Blizzard Entertainment caused something of a tectonic shift when it announced at February’s BlizzConline that the long-rumoured and anticipated Diablo II Resurrection remaster is officially happening.
The original game is nearly 21 years old but it remains a favourite among gamers and gained near icon status.
Diablo II: Resurrected – The basics
So what can players old and new expect this time round?
To answer that question, it might help to ask and answer another question: why? Why not leave the classic as is and turn attention to something new, like, I don’t know, Diablo IV?
Blizzard’s team says it’s because of Diablo II’s iconic status that it’s making a return: players of the 2000 game will be able to experience a modernised look and feel, while new players will get to discover the acclaimed game in the formats they’re accustomed to.
First off, Blizzard’s team has stressed that Diablo II Resurrection is not a remake but rather a remastering of the game (and its 2001 expansion pack Diablo II: Lord of Destruction).
Modernising a classic
The storyline, classes, monsters and everything else that makes Diablo II so beloved remains – with a 2021 lick of paint.
Speaking to Polygon, the franchise’s executive producer, Rod Fergusson, said: “This isn’t a remake. We’re not reverse-engineering it; we’re not rebuilding it and trying to make it look and sound like [Diablo II]. This is [Diablo II].”
Rather, Resurrected showcases a new skin with the classic game beneath the surface. The remaster has taken Diablo II’s 2D sprites and made it 3D.
In an interview with IGN, Resurrected game designer, Andre Abrahamian confirmed that the cinematics are a 1:1, shot for shot remake. “So the same 28 minutes of cinematics that you saw – on both the original Diablo II and the expansion – are all the same shots. The cinematics will be the same but with a lot more detail and fidelity,” he said.
The game’s producer, Matthew Cederquist, also told the website that the team followed a 70-30 rule: 70% is the new art that they created to enhance the dimensions and colouring of the original game, while 30% “is where we can push and add embellishments and some modernisation”. For example, gamers will be able to better see the connections in their class’s armour, while environments are more decorated with storytelling.
These new graphics will be able to display in up to 4K resolution on consoles and 8K on PCs. However, players wanting to experience that pixelated 2D aesthetic (no judgment. I recently rediscovered 1999’s Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation) can also toggle back to the original with a simple push of a button. The remastered version will also support 7.1 Dolby Surround sound.
And while the developers were determined to retain Diablo II’s gameplay, they turned their focus to making quality-of-life updates throughout. These include shared stash (which features in Diablo III) meaning that players no longer need to create a mule character to share items between their characters. The new version also lets players automatically pick up gold, change font sizes, and gives them more volume controls.
Fans will also be happy to hear that Resurrected will allow cross-progression, meaning that players can play the same saved game across different platforms. So you can start a game on your PC and continue playing later on your console. Importantly though, cross-play – wherein multiple players on different platforms play the same game – hasn’t been enabled this time round.
Dig out your saved files
There’s more good news for players who were wise enough to keep their saved files from the original game: Resurrected will let you import your saved games. So all of the progress made when you played the first time round can be carried over and you needn’t go back to the beginning and start all over again. Woohoo!
When do we get Resurrected? *high fives self*
In 2021. Sometime in 2021. That’s all Blizzard has said thus far about the expected release date for Diablo II: Resurrected.
But given that all we know about the release date for Diablo IV is that it will be out on a day in a year that hopefully falls in this decade, I’m happy to at least know I only have to mark my calendar until 31 December 2021 to get Resurrected*. Unless, of course, Blizzard announces a delay. In which case I will rant endlessly on social media and to my mom.
Diablo II: Resurrected and its expansion Lord of Destruction will retail for US$39.99 – R605.97 at current exchange rates – on PC.
It will be available on PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Nintendo Switch™,
*As lame as it is, I’m not ready to give up on this pun