Diablo II: Resurrected Technical Alpha launched last weekend and a handful of lucky players including us managed to demo the long-awaited remaster to see if Blizzard truly stuck to their promises of staying true to the original.
Diablo II was an iconic action role-playing game that lived in the memories of many fans thanks to its dark visuals and gritty gameplay experience. While the game is an ageless classic, the visuals have run their time being over 21 years old prompting the community to call on a modern remake of the old game – thus arise from hell, Diablo II: Resurrected, a visual makeover that seeks to stay true to the original gameplay, story and mechanics.
So the big question here is how did the technical alpha fare?
Well, it was one hell of an awesome blast to the past because Blizzard kept their promises, and they kept it well. Thanks to Vicarious Visions, the developers behind Diablo II: Resurrected, the technical alpha was what we imagined and more. While sticking to every essence of the original, the remaster completely enhances the game’s visual bringing a fresh new experience to the same old game and brought the old 2D game to life without stripping away its distinctive aesthetic and style.
From the main menu to the character creation screen, the game offered us a taste of how Blizzard successfully blended better visuals with old elements. A new and improved look over the main menu allowed players to select and view all their characters before logging into the game while the character creation screen was a complete parallel to the old game.
The UI of the game had a touch up in terms of style and some rearrangements but remained mainly indistinguishable whether its inventory management, character skills or stats. Recreated scenes in the game featured new and better details that were never seen from the previous game – blood and innards of demons are meticulously remade alongside remodelled characters and redecorated environments that revamped the entire visual experience.
Offering only three classes during the technical alpha and having tried them all, it’s safe to say the actual gameplay was a 1:1 revisit to the old game. Whether you’re cutting down the Fallen as a Barbarian, burning undead mummies with your magical prowess as the Sorceress or hunting down corrupted rogues with the bow as an Amazon, the experience was equal to the original and offered close to no differences other than the impressive visual upgrades. The sound effects, dialogues and music of the game also kept to its originality.
A completely new feature, players can switch between the original 800×600 presentation of the game to its modern counterpart of up to 4K ultrawide display with a tap of a button. Although it doesn’t specifically add much to the gameplay, it is a representation of the vouch when Blizzard said the remaster is essentially running the old game behind a new layer of art. Of course, it also provides players with the first-hand experience of comparing both presentations themselves. The feature is a seamless transition that players can toggle on and off throughout the game and is proof of the impressive work the developers have done.
In addition, players can also zoom in and out to get a closer look into the details of the remaster.
However, no games can escape bugs especially when they’re in the alpha phase, not even Diablo. Even though they’re not something that will break the game and will probably see fixed soon after, Mummies were going through closed doors in the tombs of Lut Gholein and Specters were seen floating beneath pathways in the Arcane Sanctuary.
There was one other problem that we found particularly troubling, the loading screen that happens after going into portals will give you a hard time if you have big baddies waiting behind them, especially if it’s Duriel (yes, he lives up to his name as the Lord of Pain). We’ve died about 5 times during that stage because the load screen gives you no time to prepare as he starts tearing you apart before the transition ends.
Loading into a fight just to see your character dead is truly a hellish but perhaps authentic Diablo II experience that maybe we don’t want to see resurrected.
Apart from that, we are absolutely thrilled to see the final product of the game because Diablo II: Resurrected Technical Alpha reminded us why Diablo II was such an unforgettable game that stood its time and it has finally given us the dream we so desperately yearned for – a nostalgic enhanced revisit back to hell.
Diablo II: Resurrected Technical Alpha ends today but players can still opt-in for the technical alpha which will probably re-open in the near future for multiplayer testing and more. Else, you can check our 60-mins gameplay video as a Barbarian.
Zheng Yi is perpetually looking for the Time Stone to juggle his love for toys, anime, comics, gaming and photography. He probably needs the Space Stone next for his collection…