Levels in Diablo are randomly generated, for best replayability. The dungeon is where
most of Diablo's action takes place. Deep and dark, it is home to many vile and nasty
creatures. Diablo randomly generates the dungeon each time you play, so no two
games will ever be alike.
Diablo's labyrinth is divided into four main sections: the dungeon (levels 1 - 4), the
catacombs (levels 5 - 8), the caves (levels 9 - 12), and Hell itself (levels 13 - 16). Each
section has its own wall and floor textures, as well as unique rules for random generation.
For instance, the caves tend to be composed of large open areas with tight passages
surrounding, whereas the catacombs tend to be hallways that go all the way around rooms.
Dungeon - levels 1-4
The first place you will venture into is the dungeon below the church, levels 1-4. The
entrance to this place is located in the northwest part of town and is fenced off along
with the cemetery, a vivid reminder of what awaits those who fail within the halls. The
tile set is fairly light, with brazier stands and grayish-blue walls and floors. Doors are
wooden, and although the level usually snakes around, it will often curve back on itself.
Rooms are random assortments of rectangles thrown together, sometimes connected
by corridors, with pillars along some of the larger corridors. A large (24x24 tile) room
with four pillars in the center is a common feature. Libraries are more common on these
levels than those below. Grilled arches provide a way to pick off creatures that don't have
The creatures you will encounter in the church dungeon are mainly the first line defense,
including the lower skilled minions of some powerful groups, like the skeletons, whose
higher ranks you shall meet once you descend into the catacombs. The lighting here is
still good, being that these halls were once inhabited by men instead of beasts, but any
addition to your light source is a plus because the rooms can be expansive and scavengers
tend to hide in the dark corners.
When you first start the game you will have literally nothing but the clothes on your back.
After you have gained levels, usually above 20 so that you can play on nightmare difficulty,
these four levels will become your hunting grounds for loads of gold so that you may barter
with Griswold and Wirt and obtain their enchanted trinkets.
Because of the over-abundance of skeletons on these levels, the chests here tend to
hold a large amount of creatures as well as treasure. Never again will you encounter
the rising skeleton after opening a chest as much as you will on these four levels.
Speaking of chests, you will also find many of them on these levels which is good,
especially in the early going when you cannot afford to fight for all your gold. Shrines
are also a regular occurrence and you may get lucky and find a library or two that can
help you with the arcane side of your knowledge.
Keep in mind that in both the single and multi-player game, this section holds two bosses
that can be trouble for adventurers, the Butcher and the Skeleton King. If you attempt to
take either of these creatures on when you first get to their levels you are in for a rude
awakening. Even with a party of four, they can make short work of a group not
approaching the 10th level. Keep these things in mind and you should have a pleasant
trip into the church dungeon, at least as pleasant as trip in Tristram gets these days.
Catacombs - levels 5-8
Once you are done with the lowly church dungeon, you can move on to some real
adventure as you enter the catacombs, levels 5-8. Opened by the church elders and
used to store casks of wine, these dark and dank reaches have become a haven for many
creatures of the Dark Lord. The tile set used for these levels is much darker than the
dungeons. Doors are stone, the floor is dirt, and walls are a dark brown stone. The levels
are still mostly rectangular, but much more claustrophobic. A common feature is a 8x16
room with a single door surrounded by a 3-tile wide corridor. Most of the shrines are goat
shrines; fountains are slightly less rare than on the easier levels. There aren't any fire-through
grilled arches; most archways are wide and open.
The minute you step foot into this section, especially if coming from level 4 as opposed to
town, you will immediately notice that you are not in church anymore. The rooms are much
darker and foreboding and the whole place has a rougher feel.
The enemies here get tough in a hurry especially if you venture down when you first can.
Goat Men and Spitting Terrors can make short work of many higher level characters let
alone the level 7 character who enters the catacombs because they can. The creatures
also tend to be of a darker complexion so they blend into the surroundings much better
and are usually very close before you see them, so keep a wary eye.
The booty you begin to get here finally starts to get interesting. Up in the church dungeon
you usually got gold and a few really weak items, but here in the catacombs not only
has the gold increased, but you can find some really nice enchanted items.
You will still notice a few specific shrines here, but since these levels are the favorite
hangout of the Goat Men, you will see a lot of Goat Shrines. Another major difference
you will find is that once you enter the catacombs the creatures gain a scary new ability:
they can open doors. Only those with arms are capable of this, so you are safe from
Winged Fiends, unless they are partying with some Goat Men. The problem is that you
can be fighting for your life in a room and the creatures back you to a doorway. Thinking
you are safe from behind you prepare to make your stand, only to have something open
the door behind you. Use these levels as a chance to hone your skills, stock up on items
and spells and prepare yourself for the Caves.
Caves - levels 9-12
When you first step into this place you may notice one thing, aside from the rocks, lava
and really big creatures: the fact that there is no longer anywhere to hide. Fighting in a
bottleneck is now something you really have to look for. In many places you will be in a
vast cavern filled with creatures who, while they might not be able to hit you hand-to-hand
because of that lava river, are doing a fine job hitting you with their ranged attacks. The
cavern levels are far different from the earlier levels: large, snaking magma pools cover
the floor, the rooms are irregularly shaped (if they can be called rooms), and the walls are
the simple rock walls of a natural cavern. Thin wooden corral-like walls separate some
areas of the dungeon (and all are open to missile fire) with small, crossbarred doors.
Some creatures on these levels are smart enough to open these doors.
You thought you had trouble upstairs with the Goatmen? Down in the caves you will
meet some of the baddest, rudest, toughest creatures. Aside from the Spitting Terrors,
the average size of the creatures down here is quite large. They will tower over you,
and when surrounded, good luck even seeing your character.
As if sheer size and ugliness was not enough, these guys also pack one heck of a punch.
They can hit you from far, they can hit you from near, and before you know it you'll
think you wandered into the wrong place at the wrong time. Nowhere is safe and your
best defense is a good offense. Dead creatures do no damage and that, my friend, is
your sole purpose in life if you want to survive the caves.
And what do you get for all this hard work? Sadly, not much. The dwindling of treasure
you saw in the catacombs only continues here. While the piles of gold are bigger, the
chests are farther apart and the creatures who drop something are fewer.
Hell - levels 11-16
This place doesn't look that bad. You've got neat little walls and some decent floor
covering and the lighting isn't bad either. Everything would be fine except the decor is
ruined by all those bloody bodies on pikes and those big guys in armor coming up the
hall. Although the level layout is something like the dungeons, the Hell levels are (again)
unique in tile and level design. Very large, open rooms are connected by short, wide
hallways, making the dungeon appear much smaller than the previous levels. The walls
are bones and fire, and the floor a dark tile. Heinous denizens of Hell populate these
levels, of course, and it is on level 16 that Diablo himself appears.
Welcome to hell, and what a wild ride this will be. If you let it, hell will grab you, chew
you up, spit you out, lick it's lips and then chomp on you some more.
Even level 30+ characters have been known to be surprised and
chopped into little pieces and sent home by a group of Winged Witches. To take hell
lightly is to end up in a heap on the floor with a bunch of dancing women around you.
The rooms in hell suffer from the same problem as the caves did up above: too much
room and not enough furniture to hide behind. While that type of environment is good
for ballroom dancing, it really sucks for combat. You can get surrounded in hell so fast
it will make your head spin. Half the reason for this is that there are a LOT of creatures
in hell, even on normal difficulty, and the other half is that those creatures can close the
gap between you and them in a hurry. If you ever felt the need to hug something, hug
the wall as much as you can. It will at least keep one side of you out of harm.
Those boiling pots are now your only hope to salvation through shrines, so use them if
you like, just remember that hell is a dry place, and just like the desert, animals tend to
congregate around water, so watch out for an ambush as you drink. You can count
the treasure chests you will find on each level on one hand.
Once you are skilled enough to play on hell difficulty you will find this is one of your
favorite places to hang, even though it is not so easy. You get all the real cool stuff in
the game on Hell/Hell. Everyone asks where people get Godly Plate of Whales or
King's Sword of the Heavens. Chances are they originated here. They may have
passed through many trades to get to you, but in most cases they began in
the pocket of a Knight.
Once you get through these levels you will have "finished" the game. But the joy of
Diablo is that you are never truly finished. No matter what level you are, if you venture
down into Hell/Hell and get ambushed by a room full of Hell Spawn, your blood will start
pumping and you will still hear it in your ears, no matter how loud you scream.
THE FESTERING NEST
Beneath the strange-looking growth in the field of Lester the farmer lies a cavernous
underground area that has been completely infested and befouled by insect-like creatures.
The walls and floors themselves are alive, oozing with slime and grossness, and the ground
is saturated with toxic, bubbling acid. Many of the creatures of these levels blend into
the walls and floors, becoming hard to see them until they move. All the creatures are
alien in appearance, with mostly insect-like traits and attack modes. An insectoid beast
called The Defiler is responsible for the many atrocities in the Nest, and only by slaying
it can this place of filth be cleansed.
THE DEMON CRYPT
Polished black marble textures decorate this place of evil beauty. Demonic hieroglyphics
and strange devices are carved into the walls and floor, and spiral columns support
the ceiling. Lava runs under the floor, covered with grates. There is an orange underglow
reflected off of the shiny marble surfaces. Tombs and statues are everywhere. This is
the home of the demon nobility, and is populated with the dead, the decayed, and,
of course, myriad demons. As you descend deeper into the Demon Crypt levels, the halls
become progressively more crumbled and ruined as the source of the lava is approached.
Finally, at the bottom level, you will encounter Na-Krul himself. Far more powerful than
the other inhabitants of the game, Na-Krul can be weakened by using the hints contained
in the Reconstructed Note to read the spell books found outside Na-Krul's realm.
BLIZZARD and Diablo are trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment.
HELLFIRE is a trademark of Sierra On-Line/Synergistic Software.