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Diablo 2 Resurrected Review: Ancient Bones
Diablo 2 is a legendary game whose influence on the RPG genre is hard to overestimate. It is thanks to this series - and largely because of the success of its second installment - that other similar games like Sacred, Titan Quest and Path of Exile have emerged. At the same time, as Diablo 2-like games became more popular, players increasingly referred to them as "Diabloids," and each new project with the same mechanics as "Diablo Killer." In September, Blizzard and Vicarious Visions studio released Diablo 2 Resurrected, a remaster of the original game.
It's true: It's just as exciting to play Diablo 2 in 2021 as it was in 2000. Here's why.
Background to the Diablo 2 Remaster
The original Diablo 2 was released on June 29, 2000 and was an instant hit: 180,000 copies sold in the first 24 hours, one million in two weeks, two million in a month and a half. That's a great number even for 2021, and Diablo 2 was a record breaker: by the end of 2000 it was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "fastest-selling PC game ever".
The game had great press reviews as well - 88 points out of 100 on Metacritic. Diablo 2 Expansion Set: Lord of Destruction was released a year later and cemented this success with 87 points on Metacritic, selling over a million copies a month after release.
Diablo 2 is a direct sequel to the story told in the first game. The events of the second game still take place in Sanctuary, a human world located between Hell and Paradise. In the previous game the protagonist managed to defeat Diablo the Lord of Terror, but the demon found a way to return to the mortal world and brought hordes of monsters with him. The main character of Diablo 2 is to rid the world of evil.
Eleven years later, Diablo 3 repeated the success of its predecessor, setting many records in both sales and Blizzard's server drop rate. The game is still supported by minor patches and seasons, but the last major update was made in June 2017, when Diablo 3 added a new class, the necromancer. Since then, the development of the main content has been suspended, and the developers took up Diablo 4.
As Blizzard was working on Diablo 3 and starting to share news about Diablo 4, rumors of a Diablo 2 remaster surfaced online. These rumors were denied in every way possible - including in interviews with the developers, who admitted that the original game's source code could not be recovered, and therefore the remaster is unlikely to ever come out. Nevertheless, the rumors turned out to be true: the game was unveiled at BlizzConline in 2021.
How the remaster turned out
The developers of the updated version did not change anything in the gameplay, but redrawn the graphics. The game is not sprite-based, but fully three-dimensional, the lighting was redesigned, so the remaster seems even darker than the original, the models of characters and objects were changed, the latter was added physics. The developers of Resurrected even redrawn cinematic reels between the acts - and they look so cool now, that you can show them in cinemas. If you want, you can run the clips and the game with the graphics from the original game - you can switch between the old and new pictures at the touch of a button.
As for the gameplay, it is exactly as you remember it if you played the original. However, sometimes such a meticulous reproduction, oddly enough, only irritates. For example, the hero's companions for twenty years, and have not learned how to bypass obstacles without getting stuck in them. From the sewer Kurast in the third act still need to teleport to the city, and then back to the satellite "cast off" from the wall.
How the remaster is played
It's a rare game that hasn't become obsolete in twenty years, and in the case of Diablo 2 it's also worth remembering that after it came out many similar games in a similar genre, which developed and deepened the genre in every way. For example, Titan Quest finally popularized the three-dimensionality, and Path of Exile showed that the hero's leveling tree can be made almost limitless. Yes, Diablo 2 was once a trendsetter, but many genre standards are different now.
The gameplay loop in games of this genre is extremely simple: kill a crowd of enemies, pick up your stuff, move on. Get a level, distribute characteristics and skills, move on. The more you play, the stronger the enemies become and the better the equipment you get from them. Enemies must be swept away as quickly as possible, either with normal strikes or by using skills.
To a modern player unfamiliar with the genre, Resurrected may seem too slow, uncomfortable and too short. Those unfamiliar with the original are guaranteed to complain about the small inventory, where nothing ever fits in, the inability to reset the character perks and characteristics (however, you can do it, but once per difficulty, after completing the quest at Akara in the first act). But here we should remember that we are not a remake, namely that the remaster, so a significant gameplay changes in it and could not be. Added gold autocollection and expanded player stash don't count, these are not significant changes.
Newcomers, however, should not ignore the remaster. You just need to get used to the local conventions, and the game will carry you away from the slaying of hordes of monsters and the selection of the right equipment.
The Diablo 2 remaster is perfect in this regard. Flashbacks are guaranteed. Fans will surely remember how nasty the boss is in the second act. And how hard it is to navigate the catacombs in the third act. And how funny the clucking of the Travincal Council members is. And even about where exactly Izual lives in Act Four and why the River of Fire hurts his eyes.
The game has aged, and even a remaster can't change that fact. But the basic gameplay in Diablo 2 is still in great shape, and it's still fun to hunt monsters. Hunting, chasing legendary items, lamenting that you've dropped something on the wrong class again, cutting off other players' ears... in this sense, the game isn't outdated for a second. Almost all games of the genre work by similar rules, even modern games like Path of Exile and Grim Dawn, although there is nothing surprising - almost all of these rules Diablo 2 in 2000 and established.
What are the problems with the remaster
No serious problems. If you don't count some of the original's bugs, which moved to the new version, it is an exemplary remaster - a minimum of problems and a maximum of beauty. Of the notable problems, it should be noted except that the excessively long loading between locations - "hardcore" heroes because of this can die without the possibility of resurrection. Especially with such enemies as Duryel - the location for the battle with the boss is small, and he hits very hard. Also, as with any online game, the launch of the remaster was marred by non-working servers and crashes. Some players even had the problem of "rolling back" their progress. It's true that this problem was fixed.
It's also not entirely clear how the need for a permanent Internet connection will affect custom modifications. Blizzard has said that it's not going to limit fan mods, but also noted that some modifications probably won't work with the remaster. The game has just been released, so it's too early to draw a conclusion, although the first mods have already appeared - they are, however, all designed for offline characters. Well, if anything, fans of the modification will always have an outlet - the original game was not removed from sale.
Diablo 2 Resurrected is a great remaster that's great for newcomers to the genre, as well as veterans who are sure to kill Baal five times a day looking for the right legendary item. This is the same game as twenty years ago - only with a modern visual. True, veterans will still think that the game looked exactly the same back then, but there's nothing you can do about it.
It's a shame the developers didn't add any new content to the game. Blizzard once developed a second addon, but never got around to releasing it. If its content had been added to Resurrected, it would have been a fantastic gift to fans.
Does that make Resurrected a bad remaster? Certainly not. It's a fantastic game made with love for the original. In a way, Resurrected Diablo 2 can be considered an apology to the company for the unsuccessful Warcraft 3: Reforged. Its authors didn't manage to present the forgotten emotions to the fans again, but the creators of Resurrected coped with their task.
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