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Darkening of Tristram: A Diablo 3 Event

Last Updated on September 21, 2019 by Michael Brockbank

As part of Blizzard’s 20th Anniversary for Diablo, the “Darkening of Tristram” event piqued my interest. I don’t know how many of you remember the original Diablo, but anything that pays homage to something that cut my teeth for PC gaming had to be addressed. And personally, I wasn’t disappointed.

Stay awhile, and listen.

I’ve been a fan of Blizzard since “Rock n’ Roll Racing” on the Sega Genesis. Since then, I’ve embraced several franchises from the company. Well, aside from War Craft…and only because I am an EQ player.

When I saw the announcement from Blizzard that the Darkening of Tristram event was coming back, I got goose bumps. I wasn’t able to complete it before because of various circumstances. This year is different.

This event reminds me of certain levels in Doom 2016. Periodically, you’ll come across levels and graphics that looked pulled directly from the original 1993 game. And the geek inside of me gets excited. Maybe I am just getting old and relish in seeing elements I grew up with put out for today’s gamers.

Playing The Darkening of Tristram Event

After three days of slaughtering cultists to acquire all the pages, which I apparently already had from the first time I did the event, the portal to Tristram was available in the Old Tristram waypoint of Diablo III.

When the graphics shifted to an old-style-esque layout and the original music began to play, I got goose bumps. Like a flash, memories of crawling dungeons and having Cain identify items flooded my mind.

It was, indeed, nostalgic.


While the map wasn’t identical to the original game, it still had a resemblance of Diablo. At least enough for me to look around Tristram to see various similarities. Of course, these same similar buildings are also available in Diablo III anyway.

The Darkening of Tristram essentially used the same graphics and layout as “Old Tristram” in Diablo III. Which is OK with me since it was a close facsimile to the original game. However, I still miss elements such as having to put down Undead Griswold in Diablo II.

The Cathedral Maps

Although Blizzard didn’t completely recreate the original Diablo maps, the tileset for Diablo III did a decent job. They are short but effective for inspiring memories of the countless hours I spent diving into the game 20 years ago.

There are only 16, very short levels available in the Darkening of Tristram. Which is OK by me since it would be combining a game within a game. I can understand how an event shouldn’t be considered an all-out expansion pack.

The Bosses

One of the things that stood out the most for me was battling the Butcher. I remember the fast, cleaver-wielding demon to be excruciating to take out. Of course, this was when I first played the game with a wizard who didn’t have a very good arsenal at the time.

Needless to say, my friend and I put him down pretty easily on Torment I difficulty in Diablo III. It took a bit of effort, but not nearly as hard as I remembered him to be.

In reality, it was the Archbishop Lazarus who put up the most struggle. Compared to him, the Dark Lord was relatively easy. Well, after running around and respawning a few times.

What stood out for me was how similar the appearance of the bosses are in the Darkening of Tristram compared to the original Diablo. The only one who looked a bit out of place was the Skeleton King. However, it was still an enjoyable experience.

Time Lapse

I did the entire Darkening of Tristram event in just under two hours. This also involved exploring every square inch of the maps while selling and building gear at Haedrig.

I figured it would be a bit more involved than it was, but I get why it’s not. Essentially, it’s a shout-out level to the original game. For me, it sparked all kinds of fond memories of playing online and getting killed by hackers who used “God Mode.”

Diablo III Goblins?

We didn’t see any treasure goblins when we ran through 16 levels of the Darkening of Tristram. However, I did come across a Bandit shrine today when I was soloing to get the Butcher pet. The screen filled with goblins and I put all of them down relatively quick.

It would have been nice to come across a Whimsydale goblin, or perhaps take a trip to a vault as you would see it in Diablo I graphics.

Cheating, Or Just Benefiting

The run-through today for the solo reward involved equipping three items I have saved from Kanai’s Cube. I wouldn’t say this was cheating, but it made the Normal difficulty way too easy. As I also socketed a sword with a marquis ruby, Azurewrath and Firewalkers made it so I didn’t even have to swing my weapon.

Anything coming near me instantly died. In fact, I tried to get a screenshot of fighting Diablo, but the battle was over almost before I could hit the “Print Screen” button on my keyboard.

How Diablo Impacted My Life

I’ve always been technologically inclined. I was the kid that aunts and uncles hired to fix computer related problems in the ’90s. Even though I didn’t have my own computer outside of a Commodore 64, I still had a great deal of knowledge behind how they worked.

When Diablo was released, I made it my goal to build a computer from spare parts to specifically play the game. Powered by an AMD K6-2 66mhz processor, I put together a machine that could play it as well as Star Craft.

I enjoyed assembling the computer so much that I started doing it more often. One by one, I built machines for myself and friends. This snowballed to the point of owning my own computer business at one point.

It’s hard to say whether I would have still been as inclined in computer technology if I hadn’t built that first computer system for Diablo. But it was definitely the driving force in my earlier days.

Feeling Nostalgic for the Real Thing

So, The Darkening of Tristram did its job. I now need to play the first two Diablo games again. Luckily, I still have my original Diablo copy and it does work on Windows 7. Unfortunately, I am unable to stream it as it distorts the graphics on Twitch. I think it might have to do with how XSplit Broadcaster encodes the video.

At any rate, I am definitely going to load both the game up in the very near future. I wonder if I can still find the item editor for Diablo…

This Is What Drives Me to Play

It’s events like the Darkening of Tristram that often hold my attention for certain games. I don’t care about loot boxes or paying for items to beat down opponents. It’s the story line and playability that grips me. I only hope Blizzard and other game companies keep doing more things like this.

Maybe it’s just me trying to recapture the glory days of when games just worked without the problems of today.

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop, to name a few.