It won't be long until you have to identify items in Diablo 2, as unidentified items will be a constant during your travels.
This action will quickly become as regular as drinking potions, but it comes with a cost. In order to unveil the stats of unidentified gear, and therefore use it, you'll need a specific item. Luckily, there are some interesting tools and alternatives to make the process less of a hassle.
This page explains how to identify items in Diablo 2 as well as how to unlock the ability to identify items for free.
On this page:
How to identify items with Scrolls of Identify in Diablo 2
While you will frequently see items that don't need to be identified, the truth is that most of the gear that will improve the capabilities of your character will be unidentified at first.
You can tell the difference between the two categories right away, as unidentified equipment is marked on red and displays a message saying so in its description, without showing any of its stats. In addition, you will not be able to equip said piece of gear until it has been identified.
The Scroll of Identify is an item that you'll see often, whether as loot from enemies or as a purchasable item from vendors. In order to use it, all you have to do is open the inventory, use the interact button on it (right click on PC or whichever gamepad button you press to equip gear) and then select the unidentified item. Click/press it and it will be identified.
Now, it's worth noting that each scroll occupies an inventory slot. This may not sound like much, but after a few hours you will begin to run out of space without realising it. For the mere cost of some gold and two inventory slots, the Tome of Identify can hold up to 20 Scrolls of Identify.
You will have to manually drag existing scrolls inside the tome if you have them on you inventory, but any following ones (either looted or purchased) get added automatically - as long as you haven't reached the limit cap of 20.
If you'd rather spend gold on something else, however, there is a way to turn the action to identify items completely free.
Looking for more help? We have pages on the best Diablo 2 class, best Diablo 2 builds and runewords, Diablo 2 leveling, how to import saves, how to reset your skills, how to identify items, when and how to imbue items, where to find monastery locations and the underground passage, and finally, how to access the secret cow level.
How to identify items for free in Diablo 2
Granted, you'll be spending tonnes of gold in Diablo 2, and Scrolls of Identify can add up over time. Considering that not every item you identify will be better than the one you have, or even fit your class of choice, you'll be burning scrolls left and right.
Thankfully, there is a way to gain the ability to identify items for free during Act I. For this, you have to accept and complete the Search for Cain quest, which tasks you to get through the Underground Passage, look for a scroll to solve a puzzle, and finally rescue Deckard Cain in Tristram.
Once Cain is back in the Rogue Encampment, he will offer you to identify items at any time for free. All you have to do is talk to him to see the option. This will identify all of your current inventory items, and of course, the action can be repeated indefinitely.
This changes your priorities quite a bit. If you need to identify items on the go, you'll have plenty scrolls from looting enemies to do so. But if your inventory is full of unidentified items, taking a waypoint or using a Town Scroll for a quick visit to Cain is the way to go.
If you don't rescue the character during Search for Cain in Act I, he will still appear in Act II, but will charge you for identifying items. It's likely that you'll be busy looking for the Monastery Barracks and Monastery Catacombs, but we recommend taking this quest early on, as it will be beneficial in the long run. You can thank us later.