When Warcraft 3: Reforged launched last year, it turned out to be more controversial than you'd expect from a remaster of a beloved game. Fans were upset about Blizzard making more conservative enhancements than it originally showed, but the real heart of the controversy came from how Blizzard merged Reforged's multiplayer with the original game—and in doing so removed features like clans, LAN, and ranked ladder that had existed in Warcraft 3 for nearly 20 years. Even players who didn't buy Reforged were mad.
Blizzard isn't repeating that mistake with Diablo 2: Resurrected, the remaster it announced today.
"It's a different team, and that was before my time [at Blizzard]," said Rod Fergusson, who joined Blizzard last year to oversee the Diablo series. I talked to Fergusson about Diablo 2: Resurrected ahead of its announcement at BlizzCon and asked if the reaction to Warcraft 3: Reforged influenced Blizzard's work on Diablo 2 over the last year. While Diablo 2: Resurrected is built on top of the original game's code, it'll exist as a completely separate entity.
"One of the things we wanted to make sure was that D2 original stayed D2 original," Fergusson said. "We were going to make sure that that game stayed there. For example, if you had a horrible code hacking mod that invalidated the security of the game but that's your favorite way to play, you can still go do that, because we're not going to support that kind of mod on D2R. Keeping the two games separate was a big part of that."
Diablo 2: Resurrected is meant to be a deeply faithful remaster, including the option to switch to the classic graphics, and a light touch when it comes to adding features or changing what's already there. Blizzard plans to kill exploits that facilitate things like bots and item duping, but leave most of the game alone so speedrunners and longtime players can still have their fun.
But if you do want to play with the kinds of hacks that are verboten on modern Battle.net, the original game isn't going anywhere.
"We've just been really focused on knowing what our goal was, which is making the most authentic D2 we can for Diablo players," Fergusson said. "Both the nostalgic players and the new players. So that's what we're really focused on."
- Read more about what's changing and what's staying the same in Diablo 2: Resurrected
- It turns out Diablo 2's source code and assets weren't so lost after all