I’ll be honest, I’m cautiously optimistic about the Diablo 2 remake. Very cautious, since we all remember how the Warcraft III remake turned out, but what we saw at last weekend’s BlizzConline looked quite promising.
Essentially, Diablo 2: Resurrected looks a lot like the old game remade in the Diablo 3 engine. Interviews with various folks at Blizzard have confirmed that a lot of Diablo 2: Resurrected is running on the original code, but the 3D models and animations that are running on top of it are all brand new.
Those same interviews told us a lot about what to expect from Diablo 2: Resurrected. Lead designers Andre Abrahamian and Rob Gallerani said they tried to make D2: Resurrected as authentic to the original as possible.
Of course, there are still going to be some tweaks. For example, gold will become an auto pick up just like it is in Diablo 3. There will also be a shared stash for all your characters, which is another added QOL improvement from Diablo 3.
That’s fine–Diablo 3, after all, was made to include all the various improvements to the hack-and-slash genre that were developed between its release and Diablo 2 (many of them created by non-Blizzard developers). But there’s one thing that should not be changed, and that’s skill respeccing.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely acknowledge that the ability to change your build on the fly was overall an improvement to gameplay when Diablo 3 came around. There were countless times playing Diablo 2 when I’d find an item that was completely useless to my current build, so it would immediately get tossed into my stash to maybe one day see use on a totally different character or to eventually be bartered away for a Stone of Jordan.
In contrast, finding a powerful item in Diablo 3 might prompt you to completely change up your build to focus on whatever skills that item improved. Respeccing on the fly meant that finding a powerful Unique weapon or armor was almost never a disappointment rather than a cause for celebration.
But that’s Diablo 3. Diablo 2 was never like that, and capturing that nostalgia also means capturing at least some of the original game’s limitations. Skill points are a precious commodity in Diablo 2 that the player must carefully consider before allocating. On some characters, I remember banking almost a dozen skill points before finally settling on a particular build path. I even started a few characters over from scratch after determining that certain skills were suboptimal to my planned build.
That careful pondering of skills is as much an integral part of any Diablo 2 playthrough as killing Diablo himself. Removing that with casual respeccing would be like removing Mephisto from his Durance of Hate in Act 3.
The one exception I’ll allow was added in update 1.13 to the original Diablo 2, which brought the Token of Absolution as a Horadric Cube recipe, as well as a free skill respec after completing the Den of Evil quest in Act 1. Since both are relatively rare occurrences in a Diablo 2 playthrough, this provides the player with just enough incentive to continue playing with a poorly optimized build thanks to an eventual respec option later down the line.
I get that fretting over skill points isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of fun, especially if you were born after Diablo 2’s release in 2000. And if that’s the case, go play Diablo 3 and respec whenever the hell you want. But Diablo 2:Resurrected shouldn’t just be a reskinned Diablo 3, no matter how much Resurrected might look like it.
Next: Everything Announced During BlizzConline 2021
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