A Hack’n Slash story :

From Golden Axe to Diablo IV

According to the statistics of the burglaries of my city, breaking doors to recover treasures is one of the favorite activities of human beings. This undoubtedly explains why the hack’n slash is almost as old as video games and how an expression formerly depreciative came to designate a successull type of game.

Like almost everything that displays dragons and swords on a computer screen, the hack’n slash come straight line from the role -playing game on the table. It was also in 1980 in a Dragon Magazine issue, an official revealed of Dungeons and Dragons, that we find the first occurrence of the expression: “There is a great potential for More Than Hacking and Slashing in D&D”

With other terms, such as that of “Munchkin” or “minimaxing”, it is associated with the very fighting-xp-optimization approach (or to say it more politely: “Door-Monster-Treasure”) of the game of role. Logically, it is used to designate the first action video games inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, like Golden Axe or Rastan.

By extension the term comes to describe any action game with vertical or horizontal scrolling in which we fight enemia with arms-to-body weapons, like Ninja Gaiden. And in the high spheres of “video game testers” (that is to say, at that time, the twenty-year-olds who tested games in the first specialized journals), the term retains a pejorative dimension: when a More ambitious game in terms of narration, gameplay or universe construction, whether it is a Zelda or an Ultima, we often compare it favorable to “hack’n slash “Which, themselves, boil down to their fights and its destiny for more muscular fingertips than brain.

DISORDER IN THE TYPE OF GAMES. Besides, at the release of Diablo in 1996, the press does not consider it as a hack’n slash but as an RPG, even going as far as not to recognize that it is about ‘A stupid click-click-boom-boom game. Trent Ward writes for example for Gamespot that if the character of the warrior “will appeal to lovers of action games” the Rogue and the magician are “intended for strategy fans”. A game controlled with mouse, descending in real time of the ancient Roguelikes in ASCII (that is what the RPG on PC was more hardcore), which was based on a system of strict rules rather than on the players of the player, could not be another Something that a variation, certainly a little combat oriented from Ultima. It took, for the term hack’n slash to take from its current meaning, the sequence of two events.

First of all, the appearance of the term action-RPG, designating these descendants of immersive Sims who have various degrees, from Daggerfall (second episode of the Elder Scrolls) to Deus Ex, were more and more numerous to mix elements From Role Playing Games and 3D real -time universes, so much so that they have become the norm. To differentiate these games from the heirs of Diablo II, it was necessary for its latest, a new name.

The second is precisely the release of Diablo II, which has registered in marble the codes of a new kind, of the possibility of modifying the objects by setting them from gems and runes to the division of the adventure into acts. Again, the term hack’n slash, this time associated for good with the games that we know today under this name, was used to distinguish, in a pejorative way, this kind of games from another considered more Rich: any “action” as they are, the Elder schools deserve the beautiful name of RPG, when the Blizzard casinos were only vulgar hack’n slash.

THE QUARREL OF HARDCORE AND MODERNS. If the Hack’n Slash after Diablo II have never really managed to break with their model, they have not stopped evolving. Some of the first major competitors sought to stand out by moving away from the Dark Fantasy side and the serious spirit of the illustrious Encitre (Torchlight), and others have renounced to the random generation for the benefit of a gigantic world Hand -created by developers (Titan Quest). But we had to wait for Diablo III (2012) that the first real breakup took place, for better and for worse.

Until now, the hack’n slash, for lack of a particularly deep or punitive gameplay, had the main difficulty rests on the construction of the character. It is to the knowledge of the effective builds that we recognized a good player and most of the skills choices were final or, at least, required large sacrifices of time or gold coins to be canceled.

Blizzard, with his experience with the MMOs, decided to break with this punitive character and further push the logic of incremental play by creating a game in which it was not only impossible to regress, but also where no choice would be final. The release of Reaper of Souls in 2014 further broke the nail by breaking definitively with one of the last elements imported from traditional role -playing games: the “Directorist” narration. No need to follow a story, we could now be content to teleport from one place to another in the world to grinder experience and objects, a level of difficulty that can be changed freely allowing to adjust the level of difficulty (and awards) with the desired experience.

But even the least hardcore of video game genres still has its snobs and certain, especially among the fan of Diablo II, criticized the new blizzard game for having broken with the complexity of traditional hack’n slash. It is notably with them that the excellent Path of Exile has its success, overcoming both the fidelity to the canons of old blizzard and complexity, with one of the most complex and passive skills system from the history of the video game. For the first time a hack’n slash was considered unworthy of the name for excessive simplicity. The times are changing.

I love the hack’n slash since I was very small. I watched Dad playing Diablo II sitting on his lap at the damn of my mom. It is true that I suppose that a game filled with demons and zombies is not necessarily the ideal for the awakening of a baby even if I am sure that it is no less harmful than certain programs for the Youth passing on television !!!

Anyway, I’ve started with Diablo II at 13 and I love it very much. Now I happen to replay it from time to time on his remaster released a few years ago, I continued on Titan Quest then I had to play most games released in the genre.

I also played Path of Exile and Diablo III and I don’t really understand this controversy. Diablo III when it was released was a problematic game but because of a sales hotel system that unbalanced the game and made it unplayable if you didn’t want to spend money. I think that’s what really hurt its reputation. Since it has disappeared and with the arrival of its Diablo III Reaper of Souls extension has been a much better game for me than Path of Exile.

Path of Exile is a very good game of course but to want to play it seriously you have to play with a wiki next to itself. To understand the economic system of the game alone is a nightmare for a beginner. With Diablo 3 anyone who can have fun with the start of the game. And for so much it is still deep enough to discover the subtleties of gameplay after several dists or hundreds of hours of play.

Diablo IV is scheduled for June, I can’t wait for its release! It will bring a real world open to the genre and lots of small novelties which will give a wind of freshness to the genre. I have not yet cracking to read all the previews on the net because I want to discover a maximum of things on D -day but what I could see, I want to play it.

If you like the genre I suggest you closely monitored it, for me it is part of my 2 expectations of the year with the new Zelda. If you do not really know the genre I advise you, even if it is not free unlike Path of Exile, to play Diablo III and its extension in addition it is available in a very good version on Nintendo Switch playable in Coop offline. With all this content you will have fun for hours.

PS: This is not a sponsored post! ^^’

Take care of yourself and you loved one and see you soon guys!

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