To Hell and Back Again

Diablo 20th Anniversary

It’s been twenty years since the incantations of dark rituals first echoed from the cathedral buried beneath Tristram and the denizens of the Burning Hells were unleashed upon Sanctuary under the command of the series’ titular villain, Diablo. Since then, millions of players have experienced the intense and enthralling gameplay that’s become a hallmark of the series. Here’s to twenty more!


What is Diablo?

In 1996, Blizzard Entertainment released Diablo®, merging fast-paced point-and-click action with the character customization and progression found in traditional role-playing games. With immense replayability, memorable music, and a brooding atmosphere, Diablo defined the action-RPG genre, influencing many games to follow.

At BlizzCon 2016, we gathered a group of veteran demon slayers to spill their guts about what Diablo means to them. Check out the video to relive powerful memories from Sanctuary, as retold by Diablo developers past and present.

The History of Diablo

Condor approaches Blizzard to co-develop a new game, tentatively named Diablo Condor purchased by Davidson, Blizzard's parent company, and renamed Blizzard North Diablo released Blizzard officially declares “There is no secret cow level,” to dispel trolls and rumors to the contrary Computer Gaming World magazine names Diablo “Game of the Year” Diablo II announced and estimated to be released in 1998 Diablo II beta begins Diablo II opening cinematic revealed on GameSpot Diablo II for PC released Diablo II sells more than 1 million copies in two weeks to become the fastest-selling PC game ever Diablo II for Mac released Diablo II: Lord of Destruction announced at ECTS Diablo II: Lord of Destruction beta begins Diablo II: Lord of Destruction released Diablo II: Lord of Destruction sells more than 1 million copies to become the fastest-selling expansion set ever The impending patch 1.10 release warns players of the “Rust Storm” which will delete any illegitimately created items Diablo II 1.10 patch released including seasonal ladder characters, increasing the difficulty, new items, the Uber Diablo event, and more Diablo II ladder is reset for the first time and a race to 99 contest is held US West ladder race winner “Matriarch Tifas-Revenge” is crowned EU ladder race winner “Patriarch ETFonTop-Leader” is crowned Diablo II patch 1.11 is released, implementing new content and the Hellfire Torch charm Diablo III announced at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Paris, showing off the barbarian and witch doctor classes Diablo III wizard class unveiled at BlizzCon 2008 BlizzCon 2009 attendees experience the righteous fury of Diablo III’s fourth playable class: the stoic and powerful monk Diablo II patch 1.13 released and ladder season 5 begins The final playable class in Diablo III, the demon hunter, unveiled at BlizzCon 2010 Diablo III beta test begins Diablo III “Black Soulstone” cinematic teaser unveiled at BlizzCon 2011 Diablo 3 Intro Cinematic revealed at Spike Video Game Awards Diablo III released for PC and Mac, becoming the fastest selling PC game ever. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls announced. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls opening cinematic unveiled. Diablo III released for PS3 and Xbox 360 Diablo III: Reaper of Souls released for PC and Mac. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition released for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Patch 2.1.0 – New features included: Seasons, Greater Rifts, and Leaderboards. Patch 2.2.1 – D3 releases in China Patch 2.3.0 – New features included: Kanai’s Cube, Season Journey, and the Ruins of Sescheron. Patch 2.4.0 – New features included: Set Dungeons, Season Rebirth, and Greyhollow Island.


In Diablo, you took up arms as a valiant Rogue, Sorcerer, or Warrior scouring the catacombs beneath the troubled town of Tristram to face an evil that threatened to infest the entire world—the Dark Lord, Diablo.

Diablo was released for both Mac and Windows PCs, a rarity at the time; to face a threat this menacing, it was critical to recruit as many potential heroes as possible. In addition to pitting players against a seemingly endless horde of vile, demonic, and undead creatures, Diablo also empowered those hungry for a more social gaming experience through our trailblazing online service, In its first month of operation, brought players together in more than 1.5 million games.


  • The first time you heard the Butcher say, "Ah, fresh meat!"
  • The opening chords of the Tristram town theme?
  • Slamming Diablo's soulstone into your hero's forehead?
  • Killing another player and claiming their ear?
  • Acquiring a King’s Sword of Haste or Obsidian Rings of the Zodiac?

Diablo II

Diablo II brought a four Act structure to the series, with heroes traveling to distant lands over the course of their quest to cleanse Sanctuary of evil. In Diablo II, you battled several of the most sinister forces of the Burning Hells, including Duriel, the Lord of Pain; Mephisto, the Lord of Hatred; and Diablo, the Lord of Terror. As players became embroiled in the conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, the Diablo series became recognized for its unique approach to traditional “good vs. evil” storytelling.

Diablo II’s five unique classes (Amazon, Barbarian, Necromancer, Paladin, and Sorceress) broadened the core archetypes of the previous game, and the customizable skill trees made these classes feel unique. New mechanics—socketed items, gems, dual wielding, hirelings, and more—rounded out the series’ feeling of constant progression, and of developing your hero to your specifications. Updates to made it easier than ever for you to party up, engage in thrilling duels, hunt down valuable artifacts, and compete for a spot on the ladder—all while adventuring online.


  • Being slaughtered by Duriel in Act II?
  • The rumors about a Secret Cow Level?
  • Transforming items in the Horadric Cube?
  • "Tyrael's" conversation with Marius in the asylum?
  • Seeing other characters decked out in amazing gear in chat?
  • Losing your first Hardcore character?

Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

In Diablo II: Lord of Destruction®, you hunted down Baal, the last of the Prime Evils, as he ravaged the Barbarians of Arreat in search of the Worldstone, a priceless relic tied into the fabric of the world of Sanctuary. Lord of Destruction also added two new classes to Diablo II’s roster: the Druid, a versatile master of shape-shifting, summoning, and elemental magic; and the Assassin, a practitioner of mental disciplines, skilled in the use of traps and deadly martial arts.

Diablo II’s already prodigious item list expanded with rune words, charms, jewels, and new item properties like “ethereal.” Changes to the game allowed hirelings to level up and equip items, laying the groundwork for Diablo III’s followers.


  • The barbarian dwelling of Harrogath?
  • The battle with Baal for the Worldstone?
  • Non-stop Baal runs and the race to level 99?
  • The first time you arranged a rune word?

Diablo III

Twenty years after the destruction of the Worldstone and the Prime Evils’ banishment from Sanctuary, rumors of a fallen star brought heroes to the rebuilt town of Tristram in search of an omen of the end times.

In addition to Barbarians—returning from Diablo II—players could now portray Demon Hunters, Monks, Witch Doctors or Wizards, and choose between male or female variants of each character class, a first for the series. Diablo III’s unique skill system allowed players to switch their abilities at will, incorporating unparalleled flexibility and experimentation into the series. All-new artisans brought additional depth to the crafting of gems and equipment that have become a big part of Diablo’s identity.


  • Your first Legendary item drop?
  • Tyrael’s sacrifice?
  • Stopping the siege of Arreat and venturing into the mountain’s core?
  • Diablo shattering the gates of Heaven?

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

When Malthael, the Angel of Death, stole the Black Soulstone containing the essence of the seven Prime Evils, the fallen Archangel of Justice, Tyrael, charged you with finding and stopping Malthael before he could bend the Stone’s infernal power to his will. You explored the sprawling streets of Westmarch and ventured deep into the Pandemonium Fortress in a desperate bid to stop death itself.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls™ added a new class (the Crusader) as well as a new Act to explore. It also included Adventure Mode, a brand new way to experience Diablo through bounties and Nephalem Rifts, randomized dungeons that meld the deadliest locales of Sanctuary with dangerous demons, taking the game’s substantial replayability to a whole new level.


  • Exploring the streets of Westmarch?
  • Bringing Adria to justice?
  • Communing with fallen heroes in the Pandemonium fortress?
  • Tyrael being very hungry? 
  • Defeating Malthael and being unsure about the Nephalem’s future?

New Class


Coming in 2017, the Rise of the Necromancer pack will bring the priests of Rathma, commanders of the dead, to Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. The pack will also give players access to additional character slots, an in-game pet, and more. Watch the preview video and the BlizzCon presentations below to learn more. 

Developer Insights

Thank you

We look to Diablo’s legacy and our passionate player community for inspiration. You drive us to keep making Diablo an enjoyable experience for everyone. We hope you’ll continue to enjoy playing for many years to come.