- Diablo II: Resurrected is the remake that gamers have been clamoring for. (but are they really?)
- Currently in beta, it’s the original game (only through Act II) with a massive graphics overhaul and quality of life improvements
- I see it as a wasted opportunity to add meaningful content upgrades, new classes, new areas, new side stories, new…anything, really
- If you’re a D2 purist, this is the game for you. For everyone else, I might recommend it if you haven’t already gone through the game previously. But it’s a tough call at $39.99
The summer of 2000 was a relaxing time for me. I’d graduated high school, gone on a month-long jaunt around Asia, and afterwards settled into a comfortable existence in the few months before what would be my freshman year of college. After snagging my copy of Diablo II from an Electronics Boutique, I proceeded to spend the majority of my summer hours happily grinding my way through the world of Sanctuary.
Earlier this year, Activision “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain” Blizzard announced that the official remaster would be coming soon in the form of Diablo II: Resurrected, and it was just last weekend that the beta client was made available for all players that pre-ordered Diablo II or were willing to shell out two-and-a-half hours of their time watching Twitch streamers play the game. (thankfully, this time around you didn’t need to sit in a stream for hours upon hours, hoping for that lucky random drop)
I spent a bunch of time replaying Acts I and II – the only Acts available in the beta – and I can safely say that Diablo II: Resurrected is an extremely faithful remaster. And it’s faithful to a fault. This is a game that makes no attempt to change up the existing formula.
But first things first: starting up D2:R, you’ll see one of the recipients of the game’s upgraded visuals: the cutscenes. And there’s not much to say other than the intro cutscene looks phenomenally detailed. The character models and environments are just as good, and Activision Blizzard includes fun toggle hotkey that lets you switch the graphics between the original and the remaster instantly. There are upgraded particles as well, though I had some spell effects bug out in pixelated form at some points.
Of additional note are the new quality of life improvements, though most are pretty minor. You can now opt to automatically pick up gold (but the pickup range is extremely small), you now have multiple stash pages that can be shared between characters, and you can now put a clock on the screen.
Everything else – stuff like quests, sounds, maps, skill trees, bosses, to name a few – are exactly the same as they were back when the game launched in 2000. This is a point that I want to hammer home here: there are no real surprises in Diablo II: Resurrected.
And having spent a not-insignificant amount of my life playing not only the original D2, but also Lord of Destruction and the Ladder patch (1.10), I don’t know how I feel about this “resurrected” version. I’m still not convinced the players that wanted a remaster really wanted the vanilla Diablo II experience with upgraded visuals. I certainly didn’t. No, I wanted something more substantial – whether that was more classes, more areas, more interesting PVP, maybe some sort of endgame similar to PoE’s Atlas of Worlds. Diablo II was a legendary game, yes, but it was also a game developed in a different era. Times have changed. There are plenty of ARPGs out there that offer their own take on the genre, games like the aforementioned Path of Exile, Torchlight, Grim Dawn.
And while it was fun to replay D2 once to experience that feeling of nostalgia, I don’t see myself running Baal or Mephisto over and over again for no good reason.
I don’t believe it’s enough now to simply throw an ARPG out there – even possibly the GOAT one – that’s rooted in the same kill-loot-repeat gameplay loop without any sort of modernization.
It’s worth noting that Diablo II: Resurrected, unlike the original, is headed to all major consoles in addition to PCs. I also found it interesting that the main store page for Diablo II: Resurrected puts “cross-progression” front and center as its first major planned feature. There’s a clear focus by Activision Blizzard here to reach a new generation of gamers that haven’t yet experienced Diablo II, and I wonder if it’s at the expense of the game’s original players.
All in all, I feel like I can really only recommend the game to D2 purists that wanted nothing more than a visual upgrade to the original. Resurrected certainly handled that part extraordinarily well. But is there enough here for new players? Would new players even be interested in a twenty-year-old game? And why play this over other free-to-play options?
I don’t know.
Diablo II: Resurrected arrives on PC, PS5/PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch on September 24, 2021 and retails for $39.99. It’s available in Open Beta (Acts I and II only) this entire weekend.
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