I remember the original release well, and spent many hours after finishing work around 1am, playing into the early hours of the morning, often seeing daylight before heading to bed. Such an awesome game with many hours to play and different characters to master. Then the Lord of Destruction expansion landed, adding Act 5 to the story in the Northern Mount Arreat/Barbarian Highlands area and two new characters the Assassin & Druid, as well as new runes, weapons and armour. At the time it was great stuff (and still is) with highly addictive gameplay, and not forgetting a resolution boost to 800×600 over the original 640×480.
Diablo, the Lord of Terror has once again risen after the events of the first game where your character absorbs Diablo’s soul at the end to try and contain his evil. You are following The Wanderer (said character from the first game) and his path of destruction always to the East.
Diablo II: Resurrected has the same core gameplay mechanics as the 2000 release. You start out at the Rogue Encampment and it is one long journey from start to finish. Each area continues to the next, like a huge expansive map. After a few areas and quests, you’ll fight the boss and then carry on from a new base camp at the start of each act, until you finally reach Diablo. After that, you’ll automatically start the Lord of Destruction Act 5 with another new base camp and large map, until you reach the final confrontation with Baal. Each sub area you travel to – barring the very first from your encampment – has a portal for fast-travel back to base to offload anything you may not want to use, freeing up valuable inventory space. Not forgetting, you also have the scroll of town portal which comes in handy in the later dungeons. The whole game is based around killing monsters and getting better gear, then rinse and repeat as you push forwards becoming more powerful as you go.
The gameplay sees you choose a character archetype with the options being Assassin, Druid, Necromancer, Barbarian, Amazon, Paladin and Sorceress. Picking a character type that you usually like to play in other RPGs is a good way to go, as they all have their different playstyles. Personally, I went for the Necromancer, with bone shields and plenty of undead summons like Skeletal warriors and mages where you can skirt around each battle, picking off the enemies, while your summons do the rest. The Barbarian is out-and-out close quarters combat, the Paladin is close quarters with divine magic, the Druid uses elemental spells and can summon various wolves along with other creatures as well as being able to shape shift into different animals, while the Amazon is great with distance weapons that are thrown like javelins and spears.
Setting off, you get many varied mobs of enemies strewn around each area. You start off with basic enemies which screech and run away when attacked, usually when hit like the Cutters, but these are backed up by shamans who can resurrect them (make a beeline for these guys as soon as you see them!). You’ll also encounter skeletal warriors and archers, larger Brutes, plus Amazon type warriors in the first few hours play. Each area you visit has it’s own unique-themed enemies to keep things interesting and different between the acts.
Occasionally, you come across a harder enemy with a gold nametag, signalling they are stronger (kind of like a mid-area mini boss), and they usually drop decent loot whilst being surrounded by a large mob to help protect them. I have found with enemies like this, running off will give you enough breathing space to heal and also should draw a few of the enemies with you to thin the numbers!
Each area has six main quests to clear. Once each is done, it greys out, which gives you a good idea where you are in the act. There are also plenty of random dungeons to explore, filled with loot and monsters and often having one of the stronger enemies guarding it.
Something that is greatly improved now – especially once you get to Hell in Act 4 – is the performance. You used to get some serious slow-down, even on good hardware back in the day when there are loads of enemies onscreen. Thankfully, with modern hardware, the onslaught just keeps coming at a decent pace! The new visuals are absolutely beautiful, with superb magic effects and lighting. Holding the left trigger and hitting the the left view button on Xbox, changes to low resolution 4:3 legacy mode. On a smaller PC screen, this doesn’t look to bad at, all but on the 55” Samsung TV I have my Xbox connected to, it looks really dated and pixelated, but still plays great.
All in all, Diablo II: Resurrected is the same game it always has been with Quality of Life improvements and visual overhaul. If you use a potion from your belt, it replaces it like-for-like automatically, so you aren’t having to constantly go into your inventory and move from there to said belt. Stuff like this is handy and a good change from the original release. You still have limited inventory space which will be taken up with potions in the early parts of the game until you get a belt with 12 extra slots for quick-use items, so buying the tomes for town portal scrolls and identification scrolls is a must as early as possible. Using a controller on the Xbox version is quite intuitive and easy enough to get used to, and thankfully you don’t have to hammer away at the attack button, since just holding it keeps the attacks going. It’s not quite as refined Diablo III, but it gets the job done well enough for a game that was only ever intended to be played with a keyboard and mouse.
You can create both an offline or online character. If you choose offline, you’re limited to getting help from NPCs which you can hire throughout your journey. Multiplayer characters can Co-Op play over the net and swap items, as well as play through the story.
I think Diablo II: Resurrected is aimed at the fans of the original, since the gameplay is old-school from an era when PC gaming was still up-and-coming to where we are today. If it wasn’t for Diablo II, we may never have got the excellent Titan Quest and other aRPGs out there, such as Dungeon Siege and so on. New players to Diablo II may find the gameplay a bit slow and irksome, but others like myself who played this back in the day on release, are going to love it and be in their element.
It’s Diablo II! What more do you want?!
A big thanks to Blizzard Entertainment for supplying us with the review code.
Diablo II: Resurrected is out now on Xbox One / Xbox Series X/S, plus the online stores for PC, PS4, PS5 and Nintendo Switch.
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
- Players: Single player offline & Co-Op Online
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!