10 Oct 2021 7:23 AM +00:00

Diablo 2 Resurrected Review - You Can Dress It Up, But It's Still a Corpse

All it takes for darkness to arise is a handful of gremlins and an ill-equipped, unsupported population. Numerous people wielding inordinate influence, exploiting the passion and hopes of countless others - it's a familiar tale. It's a scenario that applies equally to Diablo 2 Resurrected - where the five Prime Evils return from the void to wreak havoc - and Activision Blizzard's current situation.

While we've continued covering Activision Blizzard titles at Gfinity, including Diablo 2 Resurrected, we’re fully committed to covering employees’ attempts at building a better workplace. If you're hoping to catch up on what’s been happening, we've covered the initial lawsuit, the ABK workers' alliance, and follow-up complaints about unfair labor practices.

There's no easy way to transition from that without diminishing the seriousness of the situation. Unlike Diablo 2 Resurrected, the workers at Activision Blizzard don't have an all-powerful warrior to save them from their troubles, and that's worth bearing in mind.

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Back from the Dead

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It’s rare for a game name to so accurately describe the experience itself, but Diablo 2 Resurrected is exactly what it says on the packaging. This is the corpse of a game with new flesh and even some makeup added to cover up the old, old bones holding the body together. Blizzard applied its glow-up brush to practically everything - character models, textures, menus, heck, even the health and stamina meters look better.

It’s a refresh, rather than a re-imagining, and that’s both a blessing and a curse that rivals anything the Prime Evils could throw out.

Diablo 2 drops your fledgling adventurer in the middle of a war with very little explanation of what to do or even where to travel next. It’s surprisingly archaic, even for a game that original released in 2000. There’s no tutorial, not even a simple combat tutorial or “how to open the menu,” though whether it’s a problem depends on your approach.

There’s a strange charm to Diablo 2’s outdated structure. Figuring out how this dark fantasy world works makes it feel more personal in a way beyond just customizing your character and choosing your playstyle. It’s a nice feeling, and one you’ll want to hang onto when you’re wandering around a town or forest for 20 minutes, desperately trying to find the next area.

Keeping it Simple

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Diablo 3 eclipses its predecessor’s story and setting, but there’s plenty of lore in Diablo 2 if you’re eager to find it. If you’re not, the simple approach to storytelling is another part of its unexpected appeal. Diablo 2 is pure comfort fantasy, full of mystical ruins, big stomping monsters, peasants in distress, and blank-slate, delightfully overpowered heroes with one mission in life.

Interactions between characters are fairly limited, but that’s fine. You don’t need a deep look into your retainer’s background when your sole purpose for existing is putting evil to rest.

At its core, Diablo 2 is about building badass fantasy warriors and obliterating demons in spectacular style. There’s a remarkable amount of customization in how you approach building even basic classes such as the Barbarian, and after years of bulky RPGs with increasingly complex systems, Diablo 2 is surprisingly refreshing.

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The Grind is Real

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When it’s not punishing you for playing it, that is. It’s possible to build yourself into a corner with a terrible character and no way to reset stats. Quests offer no assistance in figuring out objectives or where to go next, so get familiar with some old walkthroughs if you want to preserve your sanity (and enjoyment).

Challenging Andariel and the other Prime Evils is one of the game’s highlights, though it tests your patience as much as it does your skills. Some of these fights, especially the Diablo battle and the DLC fight against Baal, drag on far too long.

Blizzard could have avoided most of these issues with a few quality of life upgrades, and their omission left me scratching my head in puzzlement more often than not. I don’t regret my time with Diablo 2 Resurrected, though. Its outdated elements are like a sixth Prime Evil. There’s immense satisfaction and a great deal of fun once you figure out its patterns and learn the way to break it.

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Is Diablo 2 Resurrected Good? The Gfinity Verdict

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Diablo 2 Resurrected should have been a remake. The approach might be more streamlined than most modern RPGs, and combat is just as enjoyable as it ever was. However, it's also difficult to recommend for those unwilling to push back against the game at almost every turn. If you're familiar with the original and know its quirks already, the visual refresh is enough to warrant yet another playthrough.

Score: 3.5/5

The publisher provided the PC copy of Diablo 2 Resurrected used for this review