- Total Score: - 8.5/108.5/10
Diablo II: Resurrected is an excellent remaster that I know fans of the original will enjoy.
Developer – Blizzard Entertainment, Vicarious Visions, Blizzard North
Publisher – Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms – Xbox Series One,X/S, Playstation 4/5, Switch, PC (Reviewed)
I have spent more hours than I care to admit playing Diablo 2 growing up. It was the first game I really “lost” myself in when I was young. I still remember installing it for the first time at my friend’s house and staying up for hours exploring everything in Act 1 and killing Andariel for the first time. Diablo 2 was my first experience with playing a game online, it was an amazing experience getting to meet people you have never met before through a video game. Also, this my first experience of getting scammed. Back in the day, you had to drop items on the ground to trade with someone and people were able to grab the item through one side of the wall but not the other in Act 2. This provided a valuable learning experience about trusting strangers online.
These memories and many many more are why Diablo 2 holds a very special place in my heart. When it was announced that a Resurrected was being released, I was so happy to be able to play it again with updated graphics and some quality of life updates. I was equally as happy that it was going to be basically the same game as before. Playing Resurrected has been quite a wonderful experience! After I completed Normal difficulty, I sat there and asked myself if I was enjoying it because it was actually still a great game or was the nostalgia clouding my judgement so much that I couldn’t feel otherwise?
For those unfamiliar with Diablo, it is a dungeon crawler that was first released in the 1990’s for the PC and MAC. A few years after, they released Diablo 2 which vastly upgraded the mechanics and gameplay elements of the original to make a haunting game with a fantastic gameplay loop that many games after have tried to emulate. Finally, Diablo 3 was released but made even more changes to the formula but some feel that it lost the magic that made Diablo 2 great. Where Diablo 2 feels like a slow adventure to the depths of Hell and beyond, Diablo 3 feels like an arcade-like romp. While I absolutely enjoyed Diablo 3, for me Diablo 2 was still the better overall experience.
The narrative of Diablo 2 is told from the perspective of Marius who happens to cross paths with the Dark Wanderer. He is compelled to follow this mysterious figure who was actually the warrior playable character from Diablo 1. He is on a journey of unspeakable evil as he is the living host of Diablo after the events of the first game and is struggling to contain him within himself. After a series of events told through cinematic cutscenes between each Act, or level, you are taken through a journey both from Marius’ perspective as well as your own.
The playable portions of Diablo 2 are actually in the game’s present time and the cutscenes are what has happened in the not so distant past. The story being told is filling in the lore of what has been happening and why you are on this journey. You choose one of 8 playable characters such as a Necromancer, Barbarian, Amazon, and Sorceress. Each character has different talents that you can specialize in and you can also further customize your character via stat points to increase your passive traits like Strength and Dexterity. It is a very simple system and it is explained pretty clearly.
As with any dungeon crawler, you are going to spend the majority of your time killing the minions of hell. Killing monsters, opening chests, and breaking jars all give you the opportunity to collect new equipment and potions to help you on your expedition. The armor and weapons you find along the way have varying statistics and traits that make them unique and some are even specific to specific characters and provide them with classic specific bonuses. The most common way to get the best items in the game are to spend countless hours clearing the same content over and over again in the hopes of getting an upgrade. This process can literally take hours of time even for the slightest updates but Diablo 2 does it so well that those hours can literally fly by.
Now this brings up Resurrected and what this remaster provides that the original does not. First off, Diablo 2 can now be played on a console! While I was a bit worried that the gameplay wouldn’t translate very well to a controller, it works fantastically. Of course with all of these sorts of games on a console, the menu system isn’t the best in the world but it is completely functional. The next and most obvious improvement is the graphics, they are incredible and bring a new life to the classic game. It was so cool getting to see details of my favorite classes that I have never seen before in such quality and thought. Finally, quality of life adjustments have been made such as increasing the storage capacity and having the ability to transfer items between your characters without having to utilize dropping items or having someone hold the game while you change characters and log in again hoping that your game hasn’t disappeared yet. Lastly, they now have added the ability to respec your characters a bit more easily including a few times as a quest reward. This was a very welcome change as in the original you had to completely create a new character if you wanted to try a different build.
After saying this however, everything isn’t perfect with Resurrected. There have been quite a few advances in this genre since the release of Diablo 2 and this version doesn’t add anything new in that regard. Skill trees compared to other similar games will seem very limited to new players. Also the speed of the game could potentially be an issue with players that are familiar with Diablo 3 and are giving this a shot for the first time. The absolutely biggest miss here is the lack of crossplay between systems. While there is cross progression, the lack of crossplay just absolutely does not make sense and definitely holds the game back in several ways. These qualities could potentially hold Diablo 2 back from reaching and maintaining a new audience, but will be an excellent “welcome home again” for veterans that spent their youth and young adult lives growing up on this amazing entry.
I hope that younger players will give Diablo 2 a real chance and have an open mind. This is a perfect chance to take in all of the aspects that made Diablo a staple of the dungeon crawler genre and brought to life all of the modern games that they now enjoy because of its vision. It really is a special experience, even if you only take the journey to Hell once. Diablo 2: Resurrected is definitely an excellent remaster that I know fans of the original will enjoy and perhaps will be modern enough to get the attention of a newer and younger audience.