Among the many considerable revelations at BlizzConline 2021 was one that filled Diablo fans, old and new alike with hellacious hype: the announcement of Diablo 2: Resurrected (Diablo II: Resurrected, if you want to go by Blizzard’s official legacy numbering system), a 4K/144Hz remake of the iconic, atmospheric, deeply constructed game first released over 20 years ago (June 29th, 2000).
Diablo 2: Resurrected will be available for the first time concurrently on all major platforms, including PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Not only will Diablo 2: Resurrected feature crossplay between the aforementioned gaming devices, but cross-progression as well, meaning players will be able to take the progress they’ve made in the game on PC, for instance and transfer it to their console version (and vice-versa).
The following is a list of some of the most pertinent questions and answers from the BlizzConline 2021 Diablo II: Resurrected Press Q&A, which was held via Zoom on Friday, February 19th. The answers have been edited so as to get to the point of the answer as quickly as possible when possible.
On hand to answer these press questions was Robert Gallerani (principal designer at Vicarious Visions, the developer behind the Diablo 2 remake) and Matthew Cederquist (Blizzard Entertainment game producer).
InvenGlobal (Aaron Alford): How faithful is the new version going to be to the original? Are there going to be any changes made at all to the gameplay or will this solely be a graphical remaster?
Robert Gallerani: It is the same game running underneath. So all of the sprites, all the logic, all the balance, all of the crit chance, miss chance, break points — that is what is driving the game. That’s still the engine; and then on top of that, we run our 3D engine, and that’s where you’re seeing all the 3D models and animations and real-time lighting, and grass and mud and all the other stuff that gets out of the way; but whether or not you hit a monster or how you get to somewhere, it’s still being driven by that.
Now on top of that, we do have some quality of life features, but we were very, very careful to make sure that any quality of life feature we would add wouldn’t actually change the gameplay. Right?
So shared stashes is something you’ve probably seen in the media already. We’re already seeing people do that. Right? You have a mule character, but things like auto gold pickup, you can opt into that. Things like item comparison, things like item linking in chat. Those are all just easier ways to play the same game. But it is the same game running underneath. We haven’t even actually made new balance changes.
It’s all the same tuning and balancing. So your Hammerdins are still hammerdins — compared to what live is right now.
MMORPG (Arlee): You said that you’re making changes for quality of life, but I was curious if one of those possible changes would be any changes to the skill point tree or maybe include the possibility of respecs so people wouldn’t necessarily be locked into builds. Are you considering something like that?
Gallerani: … So for your specific question of, Hey, are we going to add ways to respec? We’ve not added that. We do, however, have when we’ve added controller support and bringing this to console and you can play with a controller on a PC, by the way, too. We are adding a little bit more of a… are you sure you want to spend the skill point so that you don’t just accidentally blow the one point, right?
Matthew Cederquist: We want to bring this game into 2021. But still be that game that people love and enjoy. So if a wacky idea came up, our game pillars would bring us right back, snap us right back to: “Hey, this is meant to be that genre defining ARPG title that people love and enjoyed years ago.
While there is those little updated things: shared stash, auto gold pickup — there’s nothing that’s gonna majorly change the game design itself. The game design is the same as it was, and as fun as it was before, and still today.
I just wanted to touch on controller support, and how that worked for this title compared to Diablo III, because this title was very much a mouse and keyboard experience when it first launched back in the 90s.
Gallerani: With Diablo III, there are different systems. The game is balanced different, and there’s even a different move right there known as a Dodge Roll. First off, by having cross-progression, it keeps us in a box that we have to stay true to.
If we were to say, take the inventory, and the inventory Tetris, and be like… you know what? That’s hard with a controller. Let’s make it a list. If we made it a list, then you got a bunch of items in your bag, and then you went back and played it on PC. How do we know how your things were laid out? Right?
So it’s like, not just that, but it didn’t feel like Diablo II anymore, because you’re absolutely right… Diablo II was made for keyboard and mouse; and so everything, it is a PC first. It is a keyboard and mouse first thing; and we couldn’t do anything that would ever compromise that experience. But that being said, there are a lot of advantages.
You are now directly controlling your character. So you move your thumb stick and the character moves. That has kept us really true to the original. That kind of vision statement. And there’s a lot of things going on.
So I predict that there’ll be some builds that play better on controller, and some builds that are better on keyboard and mouse.
For example, I’m a sorceress. I want to teleport somewhere. With a keyboard and mouse, I can say, I want to go “there.” With a controller, what we do is we say, look, there’s going to be a default distance — and when you teleport, that’s where you’re going to always teleport. If you’re making a Golem as a necromancer, that’s where the Golem is going to appear — with the exception of a Golem that needs a magic item keyword on the ground.
There are other things that we do feel that targeting is important. So with the controller, instead of tapping to do the default, you can hold the button down and then you’ll get a radical and put it there, but it does change the pace a little bit; and that’s just because of the nature of the controller is less precise than keyboard and mouse, but we made sure that authenticity and keeping the same game was the most important thing.
Yep for, let’s say for Diablo III. I’ve worked on Diablo III for quite some time now and Diablo II — and our players love the PC version, but then you turn around and talk to someone else and they’re like “I love the console version. It’s so much better.”
There’s that constant battle between which one is better, which one is awesome. I can tell you by playing both, they both play extremely elegant on console and to me, it just feels really good.
Rob Robin (design team) made sure that they put all the buttons in the right places and it feels good.
GameRant (Cameron Corliss)Accessibility has kind of entered the conversation in a big way. I know you guys are looking for an authentic experience, but have you made any accessibility changes to the game?
Cederquist: Yeah. We definitely have. When we talk about modernization, accessibility was one of the first key things that was on our mind. So whether it be anything from colorblind mode, we also enhanced a lot of the texts. There’s tons of things.
Gallerani: Like low vision mode, colorblind mode. We’ve added more languages. There’s now five different languages. By adding a controller, there’s a lot of peripherals that certain people who need to play the game differently can now just automatically plug into, because if you support a controller, you can support things that allow you to play the game one-handed; and I think that actually Diablo II is one of those few games you can totally play one-handed, because it’s just right-click left-click. If you have a fancy enough mouse, you can do all those things.
Subtitles, things like that. So even just little things like accessibility of the size of the screen you can play it on. It’s a lot bigger. So yeah, it is very important to us.
ComicBook (Logan Moore): One thing that’s been big with Diablo II’s history in a lot of Blizzard games in general has been mods. Can you guys talk about how mod support is going to work here?
Gallerani: Awesome. So, first off, you’re absolutely right. Like one of the reasons that the game is still alive and kicking and relevant for 20 years is the mod community; and to be clear, the mod community that exists around Diablo II is still there. That whole ecosystem is untouched. That will keep going. When it comes to mods for Diablo II: Resurrected, it’s going to be a little bit of a different game to mod. First off, mods that actually hack the game, that inject things into the DLL… those aren’t really going to be as welcomed anymore.
I mean, don’t get me wrong… you guys will figure out a way to do it. I’m not going to tell you that it can’t be done, but with the shift over to modern Battle.net, and us trying to increase security and preventing item duping and bots and other things like that, those types of mods aren’t going to be as easy to do.
However, I have to give mad props to Andre and a lot of our other engineers. We’ve taken a lot of the aspect of the game that used to be hard-coded and we’ve moved them over to Data; and so things that you would use to have to hack the game to do, you don’t know because it’s in Data. We’ve also done some cleanup.
It’s gonna be a little bit easier to read. So, yes, we totally encourage mods and everything like that for Diablo II: Resurrected; but it’s not to say that: “Oh, that mod that I really love for Diablo II is just suddenly going to work for Diablo II: Resurrected.”
DualShockers (Ricky Frech): So kind of on the same topic of mods. Is there going to be any offline play for this new release, or is it all online?
Gallerani: The short answer is yes. All the ways that you used to be able to play the game are going to be the same. We’ve cleaned up the verbiage a little bit.
So right now you either make an online character cause it’s saved on Battle.net, or you make an offline character because it’s saved locally. So you have a local character, you have a Battle.net character. When you go online, you can go online on a game that’s totally private and you don’t invite anybody to it — we’ve made it easier to invite people into your game.
So you’ll have a friends list now. You can just click on your friends list and invite them straight to your game rather than calling them so long as your phone line, isn’t tied up with you being on the internet and telling them the game, name, and password.
You can just pull them right in, and then we now have a game finder. So you can just go on to the lobby and find other games, but you can also play it offline. You can also do TCP IP connect if that’s kind of still your thing. So pretty much all the ways you used to be able to play, you can play now.
Just here to confirm if the performance of the game is consistent across all console ports. Does it work as well in the Nintendo Switch as the other systems?
Gallerani: All the games are going to be optimized for that platform. So if you’re running the game on your PS5, it’s going to run at 4K. Same with, if you have a high-end PC. If you’re running on a Nintendo Switch, it’s not going to have the same resolution, but yeah, we’re targeting that they’re all good performance, at least 30 frames per second across the board. But if you have a crazy machine, you can go run it on cap frame rate, and that’s great. But it’s not like we just have one switch and “oops, I hope it works for all of them.”
Cederquist: Yeah, main goal here is to run an epic experience that is not degradated by which console you’re running it on. So no matter what console you love, no matter where you like to play with it, it’s going to run great.
Inverse (Tomas Franzese): Blizzard’s last Remaster (Warcraft III: Reforged) had a very mixed reception at launch. So I was just wondering what did the team kind of learned from the mixed response to that game and how did that inform the development of Diablo II: Resurrected?
Gallerani: It’s so important that we get Diablo II: Resurrected right. I think one of the big things is that Diablo II as is, is untouched. Diablo II: Resurrected is a separate game. So you can now play this, however you like. If you love our new graphics and our new sound and our quality of life features (which we think you will), turn all that on.
If you were like, you know what? I liked it as it’s on modern Battle.net, and I liked the new sound, but I’m just going to turn off the graphics. Go ahead. Hit the button instantly. You can toggle it to the other one; and if even that is too much, the old game is still there for you.
Blizzplanet (Tomas Hernandez): Are there plans to monetize Diablo II: Resurrected via an in-game shop?
Gallerani: No. No, there’s no micro-transactions.
InvenGlobal (Aaron Alford): We talked a little bit about the idea of the games’ importance to the people who played all those years ago. Will this game be replacing the Diablo II? So people who own the original title will this update their game like it did with Warcraft III: Reforged. Or will this be completely separate?
Cederquist: So Rob alluded to this a little bit earlier, but one of the decisions we made was to actually keep Diablo II (the 2000 version), Lord of Destruction (2001) — we actually decided to keep that in its own ecosystem. So the players who want to continue playing that version of the game, whether it be an elaborate mod that was put out, or just obviously the game itself, they can still play that.
Diablo II: Resurrected is in its own ecosystem with the modern Battle.net, modern security systems, updated ladders, so on and so forth. In its own thing.
MMORPG (Arlee): You’ve mentioned not making changes to gameplay. I’m curious if the system is not making story changes. One of the things some players had issues with on Warcraft III: Reforged with some dialogue that was changed to some characters to give them more prominent moments.
Gallerani: The story and the dialogues are all identical. The 27+ minutes are pretty much the exact same soundtrack, the exact same characters. It’s a shot-for-shot remake on that front. I believe that the only lines that were even tweaked was some translations that in the old game, like the localization was just not that great.
But even on that front, there are certain items that got localized to just kind of goofy names and they become iconic. Right? Like it’s like, that’s what France knows that weapon for. So we’re not even going to fix that silly localization. So yeah, pretty much unless there were spelling errors, I’m pretty certain it’s verbatim.
GameRant (Cameron Corliss): Are there plans to include Lord of Destruction content, or is it just going to be the base game on its own?
Cederquist: Diablo II: Resurrected is the original game itself (2000), and then Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (2001) is also included.
You have the updated two classes, the rune system, so on and so forth.
Gallerani: You can actually still choose to play that way too. So if you want to make a classic character, you can make a classic character and then convert it to expansion.
Blizzplanet (Tomas Hernandez): Diablo II: Resurrected is coming to console. Will console controllers work for the PC version?
Gallerani: Yes, you just plug the controller in, and it’ll hot swap over.
PC Gamer (Wes Fenlon): Can you tell me what the game is going to cost on PC?
Cederquist: The game right now is $39.99 MSRP.
Android Central (Samuel Tolbert): Since the game is coming to consoles for the first time will local co-op be available? Say a group of people playing together on the same Xbox or the same Nintendo Switch, for example.
Gallerani: So there will be no couch co-op. Doing that work proved too much of a departure from a game that relies on you always being in the center of the screen — it started to become not Diablo II.
Now for the Nintendo Switch, you can play a land game with two Nintendo Switches talking to each other over a local signal.
As for a TCP/IP connection into a PlayStation or Xbox, I don’t believe we’re supporting that, but don’t quote me on that and we can get you more information on that one.
Are you looking forward to playing Diablo 2: Resurrected when it hits all major platforms next winter? Diablo 2 is slated for a December 2021 release.
Thanks to BlizzPlanet for the Diablo 2: Resurrected Q&A Press transcript.