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Diablo 2: Resurrected Review – For the Faithful

todayOctober 1, 2021 1

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Diablo 2 Resurrected on PC

Diablo 2: Resurrected is a remaster simultaneously complex, and also incredibly simple. Visually, it’s a night and day difference between its predecessor, even on the Switch. But from a gameplay perspective, it is incredibly faithful, almost to a fault. Very little has been changed from the original release which will likely be music to the ears of the most hardcore Diablo 2 fans, resistant to change. In that sense, it’s a very “simple” upgrade. However, that decision not to use this opportunity to spruce things up may end up being a thorn at the side of newcomers and fans without rose-tinted glasses.

Let’s talk about what Diablo 2: Resurrected gets right first. Visually Diablo 2: Resurrected is a triumph. It takes a very old game that looks, let’s face it, like ass by today’s standards, and turns it into something charming and wonderful to behold. By charming and wonderful, I of course mean gory, gothic, and dark with a new level of detail that was not possible in the original game. Fans wouldn’t have it any other way in that regard.

Gameplay-wise, very little has changed because very little needed to change. Diablo 2 is still an all-time great game and that is still the case in Resurrected.

All of the game’s classes are incredibly distinct from each other and each has a multitude of different play styles you can elect to spec into. There are Trap Assassins, Elementalist Assassins, Bow Amazons, Javasons, Werewolf Druids, Werebear Druids, Hammerdins, Whirlwind Barbs, Summoner Necros, and Bone Necros, Ice, Fire, and Thunder Sorceresses, I could go on and on.

Layered on top of that are gear and set items that can further augment your gameplay and of course the fabled Runewords that players can chase to really perfect their builds. Leveraging all of that and creating your perfect character is definitely a grind. It’s a grind that may not make sense to an outsider, because at the end of the day you’re just running through the same content you did before, just faster, but those of us that love the genre do get it and love it for what it is.

What’s great too is that players now have an easier way of getting to experience the lore, environment, and story of Diablo 2. Diablo 3 had a really compelling story that is heavily connected to the events of Diablo 2. While you can still enjoy Diablo 3 without having ever played its predecessor, it’s far more enjoyable if you do know fully what’s going on. And with Diablo 4 coming at some point in the future, it’s absolutely worth a single playthrough for the story and to experience this legendary game at least once, even if you’re not planning on staying a while or killing Baal 10,000 times.

All of that said, while yes, Diablo 2 is still an excellent game, it never was a perfect game, and there are some issues that were forgivable back when it was originally released that stick out like sore thumbs now in Diablo 2: Resurrected.

I have extremely fond memories of Diablo 2 going back to my days in middle school and high school. My friends and I would spend hours perfecting our magic find gear and mastering our speed runs through Mephisto and Baal to grind for better loot.

The funny thing about memories, though, is that sometimes your brain selectively chooses to remember good ones, and deletes all of the bad ones.

For example, I barely remembered that Stamina was even a thing, and yeah it’s very much a drag early on. While it improves over time as you pump up your Vitality, I can totally see fans that are not married to the idea of loving Diablo 2, getting frustrated very easily over it, and giving up on it before it starts to resolve itself.

If the frequent battles with your Stamina in the early game don’t scare players away, the inventory management might. This is another Diablo 2 memory I subconsciously left behind apparently.

I do not remember having to constantly go into my inventory to either drop stuff, or go back and forth to town to stash and sell items as often as I apparently need to while playing Diablo 2: Resurrected.

Did I just never pick things up in the original game? Did I just not know anything better back then? I don’t know the answer to those questions, but the reality is that in 2021 it’s kind of brutal and not in a good way. Your choices are basically to be extremely selective on what you decide to stop and pick up and then possibly miss out on upgrades, or just spend most of your gameplay time in your inventory.

While I’m fortunate that the version of Diablo 2 that contained respeccing made it into Diablo 2: Resurrected, I would have really preferred to just have unlimited respeccing as you do in Diablo 3. As it stands, it’s a pain in the ass to experiment and you’ll need to really commit to your play style and resort to starting a new character if you want to have easy access to something different.

Finally, let me just also add, that the lack of a local couch co-op option for console players is a total bummer. I have to imagine, considering Diablo 3 had the option, that it probably wasn’t a philosophical choice, but rather it probably just wasn’t possible. Still, that doesn’t make it any less of a disappointment.

I know that hardcore Diablo 2 fans don’t want to even entertain the idea of Diablo 3 seeping into their beloved game; I totally get that sentiment and don’t want a watered-down version of Diablo 2 either. However, a few modern touches, addressing the three biggest pain points I mentioned above would have gone a long way to properly resurrecting Diablo 2 and making it a premier ARPG in 2021.

It doesn’t reach that potential, sadly, but it’s still an all-time great game that mostly holds up as long as you can look past its dated features.

Reviewer: Ed McGlone | Award: Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by Publisher.