Sunday, May 29

Diablo 2 Resurrected Review

I played on: Xbox Series X
I paid: Nothing as it was a gift.
Available on: Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, PC
Notes: n/a

Diablo 2 came out in 2000 making it a very old game today. The thing is, besides completely reworking the visuals this Diablo 2 Remaster keeps most of the original game intact. It seems that Blizzard was counting on Diablo 2 being timeless enough that modern gamers would be happy with the same game but with new graphics. I love this confidence in the classic game and it mostly holds up today, mostly. It’s not a flawless experience and it is the older game design that holds it back from being a masterpiece.

Diablo 2 Resurrected has so much in common with the original Diablo 2 that discussing the gameplay would be the same for both games. Because of this, like the classic D2, both games share almost everything in common with Diablo 1. To sum up the gameplay in its most simple form, it’s a dungeon crawler. You pick a class each with unique skills and abilities with certain weapons. For example, the barbarian is the best at taking damage while delivering powerful close-range attacks whereas the sorceress is much better with healing and long-range magical attacks. Loot is dropped often and maximising your loadout can make or break more challenging parts of the game. If this sounds familiar to Diablo 1, that’s because it is but with a much broader more ambitious scope.  Whereas Diablo had 3 classes Diablo 2 has 7. Whereas Diablo has you explore only Tristram Cathedral Diablo 2 has you explore 5 different countries with dozens of different dungeons. Although this does mean that the same issues that plagued the first game remain intact here. For one thing, whether you land any of your attacks is based on your stats affecting an invisible dice roll. If you’re unlucky, you could be swinging and missing dozens of attacks, which is beyond frustrating. If you’re attacking enemies or bosses with higher levels than you, you will miss an awful lot of the time. This means you need to grind a lot. Even on the lowest difficulty, you will spend hours farming areas to level up enough to take on the next big dungeon or boss. This was a common padding technique for RPGs of the early ’00s but nowadays it feels archaic.

Luckily the story and universe of Diablo is an amazing take on Christian biblical mythology and Diablo 2 is a vital and engaging part of this. Before there was anything there was Anu, a being of unfathomable power and might. After a while, Anu begins to look inward seeing himself as flawed. To resolve this imperfection Anu casts all his evil into a new being, one made entirely of evil and malice. There now exists two beings. Tathamet, the original prime evil and Anu the first being. They go to war with each other until they are both exhausted. With one thunderous final blow, they are both destroyed. Their death marked the creation of the realm known as Pandamonium. Anu’s body becomes the High Heavens while the Burning Hells form from Tathamet’s remains. Angels and demons are birthed from the Heavens and Hells respectively. Anu’s eye becomes an object of immense power known as the Worldstone.

The Worldstone has Anu’s power of creation and as such, it is sought out by both angels and demons alike. The Eternal Conflict begins with both the Heavens and Hells at war with each other over possession of the Worldstone. Eventually the archangel Tyrael builds the Pandamonium fortress to protect the Worldstone. This does little to halt the Eternal Conflict though and the battle between Heaven and Hell continues for aeons. After countless ages of conflict, the angel, Inarius, tires of it and seeks allies to end the Eternal Conflict. His most notable ally is a demon called Lilith. Together they steal the Worldstone and create a new realm called Sanctuary. It’s here that they fall in love and have children that possess the great power of both angel and demon. The rogue angels and demons that defected with Inarius and Lilith do the same, so the race of Nephalem is born. Seeing the power this new race has causes the rogue angels and demons to attempt to destroy the Nephalem. Lilith is horrified at the thought of losing her children and so to protect them destroys all the rogues. She leaves only her past lover Inarius, who upon seeing her deeds banishes her to the void. He then uses the Worldstone to take away the power of the Nephalem. Over each new generation, the Nephalem become weaker until they become a far less dangerous race known as humans.

After the Worldstone vanished from Pandamonium the Eternal Conflict ground to a halt as the Heavens and Hells no longer had anything to fight over. This uneasy peace lasts until both factions learn of Sanctuary and the race of humanity that now inhabit it. This reignites the conflict with both sides now battling over the souls of humanity. The Burning Hells are made up of the 7 most powerful demonic lords known as Evils. You have the 3 most powerful, first birthed from the Hells after Anu and Tathamet’s great battle ended. These are the Prime Evils, Diablo, lord of terror, Baal, lord of destruction and lastly Mephisto, lord of hatred and father of Lilith. Then you have the 4 lesser evils, Duriel, lord of pain, Andariel, maiden of anguish, Belial, lord of lies and Azmodan, lord of sin. It’s during this new period of conflict that the 3 Prime Evils were betrayed by their lesser kin and imprisoned in soulstones on Sanctuary. Diablo’s soulstone was hidden under the cathedral in Tristram. It’s here that Diablo twists the minds of men around Tristram until he’s able to possess the body of a young boy. Weakened from his time in the soulstone Diablo hides in the corrupted depths of Tristram rebuilding his power. This is when the first game begins. The warrior class from that first game defeats Diablo and hoping to contain the beast within his own body he plunges Diablo’s soulstone into himself. Over the next few months, the warrior battles with the evil contained within until he loses control. Diablo then takes control of the warrior, and he begins to travel east to free his brothers and take control of Sanctuary and the Worldstone that’s hidden within. 

This is where the story of Diablo 2 begins. It’s up to you to destroy the evil that Diablo and the other Evils spread over the world of Sanctuary. I love this story. Compared to the rather small and contained plot of the first game Diablo 2’s story is outstanding. Easily worth the price of admission on its own.

This world and lore are brought to life in this remake even more beautifully than it was in the original D2. Each act ends with a prerendered cutscene and they are some of the best in Blizzard’s impressive library. That’s not to say that the in-game graphics are lacking because they’re not. This is the best-looking Diablo game in my opinion. I love how detailed and sharp everything looks. This is the level of presentation that this epic world and story deserve.

Ultimately the presentation is the single biggest change and improvement over the original release of Diablo 2. The gameplay feels unchanged and the story most certainly is the same as the original classic. If you enjoyed the classic D2 back in the day then you will still enjoy it now with this remake. If you’ve never played D2 but enjoyed the story and lore from either Diablo 1 or 3 then now’s the perfect time to play this masterpiece! The gameplay is dated but the story is one of the best around. Not perfect but still a classic!

Recommendation Rating: 8 out of 10

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