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First Impressions: ‘Diablo 2: Resurrected’ is already looking deadly

Diablo 2: Resurrected is planning on giving the classic action RPG a serious facelift. After a few hours in the Technical Alpha, I can say it’s shaping up to have been well worth the effort.

Diablo 2: Resurrected has the tricky task of leaning into players’ nostalgia without taking them for a ride. Most gamers are happy to pay a few bucks to relive an experience they recall fondly, especially one as iconic and genre defining as the original Diablo 2.

Despite this, it needs to be clear that a remake or remaster is being done in good faith. If it feels like a cash grab, backlash is practically guaranteed. Blizzard managed to frustrate, to put it lightly, a significant portion of their Warcraft 3 player base with their 2020 Reforged release.

So I am glad to report, after spending a few hours in the Technical Alpha for Diablo 2: Resurrected, that Blizzard seem to have learned from that experience.

While I don’t have a great deal of experience with the Diablo franchise, I vividly remember being drawn to huge promotional cardboard cutouts at my local video game store back in 2000. The game’s world looked so dark, rich, and exciting – everything an 11-year-old me wanted.

Unfortunately the game, along with its 17+ rating for gore and violence, was everything my mother sought to protect me from.

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Screenshot: Diablo 2: Resurrected Technical Alpha

First impressions of Diablo 2: Resurrected

In short, despite my experience of Diablo 2 being limited, my expectations were actually fairly high. I’ve never experienced as much nostalgia for something I had so little to do with.

The first thing that needs to be noted is the game looks great. Not great by today’s standards, but great in terms of improvement. This remaster is faithful to the original, while providing enough tweaks to make it palatable to the uninitiated. The character models, previously 2D, have been subtly transformed into 3D.

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Screenshot: Diablo 2: Resurrected Technical Alpha

I feel the best way to describe the results are that it actually looks how you fondly remember it. That nostalgic filter our minds all possess has been successfully reproduced in reality by developer Vicarious Visions.

Other than the aesthetic upgrade, it is difficult to pinpoint how Diablo 2: Resurrected will differentiate itself. The Technical Alpha didn’t allow players to explore the online features of the game, an area which the success of the title is largely dependant.

However, in terms of the Diablo 2: Resurrected gameplay, it all ran wonderfully. The framerate was smooth, the action nonstop; in fact I was left surprised by how well it has all held up.

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Screenshot: Diablo 2: Resurrected Technical Alpha

The starting area and inventory management

The starting area of the game isn’t overly challenging and does a good job letting players settle into the world. Although I will admit there were times I found myself wishing the developers had updated the original mechanics just a little bit.

The first quest Den of Evil is a straightforward kill everything in the cave mission, but actually finding the cave proved slightly frustrating. I got there in the end, though not before wandering around aimlessly for a few minutes.

The mini-map system feels just as old as it is, and new players may find themselves wishing they had a few modern tools of navigation at their disposal – even if an objective tracker would admittedly be overkill.

The inventory system is also a little dusty. Your character’s inability to carry much gear, while realistic, ends up forcing players into a repetitive gameplay loop of returning to town to dispose of loot. Portal spells are useful at minimising this annoyance. Unfortunately, they aren’t sufficient to completely get rid of it.

Nonetheless, these dated features didn’t diminish how much fun I had playing the game. The combination of slaying legions of demons and slowly growing in power is timeless. And if Diablo 2: Resurrected manages to nail its online features, then it may well be too. Or at least until Diablo 4 finds its way into our lives.

Diablo 2: Resurrected is scheduled for release later this year. It will be coming to PC, PS5, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.