Talking about Diablo 2 in 2021 is like talking about The Matrix or Kid A; there’s only so much you can say about a bonafide classic. The sheer shockwaves of influence from Blizzard’s arguable magnum opus are still being acknowledged today through games like Path of Exile and Torchlight, but I believe the original remains the best. It seems fitting then that Diablo 2 would receive the remastered treatment, appropriately titled Diablo 2: Resurrected. And while some cracks can be found under the shiny new veneer, Resurrected remains as challenging and as frantic as ever.
Turning Back The Clock in Diablo 2: Resurrected
Make no mistake – this is Diablo 2 with a new coat of paint in the truest of terms. With a push of a button, you can switch between the new 4K, remade graphics and the original to really get a sense of how far the franchise has grown. It’s a lot less cinematic than Diablo 3, but the environments and characters here are rendered in superb detail, with enemy demons looking particularly crisp and evil in dank caves or fields. Watching my lightning bolts illuminate the space in front of me was especially enjoyable, thanks to the terrific lighting technology at play. In a world left pillaged and arid, your actions turn the battlefield into a vivid ballet of gore and magic.
Unsurprisingly, the plot of Diablo 2: Resurrected remains unchanged from the original. After the events of the first game, the hero who slayed Diablo has since become corrupted by the demon’s spirit. And as one of seven adventurers, your main objective is to prevent the Dark Wanderer from reuniting with his brothers Mephisto and Baal from causing an armageddon of catastrophic proportions. You know the drill by now.
You can choose to play as the Amazon, a ranged warrior with rogue-like abilities, the Necromancer who uses poison spells alongside summoned golems and skeletons, the Barbarian, a tank melee fighter who can dual wield weapons, the Sorceress with devastating fire, ice and lightning spells at her disposal, or the Paladin whose heavenly auras can cause area damage and even buff his fellow fighters. Also included are the two classes originally released with the Lord of Destruction expansion pack: the Druid who can morph into a bear or wolf, and the Assassin with claw blades and dark magic traps.
So Scrappy, Yet So Delightful
For a change of pace from my usual melee-based characters, I opted for the Sorceress. I found her to be quite versatile, with her myriad of spells being able to dish out significant damage at both close/long-range. As a last resort, chipping away at demons with a dagger or a staff proved risky; I often found myself overrun by enemies, surviving huge fights by the skin of my teeth. Whether it was with spells or weapons however, combat truly felt like 21 years had LONG since passed. The words clunky and repetitious came to mind – or as my friend likes to call them ‘jank city resurrected’ – lacking in any real flair or flavour. Ultimately, the hits didn’t feel like they had much impact, despite the brand new sound design across the board.
In comparison to Diablo 3, Diablo 2: Resurrected provides a significant challenge. A death punishes you with a loss of gold on top of dropping all of your equipped weapons. This makes the player’s walk back to their corpse over and over again an extremely taxing grind. But at the end of the day, it’s best to push through and make your failures a learning experience, coming back to kick butt with a fiery vengeance. After successfully slaying the demons who defeated me though, I was fuelled by my growth as a warrior, eager to continue. Even as it might be jarring for some players like me who are familiar with Diablo 3 but fresh to Resurrected, I thrived in the chaos.
the straightforward, untroubling style of gameplay extends to the interface too. There is a true sense of freedom at play here, with no hand-holding or guiding arrows to follow, so it really does feel like an adventure. That being said, it can be easy to miss certain story beats. I often found myself wandering aimlessly like that giant Terminator haystack in Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which can only be so alluring for so long. The simplicity of the inventory, character and skills menus means that Resurrected remains relatively accessible, allowing you to focus on the real-time gameplay, instead of being stuck in menus for days.
So who is Diablo 2: Resurrected really for? Because there isn’t much here that hasn’t been done better by other, more recent games. However, as the originator of its kind, it practically demands no comparison. The fact that the core facets of Diablo 2 remain playable at all is truly a testament to Blizzard and their masterful vision and craft. I can only assume that veterans of Diablo 2 will be overcome with joy and nostalgia as they clunkily hack and slash their way across Sanctuary in beautiful high definition. Sometimes it’s not about the game itself, but what the game represents; a touchstone in gaming history.
By Nick Whiting
Diablo 2: Resurrected proves that you can’t really improve upon perfection, but you can make it look really pretty. Despite some combat that hasn’t aged quite so well, the overall experience is well worth a step back in time for the atmosphere and unparalleled freedom it provides.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Activision Blizzard. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.