The latest iteration of the classic Diablo II game has just been released, and I wanted to share my thoughts on revisiting some of my favorite locales.
Diablo II Resurrected is a remaster of the original Diablo II. This article discusses how it was able to recapture the magic and nostalgia of the original game.
What an incredible moment to be alive. I can’t believe I’m playing a remastered version of one of my favorite PC games of all time. What’s even more amazing is that I’m still playing it with the same zeal as I did when I was 13 years old. Diablo II is still alive and kicking, with an active modding community and passionate theorycrafters and streamers. I bought the original game from a Funcoland the day it came out in my local mall in 2000, and while both locations are now nothing but memories, Diablo II is still alive and kicking with an active modding community and passionate theorycrafters and streamers. It’s strange to get a remaster after all these years.
I’m glad to see how accurately the game’s look was recreated with today’s technology, since Diablo II represents a much simpler period in my life. It’s easy to forget that the game wasn’t deemed very attractive when it first came out in 2000. And, despite the game’s ageless gameplay, it’s not exactly a selling feature for today’s players when it’s hardcoded to operate at 25 frames per second with a maximum resolution of 800600 out of the box.
But, now, I believe the game has finally rectified this, bringing the game’s look back to the way it was intended. And when I eventually got my hands on the complete version, courtesy of Blizzard, I went back to several of the game’s locales and took pictures of everything as it was in the original game, but with today’s engine. So come along with me on a journey down memory lane to this game that made the summer of 2000 the greatest summer of my life.
We’ll be placing the original game on the left and the remastered version on the right throughout the galleries.
Returning to the Evil Den
A journey back to Sanctuary wouldn’t be complete without a pit stop to the Den of Evil to give good ol’ corpsefire a piece of my mind. Despite the fact that I knew precisely how to deal with him, I was pleased to see that his spawnpoint contained this camp, which was stocked with supplies. This may seem like a little element to include in the remaster, but the background adds so much to the history around the monster. I never really questioned what he was doing there, but the camp contributes to our enjoyment of visual storytelling. In real life, what was corpsefire? Was he part of a bigger caravan that sought shelter in a cave, only to find it transformed into a den of evil when the wanderer passed by? I’m not sure, but this was only one of the many minor changes to the world that contributed to the misery that the inhabitants of Sanctuary had to bear when the primary evils resurfaced.
The inner cloister of the rogue monastery looked dreadful… in a positive manner
As I battled my way into the inner cloister, I didn’t give it much consideration. It was simply a handy waypoint position before the fight with Andariel even back then. But it wasn’t until I walked out of the jail and into the blood-stained, demon-ravaged environment that I understood how bad things had become for the rogues.
The earlier artwork made the space seem much cleaner. The grass seemed to be well-kept, and despite the blood on the ground, it did not appear to be that terrible. However, the remaster made it clear that it was the scene of a horrific fight. The darkness and devastation made it brutally obvious that we were moving closer and closer to Andariel’s depravity.
Seeing Andariel’s lair for the first time
I fought Andariel when I neared the lowest part of the tombs. After throwing a few frozen orbs her way, I had a chance to look around and see what she’d done with the property. The red carpet was a lovely touch, but the lighting was the true star of the event. The only source of light in these deep, dark, old tunnels was the glow of the fires, which gave me the feeling of being far below earth.
Diablo and Diablo II have always had a sinister vibe about them. It was the lack of genuine gloom that I couldn’t quite put my finger on as to what made Diablo III so distinct. Diablo III’s deepest color was a bluish grey. The color black was used to great effect in the remastered version. And it was this, along with the lighting technologies in this new engine, that restored the Blizzard North look.
Radament’s sewage project in Lut Gholein
Despite the fact that players in Diablo II may completely avoid Lut Gholein’s sewers, the free skill point Radament dropped made trekking through the poison damage and ranged skeletons worthwhile. But I’ve always been curious as to what he was up to in his lair. It seemed in the original that he was working on a skin suit so that he could pass himself off as a human on the surface. I’ve always thought that was a terrible idea, given how… well, awful it looks.
But it turns out he was working on a new kind of beast with cow-like legs, human-like limbs, and a wolf-like skull. This makes a lot more sense now that he has the ability to bring animals back to life. It’s a good thing adventurers had a cause to go down there and murder this man; else, these amalgamations would be creating all kinds of problems for the inhabitants of the city above.
Visiting the Pandemonium Fortress, Heaven’s last bastion
Fun fact: this game taught me the term “pandemonium.” And since teaching the term was part of the eighth-grade curriculum at the time, I absolutely nailed it when it came up in my vocabulary. Aside from my school days, this stronghold was one of my favorite locations in the game, and Blizzard and Vicarious Visions did an amazing job with the visual.
For what it was at the time, the original Aesthetic was great. Outside the walls, the immaculate marble, clean architecture, and soothing fire pit contrasted with the chaotic, tragic, and deadly battlefield. However, the lighting and excellent use of orange and black made it far more believable for a castle on the outskirts of hell: a last refuge against hell’s vast powers. Instead of being a juxtaposition, it became a symbol of defiance against the legions, demonstrating that the forces of heaven are ready to battle on the demons’ territory while simultaneously repelling unending waves of demons.
At the Halls of Pain, I’m freaking out.
Many players pay a visit to Nilathak’s temple in Act 5. This monster, which is home to the infamous Pindleskin, is known to drop a variety of rare items and is a popular opponent for players to fight repeatedly. Apart from a great boss spawn, the setting has to be one of the most bizarre in the game. The Halls of Pain stand out to me because it includes a pinned-to-the-wall dead sorceress.
I was drawn down here by my own sick curiosity. With this location, the crew aggressively pushed the M rating. Some people were concerned about the amount of censoring this game would have, yet this section alone demonstrates the team’s commitment to making the experience as genuine as possible. The developers wanted us to remember we were playing Diablo II. There will be no rainbows in this place!
Taking in the views from the summit of Mount Arreat
As soon as the game was out, this was the first location I went. I simply had to check what the developers had come up with. Despite the fact that Diablo II: Lord of Destruction is an isometric RPG, this was always an amazing sight when it initially came out. It was also a visual feast to see it fully rebuilt with some additional effects.
According to my memory, the summit was the first time Nephilim were referenced in the game. While the ancients may have looked like filler back in the day, they were a portent of humanity’s real potential and the might of the future protagonists in Diablo III.
Taking a look at the (corrupted) worldstone
The consequences of the Worldstone’s destruction were left unresolved until the release of Diablo III in 2012. We now know that the Worldstone had two purposes: to conceal Sanctuary’s world from both Heaven and Hell, and to subdue the Nephilim, who wielded the power of both angels and devils. The power levels of subsequent character classes might never have been achieved if it hadn’t been destroyed.
Its reconstruction in this location was a sight to see. Removing the empty area and adding a rear wall gave the worldstone the appearance of being just the tip of a much bigger stone. A combination of the personal and its sheer enormity has a degree of significance behind it, given the weight it held in the narrative.
Visiting the level with the hidden cow
Just joking. There is no cow level in this game.
There are a lot of other locations I’d want to show you, but this one appears to be the gift that keeps on giving. Before I wrap up this post, I’d want to tell you about the character I created for this game. Making single-player characters, storing them on a floppy disk, and sharing them with my classmates was something I liked doing back in the day. She’s an ice orb sorceress with a few points in fireball to deal with cold-resistant creatures, and she’s equipped well enough to make it through Nightmare mode. I haven’t tried any of the respecs, so she can be tailored to your preferences.
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