As the blistering heat of a California summer extinguishes itself to a temperate warmth, the fires of hell grow ever more fierce in the land of Sanctuary. The long-awaited remaster – and a true remaster it is – of arguably the most iconic, influential ARPG ever created is almost here.
On September 23rd, plunge back into the biblical fight between hell spawn, angels, and the unfortunate humans caught in-between with the release of a completely remastered Diablo II.
Under the looming umbrella of Activision-Blizzard, Vicarious Visions is putting one gruesome facelift on the quintessential top-down ARPG originally released in the now-antiquated time of the year 2000.
A Beautifully Dark, Yet Familiar Adventure Awaits
Choosing between the classic roles of Amazon, Barbarian, Druid, Necromancer, Paladin, or Sorceress, new and old players alike will feast upon a completely upgraded graphical interface and little changes to the old and demanding gameplay for the “purists” who want the original experience. (As an aside, there is supposedly an additional option of class called the “Assassin” but nobody has ever played it long enough for conclusive evidence on the matter.)
For those who have never heard of an ARPG before, this is no place to start. However, if you have a taste for the masochistic, demented, or the Sisyphian pursuit of gear improvements, then this is your classic to delve into.
I must reiterate: this game is not for the faint of heart. Any given environment can host hordes of enemies, all bent on your destruction. Combine this with the ability for your character to collect increasingly improbable-to-find pieces of gear and advance through a complex network of skill trees and you get Diablo II. While the visuals of the game have improved drastically, the stolid truth holds up: You don’t engage with this game fully unless you are willing to commit the time. Not days. No – entire months to get the drops you want or need.
Get off My Lawn Young Gamers
The draw to a game like this is clear: Old games are better, and new ones can fuck off, right?
This is obviously completely 100% true, as older games had that spark of creative ingenuity. They were often developed by the most devoted and emotionally invested of the bunch.
Realistically, they did lack the hardware or engines the big, flashy games run on now. This was a time where each kilobyte was precious, each pixel devoted to the artistic direction, each line of writing occasionally grammatically correct.
Now everyone has a terabyte SSD, development teams consist of dozens, and 16 core processors come aplenty. Why not be lazy with coding and have a rock asset take up 2 gigabytes of space, right?
Well fear not fellow geriatric nerds or noobile dabblers of the electronic medium! The thought and deliberation of the old, in tandem with the HDD-devouring graphical demands of the new come together in what I believe might be the perfect unity of past and present. The impossible drop rates that require hundreds of runs for a single item are still there, but now it looks pretty damn cool as you’re hopelessly failing to get them.
Very little has been changed about gameplay, to the great elation of groups termed “purists”. Could this be the result of lazy developers in disguise, not wanting to write extra features in code that ran on 20-year-old machines? Probably not, as developers are unquestionably the most hardworking devotees of any craft, ever. The teasing of more content to come down the line also firmly squashes this notion.
Remember to Respect Proper Business Practices
Just remember adventurers: Savor the nostalgia and get the game you remember from your pre-teens when it is released. But do not under any circumstances, pre-order Diablo II. Do not endorse the vile and sickening trend of gaming companies releasing unfinished products and investors being rewarded for it.
Additionally, the recent allegations and now investigations of “frat bro” work culture – characterized by bullying, sexist, misogynistic, and unfair treatment of employees, has exploded over the past couple weeks.
While Vicarious Visions is separate from the California entity where this disgusting behavior took place, the game will be released under the Activision-Blizzard name and client.
Justifiably, many fans are questioning their desire to support and purchase products under the mega-developer banner. I am looking forward to swift and decisive action taken towards the individuals that produced such a hurtful and unsafe work environment and a further investigation to ensure the proper individuals have been terminated.
If this culture persists, I will be devastated. I will have no choice but to end my relationship with what may have been the most beloved and innovative gaming companies ever.
Let us hope it doesn’t come to that.
In the meantime, enjoy your descent into Diablo II’s hellish madness – and feel free to add me if you want a friend in Sanctuary.