Diablo II: Resurrected Review – Back to hell, for the memories

The year was 2000. I was still in university. But I saved whatever money I can to pre-order Diablo II, the sequel to the highly-popular action role-playing (ARPG) game Diablo released in 1997.

Subsequently, I would buy the expansion pack Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. While the original Diablo defined the ARPG genre, the sequel solidified its hold and legendary status in the ARPG genre.

It is great to see you again too, Tyrael. (Photo: Blizzard)

So when the remake or refresh or update (or whatever you want to call it) for Diablo II was announced, I put my money on it despite still playing Diablo III since its launch in 2012.

SPECS
PRICE: From S$59.90 (PC, version reviewed; PS4; PS5; Xbox One; Xbox Series X|S)
GENRE: Action role-playing game

In case you are wondering where is Diablo IV? The fourth installment was announced in 2019, but its release date is as unknown as when this Covid-19 pandemic will end.

Anyway, back to Diablo II: Resurrected. This remake includes all the content from both Diablo II and its expansion pack Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. So, you will get to play the five acts of the Diablo II story with re-mastered cinematic cut scenes and graphics being updated to modern standards. There is a neat feature that lets you switch back to the old pixelated graphics with a press of a button. Just for the sake of nostalgia, but I don’t see the point.

In any case, you get to play all the 7 playable classes, including Assassin and Druid from the expansion as well as the original 5 classes of Paladin, Barbarian, Amazon, Sorceress and Necromancer. So, you can experience the different fighting tactics and techniques each class brings to the table.

You can choose to play from 7 hero classes. (Photo: Blizzard)

In terms of gameplay, it has stayed practically the same with the simple hack and slash mechanics using mouse and keyboard. It is still about killing monsters, getting gold, receiving better loot, upgrading your character’s abilities and repeat.

But there are some quality-of-life changes. For instance, there is now a shared stash for your different characters to share loot. This is a big boon since my Paladin character somehow always get great items exclusively used by Assassin or Druid. The stash size has also been expanded from 6×8 grid to 10×10 grid.

The user interface has been slightly re-designed with easy item comparison, advanced character sheet stats information and automatic partying upon entering multiplayer games.

The gameplay has remained the same, from 20 years ago. (Photo: Blizzard)

In addition, there is automatic gold pick-up now in this remake – a feature found in Diablo III. This greatly reduces the amount of mouse clicks needed. For console gamers, there is also the much gamepad support.

Not to mention, there is now a new cross-progression feature. As long as you have a linked Battle.bet account, you will be able to access your characters and keep their progress wherever you play.

However, your characters are differentiated between online and offline. So, if you have a high offline character, you cannot bring it online to play with your friends. As such, I recommend you only use online characters.

FOR
+ Faithful remake of the original
+ Same addictive hack and slash gameplay
+ Updated modern standard graphics
+ Can play all the classes available
+ Several quality-of-life improvements

AGAINST
– Manual inventory management
– More quality-of-life improvements should have been added
– Cannot port an offline character to online

But apart from these changes, everything with Diablo II: Resurrected remains the same as the original. All the levels and dungeons are still randomly generated. Even non-player characters say the same lines they did 20 years ago.

You still have to manually move your items in your inventory and stash like arranging Tetris blocks, or your character keeps saying “I can’t carry this anymore”.

Time to kill some monsters. (Photo: Blizzard)

Potions cannot be stacked in your inventory, and you find yourself running out of space very quickly. Opening portals back to town to sell extra loot becomes a regular affair.

Not to mention, you will be fighting the same monsters and bosses you fought two decades ago. And when your character dies, you still have to run all the way back to retrieve your armour, weapons, items and gold.

Oh hi, Diablo. We meet again… (Photo: Blizzard)

It is like going back to hell again, quite literally. That said, I still thoroughly enjoy this remake even though I would have like more improvements.

Despite its simplistic and repetitive gameplay, playing this remake re-affirms why this game cemented the Diablo franchise in computer gaming history. Somehow, the gamplay just never gets old even when the game is already so.

VERDICT
The Diablo II: Resurrected is a faithful modern re-make of the original. Perhaps too faithful, as many improvements could have been added for this remake. Still, it was a great trip down memory lane again after more than two decades.

RATING
8/10