Diablo 2 was one of the games that stood out as a pillar of my young gaming career. Over the years, I have sunk countless hours into the game, and would still, if Diablo 3 had not come out. It was a formula that worked, and could easily let me relax, and explore the far-reaching depths of Tristram along with all the lands corrupted by Hell’s evil forces. But it was not until Diablo 2: Resurrected did my memory of the game, and the reality converge.
It is so easy to remember the graphics and concept of Diablo 2 being ahead of its time. It was a hellish world, there were cutscenes that gave a glimpse at the story, and there were iconic classes that I still remember fondly to this day (looking at you Necromancer). But that is the thing with nostalgia, it clouds the memory, and gives the ideal concept of what a thing actually looked liked. At least that is until Diablo 2: Resurrected.
Much like what Microsoft did with the Halo: Master Chief Collection, Blizzard used the core of Diablo 2 to build their new experience. The new graphics, sound and lighting all sit on-top of the old game, with it acting as a supplement for what made the game so exciting, and not a replacement.
We have Diablo 3, and will be getting Diablo 4, so we really don’t need a new version of D2 that uses one of these games as a base with old settings. There was a soul to the game that brings people back, even after over 20 years, and that is what needs to be maintained to excite fans of the franchise, and give new players a taste of what was.
This is why the experience of Diablo 2: Resurrected feels like the perfect balance. It delivers enough new while leaving the core that makes the game so memorable. Although I have only managed to get a handful of hours in during the Alpha, I am already amazed at just how much has been done, and how polished an experience the package feels.
I will be honest, when I jumped into the game, it did not feel all that new. It was very similar to how I remembered it. The characters and settings looked good, but nowhere near what you can find with modern Diablo instalments. It was not until I used the legacy mode shortcut that I got a taste of just how much was done, and just how bad the original game looked compared to today’s standards.
It is night and day, with the original game looking something akin to what the PlayStation One could offer up in comparison to the new, polished version Blizzard has delivered in Resurrected. Any concept of a cash-grab flew out the window, and I spent the rest of my gameplay experience toggling between the modes, just to put my nostalgia in check, and see what the Vicarious team have done to make this something exciting.
Everything feels polished, from the animations to the overall feel of the dark and brooding universe. While the original game was a landmark for the time, the sheer number of frames of animation now present in Resurrected make the original pixilated offering feel Stone Age.
There are a few disconnects between the new graphics and the original grid style gameplay. While it may now look like a fully released world, the core is still based on that same grid, and you will find limitations when you butt heads with what the original Diablo 2 could muster on a technical level. While it may look like it is from 2020, with fully released 3D graphics, the core is still firmly planted in the year 2000.
There are many systems in place that while I love, and feel are a part of the Diablo 2 experience can feel antiquated when looking at today’s standards of RPG’s. Aspects like the way characters move, or the inventory tetris that we all know and love, are still alive and well, and can be tedious to navigate, especially when using a controller.
Diablo 2 Resurrected is still the win Blizzard has been asking for, and is a fantastic offering even in its Alpha state we currently have. The team has managed the right balance of new and old, with most of it working as you expect. There is no firm date to when Diablo 2: Resurrected will hit stores, but from what they have delivered so far, It can’t come soon enough. The game is slated to release on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The alpha test was played on PC, so everyone should have the chance to dive back in and see what made Diablo 2 so special, and how far the series has come.