Diablo II: Resurrected Review - "Hell Has Returned And It Looks Better Than Ever"
Diablo 2 is now 20 years old and is one of the crowning achievements of the Blizzard family. Naturally, that means this remaster has a massive weight on its shoulders. Diablo 2 Resurrected sure looks the part, with the dark and barren environments looking harsher than ever, but how is the entire package and what exactly has changed from the original?
Hell Has Returned
This is the ultimate fantasy game experience with every element imaginable included. Battle the grotesque monsters with an ever-expanding array of weaponry, use spells to fight off tough boss battles, and manage your health accordingly so you don’t become another victim of the devil’s evil regime. The reliance on potions makes a welcome return - it was actually a challenge to die in Diablo 3 at times due to how easy healing was. Here, you are reliant on finding, storing, and keeping potions at all times. You may need to use one at the drop of a hat so managing your inventory accordingly is vital.
The upgraded visuals are the first thing anyone picking up this game will notice. Characters that were once 2D pixel clumps now stand tall in glorious 4K, 3D smoothness. Don't be mistaken; Diablo 2 Resurrected won't test the high-end graphics cards and there's a good chance you'll be able to run it on an average PC rig, but it looks beautiful all the same. You also have the option of switching between the modern and legacy graphics in the settings, which is a small but incredibly nostalgic feature that will no doubt resonate nicely with the fans of the original game. It is incredibly difficult to play the original game now due to it not being supported on modern operating systems, but with Resurrected you can experience that original feel.
Keep Your Wits About You
Enemies have been overhauled and designed with some extremely in-depth features, for example each enemy has been individually designed and looks unique. Each brings with them a unique style of attack, a differing level of threat and a whole lot of blood. Even small details have been remastered with tremendous detail; the fireballs from the mages shine with a red hot looking flame that burns upon impact while skeletons trudge towards you with malice and destruction on the mind. Prime Evils look more glorious than ever, with lightning and fire spewing in all directions with shiny destruction.
Diablo 2: Resurrected does not hold your hand anywhere near enough as Diablo 3 did. Those who started their Diablo-playing experience at the third instalment in 2012 will immediately notice the difficulty spike, especially when it comes to navigation. Finding objectives is nowhere near as easy as it is on Diablo 3 as there is no glowing pin to tell you where to go now, it’s all about exploration with trial and error. Go the wrong way? Time to turn back and fight your way through more enemies again.
Climb The Ladder... Just Not Yet
Diablo 2: Resurrected does exactly what it promises on the box. At the time of writing on launch, there area few game-breaking bugs, but it's safe to assume they'll be fixed fairly rapidly as the game has already received one post-launch patch to address some issues.
One aspect fans will no doubt be annoyed at is the lack of ladder mode on launch. It's not all doom and gloom because the developer has said the ladder will be arriving in the game at some point, emphasising that the date will indeed be 'soon'. The problem is, without the ladder, a significant chunk of the game is missing. The ladder is the perfect place for competitive players because it's essentially ranked mode like we see in other competitive multiplayer games, but when it arrives, it will be broken down into four separate modes; standard, hardcore, then the same two again but including the Lord of Destruction expansion.
The ladder system is looking at being reset every six months, so think of it almost like a 'season' similar to those seen in games like Fortnite and Apex Legends. While not having this at launch is not the end of the world by any means - the core game is still playable, after all - it's disappointing after the mode had been hyped up prior to launch.
It's Dangerous To Go Alone...
When it comes to the gameplay, Diablo 2: Resurrected is a faithful recreation of the 2000 original, but with vastly improved graphics. This is in contrast to Diablo 3, which was controversial because it altered some the core mechanics that had been so loved in its predecessor, such as runes. Resurrected brings back the classic method - finding them throughout the world and slotting them into your gear - and it's an incredibly welcome return, as opposed to Diablo 3's sub-skills. Another example would be balancing; the Monk class was incredibly hard done by in the third game, whereas every class feels balanced here.
When it comes to online, teaming up feels better than ever. A lot of the initial multiplayer bugs have already been fixed - albeit not all of them - so at least in the next few weeks immediately after launch, expect some more intermittent downtime.
Nostalgia Goodness With Slight Flaws
Diablo 2: Resurrected is the perfect trip down memory lane for those looking to revisit the original experience, or for anyone who felt Diablo 3 was a little on the easy side. Thanks to the graphics overhaul, this title has been fully modernised 21 years on from the original, so it's also much more accessible for newcomers to the franchise. The lack of a ladder system at launch is certainly an odd choice but one that will inevitably be rectified soon enough. Diablo 2 Resurrected doesn't quite fill the aching hole in our hearts for Diablo 4, but it does help tide us over for the time being.