Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch
Release Date: 23 September 2021
Price: US$54.99- Available Here
Diablo is a very popular and known series. The first Diablo title was released for PC in 1997. Diablo 2 was released three years later, in 2000. The “Lord of Destruction” expansion launched in the following year. Diablo 2 is the only main iteration of the series that doesn’t have a console version. That was until now, as Diablo 2 Resurrected has versions for every modern console available alongside the PC version. It features cross-play between all the platforms, that means you can play on PC for example and later continue your progress on any other platform if you wish. Diablo 2 Resurrected is a remake of the original Diablo 2 with the “Lord of Destruction” expansion already included. Gameplay purists need not worry as only the technical aspects of the game were remade. The graphics received a major overhaul and are now entirely in 3D. The sound was remastered to fit current technology although it remains mostly the same. This remake is an unusual one as it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel like so many remakes tend to do. Instead, what we have here is mostly the same game but with a new coat of paint and some minor QoL features to make it more enjoyable and accessible.
The story of Diablo 2 Resurrected occurs right after the events of the original Diablo. After finally defeating the Lord of Terror, one last task was required: sealing Diablo’s soul. Who better to bear this last burden than the hero himself? He takes the soulstone out of Diablo’s forehead and attaches it to his own head. Unfortunately, this leads to Diablo now possessing the hero’s body. Now under Diablo’s influence, the hero little by little loses his sanity; a voice inside his head urges him: “Go east. There, you’ll find salvation”. The hero’s efforts to resist Diablo’s influence are in vain. Now known as the “Dark Wanderer,” he leaves only death and destruction in his wake. Assuming the role of a new hero, the player must chase the Dark Wanderer. With the intention of putting an end to the terror once and for all, the new hero also heads east.
Diablo 2 Resurrected is a 3D action RPG with an isometric view. Its focus is much more on fast-paced action than what you’d expect from an RPG game. It reminds me of arcade action games that are much older than Diablo itself. It’s still primarily an RPG, so all the conventions set by the genre are present. Since Diablo 2 Resurrected comes with the “Lord of Destruction” expansion, the player can choose between seven different classes; the assassin and the druid join the rest of the cast. “Lord of Destruction” also features an additional chapter.
The foundation for the gameplay consists of dungeon crawling, combat, and loot collecting. Dungeon exploration is fast as is the combat. Enemies will appear in droves. Dispatching them using powerful skills and seeing the fireworks go off as the bodies of demons and zombies pile up is very satisfying.
Each class in the game comes with its own set of skills and equipment that only that particular class can use. You have two sets of skills that you can develop: one is your base stats such as strength, stamina, etc., and the other set is the class’s particular skills such as the druid’s shapeshifting abilities. The character’s skill trees are simple enough and don’t get in the way if you’re not experienced with this type of game. Regardless of what class you choose, the main story and quests don’t change. Even then, the classes diverge so much in what they’re able to do and the style of their gameplay that every run with a different character will feel unique. The online mode also contributes a lot to the game’s replayability allowing up to 8 players to join in coop or PvP.
If there’s something I don’t particularly like about Diablo and its clones, it’s how the loot is handled: there are tons of different items, and as you kill enemies, the items keep popping up outright flooding the screen. Many times it’ll be the same item with a different trait such as “crude” axe, “cracked” axe… you get the idea. They’re the same item visually but will have some minor stats differences. There are also “unidentified” items with different levels of rarity, and unless you use an identifying item on them or have one of the NPCs in town identify them for you, it’s impossible to know their true nature. Meanwhile, the items will occupy a large amount of your already limited inventory forcing you to go back and forth between a dungeon and the encampment to get them identified and/or stashed which isn’t the most fun of tasks. Thankfully, besides your own stash, you now have four more stashes that are shared between your characters thus alleviating this problem a bit; you won’t need to create additional characters to only serve as a “mule” anymore. Having more stashes is a very welcome little tweak since it doesn’t change the basic gameplay dynamics too much. In fact, the biggest “change” in gameplay is that it’s now possible to use a controller on the PC version. I used a Dualshock 4, and as awkward as it may seem on paper, it works wonderfully; as soon as you press a button while in-game, it changes its configuration to accommodate for the controller. Even button prompts will reflect your controller of choice. You’re able to bind skills to whatever button you feel is the most appropriate.
Diablo 2 Resurrected has gone through a complete graphic overhaul. The original game was made in 2D using an isometric view to give the illusion of a 3D game. The graphics in Diablo 2 Resurrected were remade to be more aligned with modern tendencies. They’re now completely in 3D with remade models, effects, and textures. There is also support for 4K resolution. Since the player can change between old and new graphics with the press of a button, it’s notable how the graphics were faithfully recreated; by changing between new and old graphics, you can see that in both versions almost everything is in the same place with the exception of a few details that are exclusive to Diablo 2 Resurrected. The game’s levels are procedurally generated like in a rogue-like game. What the levels lack in visual variety is compensated with how fun they are to traverse due to the fast and simple nature of the game.
The overall dark atmosphere and ambiance were also preserved. Thanks to better lighting tech, Diablo 2 Resurrected is not as dark as the original since its light sources reflect their light in a more natural way. It’s still one of the darkest games I’ve played and that contributes to its themes of horror and demons immensely. Characters look detailed and overall have good and natural animations. I personally like how the graphics and level design are the same in this version compared to the original since I’ve never played Diablo 2 seriously before.
The new audio sounds much better due to the remastering it went through. Blizzard decided to be a lot more conservative in this department. Most of the sound effects are the exact same as the original Diablo 2. The soundtrack was also mostly untouched as none of the original compositions were changed. The music in the game has a generally serious and melancholic tone to it even when in villages or the wilderness. When exploring dungeons, the soundtrack changes to reflect what you’re up against with tense and even fear-inducing music and sound effects.
Blizzard decided to play it safe with Diablo 2 Resurrected by leaving its gameplay untouched. This approach works because a lot of people were unable to experience Diablo 2 up until now. I’m one of those people. The lack of control options was definitely a major issue for me. I never liked being glued to the monitor when I played Counter Strike back in the ’00s. I finally can see why Diablo 2 is still regarded as a classic; it stood the test of time with fun and engaging gameplay.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.