I have played Diablo II and Diablo III one too many times. Every time I revisit the franchise, I wonder: are there other games like Diablo I would enjoy like this?
Choosing games like Diablo means understanding the elements of the dungeon crawler series. Therefore, the alternatives we’re choosing have a mix of the following aspects.
- Genre: Diablo games are action-RGPS dungeon crawlers with hack & slash combat.
- Gameplay: the gameplay happens with point-and-click mechanics. You use the mouse to move, aim your abilities, and use your skills and attacks. Moreover, you use the mouse to interact with the environment, items, and NPCs.
- Combat: as a hack&slash, Diablo is about defeating increasingly hordes of enemies. Your character levels up and earns skill points, stat points (not on Diablo III), and finds gear. Also, there’re mini-bosses all over, and the bosses on every act.
- Skills: Diablo characters learn skills, but the system is different on Diablo III than on Diablo II and I. Either way, you unlock skills as you level. Then, you place these skills on your quick-action buttons.
- Classes: each game has various classes with a particular set of skills they can unlock, as well as weapons and armor they can use.
- Loot: A complex item system categorizes gear by class and level. Diablo focuses on searching for better weapons and armor, as there’s tons of loot.
- Maps: Diablo games are linear and go through maps and settings. These maps are randomly generated to increase replayability. Items are also randomly generated, although unique items have particular properties.
- Online features: Diablo games are mostly single-player. However, these titles also allow you to play the entire campaign and end-game instances in co-op.
- Graphics: Diablo uses isometric graphics, which means 3D characters, objects, and enemies on 2D backgrounds.
- Settings: The setting is a dark fantasy that revolves around a war between Hell, Heaven, and Earth.
- Atmosphere: likewise, the atmosphere accompanies the setting with eerie music, dreadful voice acting, and depressing location design.
Lastly, games like Diablo should be highly replayable. This is because of the hack & slash combat, skills, loot, classes, and randomized maps. We expect memorable games because of sweet combat and haunting settings if they are not replayable.
- Developer: Runic Games
- Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
- Release Date: September 2012
- Platform: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Blizzard North co-founders Max Schaefer and Erich Shaefer, alongside other developers, created Runic Games in 2008. Because they wanted to create Diablo II’s spiritual successor, they released Torchlight (2009) and then Torchlight II. There’s also Torchlight III, but we don’t recommend the 2020 version because it’s full of bugs.
Torchlight II is the highlight of the series, a beloved game by RPG fans. And it’s, in fact, so similar to Diablo that it features the same composer, Matt Uelmen, for Tristam-sounding music. And aside from the OST, the setting, the lore, the plot, and the maps are very similar to Blizzard North’s old-school RPG.
Torchlight 2 is also a dark fantasy where you play as one of the four classes (Engineer, Outlander, Berseker, and Embermage). You, as the hero, must stop The Alchemist, a mad scientist, before it’s too late. That said, this is an open-world map, a vast overworld full of optional paths, hub towns, and landscapes. The randomization of maps ensures you see a new layout every time you log in.
Then, there’s the gameplay. Players defeat hordes of monsters for loot and XP through randomly generated dungeons and maps. Combat is incredibly smooth, with a lighter tone and cartoony isometric graphics. There are also day/night cycles, weather, a New Game+, co-op, and more. Lastly, it has vast mod support through Steam Workshop to make the game last forever.
- Developer: Eleventh Hour Games
- Publisher: Eleventh Hour Games
- Release Date: April 2019 (Early Access)
- Platform: Windows, Linux, SteamOS
Last Epoch is challenging and yet friendly enough for newcomers. Its multiple layers of character build come through over time and with patience. Everything comes clear, thus never forcing the player to check outside sources to create functional characters. In a way, it’s deeper than Diablo 3 but not as challenging as Path of Exile.
On Last Epoch, you start as one of the five base classes, and each class has 3 extra mastery classes you can choose from. Then, you can level up your skills and customize your skills to tweak your gameplay. That gives you over 100 options for each character, as each skill has its own augment three, and each class and mastery has its own skills.
There’s the setting and the plot, arguably the best part of the game. You play in the world of Eterra, a dark fantasy with randomized maps and eerie music. You go from chapter to chapter through time traveling, as the hero visits different time epochs to save humanity from looming danger.
Lastly, Last Epoch is an action RPG on Early Access. That means the single-player campaign is not complete. Even so, it offers about 15h of gameplay, a hefty end-game system, and consistent patches and updates to keep the game fresh and new.
Path of Exile
- Developer: Grinding Gear Games
- Publisher: Tencent, Grinding Gear Games
- Release Date: October 2013
- Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PS4, macOS
Path of Exile is massive. It 9 lengthy acts, a great plot, smooth combat, a plethora of skills, and an endless end-game. It’s also an MMO, so you can join with a party at any time or explore the world alone. The globe features randomly generated maps and individual instances for every player. More impressively, the game introduces new mechanics and even ways to improve your character all the way to the end-game.
Path of Exile is an action RPG hack&slash features seven playable classes. Each one starts with different stats and takes a different spot on a huge passive tree. So, for example, the Witch starts at the north, near to magic-related nods. Then, every time you level, you earn a skill three to buy a passive node and keep advancing through the grid. The system is so wide and tough that it’s pretty easy to mess up a character without following a guide.
Then, there’s the skill system. You place gems on your gear, and gems are either active skills or active skill modifiers. To fit gems in your gear, you need to have the proper gem slots plus the links between the gems to use the modifiers. Then, as you use the skills, they level up. You find gems through questing but mostly through loot, which is crazy.
Speaking of which, the last system is loot and currencies. See, instead of a coin, you use crafting items to trade, but there are dozens of crafting items. Crafting is a very complicated issue that revolves around randomized mechanics, like every other system in the game. Lastly, each update further adds more currencies, randomized mechanics, and ways to get loot. All of these aspects make PoE highly replayable, time-consuming, and difficult.
Titan Quest: Anniversary Edition
- Developer: Iron Lore Entertainment, THQ Nordic
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Release Date: August 2016
- Platform: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Titan Quest is a classic title in the genre that came out in 2006. The Anniversary Edition shines a new light on the cult-following game. In particular, it combines Titan Quest and the Immortal expansion Throne in a single bundle. Then, it overhauls its systems and graphics for a modern experience.
Age of Empires co-creator Brian Sullivan created the title. The setting is ancient Asia, Egypt, and Greece. Here, the Titans escaped their eternal prison, and you play as the hero who can save the Earth from their havoc. It’s a quest that faces mythological villains and settings.
The journey goes along with a customizable character. You can choose from 28 classes and thousands of items with varying classes. Then, you travel in a realistic and 3D world with detailed settings. If you don’t want to play the story, you can create your own maps with the World Editor for customized adventures.
Lastly, you can play the game solo or co-op with up to 6 players. The Anniversary Edition restored the multiplayer as well. For example, it added voice chat, performance upgrades, and more. Additionally, the edition supports higher resolutions, higher camera distance, and mod support.
- Developer: Crate Entertainment
- Publisher: Crate Entertainment
- Release Date: February 2016
- Platform: Windows, Xbox One
Grim Dawn is a classic ARPG hack & slash. It’s also one of the games like Diablo that fans permanently compare with Blizzard’s franchise. For instance, it has similarly fast-paced combat with visceral visuals and dreaded music. And all of this comes from a small indie studio, and Titan Quest’s designer is the lead developer.
You play in an apocalyptic dark fantasy world. Humanity is at the edge of extinction, and you’re the hero who can save the world from peril. As one of the six classes, you enter the world and face a non-linear story with choices, consequences, and complex RPG mechanics.
In essence, you can combine any of the classes, and each class has about 25 skills plus skill modifiers. There’re thousands of randomized items for a loot fest, and your quest is about finding better and better loot. Finally, there’s the Devotion system, secondary bonuses for skills.
The quest is perhaps the best part of the game. You make decisions in key moments, and your choices impact the world, NPCs, and villages. They’re also friendly, neutral, and enemy factions. You can gain favor with each to advance the story in multiple pathways. Ultimately, the goal is rebuilding the world by rescuing survivors, revitalizing structures, and securing vital items. You can do it solo or as part of a 4-person co-op.
- Developer: Tripod Studio, Smilegate RPG
- Publisher: Smilegate, Amazon Games
- Release Date: February 2022
- Platform: Windows
By the time of this article, Lost Ark is yet to release. However, from what we’ve seen, it’s about to become the best ARPG of our time. Lost Ark is another MMO that allows you to play alone on individual instances. You explore a vast and vibrant open world and define a particular fighting style. In essence, you choose an advanced class, level up skills, and use skill modifiers.
There’re seven continents to explore, where the main quest happens. It’s the land of Arkesia, where you can play PvE, co-op PvP, and team-based PvP. You go as one of the 5 base classes, each capable of developing mastery. The number of build options you get means compelling reasons to replay Lost Ark multiple times.
The combat is smooth, fast, and sweet. It’s an ARPG hack & slash combat with an action bar. But aside from combat, you can also gather resources globally and then use these resources on a hub to craft items. This is part of the Like Skill three, and it’s easy to advance in any of its options, even if you play casually.
Overall, Lost Ark has easy features, on the surface, but multiple layers of customization. It’s a high-action “point-and-click” RPG that’s ready to become the next big game in the genre.