A Diablo 2 Remake Could Be a Great Opportunity for Blizzard
Please see my post-announcement story published on SUPERJUMP.
I have been hearing of a Diablo 2 remake being in development across various big media gaming channels and find it interesting if it turns out to be true. Diablo 2 was a game I remember fondly from my teenage years, but I always assumed it was inferior the the original, which is still one of my best gaming experiences to date. I loved it so much I even completed its expansion called Hellfire.
The sequel followed up the original directly with a storyline that follows the head demon Diablo being killed and the aftermath of the event. It played in a similar manner to the first being an action RPG and even referenced events from the original. This includes things such as the former town’s blacksmith (from the former game’s main town that was burnt to the ground in the sequel) being killed and possibly his body showing or someone talking about him. There were many such references even though both games were self contained and could be played independently.
The original game was all based on a single town with many layers and captivating characters that inhabited it. It also had one main dungeon you as the player had to navigate, further and further into its depths (or possibly up a stairs do not recall exactly). This focus on a single town truly made it interesting and unique: from the witch being across the river with her own spells and magic as tomes to sell to the player alongside potions to the hunchbacked teenager murking in a clandestine manner on the other side of town near the dungeon with unique and expensive items such as rings or weaponry to sell. It truly had everything for a 1990s game: originality, presentation including a musical score that soothed the ears every time you loaded the game up to a very addictive mouse-driven combat system that allowed the player to experiment with being a rouge, mage or a warrior.
The first game just had this atmosphere of being new and different from anything else on the market. It was dark; it was grimmy… but it was also an RPG and an action one at that. There was lots of action to be head in slaying skeletons, and other baddies, in the dungeon while looking for valuable loot. Despite it officially being called an action RPG, it has many adventure game elements that would later be exposed more fully in the The Elder Scroll series.
The addictive nature of Diablo and its sequel paved the way for competitive gaming across Blizzard’d Battle.net service. The original had supported online multiplayer and players from around the world were able to play game’s campaign in a cooperative manner this way. However, it was not until Diablo 2 that this form of gaming really took off and Blizzard focused a huge portion of development to its multiplayer.
I recall it was huge with the player base dwarfing most other games on the market for years, but not without its controversies. The big thing about it was players trading in an in-game auction house system and selling loot amongst themselves, but there were some bugs or bad design decisions made at first causing players to cheat or exploit the system. Either way, it proved to be a very addicting and captivating experience players remember fondly about the game.
Blizzard has recently released a revamped version of Warcraft III, which is another game that had a strong multiplayer component and was supported across Battle.net, however it was not seen with a stellar reception. The game received a poor reception with a metacritic score below 60 points as of this writing.
Blizzard just did not listen to its fanbase and instead settled for a quick cash grab. It also released a game that did not really need a revamp nor was anyone asking for one while taking out the older version for those who wanted to play it on its online distribution store. Let us hope Blizzard learns from this lesson and does a better job for the Diablo 2 remake if the rumors are true and the company is working on it.
Blizzard has a great opportunity here because many people never moved on from the game and are looking for more of the same, but in a newer and more dressed up package. Many players did not move onto Diablo 3, a game with its own controversies. This is due to things like it being simplified for consoles and changed in art direction from the grimy old-school 2D aesthetics into colorful and 3D environments. Apparently the Diablo 3 expansion changed much of that game and redeemed some of the criticism, but it is still a much different experience than playing any of the original titles.
What Blizzard should do is not change its art direction to what it did with Diablo 3 or what is popular in gaming these days. It should not touch its aesthetics too much with exception to offering modern resolution options, anti aliasing, bloom and maybe some other additions in this regard. What it should focus on is what made the first so popular and addictive: gameplay and more of it.
The remake should have the same game content in tact, but with additional loot, character classes and maybe dungeons or layers of the existing dungeons. The story could also be expanded or added to making it a great retread for series veterans.
Do not get me wrong, I do not think it should be left exactly the same graphically. Gaming trends and available power to run games has moved on greatly since the late 90s and early 2000s. However, the aesthetic should remain similar with a dark and eerie nature. Sure, the graphics maybe should move onto 3D polygons, but in a similar manner to the way they looked back then. One can think of it as the way Half Life 2 changed the same characters that appeared in the original, such as some of the scientists.
The BattleNet portion will probably remain a strong focus for the remake as Blizzard hoped to bring many players back and reintroduce the title to a new audience. Let us hope it focuses more on the old fans vs expanding it to a new audience however, because when companies tend to do this and make its games more accessible, it often ruins the experience or makes the games shadows of their former selves.
With all of that said, I am excited for the rumoured remake and will be playing it once it is released if it becomes a reality for Blizzard. However, my hopes are not incredibly high due to Blizzard’s recent actions such as the Warcraft III remake and following the Diablo 4 development news on just how far behind the development of that game got or the changes and other additions to it that are happening behind the scenes. Either way, let us hope they make the Diablo 2 remake and make it the right way.
I also want to add that if the game succeeds, I see something much bigger here for Blizzard. I see a whole Diablo storyline taking place as a Netflix animated series similar to Castlevania. I see this take us multiple seasons and go through the events of the first game, but in a reimagined way and up to the sequels. I think Diablo could make for an amazing animated series and do something similar to what Castlevania did if it is done right.