“It’s like video game archaeology, learning how these things work,” said Vicarious Visions design director Robert Gallerani. “Because we’re using that old system to drive things forward, we keep everything the same. Since it’s not a remake, we don’t have to rebuild [anything]. It’s basically like we’re changing the oil, making sure it runs smoothly, but we’re not rebuilding everything. We are literally combing every single piece of code.” And, he noted with a smile, “when we do fix a bug we have to be very careful because everything is interconnected.”
What he means by that, Fergusson explained, is that the Diablo 2 Resurrected team is “embracing the quirks.” That means some of the now-antiquated (read: goofy by modern standards) animations are still there. But some quality-of-life additions have been made. Some are just baked in, such as new ambient noises like wind rustling the leaves in trees and a shared stash so that you no longer have to make a mule character. Others will be opt-in, such as auto-pickup for gold and loot drops for those that don’t want to have to click on every single piece of loot on the ground.
On PS5 and Xbox Series X, the team is “taking advantage of what’s there” on the new consoles, such as the aforementioned higher framerates and resolution as well as the faster loading times the SSD drives afford. Blizzard is looking at adding things like raytracing effects, but Fergusson was clear about not promising anything and suggested that if any specific next-gen upgrades are added, they’ll come along after the game’s release later in 2021.
Finally, with regard to multiplayer, couch co-op hasn’t been added – Fergusson called it “a bridge too far” for this faithful remaster effort – but all of Diablo 2’s original eight-player online functionality is still here. And you’ll now have the option to store characters on Battle.net for dedicated-server play. “It’s more secure” when it comes to bots, item duping, and other cheating-related issues that ran rampant in Diablo 2 back in the day, Gallerani said.
A technical alpha test is planned for the near future on PC only. Sign-ups will happen on the official Diablo website, and testers will be randomly chosen – not unlike how it went with the original Diablo 2 beta back in early 2000.