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access_time October 4, 2021 at 6:00 AM in Reviews by Dragos Dobre

Review | Diablo II: Resurrected

I must admit, I don’t have a great memory. I really don’t. But there are some things from my childhood that are imprinted in my brain. I remember coming back from school, barely grabbing something to eat, and jumping on my uncomfortable desk chair to play Diablo II. Only the slowness of my entry-level gaming PC was keeping me away from continuing my adventure in the bowels of Hell. Now it’s time to do it again in Diablo II: Resurrected.

Memories from Hell

At the time of the original release, Diablo II was intriguing for me. I wasn’t bright enough or even experienced with games to understand their complexity. I’ve spent countless hours trying to figure out the game’s complicated level design. Even to this day, I still find Diablo II a hard game to navigate in. But it had that special something that kept me engaged and made me try to understand it better and play it better day by day.

Diablo II is not a forgiving game, and that holds true for Resurrected. It will punish you when you least expect, as the game is constantly changing and evolving. Enemies are weaker to certain types of attacks, and more resistant to others. Adapting through the campaign is crucial for one’s survival. The game is just as hard and as enjoyable as it was almost 20 years ago.

Rebuilding the Diablo II legacy

This remaster looks and feels exactly like I remember from back in the day. But looking at some of the comparisons between the original version and the Resurrected one made me realize how far it has progressed graphically. Cutscenes are simply amazing and reflect the craftsmanship with which Blizzard creates most of their cinematics. It’s visually on par with many other recent games from the same genres. They also pay plenty of homage to the originals. Despite being visually impressive, they do still have stuttering issues across most platforms. Hopefully a patch comes in to fix the issue.

The environments have significant lighting improvements, reflected surfaces, and much more dynamic shadows. You’ll also have richer textures, capturing more detail than the original ever could. Various effects also look spectacular, making spells and other abilities shine. Since the game is remastering a classic, some elements still show those older methods. Status effects give enemies and characters a simple colored hue, like green for poisoned or blue for frozen. It makes it easy to follow, but it breaks immersion just a bit when comparing to more modern titles. Either way, Diablo II has never looked better.

The graphics are definitely on point, but the gameplay is where things get tricky. It looks good enough to attract younger players, but the game still holds true to the original. It won’t hold your hand, you won’t get quest waypoints or breaks when you die. It’s not as dynamic and fluid as new gameplay styles, but it shines in its own ways. These things might hit newcomers in the face if they aren’t prepared. It’s not exactly easy to get into Diablo II, but once you hit your stride, it only gets better.

Hard choices

A trick that might help out in the beginning is to pick up a more powerful class. Sorceress might tempt you at first, but don’t fall into that trap. The class is very mana-dependent and will require players to buy and drink loads of mana potions. It just makes the game unnecessarily hard in the beginning, and I kinda was hoping it would be addressed by Blizzard in the remaster. At least it stays true to the source material.

While the Sorceress is weak and time-consuming in the early game, some classes do give players quite an advantage early on. One of my favorites is the Necromancer, wielding the ability to summon armies of skeletons and golems. Having your personal bodyguards and the ability to summon more when some of them die is awesome. It sometimes reminds me of the funny little devils from the game Overlord. Not only do the skeletons pack a punch, but they also absorb most of the incoming damage.

Things become more balanced later in the game, as every class unlocks new and powerful skills. But if you still decide to pick a class that’s harder to handle, you can get online help. Diablo II can be played in multiplayer up to eight players at the same time. Of course, the world’s difficulty will be scaled accordingly, but it’s still way easier to progress with friends.

The matchmaking is awesome, but only when it works. And it doesn’t work all the time, unfortunately. Maybe I’m missing something, or the game fails to explain it better to players. But why would I be queueing for an online game and afterward end up being thrown in an empty one? I would rather spend more minutes in the lobby until it finds a partner, instead of almost instantly creating a new empty map. It just forces me to quit and start the matchmaking process again.

Hidden gold

Apart from the 3D graphics and the improved color palette, the game also features a few quality of life improvements that are worth mentioning. The auto pick-up mechanic of gold got rid of one of the most tedious activities in the game and will surely save you a load of time. The stash sizes get an expansion, and they now allow players to exchange items between all of their characters. And if you’re nostalgic enough, there’s also the ability to switch between the new and old version of the game seamlessly.

Having a team to help you throughout Diablo II: Resurrected surely makes the game more enjoyable and more accessible to casual players. The game is a true gem and has a lot to offer to players, especially those who are brave and patient enough. It’s been such a long time since the original game has been out that I think it’s not even worth mentioning story details or many other things that many of you know. To make it brief, the one who defeated Diablo in the first game becomes Diablo, unleashing demons for the player to defeat. You’ll have to travel through multiple areas across five acts as you attempt to vanquish the evil for good.

Classic voices return for the remaster, keeping iconic performances from the original cast. The music has been remastered as well, and the game now supports 7.1 surround sound. Purists will likely appreciate the choice, and it keeps a vintage presentation. This is the Diablo II you remember, but with a fresh coat of paint.

My focus in this review was to find out if anyone can pick up and play one of the games that defined the RPG genre and my grading is more related to the quality of the remaster itself. Diablo II is not a walk in the park, as it encourages grinding, it’s very punishing when you die, and it doesn’t hold your hand. But if you manage to get past this, it’s still one of the most important titles in the series, making Diablo II: Resurrected a must-buy for old-time fans.

Final Score: 8.5 out of 10

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