Diablo II: Resurrected Review – Pile Of Old Bones

It’s impossible to talk about action role-playing games without mentioning Diablo II. The original release of Blizzard’s sequel in 2000 was an inflection point for the nascent genre, defining the direction all games after it would take. It’s one of those games whose DNA you can still trace in modern ARPGs such as Path of Exile, Lords of Wolcen, and the eventual Diablo III. But it’s also a game that has been drastically improved upon in the two decades since its release, which makes its 2021 remaster a confusing re-release that does very little to address how the genre has evolved since, making it challenging to recommend over modern contemporaries outside of reasons of nostalgia or short-lived curiosity.

Like all of the games it would eventually inspire, Diablo II is a dungeon-crawler, albeit stripped down to the genre’s fundamental basics. You progress through the campaign over a series of acts, each contained within their own map. These maps have distinct areas and enemy-ridden dungeons you’ll need to explore, eliminating scores of enemies that drop all sorts of color-coded loot that help you get more powerful as you go. The more you progress, the stronger you become, allowing you to deal the damage required to take down incredibly dangerous bosses that provide a challenging climax to each act. The campaign is also not the end of your journey, with additional difficulties incentivizing you to restart and continue crunching enemy skulls for more powerful loot, and so on.

Where Diablo II differs strongly to its most recent entry, Diablo III, is in its role-playing. Here you’re given three separate skill trees to invest points into, each of which will go a long way in defining what type of style your chosen class will take. My Necromancer, for example, focussed on summoning the dead over dealing out curses and magical damage, which led me to invest most of my skill points in only one of the three trees. You additionally need to manage staple role-playing attributes like strength, dexterity, vitality, and more, although these don’t function as you might expect. Points in each mostly determine what gear you can equip, and not necessarily how much damage (physical, ranged, or magic) you deal. This can be initially counter-intuitive to how you imagine each point invested will play out, with established Diablo II players already knowing that the majority of these points need to go into vitality and little else if you can already equip all the items you need.

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