The King of hack-and-slash ARPGs Is back once again. Over 20 years passed and the Gates of Hell are opening again. Many things changed in the gaming industry throughout this period of time: Many different competitive Rpgs released similar to Diablo (Sacred, Torchlight, Titan Quest), and business models have changed their priorities which are now full of microtransactions, and live services to keep playing and paying twice the usual.
These to my sadness are modern gaming trends yet Diablo 2 Resurrected still holds some retro-gaming feeling from the past. Can this remaster re-imagine this old classic to satisfy modern gamers? Here is my opinion on this so Stay awhile, and listen.
This article only shows changes for remastered version and doesn't include basic vanilla features like main classes, their skills, campaign or items.
Some Brief History
Diablo 2 as we might know already was released back in 2000, with an expansion Lords of Destruction one year later. This game was exclusive only for PC, except for Diablo 1 and Diablo 3, but Diablo 2 Resurrected can now be played on many popular platforms like Playstation, Xbox, or Nintendo.
Original Diablo 2 is done in 2D graphics and its resolution is limited to 800×600 which is not acceptable for modern PCs. However, it is still playable even without mods. After so many years the dark atmosphere still holds well, despite the outdated visuals.
Several years later, and the original Diablo 2 is still alive thanks to several minor patches and seasonal ladder but it was the same old game from 2000.
After a change of leadership in the company, Blizzard decided to revive old classics starting from Starcraft Brood War and later Warcraft 3 Reforged which was not warmly received by critics and players. Diablo 2 remaster was at potential risk to be another waste of effort full of empty hopes.
In 2021, The rumors and wait are finally over. Diablo 2 Resurrected is coming out on September 23, 2021.
Diablo 2 Resurrected is the same Diablo 2 as we remember from 2000, but with updated and reimagined visuals, reworked sound effects, and animations – All done on the new engine, but on the old game’s code (which is good and bad at the same time). We’ll talk about technical issues later on.
The game has 7 memorable classes recreated in full HD. Each with a unique playstyle and different builds. Although some visual changes to Amazon and Assassin models are still questionable, in the gameplay aspect all hero classes still hold this old-school feel.
The campaign mode remains untouched. No need for Director’s Cut Edition or something like that. It is the complete story with Lords of Destruction expansion included and there is nothing else to talk about it.
This Remastered version offers the same lore, dialogues, well-known characters, soundtrack, classes, and cinematics in full HD.
Apart from untouched story and core mechanics, Diablo 2 Resurrected now features an updated user interface that supports Widescreens, readable in HD font, reworked abilities icons, and models for all weapons, gear, runewords and consumables.
Stash has also received some changes. You can now place extra loot for your hero in the personal tab and easily gain access to the Shared tab with any other classes without creating multiplayer games for your mules.
Diablo 2 Remaster also allows you to auto-pick gold from the ground and compare items, just like in Diablo 3 and other modern ARPGs, and also to zoom in to look closely at your character and some micro details.
All these features even work with Legacy mode which can be accessed by pressing G key on PC at any time. It is quite impressive to see how the game looked over 20 years ago.
Since Diablo 2 Resurrected runs in Full HD, it now supports modern resolutions up to 4K (2160p) and increased 60/120 frames per second. It runs really smooth even with budget graphic cards like Geforce 1050ti or Radeon RX570.
There are a lot of settings that may improve your performance as the game requires at least 8GB RAM and 2GB minimum of VRAM. The game also supports DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sample) to provide a smooth gaming experience (only for modern RTX+ Cards).
Surprisingly, the game is quite well optimized ever since the Alpha and Beta stages. It runs stable 60fps during combat encounters, only slightly falling below 60 when there are too many special effects on screen like projectiles or explosions.
This is just a remaster, however, It might look like a complete Diablo 2 Remake, but it actually runs on the same old piece of code and uses the same core mechanics from the initial release (with all bugs and glitches included). I will talk about the pros and cons of it later.
Despite all that, Diablo 2 Resurrected feels fresh once again. It is the same dark fantasy with gore that retains the original atmosphere.
Multiplayer mode has faced several changes in the Resurrected version. It still features 8-player coop games that are created in the lobby with a password (as before) and anyone can join to assist or become hostile (for PVP).
However, in the technical aspects, it is no longer possible for TCP/IP and P2P (peer-to-peer) connections as all online interactions are now tied to Blizzard Servers. Even if you plan to play Single-player only, you will still require a stable internet connection via Battle.net to play. So, basically no more LAN or couch play on a single PC/Console. At least, as compensation, it is now possible to participate in the Pandemonium Event and Uber Diablo content even for solo players.
Social interaction has been slightly reworked too. While the lobby itself with secret gem remains unchanged, players can now set their status inside the game and check the friend’s list directly. This also works in the actual game session right next to the chat window.
In the Game chat players can now also link items, just as it works in Diablo 3 or other similar games. It is no longer required to trade with a person to show your item to others. It is now also possible to interact with your friend’s list right in the game (Add or remove friends, change your status and broadcast a message to everyone).
Players can participate in the seasonal ladder but not on initial release on September 23. Blizzard promises fair challenge to level 99 with unique items, recipes, and runewords as rewards, that can only be obtained in this ladder mode. Once the developers handle all possible stability issues, the first Season will launch several days later after the release.
The game fully supports controllers from different platforms and uses a different UI to satisfy player’s needs. 2 Skills limitations are now gone while playing on Console. This UI allows allocating up to 6 skills on the panel and bind them to any keys.
The controls are quite responsive. There is just one minor and one major problem with this UI:
1) Sometimes it doesn’t correctly register action upon an item in the inventory and you have to click several times to drop, sell or move it somewhere else, and 2) Console UI is only convenient while playing Solo. Playing with a controller doesn’t allow players to interact with other players – there is no voice chat and typing can be really stressful. It feels like a direct port from PC to Consoles with adaptive UI, while the base elements work flawlessly only on PC.
Overall the controller experience is somewhat appealing but it needs further tweaks to make it more enjoyable for console players (This mostly applies to Multiplayer games).
Things that upset Players
There are several things that players will hate in Diablo 2 Resurrected as they are still present from the first release date.
Diablo 2 Resurrected launch date was rough for some of the players like me (as expected for most of the popular games). Despite this heavy marketing campaign full of ads, news, and video trailers, the game simply didn’t launch at all.
Diablo 2 Resurrected on Metacritic for example is heavily criticized by users and for a reason. Turns out Blizzard has implemented AVX instructions to the .exe file after the actual beta (without testing it properly), leaving old CPU’s unsupported despite the system requirements and stable performance earlier. This issue is posted on Blizzard forums here. Even those, who avoided this launch issue, have faced lags, progression loss, and server connection errors leaving players disappointed.
Blizzard also states that they originally planned to transfer an entire Diablo 2 Experience (with all bugs, glitches, features, collision, and interactions) to modern PCs. But is it actually true?
90% of the content is certainly brought back straight from Diablo 2, but the other 10% of the elements (mostly in Visual style) have been improved and got some major changes (take for example increased stash space or auto-gold pickup). I would say that most of the technical issues are well hidden in this 90% and still present in the final game.
I personally have not encountered many issues while playing the release version of the game. Many bugs were present in Multiplayer beta such as interaction delays in UI and noticeable Desyncs that were causing “trips to death screen”. These problems no longer seem to exist on the Live version of Diablo 2 Resurrected.
Ultra-widescreen support (21:9) has been removed from the game, as according to Blizzard it breaks the game. Basically, because players can snipe out enemies with extra screen space, and AI is not able to see players at this range.
Another minor issue or I would say the personal complaint is the absence of the Loot filter with different colors. You can’t distinguish what type of item is lying on the ground until you read the name on it. It is pretty annoying to see that most of the items like gems or potions are just displayed in White color, except of course for runes, blue, yellow, and set items.
Many modern games now have customizable loot filters, and since Blizzard gave players increased stash space, why not also include some Quality of life changes?
Diablo 2 Resurrected is certainly a great remaster for a 20-year-old game, but definitely not without flaws. Apparently, Warcraft 3 Reforged calamity woke up Blizzard and outsource companies to do their best to deliver a well-polished game.
This remaster may certainly be not worth its price, but it can certainly provide the dark atmosphere and all past features as they were in the 2000s. Modern gamers, however will definitely be disappointed in some of the game aspects like desyncs, hitboxes, many irritating deaths, old-fashioned lobby/Party UI, and lack of features from modern ARPGs like loot filters, raids, dungeons, bounties, auction house, and so on.