Date: February 20, 2021
It’s been a crazy day for everyone excited for the Diablo II remaster: BlizzCon had an hour worth of updates to share with us and, honestly, Diablo II Resurrected is looking pretty fantastic so far. While the new 3D models, responsive lighting, and shiny effects are looking good, that’s not what caught our attention with this interview.
Let us catch you up on how incredibly dedicated the developers behind the remaster are about preserving the old Diablo II experience. Because — trust us on this — their efforts will just blow you away.
Legacy Diablo II Will Literally Be Running Underneath
If the new graphics of Diablo II Resurrected aren’t to your taste, you will be able to flip back to the old visuals at any time, using remake’s “Legacy Toggle feature” (as one of the lead designers called it in the interview today). And, yes, while this is certainly appreciated, it isn’t exactly a new idea. For example, the infamous remake of Warcraft III also has this kind of a toggle.
No, this time the toggle will not be a simple art swap: the legacy Diablo II will be literally running underneath the remaster. As you play the game, the new graphics engine will be running on top of the old game, “mimicking” its contents, rendering it in real time. How cool is that?
While the top layer will be the new, shiny 60 fps eyecandy with 7.1 sound, more movement directions, and fluid animations, the brain of Resurrected will still be the legacy version of Diablo II. The data, character poses, rules, logic, timings based on 25 fps… heck, even the invisible square grid — all of this will remain in the game.
This means that hardcore Diablo II players that rely on 25 fps timing and the grid will be able to bring their strategies to the remaster. New players, meanwhile, can be sure that the game will be as close to the authentic experience as possible while still looking great on a 4K monitor.
The developers assured us that all of this required a lot of effort. Still, the team knows that this task was very important: dedicated fans would feel that something in the experience is different, even if they couldn’t see it.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is what you get with developers that understand the importance of preserving the original experience of an iconic classic with surgical precision. Diablo II Resurrected was described as “nostalgia-oriented” in the livestream, but that’s quite an understatement, because there is more to this.
Yes, dear Diablo II enthusiasts, there is much more.
Remaster’s Developers Unearth Original Diablo II Ideas
Call them historians, restorative artists, or video game archaeologists (as they called themselves), but the depth to which these developers were willing to go when upscaling Diablio II experience might be the major reason for you to grab the game as soon as it comes out.
For example, did you know that Lut Gholein tavern had garlic hanging from a beam in one of the back rooms? Well, the developers uncovered this detail from old official 3D representations of the town, where garlic was a ubiquitous feature! It’s likely that very few people, if any, recognized that in the original visuals.
One of the lead designers, Andre Abrahamian, took it upon himself to contact people across Blizzard and dig through the archives, gathering as many of the old assets as possible. These 3D models, concept art, and notes were of immense help to the developers, since they could reference them in re-modeling, or directly upscale and re-use some of the original textures (for the colorful walls inside Tal Rasha’s tombs, for example).
The team also studied old notes and assets for original inspirations behind places in the game. Then, they drew details from that original source to preserve the intentions of original designers as they carefully re-created Diablo II’s setting that so many players have grown to love (or even grew up with).
Playing Diablo II Resurrected, then, might come with some discoveries. A bone protruding out of mummy’s leg, Black Knights integrated into statues in the Chaos Sanctuary — all of this was in the original, obscured by the low-resolution pixel graphics and re-discovered by the team behind the remaster.
We highly suggest that you watch the Diablo II Resurrected interview in the recorded livestream below (it starts at about 3 hours, 12 minutes) to hear about these very creative efforts. Also, some new features that were nonetheless introduced very conservatively (for example, a shared stash! Gone are the days of muling!).
For Diablo II fans, there is a lot to be excited about. So far, the developers have shown us that this remake will be treated very differently (looking at you, Warcraft III Reforged) and will truly honor the beloved classic.
There is hoping, friends.
Now, we wanted to extend this to you: did the remaster team manage to gain your trust with their efforts? Are you excited for the new graphics faithfully running on top of the original?
Have you been relying on the Diablo II modding community for your experience and would like to see whether mod integration will be a thing before you get too excited?
Are you still worried about issues and changes that might not have been discussed, or false promises? (We did have a painful example of that recently…)
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!