the classic Blizzard comes back to life

The rebirth of Diablo II is now around the corner. On September 23, players will finally be able to get their hands back on one of the most famous and influential arpgs of all time, ready to make his return with a polished version from a graphic point of view but with the same playful essence of the origins. After all, this is exactly what Diablo fans have always dreamed of: reviewing the second chapter, still considered the best of the series, in top form but without distortion whatsoever. Blizzard Entertainment gave fans exactly what they’ve always wanted, sparking cheers from the audience at BlizzCon 2021, when Diablo II Resurrected it showed itself to the public after weeks of rumor.

Enthusiasm, however, mixed with doubts and veiled concerns. The unpleasant memory of is still alive in the minds of the players Warcraft III Reforged, reissue of the classic RTS that Blizzard was not able to exploit as it deserved (our review of Warcraft 3 Reforged tells you what went wrong), making us regret the heyday of the original version. Fortunately, the Californian giant seems to have treasured the mistakes made, using the accumulated experience to properly prepare the return of Diablo II.

We had already noticed this on the occasion of our test of the Alpha Tecnica of Diablo 2 Resurrected: the work resulting from the joint efforts of Blizzard and Vicarious Visions even then he was moving in the right direction, leaving us the desire to want even more. A little over a month after the full version debuted, the Multiplayer Beta of Diablo II Resurrected offers us the opportunity to ease our expectation by making the first two Acts of the story available to us. And once again the confirmation arrives of how right it is to be confident in this great return.

A Beta rich in content

Once the Beta starts, being greeted by Diablo II’s iconic intro cinematic is a source of chills down your spine. The way the opening was recreated leaves you breathless, and immediately unleashes an avalanche of memories in all those who grew up with Diablo II.

The quality of the cinematics, among other things, already offers a first proof of how important it is for developers to honor the past of this historic series, embracing long-time fans but also winking at newbies who for the first time are approaching the second chapter, which for the first time is about to arrive also on consoles (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One And Nintendo Switch to be precise). The Beta Multiplayer features a good assortment of content, providing players with five of the seven classes present in the game: the Barbarian, the Enchantress, the Amazon, the Druid and the Paladin. Each of them is endowed with peculiar abilities that guarantee an excellent variety to the combat system and the approach to each battle: if the Barbarian and the Paladin are suitable for close combat, the Enchantress is perfect from long distances thanks to her magical powers, just like the Amazon, specializing in long-range weapons. Playing as the Druid is a source of great satisfaction, thanks to a variety of very intriguing powers: the character can summon animals to make them fight alongside him, as well as transform himself into a beastly creature, becoming a serious danger for anyone who tries to hinder him.

Advancing a level by accumulating experience points allows you to gradually unlock both active and passive skills that are increasingly efficient, also allowing us to enhance various offensive and defensive parameters through a reasoned distribution of the points at our disposal. The Necromancer and the Assassin remain out of the game, and they will be ready as soon as the game hits the digital shelves. The same goes for various game modes, with the Beta allowing you to play only in Standard mode and with the contents of the expansion Lord of Destruction. Being a Beta focused on the multiplayer component (up to 8 players at the same time), connection to the network was mandatory, but we know that at launch the title will have an offline mode.

As per tradition, it is in fact possible to face the pitfalls of Sanctuarium also in Single Player, creating his own private game and thus focusing solely on the exploits of his own alter ego. In any case, however, after the first stages of the game there will be the possibility of hiring mercenaries to support our hero, also available at the Campo delle Scolte where our adventure begins. The list of soldiers that we will be able to deploy in battle is fairly large, although the most performing require the outlay of a large handful of money. But don’t worry: the world of Diablo II knows how to make the most daring rich.

The past that becomes present

When the time comes to leave the camp, the return to 2000 is definitively accomplished. Diablo II Resurrected is the same game that has given fans thousands of hours of fun over the years with a immediate gameplay but not lacking in depth. On the contrary, throwing yourself headlong into the fray without adequate equipment and a suitable strategy can be a mistake to pay dearly.

The early stages of the adventure are perfect for getting acquainted with the rudiments of gameplay, taking advantage of the time spent slaughtering monstrosities such as zombies, fallen and rat spini, which go down with a couple of well-aimed shots. In this way, the first experience points and the first skills are accumulated for our hero, who in the first hours of the adventure will level up rather quickly. But when the time comes to get serious following the main quests, when we begin to explore increasingly hostile and unhealthy lands, the forces of evil will do everything to destroy us, attacking us en masse without mercy. The bestiary changes very quickly, with the appearance of dangerous creatures that can do massive damage in a short time. Death can come easily if you do not pay the right attention, and it certainly does not please: in this case we always start from the last unlocked hub, without equipment or money, ready to face the dangerous journey to reach our fresh corpse regaining the lost belongings.

But do not panic: the presence of Warp Point, the never excessive size of the maps and the quick shot that our character can take allow us to catch up very quickly.Only drawback inventory management, which also stood still 21 years ago. In fact, if the gameplay is still very engaging and spectacular, as well as challenging, managing our resources could instead appear a little tedious due to the limited space available in our pockets.

The inventory fills up very quickly thus forcing us to continuously manage the objects in our possession which, in the long run, could weigh down the experience for some players, also counting the risk of having to leave behind precious resources such as weapons or jewels. Fortunately, at base camp it is possible to store many tools in our personal chest, to better manage our resources.

But Diablo II isn’t all about fighting: exploration plays a fundamental role. Sifting through every corner of the maps is useful to find more and more powerful money and equipment, without forgetting the Sanctuaries that activate some momentary passive advantages for our character. The skilful mix of action and exploration is one of the reasons that decreed the success of the classic Blizzard, also making it highly replayable thanks to its continuous surprises and its game world that kidnaps the player without freeing him anymore. Simply put, it’s about a winning product still today.

How to update a great classic

Even in the Beta test, the creative route chosen by the development team is confirmed as respectful as it is functional, able to add value to the experience without upsetting the essence of Diablo II. Faced with a completely new graphic sector, which reworks the basic material to adapt it effectively to modern standards, we appreciate the choice of the authors not to focus on aesthetic spectacularizations that would have little to do with the great classic of the early millennium.

In reverse, Diablo II retains all its charm and elegance, enhancing an artistic direction that still offers protagonists and demonic creatures of excellent workmanship, as well as an evocative and fascinating fantasy game world. The music that accompanies our adventure makes every moment spent in Sanctuarium even more epic, unleashing a storm of shivers down the back of the players who have grown up with those dark tones. The Beta also comes with the full support for the Italian language, both as regards the texts and the dubbing, the latter characterized by a truly promising level of quality.

In the midst of Resurrected’s excellent playful and audiovisual test, there are few discordant notes to report, mostly related to the efficiency of the online infrastructure at this stage of the development process. There are indeed some server synchronization problems, and sometimes the occasional moments when the gameplay seems to move in jerks, even conspicuously for a few moments, before the situation returns to normal. It may also happen to see characters, NPCs or enemies who “teleport” from one part of the battlefield to the other, risking to create some headache of no small importance. Blizzard still has some time left before launch to further refine the production, and we hope the finished product doesn’t leave us a single doubt about the quality of this long-awaited return.