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MODmonday: Back to Hellfire

While Xbox 360 and PS3 users have worked themselves into a veritable tizzy over downloadable content, PC users have been accustomed to having the lifeline of their favorite games extended far past their in-the-box values since the days of Doom - and even before that. What's more, we're used to downloading new levels, weapons, characters, and new episodes absolutely free of charge.

Big Download understands that a five-hour game can be extended by hundreds of hours via total conversions, brand new monsters, and weapons you've always wanted to see in your favorite title. In the spirit of extending a title's longevity beyond mere out-of-the-box expectations, MODmonday celebrates the best modifications for games new and old. Half-Life and Half-Life 2, StarCraft, Diablo II, Doom and more will all be represented here, ensuring a wide spread of mods available across every possible genre of PC gaming.

This week's MODmonday modification is Back to Hellfire, a total conversion for Diablo II that recreates Diablo and its oft-overlooked expansion, Hellfire.

Mod: Back to Hellfire
Developer: Onyx-a
Download Links:
- Back to Hellfire
- Back to Hellfire 1.01 patch
- Diablo II: Lord of Destruction 1.10 installer
Required Game: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

Installation Instructions:
- Download Back to Hellfire 1.00 and the 1.01 patch.
- Back to Hellfire is ONLY COMPATIBLE with Diablo II: Lord of Destruction 1.10. To revert Diablo II: Lord of Destruction to 1.10, either uninstall the game and then reinstall via the game's discs (reinstalling via Blizzard's online store will not work, as the installation automatically patches Diablo II to version 1.12), or track down a patch reversion guide on Google.
- Download and run the Diablo II: Lord of Destruction 1.10 installer.
Open your Diablo II directory and create a subfolder called BTH. The subfolder must be called BTH; any other directory name will prevent the mod from executing.
- Extract the contents of the Back to Hellfire 1.00 zip file into your BTH directory.
- Extract the contents of the Back to Hellfire 1.01 patch zip file into your BTH directory.

Running the Mod:
- Make sure your Diablo II: Lord of Destruction disc is in your disc drive.
- Double-click BTH.exe to launch Back to Hellfire.


There's no question that Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo II and its expansion, Lord of Destruction, were successful. Building on the popularity of the first Diablo, Diablo II featured a wider selection of character classes; a dynamic skill system that allowed players to build a variety of sub-classes from the same core class; a greater emphasis on multiplayer, with parties of up to eight players scavenging the world of Sanctuary for premium loot; and of course, lots more loot, with many rare, unique, and set items found only on Blizzard's free Battle.net multiplayer service.

But for many, Diablo II lacked some key components that made its predecessor a pioneer in the action-RPG, hack-n-slash genre. Although enjoyable and challenging, Diablo II's static quests grew repetitious when compared to Diablo's randomly chosen assignments. Also different was the game's atmosphere -- while not exactly light, Diablo II was significantly lighter than the darker, moodier, gothic Diablo.

Back to Hellfire, a mod developed by Onyx-a for Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, attempts to recreate 1997, a glorious time when Tristram still stood, Griswold wasn't a zombie, DirectX was new, and droves of players descended through a haunted cathedral's 16 levels of hell for a confrontation with the devil himself.

Rather than a complete remake, Back to Hellfire is more of a "based upon" total conversion that incorporates significant elements of Diablo and its sleeper expansion, Hellfire, which was developed by Synergistic Software. All 16 cathedral levels have been almost perfectly recreated with Diablo II assets, and the original soundtrack is present to further capture each area's mood. Sprites and sound effects for enemies exclusive to the original Diablo such as Acid Beasts, Mud Men, and Scavengers are present, and enemies found in both games exist in their Diablo II incarnations, which isn't a big deal.

Back to Hellfire incorporates many core gameplay mechanics from Diablo II, though the retention helps and hurts the mod in different ways. Tristram maintains its original NPC layout for the most part, with the main difference being the now legendary town's compact arrangement -- Adria and Wirt are no longer located across streams, thus making trips to either NPC much more convenient. Unfortunately, some NPCs have been neutered to the point of uselessness. Deckard Cain's greedy charge of 100 gold per item identification has returned, but can be avoided by carrying Diablo II's Tome of Identify. Pepin the Healer can be referred to as Pepin the Impotent, as his auto-heal ability has been transferred to Adria.

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