While Blizzcon’s opening ceremony announced Diablo II‘s remaster, it later on during the first day of the virtual con’s events that the con hosted the official “Diablo Deep Dive.” This panel, hosted by record holding Diablo II speedrunner— MrLlamaSC—and joined by members of the remaster’s development team, shared details regarding the work to bring 2000’s Diablo II to 2021. The other panelists were Lead Designers Andre Abrahamian and Rob Gallerani, as well as Lead Artist Chris Amaral.
So, this remaster— titled Diablo II: Resurrected— will include the original game along with material included in the 2001 expansion, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. It was announced that Diablo II: Resurrected will be released later in 2021, and will be available for PC and consoles, including the Nintendo Switch. What this means for the development team is paying attention to the way the game mechanics function for a controller as opposed to a mouse. Since the original game was designed for the PC primarily, certain in-game functions are intended to be operated by clicking on the screen, for example the Sorceress’ Teleport ability and the Barbarian’s Leap. In terms of their approach, the designers discussed establishing a default distance for such abilities.
As the discussion continued, it was announced that the remaster’s ‘Technical Alpha’ is now available to sign up for on the website. By doing so, Diablo fans will be able to opt-in for future invites to participate in the testing process. This user testing process is sure to prove valuable for the designers who have made it very clear they are doing their best to maintain what fans of the original love about the game, while also anticipating the needs of newcomers and contemporary technological specs.
The designers all expressed their affection for the game. As Abrahamian explains, “There’s a lot of love and care going into this, we’re very passionate about Diablo II.” Gallerani went on to add that the process of remastering such a classic and much loved game has been “Literally like video game archeology.” Abrahamian explained how they’ve been able to use archive and source material from the original in order to repurpose, and in some cases directly apply, elements from the first version, including texture files and code for Tyreal’s wings, adding “I’m very meticulous with this stuff, because I love it so much.”
The discussion overall seemed to leave MrLlamaSC excited and impressed by the teams approach, expressing appreciation for streamlining of multiplayer protocols and the way updated graphics technology allow for the use of realistic lighting models, creating a game that will be darker and brighter, utilizing shadows to create an ultimately creepier effect. In particular the effects used for fire and lightning look to have transformed the abilities and environments of the game into a thing of beauty. Though, for purists, it’s been made clear that there will still be a “Classic Mode” made available as well.
As Gallerani explained, the team is approaching the project with reverence and diligence due in large part to the fact that the first Diablo and Diablo II—which came out over twenty five and twenty years ago now, respectively—were highly influential.
“It’s a game that we all kind of grew up in and a lot of us got into the games industry because of this kind of game and this game in particular. It’s almost like we’re treating it like a classic car,” he said. “Like, ‘okay, it probably shouldn’t run on leaded gas anymore,’ but you really can’t change it, right? You just got to make it good enough, even better than they remember, and good for another twenty years.”
All in all, pretty exciting stuff. The trailer for Diablo II: Resurrected makes it look like fans of the original and newcomers to the franchise are sure to love fighting the forces of darkness in 2021, at least as much if not more than they did back at the the beginning of the millennium. As for the rest of Blizzcon, there was even more to come.