It's official: Diablo 2 is getting remastered after 20 years in the form of Diablo 2 Resurrected. One of gaming’s most-requested and long-running wishlist toppers, fans of the dungeon crawler have sat around chalk pentagrams for years, hoping to summon the game into existence. And at BlizzCon 2021, those prayers were finally been answered.
Diablo 2 Resurrected will be available on PC (as you'd expect) but also on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4 and Nintendo Switch for the very first time. Blizzard is aiming to keep the feel of the original games, but will add updated graphics and Dolby 7.1 surround sound. You'll even be able to switch back and forth between the updated graphics and the original sprite-based textures, just like in Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Despite being 20 years old, Diablo 2 (and its expansion pack Lord of Destruction) may be the most influential game of the past few years. The smell of Diablo 2’s kill-loot-repeat action RPG mechanics sits heavily on the likes of Destiny 2 and Borderlands, while its randomly-generated dungeons and monster Hordes can be felt in the likes of Hades. And that’s before considering clones like the Torchlight and Dungeon Siege franchises.
After the more colorful adventures of 2021’s phoenix-like Diablo III (which had a famously troubled launch before updates made it another beloved entry in the franchise), we know that Blizzard’s looking to tap into the darker energies of Diablo 2 for forthcoming sequel Diablo 4.
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Diablo 2 Remake: cut to the chase
- What is it? A remaster of arguably the most influential action RPG ever
- What can I play it on? PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC
- When can I play it? 2021
Diablo 2 remake: what we know so far
Rumors of a Diablo 2 remake have been circulating for years – many hoped that it would coincide with the games 20th anniversary in 2020, but that came and went with Blizzard focusing on Diablo 4 and the Diablo: Immortal mobile game instead. However, BlizzCon 2021 finally confirmed the game is coming this year, and that Diablo 2 Resurrected will be available on every platform you could hope for.
To understand why the announcement has taken so long, we first need to discuss another Blizzard remake – Warcraft 3: Reforged. Blizzard’s ‘Team 1’ development team had been working on the real-time-strategy remaster, another beloved game. But its release in 2020 was not well received, with missing features and problematic terms and conditions putting off what should have been a thriving map-making and modding community. It currently sits among the worst user-rated games on score aggregator MetaCritic.
Team 1 had been tasked also with reviving Diablo 2, but a Bloomberg report suggests that Blizzard’s owners Activision got cold feet following Warcraft 3: Reforged’s reception. Instead, it disbanded Team 1 (which had already been pulled off ongoing StarCraft 2 development, and had seen its hero-shooter Heroes of the Storm fade to obscurity). Now, with Team 1 gone, Activision has brought in its former subsidiary Vicarious Visions, merging it with the development operations of Blizzard, and (as we reported last year) apparently tasking it with taking on the Diablo 2 mantle.
While the reduced autonomy of a once-powerhouse studio like Blizzard’s seems troubling, the newly-merged Vicarious Visions may be the perfect team for the job. It has long-standing pedigree for remaking and reworking existing games, dating back to the magic it worked bringing the likes of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skateboarding and Jet Set Radio to the Game Boy Advance. In recent years its focussed almost exclusively on next-and-current-gen remakes, bringing together the delightful Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and the note-perfect Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 remake. While its action RPG experience is limited to a couple of Marvel Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Legends remakes over a decade ago, it could thrive under Blizzard’s tutelage, and has recent relevant experience working as a support team for Bungie on Destiny 2.
You can carry over your original Diablo 2 save file
If you've still got your original Diablo 2 save file, which could be over two decades old at this point, you might be pleased to know that it'll transfer over seamlessly to Diablo 2 Resurrected.
Speaking to IGN, Diablo 2 Resurrected producer Matthew Cederquist said: “Yes, keep your old save files. Back when we were working on [the remaster], we wondered if the old save files would work, so we kind of shoved it in, and it worked! So yes, your local single-player save files will carry over.”
Diablo 2 at BlizzCon 2021?
With Diablo 4 still seemingly some years away from release, BlizzCon 2021 thankfully included the surprise reveal of a new-look Diablo 2, one to tide over long-time fans and bring younger gamers up to date with the roots of the franchise ahead of its flashy new entrant.
BlizzCon is Blizzard’s annual community showcase, where the developer shows off what’s happening next in its big franchises. This year we saw updates on Diablo 4, Overwatch 2, a World of Warcraft Classic Burning Crusade update and, of course, that Diablo 2: Resurrected game we’re so worked up about.
BlizzCon took place over February 19 and 20, and was free for all fans to attend online.
What makes Diablo 2 so special?
So much of what makes Blizzard a special developer is wrapped up in Diablo 2. Its loot system is addictive, its randomised dungeon elements make for near-infinite replayability, its multiplayer a blast and its monster design truly ghoulish. If there’s no Diablo 2, there’s no BattleNet, Blizzard’s multiplayer platform that underpinned World of Warcraft (while WoW itself takes many fundamental ideas from Diablo 2, from the class based-combat to the importance of gear and skill builds).
Diablo 2 was pioneering in its day, and remains great fun even among modern greats and pretenders to its throne. But its sprite-based visuals are dated now, and it lacks some of the quality of life features we come to expect from modern games. A team like Vicarious Visions can bring it bang up to date, and introduce a whole new generation of fans to the series in time for Diablo 4’s big arrival.
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