One of the big announcements from BlizzConline was Diablo 2: Resurrected, an oft-rumored title that has finally been made official, with development being shared by Blizzard Entertainment and subsidiary Vicarious Visions. Right after the game's reveal, I had the chance to partake in a group media interview with Robert Gallerani and Matthew Cederquist, Principal Designer and Game Producer on Diablo 2: Resurrected, who provided some additional insight into how this game is coming back to life, possibly even being one of the best Xbox RPGs available this year.
From the start of the discussion, both Gallerani and Cederquist are very clear that this a remaster, as both developers provide an interesting comparison: the new graphics are like a puppet and the original game is the puppeteer. There's certainly a lot of new and welcome additions, with reworked 4K graphics, 7.1 surround sound and a similarly improved soundtrack. There's also some new quality of life changes, with the inventory being tweaked and the ability to automatically gather gold without clicking every single bit of it. The cinematics have also been rebuilt from "the ground up."
The graphics are like a puppet and the original game is the puppeteer.
In spite of all of this, Diablo 2 remains essentially untouched, with the team being careful to ensure that none of these changes alter the actual code. The original game is running and you can play it stripped of every single improvement, to the point the new graphics can be turned off with a single press. Enhanced or as it way, you can't rotate the map, though you can zoom in, with Cederquist adding it looks nice zoomed in either way.
Some of the most important quality of life changes are those meant for increased accessibility, with a low vision mode and colorblind mode both being included at launch, alongside controller support on PC. On that latter note, changing the controls to fit a controller has meant there are challenges, meaning some specific builds may play a bit better with a keyboard and mouse or with a controller, depending on the skills a player favors. As an example, while a player using a mouse can easily select where to teleport, an automated distance is needed for someone using a controller.
Players will also get to enjoy cross-progression, as characters created online can be linked to a Battle.net account and taken between platforms, with an example given of porting a character over from Xbox to PC. With that said, Blizzard is being careful to say that cross-progression is available for "the consoles that support it" and the team is still working through some details.
I asked if the team looked at adding local co-op and was told told that due to the character being centered in the screen, it was considered but ultimately did not mesh well with the design goal of keeping Diablo 2's core untouched. Online multiplayer will of course be supported and while Blizzard isn't making any promises, they aren't saying no cross-play either.
As for mods, Blizzard still supports and encourages the modding community here, though the shift to Battle.net means anything code-based like item duping won't be easy and there's no guarantee any old mods are just going to work out the gate.
Vicarious Visions is coming a long way from the Tony Hawk remasters and working on something quite different here, but still, could players see a tiny crossover? I had to know. When I asked about the possibility of seeing skateboards as a junk item, both Gallerani and Cederquist had a good laugh but Gallerani noted that they wouldn't rule out the possibility entirely. While it's almost entirely in jest, I'll definitely be scanning my junk items and charms when playing to see if a skateboard makes it through.
We'll see just how everything comes together later this year, as Diablo 2: Resurrected is scheduled to arrive on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC, PS5, PS4 and Nintendo Switch sometime later in 2021. This'll help keep players tided over, as Diablo 4 is not releasing this year, though Blizzard did share more with us about the Rogue, cross-play and PvP.