For a few weeks now, in “spare” time I’ve been playing Diablo 2 Resurrected. It’s a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable, modernised take on a classic that I — and millions of other gamers — sank hundreds of hours into. While the visuals have been brought into the current era, the gameplay and general feeling of the game remains the same as it was 21 years ago.

While it would have been a lot easier for Blizzard to slap a new skin or “coat of paint” over the top — probably selling nearly as well — there is a lot of beautifully thought out and executed changes. The immediate and obvious change you’ll see after 21 years, is the graphic update. Although if you choose to, for a true blast from the past, you can run the game in 800 x 600 (easily toggled in-game) resolution as the original ran.

It’s in this switch you’ll find a plethora of graphic changes including features that simply weren’t possible in 800 x 600. Streams and pools of water are significantly more vivid, detail in the environment is (duh…) so much more intricate and the shadows are places you probably don’t want to get too close to unprepared.

As you delve deeper though, there are gameplay improvements, while staying true to the original feeling.

The characters, story and gameplay

When you first get started, you’ll choose from one of seven classes, each of which has seen an overhaul of its presentation since the original Diablo II release. This covers (quite literally) their clothing, weapons and armour with characters being notably more covered this time around.

The full list of classes includes:

  • Paladin
  • Sorceress
  • Necromancer
  • Assassin
  • Barbarian
  • Amazon
  • Druid

Each class has their own strengths, weaknesses and special talents which you’ll need to use to your advantage to survive the wasteland. Given enough time, battles and loot grabbed your characters level up — to a maximum of level 99 — with increased life, mana, skills and capabilities: Making your character more formidable and capable in battle.

The game keeps you honest and prevents you from getting cocky though through the dynamic difficulty of your foes. While you can aimlessly wander, killing undead of many types, pounding bones to dust and cutting your way through hordes of walking corpses: The big rewards are huge for completing the set quests with weapons, armour and finance coming up bigger and bigger with each quest.

This is where I’ve fallen in love with the game again because it was challenging enough to be continually concerned about the reducing life remaining. The graphics were detailed but subtle enough to have me on edge and enjoying the fear of shadows and darkness. It really forces your hand to carry plenty of health potions, just to make sure you make it to the next waypoint.

One of the gameplay facets I really enjoyed was the leap back in time, to where you can only have two abilities mapped to single touch triggers (left and right-click) and gameplay is dominantly mouse-based. That is unless you hook up a game controller which takes a bit of adjusting to but does make the gameplay very relaxed.

It’s interesting to take a step back in time with the gameplay factors here. Where Diablo 3 (following suit of World of Warcraft if my memory serves me correctly) has four skills you can have mapped, this reduction forces you to think about where you are in the story and on the map, the likely skills you’ll need and to have them at the ready.

Where the Diablo 2 experience differs from the modern games is the multiplayer is just fun to play through the story a single player or online. Regardless of whether you’re just starting up a new character, or whether you’re shooting for a real challenge with a Level 90+ seasoned campaign character. You’re not forced to grind for XP and loot, but the options are so bountiful to play through. If you choose to, you can play the same levels again and again with different results based on the path you take, the character you use, whether you’re playing solo, or online and the group you’re playing with online.

For anyone who played the original Diablo II online, the experience here is so different. Our connectivity is so much better, with lower latency and higher data speeds. Although you will get occasional lag spikes that warp players around the screen.

Between quests, there are no crafting options, you’re at the mercy of the game. You’ll get weapon drops and that takes some of the politics out of the playing groups. Making the system significantly more beautiful is the fact that the player stash is available across all of your characters.

So Diablo II is back, with far more than a coat of paint to spruce it up: Should you buy it?

As someone who sank a significant number of hours into the original, I had no hesitation doing the same with Diablo II Resurrected. There is a clear attraction here for the walk down memory lane, good times and the friends made.

While Diablo II Resurrected is a shining example of what a game reboot should look like, with renewed excitement, challenges and memories. There are elements to it that stay so true to the original, the gameplay and features come back quickly and it’s also excited me for the upcoming Diablo 4 release.

I’m not entirely sure that there’s such a strong allure for players who’ve not had the same history with it. That’s not to say they won’t have a great time playing, but the game won’t have quite the same staying power: For that, you’ll need to wait for Diablo 4.