A Diablo 2 remaster has been on the minds of players since the inception of StarCraft: Remastered. According to the original game’s project and design lead David Brevik, they lost many assets and the source code. That, of course, makes a remaster exceedingly challenging to achieve. In May 2020, French news outlet ActuGaming reported that a Diablo 2 Remaster would launch in Q4 of 2020. They also stated that a studio named Vicarious Visions was supporting Blizzard.
While Blizzard never released the game in Q4, leading us to believe it wasn’t happening, it is back on the table. GameIndustry.Biz reported that Vicarious Visions is “fully dedicated to existing Blizzard games and initiatives,” after an official merger. They have been helping Activision Blizzard for the last year, though.
Vicarious Visions is the studio behind games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. So, they have experience remastered beloved games. They are working on the Diablo 2 remaster, previously known as Diablo 2: Resurrected. Initially, Blizzard put Team 1 in charge of the remake. Team 1 has been dissolved into other areas, putting their Blizzard projects to rest.
Will this hold back Vicarious Visions?
Diablo 3’s cartoon-like aesthetics divided fans of the franchise. After Diablo 2 delivered an incredibly dark atmosphere, I understand the sentiment. I thoroughly enjoyed the third entry, and I’m not bothered by the art style, but I have fond memories of Diablo 2. I’m thrilled that a dedicated team like Vicarious Visions is working on the remaster. However, I’m concerned because they will no longer create games as a lead developer.
The team helped create excellent content like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 and supported Bungie on the PC version of Destiny 2. They were a leading developer of handheld games/ports, developed more than a few Xbox games, and helped create the “Guitar Grip” peripheral for Nintendo DS’s Guitar Hero: On Tour. Vicarious Visions is an innovative development team, and now they must focus on Blizzard titles only.
I’ve looked over their catalog of video game releases. They have adapted various TV and movie series into video games. While the team hasn’t created many original IPs, it’s still a shame to think Blizzard may creatively stunt them. At the same time, it’s no small honor to help Blizzard, and it’s likely the new focus will benefit gamers. Also, I believe the experience will ultimately strengthen the team.
The difficulty of a Diablo 2 Remaster
IGN’s Ryan McCaffery spoke to Echtra Games’ Max Schaefer and Matt Uelmen back in June 2020 about a potential remaster. Schaefer talked about the trouble a team would run into when trying to create the game. “First of all, I think it’s probably impossible to really capture it. It wasn’t even a true 3D game. Everything was rendered sprites, and so to really capture the exact feel of what happens when you click in a 3D environment is going to be challenging at best.”
Capturing the atmosphere may be difficult with the loss of the game’s source code and assets. The Blizzard North team was able to reconstruct a lot of it. Not enough to make a remaster easy, unfortunately. So, essentially, we are going to get a Remake/Remaster hybrid? I’m optimistic that Vicarious Visions will be able to pull this off and meet our expectations. How about you?