The moment Diablo 2 Resurrected booted up I was filled with joy. Much of my childhood gaming memories are based on the game. Be it hosting LAN parties with friends or making use of the Jamella hero editor for hours on end only to launch my game and have it crash right as the loading door is opening. However, being a child playing a game, that was clearly way too old for my age, I missed out on the best moments in Diablo 2. Mainly the grind for gear, creating the best build and putting together all the different stats and items to craft the most beastly of characters.
You can’t blame me. I was a child so I used whatever made me look awesome and increase my stats. It worked for me. Now that Diablo 2 Resurrected is at our door, the remake/remaster also brings with it the opportunity to experience the classic again. Not only does the game look absolutely superb thanks to its remade visuals, but that uncomfortable atmosphere that made the original so dark and terrifying has been perfectly captured once again.
It is important to note that Diablo 2 Resurrected is a complete remake of the original. Everything is there and has been almost copied and pasted across the two games in a one-for-one manner. Even the intro Blizzard logo reveal resembles that which we used to see back in the day. As I created my characters I could not help but reminisce on the past adventures I had.
You see, my mom actually used to play Diablo 2 like crazy. She is the one that introduced me to the game so I hold the game very close to my heart. I still remember my mom sitting in front of her PC with this giant magnifying attachment on her classic monitor playing Diablo 2. She had a cigarette in her hand while it was wrapped around the mouse and she would click those buttons like there was no tomorrow. One day she asked if I wanted to try it and the rest is history.
Diablo 2 Resurrected not only faithfully brings back the classic experience but at the same time, the game also proves how much gaming has changed over the years. To be honest, video games now hold our hands. They are designed to make things easier and hassle-free. This is especially seen in Diablo 2 Resurrected’s lack of quality of life tweaks. The game hasn’t changed and you can feel it throughout the experience. The menus are old-school, navigating them is cumbersome and the overall UI lacks that ease of use.
Even the potion system is a chore. Instead of just using one potion and waiting for it to refill like Diablo 3, Resurrected relies on loading potions into your belt. Specifically dragging potions from your inventory to the belt like a potion gun reloading its ammunition. Now, I remember doing this back in the day and it was nothing to complain about but now, things are different. These features just don’t work in gaming today and feel tiring.
It also doesn’t help that the controller movements and navigation are painful on the PS5. This is seen throughout the game in almost every aspect especially the inventory system. Selling items, for example, requires holding down the square button. I then had to let go of the button and move the cursor to another item to hold it down again. Imagine now your inventory is full of items and this has to be done for every single damn potion. You could, however, also pick up each item and drag it across to the vendor screen but that is even more work.
Now anyone who has played the original Diablo 2 will know how much time you spend selling items. You also spend a lot of time moving stuff to the stash which also required holding down the square button. Blizzard needs to swap this sell button to a press to save hours of our lives. This “hold down, let go” nonsense is not going to work. Thankfully, there is an auto-sort button that cleans things up but you still need to handle your items even if they are nicely packed in a corner of your “extremely-limited-in-space” inventory.
The controller in Diablo 2 Resurrected also gets in the way during general gameplay. Without a mouse cursor, you cannot target specific enemies or items so spamming the X button to attack resulted in items dropping from enemies and picking them up as soon as they hit the ground. I also had to walk around in the hope that the invisible cursor would highlight the item I actually wanted so I could pick it up before my co-op partner stole it off the ground.
It also gets cumbersome in general combat and using abilities and skills. For example, the Barbarian has a skill called Leap that sees him jump towards an enemy in the distance. However, in order to do this, you need to target that enemy. With a mouse cursor, this is possible but with a controller, it is not. Instead of leaping towards a foe at the back of a room, the controller limits this to the one right in front of you. I remember using this skill to leap out of dangerous combat back in the day. Unfortunately, the inability to target enemies in the distance makes this skill useless on the console.
In general, the combat felt clumsy due to the controller. Spamming attacks targetted the wrong enemy and I was constantly picking up items I didn’t want. I then had to drop them or go and spend time holding down square to sell them all. I get that Diablo 2 Resurrected it trying to capture the magic of the old-school dungeon crawler but this is not ideal by any means.
It is also another blow given how superb Diablo 3 works with a controller. Blizzard mastered the experience for the couch and in a way, completely changed the flow of the game. The same can’t be said for Diablo 2 Resurrected. The controller system is such a pain that I am actually considering buying it on PC now just to avoid having these issues. Either that or Blizzard needs to patch in mouse and keyboard support for console. I can’t stress this enough. It gets in the way of the gameplay and is a chore.
With the controller system aside, I do need to praise Diablo 2 Resurrected and its general gameplay. It has remained true to the original. Every little detail is there. Be it the sounds the enemies make while dying, the noises the gems make when you place them down and the iconic voice lines that still send shivers down my spine. Every location looks fantastic and holds all the secrets I remember from back in the day.
As the two acts played out I remembered more and more of where to go and what to do. I remembered the enemies I killed, the gear I found and the bosses that provided a tough challenge for my 12-year-old fingers. Those moments of quickly opening the inventory to use a potion because I forgot to load them into my belt or running away in fear as the Butcher appeared out of the darkness. If you had good memories back in the day, they will return here. Even if you need to overcome some of the clunky and dated gameplay issues to experience them.
Diablo 2 Resurrected needs work. The controller just doesn’t gel with it at all. I only played three characters to the end of the second act and it was a chore. I can’t imagine doing it for the rest of the game and then taking on the tougher difficulty settings too.