Diablo lore: Explaining the origins of Diablo 2: Resurrected

Sam Smith
Diablo 1 lore

Diablo 2: Resurrected is nearly upon us, but like most sequels, it assumes the player has some knowledge of what’s come before. Let’s delve into what in the Burning Hells is going on. Stay awhile and listen.

There’s a vast amount of lore, history, and world-building for players to get their heads around in the Diablo franchise. In truth, we could write pages and pages about the events that led to Diablo 1. Instead, we’ll focus on getting you up to speed so you can jump into Diablo: 2 Resurrected with a decent knowledge of the plot so far. We’ll also endeavor to do so without spoiling Diablo 2.

The Diablo series is set on Sanctuary, which is a lot like Earth; however, it’s caught in an eternal struggle between Heaven and Hell. Like Darksiders, Dante’s Inferno and various other games/stories, Diablo takes a lot of inspiration from the Book of Revelation for its plot.

As you’d expect, Heaven is full of self-righteous angels while Hell is full of bloodthirsty demons. Neither are too fond of humanity because we’re a crossbreed of the two in this universe, and their conflict usually spills over into Sanctuary. Diablo is considered the worst demon. He’s a ‘Prime Evil’ along with his two brothers and holds the title ‘Lord of Terror.’

Diablo lore
The Butcher’s lair

Diablo 1’s story begins

Fortunately, the plot of Diablo 1 is fairly simple stuff compared to the rest of the series. Angels are winning the war and Diablo and his brothers have been imprisoned inside things called Soulstones. But even from their prisons, the Prime Evils have the ability to corrupt the world. Worse yet, the Soulstones need to be carried by a human vessel – one who may or may not be strong enough to contain the evil they hold.

Diablo 1 begins in the now iconic town of Tristram, where a nearby monastery has become infested with demons and needs an adventurer to brave the danger and slaughter the monsters. The monastery happens to be built on the site of Diablo’s Soulstone, the evil of which has seeped out and corrupted first the archbishop Lazarus, then the region’s King Leoric himself.

Both went mad and became undead monsters within the depths of the monastery. Diablo found a way to enter the world and possessed the King’s son Prince Albrecht. This is when the hero enters the monastery and starts hacking and slashing Diablo’s minions. Depending on what suits their playstyle, the player can select between a Warrior, Rogue, or a Sorcerer.

Throughout the story, the player makes it deeper into the labyrinth, successfully defeating a selection of boss characters the deeper they go. During their adventure they defeat the fearsome Butcher, the corrupt Archbishop Lazarus, and Leoric, now the Skeleton King.

During their quest the player is aided by the townsfolk of Tristram, including blacksmith Griswold, witch Adria, peg-legged merchant Wirt, and the elder Deckard Cain. Cain is a member of an ancient order who were the ones responsible for imprisoning Diablo in his Soulstone, with the help of a sympathetic angel called Tyrael.

Tristram before Hell is unleased
Tristram before Hell is unleased

Facing Diablo the ‘Prime Evil’

The player makes it through the monastery, the catacombs below, then a cave system that leads directly to Hell itself. Eventually the player faces and cuts down Diablo himself, ending the threat – at least for now. Diablo’s soul is sent back into his Soulstone as Albrecht’s corpse slumps to the ground. The player must then become the next vessel to contain Diablo.

This ends the story of Diablo 1, but there’s more to cover before we reach the start of Diablo 2. In the sequel, the three player options from Diablo 1 are repurposed. The Warrior, Rogue, and Sorcerer become actual characters rather than simply avatars for a singular hero. The story is slightly retconned so that the three joined forces and stopped Diablo together.

The Warrior is revealed to be Prince Aiden, another son of King Leoric, who was trying to end his family’s corruption. He is joined by Rogue Moreina and Sorcerer Jazreth. While Aiden has seemingly become a Dark Wanderer on an unknown quest, Moreina and Jazreth returned to their homes plagued by nightmares from their ordeal.

Jazreth becomes a Summoner and enters an Arcane Sanctuary to come to terms with his trauma, while Moreina returns to her Rogue Encampment, a shell of her former self. Demons soon attack a cathedral under the Rogue’s protection and the events of Diablo 2 begin. There were also whispers that a Dark Wanderer passed through the region.