Sources have claimed that Blizzard Entertainment is planning to remaster Diablo II, possibly under the name Diablo II Resurrected.
The claims come from French outlet ActuGaming, they claim to have learned “from sources close to the studio” (Translation: Google Translate) that among the several projects being worked on by Blizzard Entertainment, a remaster of Diablo II is one of them.
The alleged “Diablo 2 Resurrected” is supposedly planned to release in Q4 2020, though that may be delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The goal of the reboot was allegedly to act as an introduction to the series before Diablo IV launches.
Development will be “supported” by Vicarious Visions, who were behind remakes Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. No announcement is planned at this time, ActuGaming speculates it may come through Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, or BlizzCon 2020 in November.
Moving away from the Diablo II claims, the source also claimed that World of Warcraft‘s next expansion (Shadowlands) would be delayed to the end of 2020. In addition, two other extensions are planned over the next three years.
Three mobile games are also in development, but the source did not know if the heavily criticized Diablo Immortal would be one of them. Finally, the poor reception to Warcraft III: Reforged [1, 2] (Blizzard allegedly claims was due miscommunication that it was a remake, rather than a remaster) means they do not intend to make the same mistakes again.
“The last subject that we were able to tackle, Blizzard is aware of the failure of Warcraft III Reforged and considers having made a mistake in the communication around the title by having made it pass too much for a remake while it was just a remaster. An error that the studio does not intend to reproduce in the future.
Blizzard thus intends to solidify its strong licenses in the coming years. Next, we will of course have new content for the games already in place, but the only big releases for this fiscal year seem to be Diablo 2: Resurrected and WoW Shadowlands, Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 seemingly not yet ready for this period.”
Is it True?
As noted by PC Gamer, ActuGaming’s Editor in Chief Julien Blary was correct when his sources told him of Diablo IV, Word of Warcraft‘s Shadowlands expansion, and Overwatch 2 prior to their official announcements. However the tweet was made on November 1st, 2019. Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 were both leaked or rumored as early as late October 2019.
ActuGaming’s claims do have support however. Senior Analyst at Niko Partners Daniel Ahmad reported that Activision Blizzard’s earnings call confirmed (in his words) “the company is working on a number of remastered and reimagined titles that are set to be announced later this year.”
As Torchlight III is planning to launch in 2020, and Path of Exile 2 in 2021 (both action RPGs comparable to the Diablo series), Blizzard Entertainment could see either series steal away fans who would have been enamored with Diablo IV. They could not come at a worse time for them, as their reputation is debatably at an all-time low, and still recovering from October 2019.
Blizzard Entertainment had been denounced by many gamers over their suspension of pro-Hearthstone player Blitzchung for his support of the Hong Kong protests, firing the casters, and their overall handing of the entire debacle [1, 2, 3].
Whether it be free speech suppression, Diablo III lacking an offline mode, announcing a mobile Diablo game as the next major installment after that, Overwatch 2 being criticized as a paid update or mislabeled expansion to the original, and the aforementioned reception to Warcraft III: Reforged- Blizzard Entertainment need to get back in gamer’s good graces.
A remake or remaster of a classic title would make the most sense. Diablo II is most readily available on Blizzard’s own Battle.net for $9.99. Simply porting that onto Steam or GOG would seem like a no-brainer, with an advertising campaign to boost sales. Cheap, quick, low-risk; and utterly unappealing to the newer audience Blizzard Entertainment wants to attract.
Remaster and remake act as great marketing buzzwords no matter how accurately or inaccurately they are used. Not to mention the game’s age can make running it on modern systems a chore.
Emphasizing the gameplay is untouched or identical could help convince gamers the game would not be a repeat of Warcraft III: Reforged. Even so, it is hard to imagine the remake would keep the effect of 3D models compressed to 2D sprites of the original.
In fact, it is likely the game will need to be remade from the ground up- bringing challenges of attempting to make the game feel the same when Blizzard is under even greater scrutiny.
While a seemingly logical business decision, Blizzard Entertainment would have to treat development of this just as carefully as Diablo IV and their other major titles. Blizzard Entertainment cannot endure more bad PR with another of their beloved franchises. This remaster may even need more care than a remake or original title. The devil is in the details.
Image: Blizzard Entertainment