It has been months, long, hard months since we have known the new Diablo 2 remaster is coming out. Blizzard has announced the game for the first time in their BlizzConline in February, and ever since, we have been waiting with baited breath.
Ever since that announcement, the hype levels around Diablo 2: Resurrected has been off the charts! At one side you got the die hard Diablo fans, who love everything in the franchise, going up to buy even custom printed T-shirts and other paraphernalia. On the other desk you have the old-timers — the veterans — who have thousands and thousands of hours of Diablo flight time under their wings. Both groups are nearly fainting with enthusiasm!
Throw into the mix a technical alpha and you got a BOOM! The gaming community exploded with reports on the technical alpha of Diablo 2 Remastered that took place over four days. And here we are with a fresh review of the alpha release — how it looks, how it plays, and above all, how it feels!
A Toggle Between Past and Present
At first, it seemed ridiculous, didn’t it? Who in their right minds would ever want to switch between the old game and the new game on-the-fly using that one shiny button on the interface? I mean, this is supposed to be the remake of Diablo 2, if we wanted to see the original we would have played the original (which many of us have), right?
Wrong! Turns out, this remaster/original toggle button has become the most pressed button or the most pressed shortcut key in the short alpha experience. It is a great pleasure to see each change in the game, giving us the best opportunities to admire how far we have come.
In the same way a before/after ad works, this legacy toggle feature has to be the best boasting the game could do on its own. Except that, those ads are almost always fake, but here you’re seeing the real deal and you are living it.
How You Play is How You Live
According to Blizzard, when they created Diablo 2: Resurrected, they made a lot of changes but they left the gameplay intact. The main changes were concentrated on the display and sound part, with some small gameplay changes (like shared stash) which only augmented the play, not changing it in any way.
And D2R stays true to the tradition. The basic gameplay mechanics are just the same as the original — the movement, the loot, the party, so on and so forth. But is that all to the gameplay experience? Isn’t there something more?
Yes, I know. The gameplay of any game is defined by not only the mechanics of the game but partly also by the aesthetics of it — and here is where D2R shines bright over the original. The game was created with all natural animation, movement, and fight displays (the end mechanical result being the same) which teams up to provide a whopping solid experience that you won’t be forgetting soon.
The game now plays in 4K ultra HD, so you can see much more of the environment and in much extra detail, thanks to the all new 3D textures. And you get further immersed in the experience due to the awesome 7.1 channel Dolby surround sound.
Perhaps newcomers won’t realise it, but veterans will feel deep in their muscle memory that they are indeed playing the same game in new clothes. Due to the same mechanics as of more than a decade ago, you may feel the game is backdated if you are new to the genre. But then, this game is not for the newbies, is it?
A Damsel in Detail
While I have talked about visual details above, I can’t go without saying it again. It says the devil is in the details and boy, is it true for the Diablo 2: Resurrected game! The developers and artists in charge of this game have painstakingly crafted each piece of the environment, making them lovely and realistic.
The game now runs on a completely new engine, the visual part at least. So, the hopes were high about the looks of the game and Blizzard delivered. Majority of the visual assets were lovingly handcrafted — except some motion capture matters that were better left in the hands of a machine anyway, right?
When you are in the game, toggle between the old and new version of the game and notice exactly how much work has gone into crafting every single thing. Start with NPC models, go through characters, look into the environmental details, even take in the minute but precise beauty of small pieces of furniture. You can spend hours looking at how great a palette the modern 4K engine is, for a team of graphics artists.