Now you see the year 2000, now you do not
There’s a part of my head, a reptile part of my brain that just loves watching numbers go up. It finds joy in methodically kiting and defeating enemies, clearing the prey area and moving on to the next; as an agricultural simulator for looting and looting.
Due to the, Diablo should be right up my alley. And while I’ve had quite a bit of time with the third part of the series, I have only the faintest memories Diablo II and its expansion Lord of Destruction. Diablo II: Resurrected felt like the right opportunity to visit these distant memory nodes and better understand the reverence that fans hold for this particular dungeon crawler.
At startup, I thought it looked pretty good. There were all the old sights and sounds, a campfire and a ring of adventure gathered around it. I could only choose between three specific characters: the barbarian, the Amazon or the sorceress. It was clear that I chose the one who fired fireballs from her hands and set off.
It also did not take long before I started using these fireballs because Diablo II really drops you into the thick of things. After a few short sections of expository text, you get free reign to wander out of the temporary camp set up and start killing monsters. It may look sparse by modern standards, but there is a degree of reverence I have for this. Diablo II know what you came here to do and it does not take more tutorial missions and guided segments to get you there.
As I wandered around the plains outside the camp, blasting fallen monsters and annoying the undead, everything was definitely comfortable. Most of my points went into making my Fire Bolt better, but that was okay; there is a lot of enjoyment to be in the simplicity of the early game Diablo II, as I simply drag around enemies, dance around attacks and slam potions back.
It is easy to notice the absence of Diablo IIIadditions, such as the avoidance roll. Other parts may feel a little fuzzy, like playing fixtures Tetris, but they fit – being forced to control all the equipment I took and decide between a club I could sell for gold or a charm that gives me bonuses when it’s in my package is a fun little decision to take in the heat from the moment. Storage space made me realize how easy I had it with the console version of Diablo IIIand now the older one Diablo gives me a newfound appreciation of a well-managed backpack.
Truly, the magic of this remaster is at the touch of a button. In solid 30 minutes I had had it Diablo II: Resurrected as presented. But by pressing the G key, I was able to switch the game back to its original appearance. Until that moment, I thought Diablo II: Resurrected looked like Diablo II, and then the G key reminded me what Diablo II really looked like in the year 2000.
Good God. It’s a magic trick, and it’s good. Other games like that excellent Command & Conquer remaster and Halo: Master Chief Collection, has offered options that allow you to switch between the new and original graphics, and it’s just as striking, if not more so, here.
The work done by Blizzard and Vicarious Visions – which developed last year Tony Hawks Pro Skater remakes – is incredible. It may sound cheesy, but Diablo II: Resurrected really looks like you remember it Diablo looks. The difference is easy enough to show in comparison side by side, but it’s really wonderful to see it in action.
As I was blowing through several quests in Act 1, I found myself constantly pressing the G key to see the differences. Areas changed, enemies changed, but it all remained structurally the same. It’s the same geography, the same experience, but it looks completely different thanks to this aesthetic revision. I almost died a few times just because I saw a named enemy run at me and immediately started graphics-swapping instead of running.
Death too! It happens much more often in Diablo II. Aside from not having an evasive roll, Diablo II: Resurrected just feels completely more challenging in a good way. Early fights saw me chug magic spells just to keep my Fire Bolt spam up as I ran circles around a horde that would knock me down if I stopped for more than a second. However, it never felt too much, and once I was more accustomed to the way I was to assign my stats, the fights kept a steady balance between hard-but-fair.
Really, Diablo II: Resurrected feels like a great example of what to change and keep the same with an old game when restarting it. The gameplay that created Diablo II such a standout remains at first, and it is as compelling as it was two decades ago. Meanwhile, the updated graphics can make it feel brand new, and offering the opportunity to travel to the original look and back adds an extra bit of fun, either for curious newcomers or nostalgic veterans.
Diablo II: Resurrected was already on my radar as a means of filling a barely formed hole in my game memory. After spending a few hours with the opening areas and experiencing the joy of bursting fireballs in modern solutions, I am even more fascinated. As a historical record, it is a sign of how different the game is from 2000 and what Diablo IV could look to the future. But for the gameplay, it’s a testament to that Diablo II still withstands the time test.