This was originally posted as a guest article on diabloii.net, but all their archives disappeared when the site was refreshed for Diablo III. I have republushed it here, restoring links where I could find an appropriate replacement.

The Ten Best/Worst Quests in Diablo II

The astute amongst you will have noticed that I'm not Flux. However, I hope that stealing his format and plagiarizing mercilessly will cause Flux to say 'hold on, the deadline of 7th of May has in fact slipped past without my noticing it, quick! I should do another Decahedron (or at the very least, feedback for the last!)".

I suspect some of you are still puzzling over one of the words in the title, namely 'Quests'. This is a little known feature of Diablo II that Blizzard once imagined would be the focus of the game. Fortunately they realised the error of their ways and gave us the Buriza. Actually you have all done a quest, though you may not realise it. You know killing Mephisto right? Well think back to the first time you killed him. Okay, the first time your character was in a game where the person rushing you killed him. That was a quest! No no, not a quest for items a oh forget it.

These results are based on a strict ranking of quests according to a scientific1 system factoring in:

Each of these factors is carefully weighed according to a dynamic2 and arbitrary system.

Right, that's enough introduction, let's ignore the option of disclaimers and get down to business, "Worst first, 'cause life is like that" as my literary hero would say.

The Five Worst Quests in D2X

#5: The Search for Cain: Act I, Quest Three Plaque

Some of you are asking 'that can't be right, isn't this the bad quests list? After all, wasn't Tristram one of the best areas in the game? Isn't revisiting the original game cool, and isn't identify all, for free, a wonderful bonus?'

Yes, yes, and yes. If Rescuing Cain were all about Tristram this quest would be appearing on the second list of this article. But it isn't, first is 'Find the Tree of Irrelevant scroll' and it is this crime that has turned such a promising quest into one of the worst in the game. 'Why?' you ask?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Dashing across the land to save Cain from a grizzly fate in a cage (speaking of which, why is he still alive? Did the demons sense that Cain was an important plot character, and should therefore be kept alive, otherwise there'd be no one to figure out how to beat them? It's not like they had any reservations about killing everyone else in the village), my character chanced upon some standing stones. "That's interesting" she thought, after slaughtering the monsters around them. "These must be the stones that the scroll will tell me how to activate. I don't know which order to touch them in yet though." She thought for a moment more (sadly an Amazon's mass is not concentrated in the brain) and then she had a stroke of genius "Of course I could just touch all of them, then, when I get the right one it'll start to glow, then I'll just touch the rest till the next one starts to glow, and so on. That's a maximum of 5+4+3+2+1 touches - 15. Much faster than finding some silly scroll and getting it decoded."

Can you imagine her shock when it didn't work? The best moments in a game reward players' intelligence, the worst punish it. This is one of the worst. After that trauma my character never thought again, the counselling bills are killing me.

No we're not going to mention the Underground Passageway, some memories are better left buried.

#4: The Summoner: Act II, Quest Five Plaque

The first time I went through the arcane sanctuary I saw the quest icon popup fired a few arrows at something off screen, then paused to read it - The Summoner, Quest completed. Eh? It took till nightmare for me to discover what the quest actually was, and that by running away as soon as the quest log came up and stopping to read it. Turns out that if you nip back to town before competing the quest the townsfolk actually have some interesting things to say about the character, apparently he's a wannabe Horazon.

It wasn't until Hell that I actually saw the lad, and he does look cool. For all of five seconds, then your hireling kills him.

I don't care how pretty he is, I don't care how novel his abilities are, or how nice the area he's in is. A quest I can complete by accident before realising it even exists is lame. For crying out loud, give him a second hit point Blizzard. This must be the definitive case of the total being less than the sum of its parts.

This quest feels like a case of 'oops, we've only got five quests for this act, throw in a unique boss, and call it a quest'. It scores L for lame.

#3: The Forgotten Tower: Act I, Quest Four Plaque

So Diablo is set on taking over the world, just ahead of you he puts his nefarious schemes into operation, time is tight, the whole world hangs in the balance, danger is rife (well, in the later acts). So of course you skive off to find some cash. Presumably in case some fool of a townsfolk refuses to give you what you need to save their butt unless you hand over a ridiculous mass of gold. Like that's going to hap ... no wait.

Aside from Gheed who would quite happily risk his life for two bob3 I don't understand why I have to pay for things from any of the other NPCs. Yes, I know this is how fantasy games work, but being one idiot among many does not redeem you.

#2: Rescue on Mt. Arreat: Act V, Quest Two Plaque

For some time I rather enjoyed this quest, before it sank in just how stupid it was. Why are there crowds of barbarians stuck in wooden pens? Why have they not leapt out, or punched a hole through the wood, or just stood on one another's shoulders?

Turns out that answer is 'because they have a town portal'. Yeah, that makes sense. This isn't a rescue it's a strangely staged screen play. Full of Imps, *shudder*.

We're not even going to talk about why on earth they're alive in the first place. Oh alright, since you insist. It's part of Baal's long term strategy: to create a secret barbarian level, where packs of carbon copy barbarians with enormous polearms, wander aimlessly. Baal plans to gain a massive amount of experience this way, which is why he's refusing to update his copy of D2X to 1.10.

#1: Khalim's Will: Act III, Quest Three Plaque

No surprises here. Either you completely agree with me, or you haven't reached Act III yet. On the dubious basis that the majority of you mysteriously fall into the latter category, allow me to rant:

This quest has all the originality of breathing, has all the game interest of Cleglaw's Claw, and is slightly less fun than cleaning toilets.

After wading through long monotonous stretches of turgid swamp to reclaim vital organs that should have decayed long, long ago, but seem to have been left on an ancient donor program you finally assemble all the ingredients. And every single time you obtain one Cain goes on and on repeating the same spiel about how you would use the whole lot, should you ever succeed in collecting them all before the boredom kills you. And all the while you're searching for the 'shove the heart of Khalim down the throat of Cain' option, but it just isn't there.

You'd think that would be enough wouldn't you? But no, this quest has the coup de grace, just in case anyone should ever doubt it's phenomenal awfulness. You finally assemble all the ingredients, you place in them in your Horodric Cube, Cain gives his spiel one last time, you click on transmute, and suddenly Cain wants to talk to you again.
"What on earth is it this time?" you demand.
"Masterfully done hero!" he replies.

Masterfully done? Masterfully done! All you did was click a button! Collecting them all might indicate some kind of mastery (sadly only the sort applicable to regathering a stamp collection which has had a hostile encounter with your younger brother), but clicking 'transmute' proves only that you don't suffer from certain severe disabilities.

The Five Best Quests in D2X

#5: Sister's Burial Ground: Act I, Quest Two (Blood Raven) Plaque

I think some of you will be surprised to see this quest here, how dare you question my flawless judgement? But this quest has a lot going for it. It's the first place in the game where you could plausibly die (short of beating yourself round the head with a dead quill rat), Blood Raven has like, an AI; she runs away, she summons the undead. And she looks like the unholy offspring of a one night stand between the necromancer and the amazon. Okay, so the last one is a strike against her.

She also comes with the single best quest reward in the entire game, I mean how cool are hirelings? This is where you get your first. Why isn't it top of the list? Well it might give you a hireling on normal, but it gives you all of two mouldy peanuts in nightmare and hell. Perhaps I could trade in the hireling I would get for hireling resurrection credits? It is after all my second biggest expense (after funerals for my sadly deceased clones).

#4: The Blackened Temple: Act III, Quest Five Plaque

To understand the true joy of this quest, you really need to put it into it's context. It comes shortly after you've completed Khalim's Will. Let's run down the list of marvelous features that set it apart from Worst Quest Ever #1, with which it cohabits.

This quest is good times, it has exactly what the rest of the act lacks: adrenaline, and that earns it a place in the list of the best.

Why yes, my arbitrary points system did give 'Quest Reward' a weighting of 'irrelavent' for this entry, how did you guess?

#3: The Fallen Angel: Act IV, Quest One Plaque

There are only two quests in the game with a plot twist, the other being Betrayal of Harrogath, and that wasn't exactly a surprise. The story around this quest pulls in elements of the first game (the Hellforge), explains what's been going for most of this game and sets down the pieces for the next game. In between it throws expectations on their heads (you thought Tryael was playing the Good guy defying heaven? More like the foolish guy) and tells a good story. Throw in a quest bonus like two skill points, and you're onto one of the greatest quests of all time.

Sadly it's Izzy himself who disappoints. A corrupt angel right? Should be dark, should be dangerous, should show great prowess with the blade, should be a fleeting, dodging, flying, swooping challenge, right? Apparently not. According to Blizzard he should have more hit points than a small mountain, and the manoeuvrability to match. And the colour blue. Let's not forget that. A quest monster where the most pain free method of killing it is taping down a mouse button, and making a cup of tea. If you get bored of watching paint dry you could always stare at him trying to hit something "I .. will .. lift .. this .. cleaver .. up .. eventually."

Sorry Izzy, you're cool enough after you die to score this highly, but too lame while still alive to get any higher.

#2: Terror's End: Act IV, Quest Three (Kill Diablo) Plaque

The biggie. Our man Diablo himself, and he doesn't disappoint. No I don't know what he's doing hiding behind three seals either. Nor do I know what the seal minions are for "De Seis, go and see who's knocking on the transdimensional door would you? That's a good butler" (hey, there's a fanfic premise!), and you know what? I don't care. This area is far too much fun for intrusions for sense and reason.

To start with everything about it is a visual treat. The Cathedral is second only to the view from the Arreat Summit, our pentagonal set piece is perfect, Diablo is suitably impressive, and several of the monsters have cool coloured effects to boot. Add to that the classiness of the monsters, in particular our dear curse knights, the power of the seal packs and most importantly the monster that is Diablo himself. The Ring-Of-FireTM may not do much but it sure is cool, and the spreading fire and pink lightning are both very classy.

The climax of the original game received a good deal of attention, and it shows.

#1: Rite of Passage: Act V, Quest Five Plaque

For those of you who have chosen not to dedicate your life to memorising quest names (What on earth's wrong with you?) I should perhaps tell you that this is the quest where you have to fight the ancients (or steal someone else's waypoint, cheating scumbag5).

In many ways this is the pinnacle of the game. It's the fight scene to the action movie, the murder to the thriller, the revelation to the mystery. You only have to play this area once to say "Blizzard, we take back all the hard words we ever said against you. Now we remember why we call you the best developer in the games industry." Let's do bullet points because they're fun, and I like showing off my desperately limited html skills.

Well, that puts me fresh out of quests. If I missed your favourite quest, or failed to adequately mock your nemesis then do email me. There'll be a link to a forum thread somewhere as well. I guess that means I finally have to register an account on there. Ho hum. Still, if I've done really well I may get a taste of the flaming Flux receives. Don't you miss that Flux? I know you do; get writing.

1Yes folks, we set up a control, and did experiments to try and confirm a theoretical model and I can tell you that after calculating the error in our results we have conclusively proved that this is another example of a claim to be 'scientific' that has absolutely no basis in reality.

2That means constantly changing. It's worth making that exchange whenever reading any corprate blurb, because the result is often highly entertaining. Okay, so I have an odd sense of humour, get back to the article won't you?

3It's not my fault if you don't have the good fortune to be British.

4To be fair he almost never does, but after dealing with him through Khalim's Will it's hard to hold a sense of perspective.

5It's worth noting that a similar technique in Act III would have you labeled not as 'cheating scumbag' but instead as 'wise, wise man6'.

6Or woman. Yes, this is a footnote to a footnote. I like footnotes.

7Who are presumably fake people. Actually, that would explain a lot about battle.net wouldn't it?


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