It was 2000 and my brothers and I convinced my parents to buy us Diablo 2 for our family’s Mac desktop. One of us played the game while the other two hovered in the computer chair nervously waiting for our turn. I started out as a Barbarian, with two giant axes in hand as I traversed Tristram, killing every demon I came across. Blood and intestines poured out from these demons as they panted for their last breath. I was nine years old.
It’s 2021 and I have access to the beta for Diablo 2: Resurrection for my gaming PC. My brothers are interested in the game but not getting into the beta. At least for now, I will play alone. I chose the Druid this time and once again departed for Tristram to surround myself with the blood of deadly demons and heaps of loot. Now I’m 30 years old.
Going back to this game more than 20 years later is a wild experience for me. I see my childhood, preserved in amber. I replayed a platform game – and it was fine. Despite how brilliant it feels to play Diablo 2 again, I can’t shake the ghost behind it. The unstoppable reality of our present. Bathing in my nostalgia doesn’t change the fact that my childhood is gone and what Blizzard used to be is not what Blizzard is now.
2000: I’m running through the Den of Evil, looking for my last one to kill. My mother picked up the phone and called my aunt. Internet dial-up dictates that I can no longer play. I am disconnected. I log back in and see my character back at the Rogue Detention Center and I’m staring at my dead body on the ground.
2021: Back inside the Den of Evil, I find a group of Fallen Ones and their wizards. This is the last mob in the Den, which means my quest is almost done. The beta decided the problem and I was forced to restart my computer. I logged back in and found my character and his corpse in the Rogue Detention Center again.
Diablo 2: Resurrection is starting to access the open beta, where players will flock to the game to test out the multiplayer mode. Many people, myself included, think this is the proper way to play Diablo 2. Although there is a single player mode, the real fun comes from playing with a group of friends or complete strangers to destroy the forces of hell.
I was shocked by how preserved the online experience was in the beta. I assume Blizzard will try to polish the lobbies or integrate some sort of Search Group (LFG) search engine, which is the backbone of dungeons in the game. World of Warcraft For many years now. However, it is exactly how I remember it. Sure, maybe the engine is different under the hood, but the bodywork is the same. There are many games in the lobby that you can easily join and start the quest. If you’re lucky, you can skip a quest or two and jump right into the boss fight at the end of each level. It’s been almost 17 years since I actually killed the Countess in Act 1 and I’m happy to continue that streak.
I’m running through the Catacombs, basically naked. I was running corpses, but demons and those nasty bone rage surrounded my corpse. I got close enough to grab my corpse, get my gear back, and open a portal into town so my next death wouldn’t be so tiring. I died again and passed through the portal that I created in my death. My Sorceress teammates entered the front gate, stole all my gold, and quickly left our game.
It doesn’t matter what year this happens. This always happens.
There were many times during the beta playthrough that I felt like I was transported back to my childhood. The groans of the zombies, the sight of familiar spells flying across the screen, and the overwhelming frustration of my struggle to kill a Brute, it all made me feel like I was back in my family’s engine room. My family, surrounded by my brothers, played the game for the first time. But those moments were fleeting – very fleeting if I’m honest. I go back to reality to remind myself that I am playing a game that has almost no relationship with the company that is currently developing it. Even the original developers, Blizzard North, are no longer part of the company.
I can’t give up the nostalgic joy of playing this game again from current and upheaval lawsuits against Blizzard. For those unaware, the state of California has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard due to numerous complaints about sexual harassment, discrimination, and working conditions. This lawsuit alleges countless senior employees sexually harassed their employees. Many of these people and other senior members at Activision Blizzard have resigned.
I want to support the developers who worked on this game who spent hours on this remake to get back the feelings I had when I was still a kid. How do I support people – people who really love the industry and the game and people who have done nothing wrong – without supporting the system that has allowed this alleged abuse to happen?
Honestly, I don’t know, and I don’t think there’s a universal answer to that. Diablo 2: Resurrection feels like an echo to me now. A repeat of what I felt as a child, when game companies were just cool and could do no wrong. This echo resonates with me; that the Snowstorm is long gone. I don’t even know if that Snowstorm really exists.
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