I was there when Diablo II released. I was in Secondary 4, about to take my O Levels and suddenly…the world exploded. Who cares about studying when you can be playing a Barbarian and ridding the world of Diablo was more fun?! Decades later, here I am again, replaying Diablo II in its remastered form, Diablo II: Resurrected.
With more than two decades since then though…is Diablo II still as fun?
Read and know more!
What is Diablo II: Resurrected?
Diablo II: Resurrected is a remaster of Diablo II, a third person, isometric dungeon crawling action RPG. The original Diablo II was released in 2000, with its subsequent expansion, Lord of Destruction released a while later. Both games are included in Diablo II: Resurrected which is now available for PC, Playstation and Xbox consoles and the Nintendo Switch.
Our copy of the game was graciously provided by the awesome folks at Activision Blizzard SEA. Thanks a ton for the game guys!
The reason I wanted to review the game on a console was simple; Diablo II’s never been ported to one. The original Diablo and Diablo III were, but somehow Diablo II slipped through the cracks…till now.
Diablo II is highly regarded by a ton of gamers as one of the most influential games of all time for good reason.
Its diverse classes are still great examples of distinct gameplay styles to this day. There’s pretty much a class for any gameplay style represented in the 7 playable classes. While the plot was substandard, it more than made up for it with the layered gameplay.
Like other action RPGs, you’ll level up as you battle Diablo’s minions, which lets you unlock new skills and equip better weapons. Diablo II keeps its stats simple, as you only need to keep track of 4 different ones and each is basic enough that even newbies will catch on fast. That’s good because you’re pretty much stuck with your character build for most of the game (I’ll talk about this later).
Diablo II: Resurrected plays a lot like Diablo III on consoles.
Movement is via the left analog, the face buttons (and some of the triggers) execute shortcuts and other buttons open the menus. If you’ve played Diablo III, you’ll feel instantly familiar with the game. Aside from rolling (which isn’t present in the game), the controls are pretty much similar.
The new character models and visuals do a ton to help Diablo II look brand new, though you can always switch back to the old school looks at any time. Don’t know why you’d do that though…
While the environments still don’t look as detailed as Diablo III’s (they’re not as interactive), they certainly look decent enough. The lighting effects are particularly nice, as shadows play around in the dark corners of the dungeons you explore.
Diablo II: Resurrected’s visuals are incredibly atmospheric, though the art design starts to lose its way in the second and third acts…before finding itself again in the final acts. I don’t know why but the deserts around Lut Gholein and the jungles of Kurast have always bored me to death and I dreaded replaying them in the past.
They do look better now, but I still find these areas a massive slog.
The controls are hit and miss…they’re decent enough for basic functionality but utilizing certain skills require a finesse that the game doesn’t provide.
I’m of course speaking of the Assassin class’ traps.
I love playing a Trap Assassin but I’m finding issues with the game’s automatic placement of the class’ turret traps. The game always places the turrets in the direction where you’re facing, but sometimes it places them right up against stage geometry, which blocks their effects. I’ve had turrets spawn behind barrels, walls, and other environmental objects. Needless to say, they were wasted.
It’s not as big an issue with other classes (the Sorceress regenerates mana so fast you can just spam spells most of the time) but for the Trap Assassin, it’s a fundamental flaw that takes a lot of the fun away from the smart placement of traps and their decimation of hordes of enemies.
Another issue I’ve found that’s very annoying on console is that there’s no option to open both your stat screen and your inventory. The game doesn’t offer a preview of stat change when you equip items so you’re forced to move back and forth between two different screens to see if that ring is better than the one you’re wearing. It is tedious, especially when you’re juggling a ton of gear.
I really wish that Blizzard had incorporated the UI lessons they learned with Diablo III into this game. In fact, I’m wondering why they didn’t. While Diablo III isn’t the most intuitive UI I’ve ever seen, it’s still much more functional than the one in Diablo II: Resurrected.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons why you’re not going to enjoy Diablo II: Resurrected as much on a console.
Apart from the better UI in Diablo III, Diablo II: Resurrected also brings back the dreaded (and much hated) stamina meter. I don’t know why Blizzard hasn’t patched out the mechanic but it is singlehandedly breaking the pace of the game. Instead of moving from encounter to encounter at a frenetic pace, you’re forced to crawl in between bouts as you recover your stamina, which is needed to run.
It doesn’t serve any purpose other than annoyance. I hated it when Diablo II was new and boy, do I still hate it now. Hell, I might hate in now even more, as Diablo III has shown me a Diablo game without a stamina meter…and it is GLORIOUS.
Unfortunately, if Blizzard’s still not patched it out in two decades, it’s highly unlikely this release will make them change their minds.
Other legacy issues also make their way to the remake.
It’s your inability to easily reassign your skill and stat points.
You can ONLY respec ONCE per difficulty until you get to Hell difficulty, which allows you to combine certain drops (found only on the difficulty) to create an item that allows you to respec your points. Forcing you to play a certain way (when the gear you find is better suited for another style) sucks really bad. It’s restricting for no reason and punishment for doing no wrong,
That’s still palatable compared to the worst issue I encountered; Online play. Unlike the PC versions of Diablo II, you can NOT select your battle.net servers. From what I can deduce from the game’s opening screen, your location dictates the server you’re assigned to. It’s the small text at the lower right.
With my location set to Singapore, it seems like I’m assigned to the Korean server. With my location set to the US, I’m assigned to the American servers. Either way, the servers are kind of laggy.
You know it’s lag when enemies (or other players) start teleporting around (and these are the guys who can’t teleport), your attacks miss even though they hit and of course…when nothing else moves but you. That’s the prelude to the dreaded disconnection.
I keep getting disconnected after every half an hour or so for no rhyme or reason.
Everything would play smoothly (or relatively so) and then WHAM! I’m kicked out to the title screen with an error message. My connection’s fine though, I’m still connected to Xbox Live, I’m on a wired connection…it’s just Blizzard’s servers.
Playing Online is the ONLY way the game’s cross-progression works. If you choose Offline play, your characters will only be saved locally, with no way to convert them to an Online enabled character. It’s two separate ecosystems and never the twain shall meet.
I don’t mind that in theory, but with the issues of disconnection and lag, I’ve bitten the bullet and just created an Offline character instead. I play Hardcore, which means a single death erases the character and that is simply unacceptable with lag and disconnection issues.
I can die without being able to do anything about it!
With an Offline only character, I can circumvent all the connection and lag issues…though Offline play does bring up another problem. Why isn’t there a local multiplayer option? It’s a totally unforgiveable issue, especially considering other Diablo games have it. It’s an incredibly weird omission and I really don’t see a point to not having it. It can’t be that hard to implement at all.
Speaking of questionable decisions, I don’t know why the game has two different performance settings. There’s a performance mode with 60fps and another with (supposedly) sharper visuals at 30fps. Problem is the 30fps mode barely looks any better than the 60fps.
I’m wondering why there’s even a 30fps mode in the first place…can’t an Xbox Series X handle the game at its highest setting? We’re not talking Crysis here!
The Bottom Line.
This is Diablo II, warts and all. Time hasn’t been kind to the game and Diablo III surpasses it in nearly every way on a console.
That said, Diablo II: Resurrected is still a decent game that’s worth playing. The visuals are pretty cool but it’s the gameplay that still shines through. Playing a Trap Assassin is still as satisfying as ever, despite the issues in trap placement.
It’s just a shame that Blizzard’s chosen not to implement new features into the game such as local multiplayer for consoles.
Overall, I’d say Diablo III is the better game on console, though Diablo II: Resurrected is still worth a play if you haven’t tried it or want to relive the good old days. While the remastering effort is well done, the fact is Diablo II hasn’t aged as well as you’d think.
Some issues but Diablo II: Resurrected is still fun,
- Tons of distinct classes.
- Decent campaign length.
- Deep gameplay.
- Remastered visuals are pretty cool.
- New FMVs are awesome.
- Able to switch to original visuals in real time.
- Voice acting is crappy.
- Legacy issues from Diablo II
- Online play is crap.
- No local multiplayer.
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