cinematic (which makes no reference to your character at all), you are dumped into the Rogue Encampment where Warwiv vaguely warns of evil spreading across the land and the monastery is closed. Then you’re left to just bumble around and kill things. It’s been 20 years, I don’t remember how the plot actually gets started. Or how much of a plot there even is. All I know is I want my volcano and molten boulders, and they shall be mine.

Leave a Comment