Blizzards Action-RPG „Diablo 2“ is undoubtedly one of the most important titles that the company has published to date and that has inspired numerous other representatives of its genre to this day. Now the company is daring a remaster of its former hit, which we were allowed to play on the PlayStation 5 as part of the latest closed beta and which left us with mixed feelings.
Classic story meets modern cutscenes
The team from Vicarious Visions, who recently worked on the new edition of “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2”, has not changed the plot of the title. The play version begins with the well-known intro of the classic, in which Marius, the inmate of an insane asylum, receives a visit from a mysterious figure in whom he seems to recognize the archangel Tyrael. He reports to him about disturbing events in an inn that he witnessed.
Then the actual game begins with its first act, in which we slip into the role of a nameless hero and set off on our first adventure in the camp of the hunters. In the finished game, of course, we will face the main villain Diablo, who survived the finale of the first part. The opening sequence was with the latest technology created from scratch and offers a modern introduction to the time-honored Blizzard classic, which first appeared on the market in 2000.
Five of the seven character classes were available to us in the closed beta: we could choose between the amazon, the barbarian, the druid, the paladin and the sorceress. The Assassin and the Necromancer were not yet available for selection. We decided on a sorceress and went out into the world with her to cleanse a rotten cave nearby of all sorts of monsters.
First, however, we inspected the hunters’ camp from which we started. We talked to different characters and got a little overview of what we can do and where. Then we went to explore the previously mentioned cave.
Graphically chic with pleasant improvements
After we had made our way through some monsters and zombies using our staff and our fire magic, we finally reached our destination. As we explore the ominous place, the improved technology quickly catches the eye. The textures and character models have been appropriately revised, but above all it is the improved lighting that noticeably contributes to the gloomy atmosphere of the game.
Long-established fans in particular should be pleased that the basic mood of the original is also retained in “Diablo 2: Resurrected”. The colors are a bit stronger, but there is no look like the one that was criticized a few years ago in “Diablo 3” by many long-time fans of the series. The atmosphere is supported by an atmospheric soundtrack with some really great pieces of music.
In addition, lovers of the original should quickly notice some Quality of Life improvements that benefit the feel of the game and allow a somewhat more pleasant flow of the game. Items lying on the floor are now automatically recorded, for example, and an overview in the menu shows neatly how certain skills affect your character and how much better / worse equipment lying around is. These possibilities fit in nicely organically without destroying the feel of the original.
However, the developers could have been a little braver here to further improve the playability of the title with “Diablo 2: Resurrected” and thus bring it closer to contemporary action RPGs. The inventory still has to be optimized manually to avoid wasting space. We have now reached a point where opinions could ultimately part, because the developers have to walk a fine line between being true to the original and modern.
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Fun but pretty dusty action
As well as Vicarious Visions were able to improve the Blizzard classic in individual aspects and bring it into the present, the game still feels stale in many moments. This is of course a bit in the nature of things, after all we are dealing with a remaster and not a remake, but the makers could have worked on one or the other screw with a clear conscience without alienating fans.
For example, the fights and the action are just as much fun today as they were 21 years ago and in general those responsible have captured the basic feeling, both playfully and atmospherically, wonderfully. In addition, it’s still really great to experiment with your character’s different abilities. Still, the numerous skirmishes against all sorts of monstrous figures don’t necessarily feel smooth. As in the original, the animations are pretty static.
But of course that doesn’t have to be necessarily negative or even a knockout criterion for the new edition. Many long-established “Diablo 2” fans may even welcome the fact that Blizzard is so careful with the classic and primarily relies on a technical modernization with small gameplay improvements. On the other hand, however, it should be questionable whether “Diablo 2: Resurrected” with its partly dusty facets will also be able to convince new players on September 23, 2021 who have no connection with the original.
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