Let’s face it: for an original fan of the game – yes I’m that old – who played it when it first launched, a remastering of the classic ARPG Diablo 2 is by far the most exciting piece of gaming news in 2021.
For those in my generation, D2 defined a genre and sparked off some of the trends you see in RPGs today – the randomness of loot, dungeon crawling, number crunching and min-maxing. I remember much of my young adulthood browsing through forums, armed with a spreadsheet to figure out the best way to hit the max frames per second. And, of course, the near freedom to create dozens of different builds to enjoy the game multiple times, over and again.
If you don’t know the jargon I just spewed, it is likely you aren’t a real D2 fan.
But the game was, of course, not perfect. As much as I loved the game, here are three changes I’m really hoping could still happen when the game comes out.
The graphics look brilliant. Check out the fireball. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
- Change the trading system
Trading in the old D2 revolved around lurking on the trading chat, scrolling through the messages and then hoping to catch the other guy with a whisper. You then had to create a game, invite the trader in and then have your avatar ‘touch each’ other to open up a trading screen.
The trading was so bloody annoying that some wiseguy created a website called D2jsp just to facilitate trading outside the game. This opened up all kinds of problems – abuse of the system, accidental monetising of what should be a pure gaming experience and dangers for younger gamers.
Most things should stay, but classic D2 trading, which is so central to progressing your character, should just go.
You don’t talk anymore. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
If you log onto D2’s Battlenet today, which is still running, about 90% of the public games are run by bots. These are programmes designed by players to repeatedly kill the bosses in a bid to get the best loot. These bots are loot machines. They built around specific builds (Hammerdin) to rush through the levels as quickly as possible. The bot creators then used the loot, such as high-end uniques and rare runes, to either trade for better loot, or to sell them for real money in external sites.
First this just killed the game’s economy. Second, it just killed the multiplayer experience altogether.
On occasion, Blizzard would wipe the servers and ban accounts using them But the bots would just keep on coming back. These wipes need to be stepped up to stop the bots from destroying the experience for the rest of us regular humans.
- Introduce full mod support
One of the best things about games like D2 are the fans. And even better are the fans who love the game so much, they make new versions of the game.
Classic D2 had hundreds of mods that really spiced up the game. Some had new bosses, others fixed annoying glitches in the original game, while a few featured complete remakes.
D2 modders should be supported. It’s this love of the game that has sustained the popularity of the game for over 20 years. Blizzard should allow for mods to be integrated into the main game, where you can select mods that you like or not. Maybe even allow players using the same mod to create private games so they can go in and explore the game the way they want to.
3. Don’t fix what ain’t broken
Last but not least we can only hope that Blizzard will not muck up Diablo 2 the way they did with the remastering of Warcraft 3: Reforged. It promised so much but ended being, as one critic mildly put it, “a wet fart”.
Bugs galore, connection problems and the inability to play the old Warcraft III were just some of the issues. Others included a poor effort at remaking the graphics with no real intent of lifting the game. Overall it felt as if Blizzard wanted to make a cheap remake to earn fast money.
Will Diablo 2 fall down the same rabbit hole?
Blizzard was once king of all things gaming – every game was eagerly anticipated. Today, the company’s reign is over but it still holds some of the best games ever created. Let’s hope the designers restore and improve Diablo 2 rather than tarnish the legacy of one of the most revered games in history.