Why Diablo II: Resurrected is a big deal
It is not yet official — at least at the moment of this posting — whether Diablo II: Resurrected is being developed by Vicarious Visions, but the leak and rumors are certainly catching attention from fans.
Whatever Blizzard Entertainment is doing with Diablo II it cannot be classified as a Diablo II: Remastered game.
That there cannot exist a Diablo II: Remastered is interpreted from what the founders of Diablo revealed at the ExileCon 2019. The panel moderator asked about any nightmarish stories they could recall during development of Diablo.
Max Schaefer said: “Not just our code, but all of our assets. Irrevocably, fatally corrupted.”
Eric Schaefer added: “It’s all gone. We were supposed to have a backup but neglected it. We spent a day or two in sheer panic. We finally rebuilt a lot of it through what people had at their homes. I had a big chunk of it. Went home, pulled out the hard drive or whatever we did back then. Spent a few days reconstructing it, which ended up working fine, except that we lost all the history. We lost a lot of the assets, art assets. It would make it very difficult for Blizzard to do a Diablo 2 remaster because all the assets we used are pretty much gone. They’d have to make them from scratch.”
Thus, without a source code Blizzard Entertainment would have to rely on building a new engine from scratch or somehow reverse-engineering some core aspects of the source code.
Enter: Vicarious Visions.
In 2003, Vicarious Visions acquired Intrinsic Graphics (developers of the Alchemy engine). Vicarious Visions has improved the Alchemy engine over the past 17 years to remaster popular games like Crash Bandicoot Nsane Trilogy, Spider-man, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, Guitar Hero and others.
They are currently remastering Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 in 4K resolution and — not confirmed, but if you take a decent deep look at these screenshots, you can even notice Raytracing elements.
Searching for 2005-2006 results about the Intrinsic Alchemy engine shows a few bits of info:
- PC DLL Support
- New plug-in architecture to integrate custom objects into the tool chain
- Embedded viewer for both Max and Maya for immediate game content previewing (including bump maps, lights, textures, and auto tessilation)
- Memory allocation logging and debugging to help track memory leaks
- New support for Max 5.0, Maya 4.5
- Cross-console self-shadow shader and glossmap shader (for specular maps)
- Intrinsic acquired MathEngine: Karma in 2001 (read more)
DIABLO II: RESURRECTED
Something that might have escaped fans’ imagination about the allegued Actugaming leak is that Diablo II in the hands of Vicarious Visions can only mean that Diablo II: Resurrected is not only coming to PC/Mac… but there is the vivid potential for Diablo II to be ported to Xbox One, PS4, and maybe even the Nintendo Switch.
There is the precedent that Vicarious Visions developed the Crash Bandicoot remaster for those platforms.
The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 will ship on September 4, 2020 for PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
Skylanders: Superchargers was developed for various platforms:
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 Remastered was developed for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. This one in particular is of interest because that’s a action role-playing game with single-player and multi-player. This game in particular falls into Diablo II territory.
Activision acquired Vicarious Visions in 2005.
Activision acquired Blizzard Entertainment in 2008.
Both studios under the same umbrella. Sure. Diablo II lost its source code and art assets. Nothing Blizzard and Vicarious Visions can’t handle from scratch. Especially, if doing so might attract players from PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC/Mac to buy a copy.
Diablo II in full 4K should look stunningly beautiful. Under the care of the Classic Games team it might get further improvements, maybe new systems, and maybe even new content.
Of course, all of this if the leak was true.
In a market that has become saturated with RPG games and Diablo clones (recent ones: Path of Exile and Grim Dawn) on PC; and a few on mobile (i.e. Anima ARPG), it would make sense to bring Diablo II to multiple platforms: PC, Consoles, and mobile until Diablo 4 ships.
Would it be a good move to port Diablo II to mobile? I don’t know. It would compete with Diablo Immortal to a degree; and it would be too much work to port Diablo II to Android and iOS.
It would make sense if Diablo II came to Stadia (for example) where you can stream via their mobile app. But from what we saw Blizzard doing with NVIDIA NOW — that route seems pretty much locked down unless an agreement is reached.
Update (6/22 @ 10:55pm): Hours after I posted this article, IGN posted a interview with Max Schaefer and Matt Uelmen about Torchlight III. In this interview, they discuss the Diablo II: Remastered rumor.
MAX: “It was [built using a] custom engine… it was stuff that hadn’t been done before. I would assume that a remaster is going to be done using an established graphics engine with its own conventions and its own quirks, and so much of what made [Diablo II] special was the feel and the intangibles, so it’s a daunting task. The ideal remaster would be something that actually retains that feel and that atmosphere, that has a modern take on the graphics. Honestly, I hope they pull it off. I’m glad they’re doing it and I don’t have to.” — read more (update: full interview posted here).
There you have it folks. That matches with the Vicarious Visions rumor. They have the established Alchemy graphics engine.