Excited for Diablo 2: Resurrected? Diablo Immortal? Diablo 4? You can thank Diablo 3.
Diablo 3 is one of the best games ever made.
No, I didn’t qualify that. I didn’t say one of the best ARPG or one of the best in the Diablo series, I said one of the best games ever made and I stick by that. The ways it deviated from the tone of its predecessors saved that series from irrelevance, and had it not existed, we would likely not be getting Diablo Immortal, or Diablo 4, and almost certainly not a Diablo 2: Resurrected right now. As good as Diablo 2 was, it created a situation where everyone was reacting to it, or making clones of it. Games like Torchlight and Path of Exile were wearing their Diablo 2 influences on their sleeves. By bucking some of that game’s trends, Diablo 3 carved out a space in the ARPG genre where deviation was not just possible, but it became desirable — games that came after Diablo 3 sometimes tried to reject it, and sometimes tried to emulate it, but they ended up breaking more new ground because they could finally see that it was possible.
Diablo 3 made mistakes, but it also grew over the years
Of course, there were missteps, and in many ways Diablo 3 will never be as beloved as Diablo 2 is. The Real Money Auction House ended up being a cloud over the game when it released, and it wasn’t until Reaper of Souls that the game’s loot acquisition felt good — the monster smashing, loot gathering loop was really established with the expansion, which made the game a delight to play, and the addition of Adventure Mode really improved the game by allowing players to simply constantly harvest monsters. The fact that it took Diablo 3 a while to reach its final form means that for some players, it failed to grab them and they moved on. And for some players, it was never going to be what they wanted — because what they wanted was Diablo 2.
But what Diablo 3 did was, for the first time since 2001, we had a new game in the franchise. It proved we could have a new game in the franchise, that there was life after D2.
It took the story in new directions and it set the stage for what’s coming next. The years after Diablo 2, with Blizzard North’s disbanding and the near-canonization of the game, had a lot of people doubting if Blizzard could or even should make a new Diablo. Moreover, the incredible sales of Diablo 3 and Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, both of which were among the fastest selling games ever released when they came out, proved the financial viability of the series. It also proved the longevity such a game could have — as we approach the mid way point of 2021, Diablo 3 is still being developed, still being played in large numbers. That’s an impressive feat for a game that’s nearly nine years old, with plenty of competition.
The Diablo franchise was almost killed by its own success
None of this takes away from the achievement of Diablo 2, which as I have said before is the Beatles of ARPGs, the game that came along and essentially defined the genre. But just as the Beatles eventually ended and we saw solo projects and bands from the members, Diablo 3 proved by coming after Diablo 2 that you could do that. You could make a game that wasn’t the Beatles, but was still very good.
And in a real way, that’s what makes it okay for Diablo 2 to come back in a remastered form now, in 2021, some two decades after its release. We’ve had enough time and a different Diablo game, so that while there are a great many players for whom D2 is and always will be the standard, there are just as many gamers out there who have never played it. Diablo 2 launched in 2000, and the expansion Lord of Destruction in 2001. There are people playing games now who were either too young to play it or who were born after it — for those gamers, Diablo 3 is the whole franchise.
And that means that Diablo 2: Resurrected benefits by getting to show these players how the game played back then. In a way, a lot of players will finally get to see what all the hype is about, and that wouldn’t be possible if Diablo 3 hadn’t made sure the franchise got to this point. With Diablo 4 in development, this year is probably the best time for a remastered Diablo 2 — Diablo 3 has reached a natural point of completion, and we’ll get a chance to go visit with the OG before the brand new one shows up to move the story forward.
Having both Diablo Immortal and Diablo 2: Resurrected during the lead up to Diablo 4 means that all the lore and story from the rise of the Dark Wanderer in Tristram to the defeat of Malthael in Pandaemonium will be possible, and I for one am incredibly excited to see it all.
And I firmly believe we should all be properly grateful to Diablo 3, for making this moment possible.
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