I had heard of Diablo II for decades and how the game was a trendsetter in the gaming industry. Many gamers heralded the action RPG as being the best thing to happen to PC gaming at the time. I read many accounts of people who were just binging on the game for countless hours at a time. Because I was not a PC gamer when the game was first released in 2000, I did not feel that Diablo II was something that I missed out on. I was mainly playing sports games, Japanese RPGs, and fighting games at the time. I was so into JRPGs at the time that as the gaming industry started moving more to western-style RPGs that contained more free-form combat and open-world type freedom, I strongly resisted it at first. In a silly way, I thought I was turning my back on games such as Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy, Suikoden, Star Ocean, etc. When I think about it, even if I did have access to play Diablo II, I likely would have shunned it at the time on that principle alone. I’m glad I’m not that type of gamer anymore.
Within the past few years, I’ve taken to the action RPG genre inspired by Diablo II. I’ve been having a blast playing Last Epoch, Torchlight II, Grim Dawn, Titan Quest Anniversary Edition, and Path of Exile. The isometric, class-based, skill-tree powered, grind-fest against scores of enemies and bosses all were staples that were popularized through the Diablo series. I found each of the games I previously listed to have that similar Diablo II formula. And they are all very engaging. I like that each class offers a different range of abilities and attributes. The skill tree system rewards the player with better abilities the more you play. My experiences with these games sparked my curiosity about the very source of it all, Diablo II.
Now I tried playing the original version of Diablo II, but everything felt so dated. I didn’t last longer than 20 minutes. This was before I knew that Diablo II Resurrected was even a reality. So during a Nintendo Switch sale back in early 2021, I bought Diablo III: Reaper of Souls for under $20. I have enjoyed Diablo III and sometimes just play the game in 30-60 minute spurts while grinding away. What’s interesting is that I don’t like grinding in most games. I would generally use a cheat engine of some sort to bypass that whole process. But grinding in Diablo-style games is both delightful and rewarding. To have a gamer like me being more than willing to grind is a huge accomplishment.
It was in the fall of last year that I became aware of Diablo II Resurrected. Because it was a remastered version of Diablo II, I bought it in November in a PC bundle deal with Diablo III. Diablo II Resurrected is a terrific game. I found myself forsaking other games to keep coming back to grind and build up my character. The graphics, cutscenes, and overall presentation were superior to the original. Yes, the gameplay is very repetitive. But it is “fun” repetitive. Activision Blizzard did a tremendous job with this game and the remastered version of Diablo II made it much for accessible for me. My perspective is based on playing both solo and offline. You can also team up with other players to take down the enemies in Diablo II Resurrected, but I prefer solo play.
I’m usually not into dark fantasy games with darker environments and aesthetics. But what I like about the Diablo games is that even though the tone is dark, there is an effort to eradicate evil. As the main character, your efforts are in an attempt to save humanity from the darkness that is destroying them. On top of that, the Diablo-style gameplay can be very addicting if you’re not careful. That is why I set a time limit for myself on how long I will play those types of games in one sitting.
Now that I have experience with Diablo II through Diablo II Resurrected, I can see what the hype was about in 2000. It’s a great game. While it does contain a story complete with cutscenes and voice acting for some of the characters, you’re likely not playing Diablo II for those reasons. You’re playing these games for the action. You’re grinding to unlock the next node on the skill tree and to power up your character so that you can take on the next boss and be victorious. You’re playing to try out the different classes and to experiment with the different abilities that each class contains. It is the true realization of an “action” RPG. Everything else is just part of the backdrop.
At least now that I’ve played Diablo II Resurrected and Diablo III, I can now hold discussions on the series with some knowledge. Diablo II Resurrected makes me happy that remastered versions of older games are made. It gives people of the current generation to experience something of the past but more up to current standards. Had Diablo II not been remastered, I don’t know if I ever would have played it, which is a shame because it is an important piece of gaming history.
P.S. – I know that games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance, X-Men Legends, and Justice League Heroes can be considered Diablo-like as well, but the mechanics are stripped down and simplified to the point where the resemblance to Diablo is very light. That is why I did not count or mention these games in the post.
HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED DIABLO II?