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  • Delivering good work in a bad era
  • Delivering good work in a bad era



    I would like to be in a universe where my conscience felt clear recommending the quality and execution of VV's Diablo II: Resurrected. This is generally how a Blizzard Classic game should work: faithful to the source material, even to a fault, while sneaking in legitimate quality-of-life options (which players can disable); a path to taking characters from platform to platform (which players can ignore); and a handsome, tasteful, top-to-bottom touch of paint for all characters, monsters, and environments (or players can stick with original 800 x 600 graphics if they really want).

    If you can live without LAN multiplayer options and Mac support—and those are both big "ifs" depending on your use case—then Resurrected is the superior edition. Sadly, Blizzard offers no "upgrade" path to this remastered purchase from the original CD key. Then again, to the company's credit, the lack of an upgrade path may be because Blizzard has elected not to nuke the original game as a purchasable option. You can buy the Windows XP version for $10 on right now, warts and all, and add $10 more for the "Lord of Destruction" expansion. (This is particularly good to see after Blizzard summarily blew up WC3's original client, sigh.)

    Yet I'm shocked—though not surprised—to see Blizzard continue to kick the desert sand of Diablo's Lut Gholein into fans' faces regarding online connectivity. I'll get into that shortly.

    Leaving the original code intact
    This impressions articles lands after 10 hours of delving into D2R's dungeons and hellscapes. We're basing this primarily on the PC version, though I also tested the game on Xbox Series X, base Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch with codes provided by Activision Blizzard. For most of my testing, I favored D2R's Assassin class, whom I shepherded to the end of the game's second act (there are five acts in all). That's further progress than I made during the beta, which ended at Act One with fewer selectable characters, and I'm generally comfortable making a judgment about the overall production. But 10 hours wasn't enough time for me to confirm every design tweak, environment overhaul, or other nitpick possibility.

    The best news about D2R is how well Vicarious Visions nailed the mission of leaving the original gameplay and aesthetic intact while giving people better mechanical and visual ways to dive into this ancient-school action RPG.

    As a refresher, Diablo II built upon the novelty of the first Diablo in ways that I believe render that first series entry moot. Like in the first game, players pick a magical medieval-hero archetype, then guide them through a procedurally generated isometric adventure that gets more difficult as it continues. Run around, fulfill specific objectives, kill monsters, and pick up new, increasingly better weapons and items. Along the way, leave the beaten path to find more dangerous monsters and better loot while using accumulated experience points to tune your character's abilities.

    In 2000, Diablo II blasted off because it expanded on everything that made the first game memorable and fun: more environments, more monsters, more character classes, more abilities, and much, much more loot. It also tightened the animations and response times for attacks and spellcasting—and did so in ways that still feel snappy 20 years later.

    That longevity matters, because Vicarious Visions has seemingly left the core data for movements and animation durations intact for D2R. I didn't rig up an older PC with vanilla Diablo II installed in order to compare frame data on every single attack between both versions, which means the Barbarian's "Leap" or the Necromancer's "Raise Skeleton" might be off. But I did run through vanilla D2 footage of a similar Assassin build to mine, and from what I can see, that character's "Fire Blast" and "Wake of Fire" abilities line up in both games. "Fire Blast" in particular is a fun one to toy with, since the Assassin throws it like a bomb—either quickly at nearby foes, or in a long, slow arc at distant monsters. The timing hasn't changed in 20 years.

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