Diablo 2: Resurrected Will Blow Your Mind

This weekend, Blizzard held a technical alpha test for Diablo 2: Resurrected, the upcoming remake of the classic, genre-defining ARPG. The test featured three of the original character classes, Amazon, Barbarian, and Sorceress, and featured Acts 1 and 2 in their entirety. Though the cutscenes were missing and some of the features are disabled, it’s abundantly clear that Resurrected is shaping up to be the remake D2 fans are hoping for.

Not since Spyro Reignited Trilogy has a remake captured the look and feel of its predecessor so precisely. Resurrected’s commitment to recreating and modernizing the visual identity of the original is profound, almost to a fault. Perhaps the coolest feature in Resurrected is the ability to instantly switch back and forth between the original art and the remake art with the press of a button. I found myself toggling back and forth constantly as I explored the crypts and dungeons scattered throughout Sanctuary because I just couldn’t believe how eerily familiar everything looked exactly how I remembered. When we talk about a remake capturing the nostalgia of the original, there’s no better example than Resurrected.

But that verisimilitude also comes with some limitations. Companion characters still move with those jerky animations, day and night switch back and forth instantaneously when you move between areas, and a lot of the assets, particularly the inventory items, look especially flat compared to recent games. Resurrected is a modernized version of D2, but when placed side-by-side with Diablo 4 footage, it still looks decidedly dated.

Related: Diablo 3 Is Revamping Followers To Make Them Far More Useful

This is something of a recurring theme throughout Resurrected. While it goes to great lengths to update D2, it doesn’t always feel like it went far enough. On one hand, there are some great accessibility features in the remake for seeing and hearing impaired players like sound mixing customization, low vision mode, and colorblind mode (disabled during the alpha test). On the other hand, a lot of the game’s archaic systems and mechanics have been left intact. You can’t toggle on show items, for example, which means you have to constantly tap Alt to see the loot that has dropped. This makes it easy to accidentally miss items on the ground. You can toggle on Show Items in D3, so I’m surprised that isn’t a feature here.

Similarly, Resurrected still uses the old school skill bar from the original. Rather than a skill bar with all of your favorite skills available to an assigned hotkey, your spells are assigned to either right-click or left-click and can be cycled using the function keys. You can only manage your abilities by memorizing which skills are assigned to which F keys. Interestingly, if you play with a controller, the game switches to a much more modern control scheme.

Controller support might be the most impressive feature in Resurrected. When you pug in a controller, the entire UI changes from the classic layout to a modern one that allows you to assign skills to four face buttons and two triggers and consume potions with the d-pad. The entire inventory and menu system has been remade for easier controller use, and even the loot that drops on the ground can be spaced out to make looting on the controller easier. It a little bizarre that M+KB players are more-or-less stuck using the classic control scheme while controller players have a modernized UI, and it ultimately leads to an overall better experience on a controller, which is surprising, to say the least.

As far as gameplay goes, Resurrected is virtually identical to the original. It’s remarkable how well D2 has aged, and if all it really needed with a new coat a paint, I think Resurrected is a worthy remake. I’m hoping for a few more QoL features before the game comes out, but either way, I couldn’t be more excited to face off with the Lord of Destruction in 2021.

Next: Diablo 3 Is Changing How We Compete For Solo Greater Rift Leaderboards

 

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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.

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