I played the recent open beta of Diablo II: Resurrected, the gussied-up version of the now 21- year old Blizzard game, and have some thoughts.
Note: I am not unaware that Blizzard as a company is a bit of a dumpster fire at the moment, with lots of stories coming out about a toxic work culture that has spawned multiple sexual harassment lawsuits. For this post I’m just sticking to the game (except at the very end).
First, D2 is surprisingly pretty. If you hit the G key in-game, it will toggle you between the original 800×600 graphics and the fancy new version:
The player characters and NPCs have all been redone as 3D models and look good. The druid and others no longer walk with a “I have to pee really badly!” animation. And as you can see above, the whole world has been lovingly redone with more detailed, higher-resolution textures.
The sound and music, always excellent, remain untouched.
A few modern updates to the game have been made–note the re-arrangement of the action bar into something more befitting a modern game. You can also choose to auto-pick up gold. There’s a generous shared stash that eliminates the need for mule characters.
But as I played the through the first few quests, the one thing that struck me the most–and what hasn’t changed from the original–is the tiny inventory. In the early game especially, gold is precious and you want to sell everything you don’t use, but your inventory fills up so quickly that you will need to portal (or walk) back to the rogue encampment multiple times to sell all the junk you’ve been carrying. This gets tedious really quickly and could have been solved by increasing the size of the inventory. It doesn’t need to be doubled or tripled, just enough that you could, say, do one quest and not have your inventory overflowing multiple times just getting to the quest. But the devs have drawn arbitrary lines in the sand on what they will and won’t change.
Also, there is the price, which is $54.99 Canadian. Again, despite the improvements, this is a 21 yar old game.
Just this week, another revised version of Myst came out. This one is on an entirely new engine (Unreal), offers a fully 3D world with free movement and also includes VR support. Myst is one of the best-selling games of all time. The new version is selling for $33.99.
Blizzard is grossly overvaluing Diablo II. Yes, some people–a lot of people–will buy it regardless of price. I’m not one of them. Given how stingy Blizzard is with sales, it will be a long time before it reaches what I consider a reasonable price–if ever.
And then there is the train wreck that the company is currently, and would I buy the game even if it was $33.99? And the answer is no, I wouldn’t. Not now. I’ll need a better price and evidence that Blizzard is changing its ways as a company before I give them more money.
But Diablo II: Resurrected is pretty. I’ll give them that.