The Darkish Wanderer visits Marius within the opening cutscene of Diablo 2. The doorways to the jail swing open on their very own, as if magic has compelled the hinges to maneuver. It’s a memorable second, one which establishes this presence of magic and energy for the Darkish Wanderer.
However this wasn’t at all times the case. Pre-release advertising and marketing supplies for Diablo 2 featured a warden character opening the door for the Darkish Wanderer. It was the unique intent that the warden exist to open the door, however that character by no means made it into the sport. It modified the context of the scene. Within the shipped model, the Darkish Wanderer doesn’t appear invited; they open their very own path.
In Diablo 2 Resurrected, the not too long ago introduced remaster of Diablo 2, Blizzard Leisure might’ve revisited that cinematic and introduced the warden again in. However regardless of the unique intention or what makes extra sense within the scene, that goes towards Blizzard’s philosophy for Resurrected.
Previous to BlizzConline, we spoke to Rod Fergusson, government producer of the Diablo franchise at Blizzard, and Rob Gallerani, principal designer at Blizzard’s assist studio, Vicarious Visions. And after engaged on the trade’s “worst-kept secret,” the pair had been clear on Diablo 2 Resurrected: That is the Diablo 2 you understand, warts and all.
“This isn’t a remake,” mentioned Fergusson. “We’re not reverse-engineering it; we’re not rebuilding it and making an attempt to make it look and sound like [Diablo 2]. This is [Diablo 2]. […] It’s proper there, beneath the floor. The whole simulation, the engine for this sport, that lifeblood of this sport, is [Diablo 2] proper beneath. So there’s a toggle change, a legacy toggle, that while you press the button, you’ll see behind the curtains, and there may be Diablo 2 in 2D sprites working proper there, and you may play the best way that you just performed 20 years in the past.”
In our 30-minute chat, the pair couldn’t have made the philosophy for Diablo 2 Resurrected extra clear. It’s — as a result of it wanted to be — the sport gamers remembered. Blizzard felt that almost all deviations, even vital quality-of-life options, can be a step too far.
“Most gamers play with the map up whereas they play the sport,” mentioned Gallerani. “And a request we acquired within the play check — very a lot from individuals who have by no means performed [Diablo 2] however are used to taking part in extra fashionable video games — might be like, I simply acquired a quest. The place’s the dot on the map telling me the place to go?
“We appeared into doing one thing like that,” Gallerani continued, “and also you’re like, Effectively, it doesn’t doesn’t break something, proper? It’s not making my character overpowered or something like that. And it completely modified the vibe of the sport.”
Whereas a revamped minimap or icons exhibiting you the place to go could have made for a extra fashionable Diablo expertise, it didn’t really feel true to what Diablo 2 was 20 years in the past. And Blizzard’s philosophy was that if a function doesn’t really feel genuine, it will get canned.
Blizzard desires to protect Diablo 2 for Resurrected as a lot as it will probably, as a result of even when the sport is unchanged, the world it is going to be launched into is totally completely different. As with World of Warcraft Traditional, the wide range of data accessible on the web these days, and the arrival of companies like Discord, makes socializing whereas taking part in a really completely different expertise. You don’t want the handbook when a solution to “how do I full this quest” is a Discord message or a Google search away. Blizzard is relying on that — the group — to assist ease new gamers into the expertise.
Diablo 2 Resurrected isn’t fully unchanged from Diablo 2, although; it’s simply that the scope of the modifications is inflexible and restricted. Blizzard made clear enhancements to the visuals, taking the sport from 2D sprites to 3D fashions. However these fashions are all both primarily based on the unique sport’s artwork or molded by utilizing the unique structure. It seems to be and strikes like Diablo 2, however in a manner that makes it a lot simpler to have a look at for extended intervals of time.
There are additionally some unobtrusive comfort additions. One instance Blizzard gave is the Shared Stash, which permits gamers to maneuver objects between their characters by putting the specified merchandise in a chest. This can be a main shift from the unique sport, the place gamers wanted to create a mule character whose sole function was to maneuver objects from one character to the opposite. “We felt like this wasn’t altering the way you performed,” mentioned Fergusson. “That is simply making it higher.”
The Shared Stash is without doubt one of the easiest-to-swallow capsules for gamers — it simply saves time, so there are not any downsides. However a function like auto gold pickup was just a little an excessive amount of for some.
“We’ve different [features] just like the auto gold pickup, which you’d anticipate in a modern-day sport — that you’ve the flexibility simply to stroll over and hoover up the gold — however possibly a purist doesn’t need that high quality of life,” mentioned Fergusson. “And so we’ve truly made some [improvements] which might be toggleable, and you may decide in or not.”
The precise modifications in Diablo 2 Resurrected are on that degree of trivialities. If it even comes near feeling like an excessive amount of of a distinction from the unique sport, Blizzard threw in a toggle to permit gamers to tailor their expertise.
Lots of the sport’s main modifications match into the quality-of-life pool or the communication pool. In Diablo 2, it was straightforward to lose observe of ability factors, or assign one thing in a manner that ruins your character. That rigidity continues to be there, however the sport will now remind you in the event you haven’t spent your factors, and inform you find out how to assign your skills. It’ll offer you a warning that purchasing that ability is a everlasting alternative, however as soon as you progress previous the warning, that’s it — introducing the flexibility to reverse that call can be too large of a change.
These modifications all work to make Diablo 2 Resurrected a extra pleasant expertise, however not one which’s so pleasant it ever stops feeling just like the darkish, brutal, and sometimes irritating Diablo 2 that catapulted the franchise into gaming historical past. And if gamers have considerations that Diablo 2 Resurrected will change an excessive amount of, Fergusson assured us that in contrast to Warcraft 3: Reforged, Diablo 2 and Diablo 2 Resurrected are two separate video games; one is not going to override or impression the opposite.
Diablo 2 Resurrected is scheduled to be launched on consoles and Home windows PC later this yr, with a single-player beta accessible in just a few months.