I would be disgusted with myself if I did not begin a post without highlighting the vile sexism and abuse that has taken place within the halls of Activision/Blizzard for only Lord knows how long. You know things are bad when the state, California specifically, levies a lawsuit against a private entity for “fratboy culture.” Lawsuits like those traditionally come from private citizens, not the government. After that made the news, Blizzard employees found their confidence and staged a walk-out in protest. Of course, the ish runs downhill and snowballed; Jason Schrier’s phone has been ringing off the hook.
Before it is all over, I would not be surprised if the reputations of Chris Metzen, Jeff Kaplan, David Brevik, and Michael Morhaime do not survive. (I can hope for the best while also hoping that those who suffered get their justice.) It is noteworthy that Brevik did make a post that he would not platform the new game amidst the Blizzard upheaval; I pray that we do not get Milkshake Duck’d, and that those who have been wronged are made whole again.
THAT SAID, the announcement of Diablo II: Resurrected (DIIR) excited me in a way that I have not felt since the announcement that Blackbird Interactive and Gearbox are working Homeworld III, or that Team Cherry is working on Hollow Knight: Silksong, that Studio MDHR is working on the Delicious Last Course DLC for Cuphead. I’m kidding actually; I just want to play all of those games sooner than whenever Nintendo ships Metroid Prime 4. Truthfully, DotEmu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush blessing me with Streets of Rage 4 in 2020 filled me with glee in the way that the DIIR announcement did.
I have not preordered a video game since Homeworld Remastered Collection, and Acti/Blizz did not offer anything to incentivize a change in habit, and the pay-to-play closed beta made me mutter “Activision” under my breath. Nevertheless, once I heard that there would be an opportunity to participate in an open beta, I was mollified.
The team working on DIIR should pat themselves on the back. If this game really is a “skin” of sorts while OG Diablo II runs in the background, that is an impressive feat, and a route that future developers looking to remaster a game should consider. I only switched between modern and classic modes to compare the character selection screens; I doubt I will have any use for the format swaps as the game its new, modern atmosphere is precisely what I expected from Diablo III without needing to use the DarkD3 filter.
Because I knew that my progress would not carry over into the full release, I rolled two characters that I have no intention of playing so that I would not feel cheated when everything resets: the barbarian and the amazon. I soon discovered, or was reminded, just how unbearably boring low-level DII is. Actually, I do not recall ever being bored with my main classes, the sorceress and necromancer; this seems to be a problem unique to “warrior” type classes, and because I do plan on rolling a paladin this time around after never touching the character before, I am concerned.
I have no idea how barbarian players tolerated, or can tolerate today, the character long enough to unlock the whirlwind skill, let alone have the mana to sustain it. The “+ to attack rating” skill tree must be the most unremarkable in the game. I am well aware that attack rating is as relevant to hitting enemies as THAC0 in Baldur’s Gate, yet the DII’s earlygame sufferers immensely due the unsatisfyingly frequent misses on the simplest of minions, and no fantastic skills or abilities that would encourage players to keep going.
That is why I quit the game early after the Blood Raven quest. I retired the Amazon’s starting javlin after using it as a melee weapon rather than a projectile for a bow and arrow—a weapon that I had never used in a Diablo game before. And wow, if it was frustrating chasing down Fallen Ones to whack them with the barb, imagine trying to hit Neo from the Matrix with a medieval-era projectile weapon. That was my experience trying to ht Blood Raven as she hastily ran circles around me, never missing a single shot if I stood still to aim. She is not even a boss, but a mere super unique. Five minutes is an eternity in Diablo time to dispatch an enemy.
In other words, low-level DII is more boring than I remembered, especially with physical-type characters. It is a good thing that I am rolling a sorceress and a (possibly hardcore) necromancer when DIIR releases. Otherwise, I might dismiss the game as featuring game mechanics that have aged too poorly for 2021 standards. Certainly the graphics are impressive; the refresh reminds me of how DII looked to me in 2000. I look forward to returning to the game when the final version launches.