Diablo II: Resurrected, as the name suggests, is a remaster of one of Blizzard’s most beloved titles — an action RPG that came out at a time when role-playing games were less popular. And in a way, it helped reignite the fires of the genre, despite doing nearly everything possible to fly in the face of its genre.
The Diablo series forged something new and different, blending the styles and attitudes of The Legend of Zelda and Doom — and it changed everything. The gameplay loop is unstoppable, even today, decades after Diablo’s launch. Blizzard discovered the addictive and endlessly entertaining nature of collecting random loot across epic adventures.
And while the first game helped make countless other titles possible, Diablo II helped refine and perfect the formula at a level that only resembles the original at a glance. Hacking, slashing, blasting, and bashing are very much at the core of Diablo II’s experience. The difference between the two is reminiscent of the first two Assassin’s Creed games; the foundation provided by the first game allowed Diablo II to create something that’s still astonishing twenty years after its original debut.
I was too young to play Diablo II when it was first released, but I’m actually pretty happy about that. Diablo II: Resurrected exists within an age of podcasts and I can already tell it’s going to become one of my favorite games of all time. Sure, I’ve played titles inspired by Diablo, such as Borderlands and Destiny, but they didn’t grip me as tightly as Resurrected has.
It’s a testament to the details and the little things. Sure, Diablo II: Resurrected makes use of new 3D graphics laid over the original 2D sprites, but it’s still the same game as before. Weapons, characters, balancing, and anything else you can imagine have been left untouched. It may sound like a bold decision, but if anything, it’s just a monument to what was built before.
Resurrected does feature some quality of life updates, including a Shared Stash, which allows players to access items between different characters. There are also some other welcome additions, such as auto-pickup gold, but these can be ignored or disabled for any purists looking for an original experience.
In fact, Diablo II: Resurrected allows players to switch between the remastered and original graphics. Vicarious Visions and Blizzard even went a step further and included support for original Diablo II save files. This is only possible on the PC version of course, but it’s still pretty neat. Some players poured thousands of hours into Diablo II back in the day; I can only imagine how spectacular going back will be for returning players.
Diablo II‘s story and dialogue are a bit forgettable, but that’s not to say any of is bad. It’s an interesting world with plenty to discover and uncover, but the primary focus is on ending the evils being unleashed from the return of Diablo, the titular ultimate baddie.
The game is largely filled with exciting combat between the player and the evil foes that stand in their way. How you deal with enemies will depend on your class, and the game gives you several different options. You can skull bash, axe slash, and fire blast your way through the many enemies and obstacles you’ll encounter. You need to deal with all the evil of the land, but how you do so is up to you.
Progress is locked to each character though, so I would recommend researching what play styles work best for you. Otherwise, you may find yourself fifty hours into a playthrough as a Sorcerer and wish you had chosen a different class for your first time (guilty as charged). There’s nothing inherently wrong with starting over, but make sure it’s by choice, and not because you’re bad at playing as a Sorcerer.
Taking place across several acts, Diablo II: Resurrected features a balance that should feel right at home for fans of roguelikes. It’s actually pretty easy to see how the aforementioned genre was inspired by Blizzard’s dungeon-driven loot-fest. Key locations and the main plot are consistently woven through the game’s acts, but there are plenty of moments along the way that can vary and change. This mix helps make Diablo II feel equal parts epic and personal, which adds to the magic of the entire experience.
And that kind of fire burns across the entire experience. Everything feels special, magical, and meaningful. I’ve played so many games that were clearly inspired by Diablo but very few of them (if any) feel this good to play and explore. I think the only thing that comes close for me is Destiny 2, which now just looks like a Halo/Diablo hybrid to me. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Diablo II isn’t without its flaws, but it’s also over 20 years old at this point — the medium has come a long way since then. And that’s not to say the classics can’t stay great, but games learn from each other and improve together. This can make minor issues of the time feel like a bigger smudge on an otherwise great experience. I don’t think Diablo II suffers much in this regard; if anything, it feels ahead of its time. But players that started with either Diablo III or other contemporaries will notice the differences right away.
Some areas feel repetitive, which can make it more difficult to find your way. This is made worse by the map, which wipes whenever you start your game back up. Progress saves and carries over between sessions, but the map is wiped clean with each and every reset.
This can be frustrating, especially if you’re in a particularly difficult area and coming back after a break. Or you know, if your online connection is interrupted. Yup, Diablo II has online servers and if your connection drops, the game does too. Best case, this could mean fast traveling to the next area when the game starts back up, but there’s always a chance you were mere minutes away from a dungeon’s end.
That means you need to run back through the dungeon with a fresh, clean map. Sometimes I could remember the paths I took to reach the area where I died or lost my connection, but it was always annoying. And unnecessary. It certainly isn’t detracting from my experience that much, but I would love an update that adds a Classic/Modern Map Wipe option or something. My character may be starting over, but let me keep my video game map, please.
Diablo II: Resurrected should still impress though. I had never played any version of the game until now, and I can’t put it down. I’ve completed a campaign already, and am also juggling multiple save files with different character classes. I just can’t put it down. I don’t know when I’ll stop playing Diablo II: Resurrected but it’s definitely going to be a few years. And by then, it’ll be time to jump into Diablo III.
This review is based on the Xbox Series X version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Blizzard Entertainment.
Diablo II remains untouched from its original release outside of new graphics and quality of life changes, but that's mostly not a problem. It was ahead of its time back in 2000, and it's barely behind over twenty years later.