Getting back to the roots that make this franchise so phenomenal and popular, this is what Blizzard is trying to do with it Diablo II: Resurrected. This highly anticipated remastering process finally held a Technical Alpha period some time ago, which ended up being greeted with many positive impressions.
Blizzard must be recognized as succeeding in presenting the classic Diablo II taste while pushing its visual quality in the modern direction it should be. The opportunity to change the visuals from the Remaster version to the original version also strengthens this significant difference. One thing is for sure, this gameplay session certainly ends up inviting lots of questions about Blizzard’s behind the scenes and the development process of Diablo II Resurrected. Fortunately, the opportunity to solve the mystery came to us.
Assisted by Blizzard himself, we had the opportunity to sit online and face two of Diablo II Resurrected fronts – Andre Abrahamian (Game Designer) and Matthew Cederquist (Game Producer) along with several other Southeast Asian media. Of course this is the best moment to satisfy the thirst of curiosity about some of the design decisions that Blizzard injected during the Technical Alpha yesterday. Keep in mind, these questions were built on the basis of the Technical Alpha period and may not reflect the features, quality, or end result of the final product if you end up reading this article well in advance of the time it was written.
Here are the questions and answers thrown by Blizzard. We will use the word JP to define our question, And (for Andre), Mat (for Matthew), and simply A (ask) for questions from other Southeast Asian media.
JP: Why now? Why go back to exploring Diablo II after officially announcing Diablo IV? Doesn’t this timing feel strange?
And: Diablo II is a special game for Blizzard and it defined a genre in the past. He also recently celebrated his 20th birthday. This is also the perfect timing because Diablo Immortal will explore the story between Diablo II and Diablo III, as well as the fact that Diablo IV will be inspired more heavily towards Diablo II itself. Therefore, we feel that this is a fantastic timing for Diablo fans to relive the Diablo II experience.
A: How friendly will Diablo II be with mods? Will we be able to change the UI layout as an example?
And: There are a few things we’re going to do with mods. First of all, it must be remembered that we are now “moving” to the more modern Battle.net, which is a safer ecosystem. We’ve also turned some of the previously “Hard-coded” elements into data, making them easier to mod now. I can’t say much in detail about how far the mod will be supported at this point, but technically it should feel easier and more free. But again, we also have to consider the security system from Battle.net itself. Gamers can also taste the original Diablo II if they want to enjoy all the available mods, considering that this version of the game will still be available even when Diablo II Resurrected launches later.
A: Playing the original version with Full HD resolution makes this game feel so pixelated. Are there any plans to remaster that version as well?
And: We did design Diablo II: Resurrected in an effort to maintain the same artstyle with better graphics, so we switched to 3D modeling. But on the other hand, we also wanted to keep the appearance of the original Diablo II, and so we injected the Legacy button to help gamers see the difference.
A: By saving the original Diablo II data which can also be used in the Resurrected version, there will be lots of gamers out there who can jump straight to the end of the game if they wish. Will the team provide something new for gamers like this?
And: Save the original Diablo II data, it will still work in Diablo II: Resurrected. But for now, we have no plans at all to add new end-game content. Our focus now is on offering an authentic gaming experience that gamers have tasted in the past.
A: Will the “Auction House” feature come back?
Mat: No, not at this time.
And: Looks like we can come up with certainty that Auction House won’t be back in Diablo II: Resurrected.
A: In terms of performance, what about the process of optimizing the Nintendo Switch version of Diablo II: Resurrected later, when compared to Diablo III for sure?
Mat: We are definitely committed to ensuring Diablo II: Resurrected runs at the best capacity on all future release platforms, whether console or PC. We’re still aiming for 60fps for consoles.
A: What kind of anti-cheat system will be implemented for online play?
And: Given that we’ve moved to Battle.net at this time, then you can expect the same security system as other Blizzard games that already use the same ecosystem. We can’t share the details here, but modern infrastructure will make it easier for us to get there.
A: Are there any considerations to make the death system in Diablo II “easier”? For example, adding the option to respawn without having to visit the previous character’s corpse? Or make this option demanding its own resources? Or even add features like Manual Save?
And: Our goal right now is to offer you an authentic Diablo II gaming experience. We will indeed make this game more accessible, but that doesn’t necessarily end up making it easier. That is our mindset. But we also continue to hear feedback from gamers who had tasted Technical Alpha yesterday.
A: What inspired the idea of enabling gamers to switch from the original to the remastered version and vice versa with just one button?
And: This is actually one of the first features we want to inject in this project. This helps provide a clearer picture of how far the technology has come in the last 20 years alone. Not only does it benefit gamers, it also helps in the development process where we can always check the original version to make sure we are loyal to the original version, as closely as we can.
Mat: This is actually a feature that is already available in Starcraft Remastered. So much positive feedback that we receive from the same feature there makes us interested in injecting it too in Diablo II: Resurrected. The feature will generate a nostalgic sensation about your perception of how these games looked in the past and then realize how they actually looked in the past.
A: Given that multiplayer co-op will be an important part of Diablo II: Resurrected in the future, will there be an option for gamers to get direct loot instead of having to fight over each other?
Mat: As Andre previously said, for now, we are only focused on remixing the best gaming experience that Diablo II can offer in its original form. Then of course, listen to gamers’ feedback before the final release.
JP: Will there be any plans to concoct a real remake? Offers Diablo III-style gameplay on top of the Diablo II story and aesthetics?
And: There are currently no plans for a remake. When we started this project and returned to visit Diablo II, we realized how iconic this game is. After all, at Blizzard, we also have a design philosophy for new games where we are always “Finding Locations for the Source of Fun” in it, which in Diablo II is rooted in the core of the gameplay which still feels relevant and fun to play. Therefore we decided to stick with it and prefer the Remaster option.
A: Will the cut-scene also be rebuilt?
And: That’s right, the cut-scenes will be rebuilt and remixed following the original series. So there will be 27-28 new cinematic minutes that will look amazing.
A: Can you explain how a game system using a gamepad will be implemented? What was Blizzard thinking when designing this control system, especially for gamers new to new and old?
And: This is a good question. One of the biggest challenges of translating the controls to a gamepad is changing the way the characters themselves work. The challenge lies in pathing while moving and of course, changing and directing skills at the enemy. We are of course ambitious to create a smooth control experience for the console version and so far we have received quite positive feedback from the technical alpha period. Of course, we also have to make sure it is balanced, considering there are so many different mechanics and how the skills work. We learned from Diablo III and other action RPG games, such as how Teleport and Meteor skills work where they are easy to target but also have a limited range of attacks. We are also still learning from the technical alpha.
A: Are there any plans to continue supporting Diablo II: Resurrected in the future, new add-ons, patches, and mods?
And: We’ll be focused on ensuring mod support. But for now, as I talked about earlier, we’re more focused on maintaining the authentic Diablo II experience that it should be.
JP: Aren’t you afraid that the classic gameplay approach for Diablo II: Resurrected will feel stale for new and young gamers? Or is this project targeted for gamers who enjoy the original series as a focus?
And: We did discuss a lot about new gamers, old gamers, and gamers who are still active when discussing what new features to inject. We ourselves are optimistic that Diablo II: Resurrected will be able to invite new gamers through a variety of additional features that we inject while maintaining the sensation of Diablo II itself. But our goal from the start has always been to maintain the authentic and classic feel of Diablo II while offering so many QOL enhancements. One example is adding the “Shared Stash” feature and controller support for gamers who want it.
A: Considering the original Diablo II is already “almost perfect” especially through various major patches throughout its life. So, what kind of feedback was Blizzard really looking for during the alpha technical days?
And: Technical Alpha is the first moment where gamers can finally play Diablo II: Resurrected live. We wanted to see how gamers reacted to whether we managed to make Diablo II: Resurrected feel like the original Diablo II which was loved by many gamers. We’ve got fantastic feedback on the artstyle approach as well as the “Legacy” button that it carries.
A: How far are we from beta?
Mat: At this time there is no date that can be announced for the beta period. There are a lot of things we have to do after the feedback we got from the technical alpha yesterday. So for now, there is no date yet.
Diablo II: Resurrected itself is planned to be released in 2021, still without an exact date, for the Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch, and of course – PC. How about you? How many of you are looking forward to this series?