After Blizzard released Diablo II: Resurrected in 2000, the direction of all subsequent games was defined for the nascent genre. Diablo III, Path of Exile, and other modern ARPGs can all be traced back to the original game’s DNA. As a result, the 2021 remaster is a befuddled re-release that does very little to address how the genre has evolved since its initial release, making it difficult to recommend over modern contemporaries other than out of nostalgia or a fleeting curiosity about what’s new. As you progress through the game, you gain more power, allowing you to deal the damage needed to take down the game’s most dangerous bosses.
At its core, it’s a faithful recreation of the original release, complete with all of the game’s quirks and early 2000s content. The Lords of Destruction expansion adds a lengthy fifth act to the game as a bonus. Given the events of the game’s finale and the way the development serves as a satisfying epilogue, these elements blend so seamlessly that you may wonder why they were sold separately in the first place.
As long as you are looking to spice things up as you grind towards your next level, the layouts that change every time you log back in give the game a small amount of replayability. The balancing of Diablo II: Resurrected has not been altered in any way, so this is a necessary ritual. The holes in the challenge become more apparent as you progress through the levels of difficulty.
When you die, you still lose your gold and equipment, and having to return to your corpse to get it back is just as frustrating as it was in the beginning. In Diablo II, not much has changed in terms of the game’s mechanics.
Much of Diablo II: Resurrected’s design is obscure to the player. The stamina bar has not been changed either, so you will have to stop running a lot at the beginning of the game to watch it fill up (this is thankfully negated after the first two acts as you start building up more vitality points, but never truly goes away unless you dedicate time to popping stamina potions frequently). Because Diablo II: Resurrected’s character builds have not changed, the game’s punishing nature will remain the same if you do not commit yourself fully to a specific build.
Despite the game’s place in the history of mouse-and-and-keyboard gaming, using a controller would have been the preferred method of play. Diablo II: Resurrected’s reliance on accuracy when casting abilities, which controllers are not up to, would have changed the course of PC game history.
When it comes to mechanical aspects of the game, sticking to the original design is understandable. While it’s understandable that a classic like this should not require any alterations, that does not make the game more enjoyable.
Automatic gold pickups have been added to save you the trouble of having to click on each one after taking out a large group of enemies. Some minor tweaks demonstrate a willingness to allow modern sensibilities to infiltrate and improve the Diablo II: Resurrected experience. They also show that Blizzard is open to modern sensibilities and improving the Diablo II experience. It’s one of the things that makes the whole package challenging to recommend because of this.
When it comes to modern remakes, Diablo II: Resurrected checks all the right boxes. It stays faithful to the original and does not make any changes to what has come before, giving Diablo II veterans a new and fantastic way to relive their adventure.
The slower pace of Diablo II’s combat will make it difficult for those who are used to freely experimenting with character builds and reaping the benefits of a power fantasy associated with mercilessly barrage enemies with abilities to appreciate it. They will also feel shackled by the game’s rigid builds, which do not tolerate careless use of skill points.
Those expecting more of the same click-and-loot loop will undoubtedly be surprised by Diablo II: Resurrected’s departure from its sequel, but it also does the bare minimum to make a case for itself to try and win you over. Players who have already invested hundreds of hours in this genre-defining title, or those willing to do the additional homework of reading up on the game’s quirks in advance, will find Resurrected a welcome addition.
Even so, the adventure had merit, and it’s great to be able to play a classic Blizzard game with a remaster that does its visual aesthetic justice so many years after it was initially released. There’s not much here for new players except a history lesson unless you are already familiar with the game’s dated design choices and imbalance.