4 Life Lessons I Learned From Playing Diablo II

How many times you’ve heard people saying that video games will “make you a killer” or that you’ll “learn nothing from them”? Me, personally? A lot. My parents were constantly nagging me about this: “Ivaylo, you won’t graduate school if you continue to play video games throughout your whole day…” But you know what mom, I did graduate, as you know, and I also learned something from playing Diablo II when I was a teenager. Actually, several things…

If you’re born somewhere between 1985 and 1992, even before that, you had the pleasure to play and get addicted to one of the best RPG video games of all time – Diablo II and the expansion Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. 1 Even though there is now a new release – Diablo III, I still think that the previous versions are way better.2

This game sets you on a journey to save the world from the evil trying to corrupt everything on its path. Your intelligence, decision making, strategic, and magic skills are tested to the limit.

Well, I kind of made the last part. It’s a hack and slash video games where you collect fancy armors and weapons. You drink healing potions when you’re about to die and if things get really out of hand you can teleport to the “town” where you’re safe from the evil.

Still, there is a lot you can learn from the game. And the main goal of this post is to give you some practical advice from the realms of the virtual world of Diablo II so that you can use them in the real world.

So, without further delay, let me show you what I’ve learned from playing Diablo II that helped me later in life:

Quick note before we start: This post assumes that you’ve played Diablo II or at least you know what the game is about. Even though I’ll explain some of the specifics, if you have no idea what Diablo II is, you can check the following link. Don’t worry, it’s not a gateway to hell or something, it’s simply a video game. The best video game.

Focus on Fewer Skills

The game starts with choosing a player. Each character has different strengths, weaknesses, and sets of unique skills to choose from. Also, each different character class has its own preferred weapon of choice.

Focus on Fewer Skills
Diablo II: Lord of Destruction allows you to choose from 7 different characters. Each one has unique skills and a couple of ways to be developed.

The Barbarian, for example, is a powerful melee fighter who is the only one capable of fighting with two weapons at once. He deals the greatest amount of damage when he uses axes or swords. The Sorceress, on the other hand, uses spells to slay enemies. She can cast lightning and can freeze hostiles. While the Barbarian focuses on brutal force and can absorb a great amount of damage, the Sorcerer has low hit points and defense but can do mass damage.

When a hero levels up, he gets the chance to improve one of his skills, plus add points on the stats. Since each level gives you only 1 point to add on a skill, and the skills are quite a lot, you have to choose wisely from all the available:

Each new level gives you 5 Stats Points and 1 Skill point. Later in the game, you unlock better skills so if you rush things and spent your points on the low-level skills, you’ll eventually build a lame player.

When you play the game for the first time, you don’t have a clear strategy on what skills you want to focus on, that’s why, you’ll most probably add a few points on Bash, later few on Stun, thinking that you’re doing all right.

But after a while, you see that it’s not about adding a few points on all available skills that will make a difference. It’s about focusing your points only on a few, carefully selected skills. It’s about creating a strategy beforehand. Thinking about how you want to develop your character before you even set your foot outside the town for the first quest. This is the best way to make your character stronger in the game, thus slay the devil scum quicker.

So the first life advice I got from playing Diablo II is the following:

Life Advice 1: Focus your efforts, in real life, on fewer things

Because it’s exactly the same in real life. If you try to do a couple of things all at once, you’ll miserably fail at all of them. In contrast, if you focus your time, efforts, and your skill points on a list with only a couple of things, that you carefully selected, you will drastically improve in these areas.

So, if you’re still not sure where you are in life, think about what character class you are. Are you a crusader fighting for the glory of the Light, or you’re more of a versatile spell caster?

Put in other words, think about your personality as a whole. Think about what you do good and what you suck at. Even though we kind of look alike, we’re quite different characters playing this game called life.

If you’re a writer, be the best writer. If you’re a carpenter, be the best carpenter. If you don’t know, you should take some time to figure it out.

Once you get to know yourself better – what you like, don’t like – you’ll understand where to focus your skill points.

Looks Are Not That Important

We all start naked. With no real weapons or real skills to oppose the enemies we’re about to face.

You start with the ugliest armor and the most basic sword which you should probably throw away. I’m sorry, my mistake, you actually don’t get an armor when you begin the game:

Looks are not that important
This is how you start, with nothing. A simple ax and a basic shield. No coins, no nothing.

As the game unfolds, however, you start finding weapons that are both better looking and also deal higher damage.

Your character changes visually when you add steel armors and you reach a point where your character looks like a crusader from the movies:

diablo 2 barb armor appearance
Full Plate Mail is making your character look amazing.

But that’s just for a while. After going through the game, you slay the bosses from the different acts a couple of times, collect more items, you see that the simplest looking armors give you better skills – make you stronger. So, you’re bound to sacrifice the looks over performance. The unique things in the game are the ones that matter. And usually, these items are not the nicest looking.

diablo 2 barb armor but looks dull
The best armors in the game are not the prettiest ones. Unfortunately.

So, your character is looking like a beggar put it’s stronger than ever.

Life advice 2: Don’t Mind so Much About the Wrapping

Some things might look cool on the outside but if they are not really helping you, if you don’t feel comfortable in them, it won’t matter that you’ll look better in the eyes of others.

A lot of times people try to create a life where everything seems perfect from the outside world: curated social media posts; the latest gadgets; brand new clothes. It looks like they have it all. In reality, however, a lot of these guys/girls aren’t really perfect. They’re probably in debt, afraid, alone. They wear the latest fashion trends but are tearing from the inside.

As you can imagine, the opposite is better: feeling content with your own personality and owning only the most necessary things. You may not dress in the latest fashion trends but if you do work that gives you joy, then you will feel better than ever.

Because people don’t get Kinder Surprise eggs for the chocolate, they get it for what’s inside.

Money are not that important

In the beginning, you start the game with 0 coins. You don’t have enough cash to repair your basic club, not to mention to buy a basic hat. Yes, that’s what 0 coins means.

You restlessly slay enemies to collect cold coins so you can buy healing orbs and teleport scrolls.

diablo 2 gold coins
When you kill creatures they will drop different things. In the beginning, you need a lot of gold coins to buy potion orbs but after a while, you will have enough and you’ll feel piles of coins after you.

Additionally, you’ll keep every item you find throughout the game to sell it for coins. At some point, you’re full of cash. This happens in most of the cases when you go through the second difficulty in the game – Nightmare.

The funny thing here is that you don’t need a lot of cash the begin with, not to say you don’t need at all. You probably won’t even need all the gems and runes that you so carefully collected throughout the game. When you have a set of weapons and your character is strong enough, you will endure attacks without the need of healing orbs.

diablo 2 full inventory
The best pick I found online about Diablo 2. Indeed, in most of the cases, you’ll collect a bunch of stuff and you won’t know what to do them. Like in life, with fill our homes with shit, thinking we’ll need them. But we don’t.

Life lesson 3: Money and Riches shouldn’t be your main priority. It’s about the quest

You can be filthy rich but if you’re unhealthy, unhappy, sad, alone, depressed, it won’t quite matter how much money you have in your bank account.

Or as other smarter people than me put it: Money can’t buy happiness. Money can buy stuff, that will potentially make you feel better but we all know that this is going to be only temporary.

Usually, this is what happens: we aim for jobs with really high salaries > We start purchasing stuff like crazy because we think that more will make us happier > We end up living in clutter.

In reality, however, money and resources are simply a tool. You need them so you can afford the essential things for your survival. Yes, some of us can afford the shinnies shit, while others wear torn apart clothes, but essentially it’s about the quest.

The main reason you play video games is the adrenaline you get from overcoming the challenges. You don’t play to become rich in the game, right? It won’t make any sense.

Contrary to any logic, we pursue money in real life thinking that this is the ultimate quest. But it’s not. It’s about the adventure, the obstacles, the struggles, the accomplishments.

The ultimate goal for each player in the game and real life is different, but as long as we enjoy the game that is all that matters.

Things get harder, not easier

There are three different difficulties in Diablo II: Normal, Nightmare and Hell. Upon completing Normal, the player then has the option to continue on to Nightmare, and once Nightmare is finished, Hell opens up.

diablo 2 different difficulties
When you complete all quests on Normal and Nightmare mode, you can play the game on Hell mode. Things get really shitty in Hell.

I think the ability to continue the game once we’ve defeated everyone on Normal difficulty is one of the things that makes this game great. Once Nightmare difficulty is accomplished, you can go through the same quests on even higher difficulty – Hell.

You’ll be around level 40 when you defeat Baal in the normal difficulty. At that point, you can continue your quest on a harder difficulty.

Even though your character is getting stronger, to make it harder for the player the game adjusts the level of the monsters as well. Otherwise, it won’t be challenging for the person holding the controller.

Each new difficulty upgrades the skills of the monsters and the amount of damage they deal towards your player.

Life lesson 4: Life Gets Harder, Not Easier

Whether we like it or not, life will gradually be harder the older we get.

  • I thought that things will be way easier when I graduate. I was wrong. It turns out that going to school is way easier than working.
  • I thought that buying a big flat and a car will make my life complete. Well, the traffic and the time spent cleaning the flat aren’t fun.
  • I thought that I’ll have all the answer when I turn 30. I’m nearly 31 while I write this and I still think that I don’t know shit.

Like in the video games, the level of difficulty adjusts depending on your level of expertise and your willingness to play.

By willingness to play, I mean the following: some people will continue to play the game in Normal mode even after they defeat the final boss. They won’t push harder. They won’t choose Nightmare mode. They won’t do it because it’s harder.

And this is contrary to the expression “living outside your comfort zone”. We all know what happens when we stay in our comfort zone: we don’t get much out of life. We’ll continue to live an average life and collect the same ordinary items that are not really helpful.3

People settle for an ordinary job that is only paying them enough to cover their basic needs. Such people think that the world owes them something. That their boss has to raise their salary regardless of their efforts. Of course, this doesn’t happen and they complain.

In contrast, if you’re willing to put your skills to the test, and you’re not afraid of facing difficulties, challenges, you’re a hard worker, life will reward you accordingly sooner or later.

You will find rare and unique items. You will find rare and unique people and opportunities.

Keep in mind something though, things won’t get easier no matter what you do.

Even if you’re rich, famous, you run a company, you have 5 different houses and even a private jet, your life still won’t be a walk in the park. You’ll still feel like shit somedays. The difficulties and the problems you’ll face will adjust to make it harder for you.

But after a certain point, your character will have the needed skills to endure every challenge no matter how hard.

Final Thoughts

There is one last thing I would like to mention in the game that resonates with real life.

When you begin, you have the option to choose whether or not you’ll play in Hardcore mode. Even though Hardcore characters are identical to normal players in every way, there is one huge difference: When Hardcore players dies, that’s it. There is no resurrection, no restart available.

Surviving in Hardcore mode requires dedication and resilience, and successful hardcore players have a different mindset about the game.

That’s the real shit!

Most casual players never ever try Hardcore mode, because when they die, they lose everything.

In real life, of course, we don’t have an option. The Hardcore mode is the default mode.

So what you need to do?

You make it count. You make sure you’re not wasting your time with nonsense, with toxic people, with average jobs, and learning average skills. As in the game, your mindset should be different when you play.

diablo 2 hardcore player dies
This is the text players see when their character dies in Hardcore mode:”Your deeds of valor will be remembered”. You will see the corpse lying there. The difference is that there is no option to restart in town.

We’ll die sooner or later, but we can at least make our deeds remembered by others.


  1. Diablo II received a lot of awards over the years: “Computer Game of the Year”, “Computer Role Playing Game of the Year”, and “Game of the Year” awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences at the 2001 Interactive Achievement Awards.
  2. The main reasons the game is still widely popular among games is that there is no real end. You can continue to play the game even after you’ve conquered all levels.
  3. Better items can be discovered only when you play on the difficulty different than Normal.
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