Diablo II has a very special place in my heart. It’s the only game that I have re-played over the years, it was one of the first games I ever wrote a review of, and it was the game that shaped me into an RPG fan. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Diablo II had some impression on me and my personality. In 2021 though, I was sure I had done my last Nightmare run, I had assigned my last skill-point, and Deckard Cain had said “Stay a while and listen” for the last time to me. Blizzard and Activision though had other ideas.
Amidst controversies, Blizzard has decided to release one of their fan favourites two decades later replete with updated graphics, re-specced cut-scenes and ported to every modern platform out there. Does it stand up to the test of time though, or is the nostalgia shot too small and too weak? Let’s find out.
Diablo II is an action role-playing hack-and-slash computer video game developed by Blizzard North and originally published by Blizzard Entertainment in 2000. The remaster called Diablo II: Resurrected developed by Vicarious Visions was released on September 23, 2021, for the PS4/5, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.
First things first, there is no way I am gonna give Diablo II a bad score. From where I stand Diablo II comes highly recommended, it’s one of the best isometric dungeon crawler/ looter based RPG of all time. It’s self-aware, leans heavily into dark metal, and is campy as well. Remaster or not, you need to play this game, pronto.
The fact that Diablo II: Resurrected is such a true remaster that it’s actually running the original Diablo II under the hood, makes that recommendation even easier. Everything that Blizzard has done, is to make the game compatible with modern-day platforms. It has improved the quality of the cut-scenes but they are the same shot for shot, all 21 minutes of it. They have mapped the different commands to buttons on the controller, but you still need to bind a newly acquired skill to a button manually (Pro-tip assign your basic attack to the Square button since the X button is also used for interactions and picking up stuff, and considering the amount of hitting and picking up you need to do, it’s better to keep them separate). They have allowed for updated graphics on the game as well, but you can always switch back to the classic 2D sprites if you want. All the 7 classes are back, and the default experience has the expansion layer backed in, but still have the choice to play the original Diablo II meta when you are making your character. For better or for worse this is the original Diablo II, propped up on next-gen sticks.
Diablo II: Resurrected is not just a love-letter to the original. Its more akin to walking up to its door, asking it out for dinner and later making love to it.
There are some differences though. First is the auto-gold pickup, which IMO makes life much simpler as it saves time overall when you are sifting through the drops of the most recent mob massacre. In fact, time-saving is kind of the theme when it comes to the new changes. There is a re-spec option now available to players, so they can re-assign their skills and attributes at any point in the game. This saves a lot of time in grinding up a new character just when you feel like trying out a new build. Then there is the option to put the game in Rest Mode (at least on the PS5), so you don’t have to do the dreaded “Save And Exit” and resurrect all the demons you have killed so far, this saves you time on that extra grind you need to do when you enter back into the game.
Not Quite There Yet
Not all changes are welcome though. One of the big changes, on the consoles at least, is the fact that the inventory takes up all the screen real-estate when opened. It takes you out of the experience, and makes one of the most fun things about the game (The Inventory Tetris) a chore, especially since it’s an always-on game and you have to open your inventory every 15 minutes. I understand why the changes were made (The controls on the inventory overlap with the main game), but I just feel that Blizzard should have really tried to solve this problem.
You also have the option to create an online-only character, and for that, you would need to be connected to the internet during the duration of your playtime. There are ladders and seasons promised but they are not there yet. For the time being, players would need to familiarize themselves with offline characters and prove their mettle using hardcore characters.
Anyways, that’s as far as this review will go I am afraid. Diablo II: Resurrected is very much the Diablo II of old. You are looking easily at around 20-30 hours of grinding even when you are playing just the critical path with one of the characters on the Normal difficulty. And considering there are 7 classes and the game really becomes fun on Nightmare, you are looking at hundreds of hours of playtime.
If you are a veteran and haven’t played Diablo 2 in a bit, this is the right time to pick it up on the platform of your choice. It’s easy to get into, there is no complicated new meta to learn, it is like going back to your childhood home and slipping into your old bed, creaky and undersized as it may be. For the young ones, it might be difficult to learn the game, especially since modern-day video games come with so much hand-holding. The fact that you can equip your mercenary, or feed him potions are all things that will never be explained to you but are still core aspects of the game. Nevertheless, it’s still a great opportunity to round up your education on one of the most important games in video game history without having to compromise on quality.
FINAL RATING: ESSENTIAL
With less time and more wisdom at my disposal, I have decided to create a whole new rating for games that I review. How many times in a week will I stay up after 11 PM, once my family has gone to sleep on a workday and spend 2 hours with it, knowing full well that I need to enter the rat race at 8 AM the next morning. Well on that scale, I give Diablo 2 Resurrected:
“Every weekday at least. Maybe not on weekends. The OG…Just one more level, just one more quest..ad infinitum”