Diablo 2 Resurrected Closed Beta Impressions

Diablo 2 Resurrected Closed Beta

The Diablo 2 Resurrected closed beta has been an interesting experience. The alpha test was a relatively small test and it wasn’t multiplayer so there was less that could go wrong.

First and foremost I expected all kinds of issues with BattleNet and connectivity. While there were problems connecting at the start of the test, those were thankfully sorted out reasonably quickly. However, there were problems we didn’t have to contend with in the alpha.

Boing!

The most noticeable issue has been the rubberbanding, it’s been quite bad at times and it’s been a while since I’ve had to contend with it in a game. Thanks to decent internet connections it’s not really a problem in gaming these days so this will need sorting sharpish, hopefully by the time the open beta lands this weekend.

This test was the first one for the console versions and I have to say that most of the complaints about the beta appear to come from the console players. Oh, and new players who have never played Diablo 2. Reading through comments from new players complaining about the loot system in multiplayer has been amusing.  Xbox players had issues from the start with inviting players to games and that was fixed just prior to the beta ending. A fix is a fix, even it’s late in the day.

Having played through the alpha, which went pretty smoothly overall, the visual changes that have been made seem like a step in the right direction. There’s not much else they can do with the remaster if they want to keep it as close as possible to the original. Overall it still looks great and I enjoyed it just as much as I did in the alpha. However, there are bugs and issues that still need to be resolved.

Performance

The beta game performance didn’t feel quite as smooth as the alpha. We had one PC here practically grind to a halt. The game must have been pushing about 20 FPS max at one point and stayed that way. The only way to fix it was a reboot. On another PC of identical spec and hardware, the game had no such issues so it was hard to figure out what was going on there.

An optimisation update appeared just before the beta closes out so there wasn’t enough time to see if that would happen again.

We did have a few complete crashes during the closed beta test, about the same amount as we had seen in the alpha.

Multiplayer

Although Elly and I had both played the alpha single player we were keen to get in-game together and played through Act 1 in one session. We both picked classes we were less familiar with, Paladin and Sorceress, to make it interesting. While the BattleNet lobby system may not be fully functional at the moment it was as we expected. Getting into a game was quick and painless. Incendetly, what’s with showing a game’s password on screen? That’s going to cause all kinds of issues for streamers.

You can see our playthrough in this video.

TCP/IP

This is not exactly beta-related but important nevertheless. There is one point that does need to be raised, the removal of TCP/IP. This decision dropped really late in the day just prior to the closed beta starting and it’s not gone down well. How it will affect the modding scene remains to be seen but it’s not looking great. Larger popular mods such as Median XL are not going to be able to do anything with D2R for fear of legal action against private servers. As classic D2 is now 20 years old, Blizzard has not been concerned about private servers. That’s unlikely to be the case for D2R as they’ll seek to protect sales of the new version.

What is really frustrating about this is that mods have really helped keep Diablo 2 alive, without them many Diablo players would have moved on from the franchise. It must feel like a kick in the teeth knowing you have helped Blizzard keep Diablo 2 players engaged for over a decade then suddenly be worrying about legal action from the very company you have tried to support. It’s understandable why Blizzard will protect D2R and the Diablo IP but it will still hurt.

Even the single-player community feel impacted by this decision to remove TCP/IP. I’ll admit that I would rather be playing over the LAN here at home than on Battle.Net. There’s something more reassuring about having local characters in a game like Diablo 2.

Open beta

The open beta is just three days away and I’ll admit I’m apprehensive about how well it will go. Blizzard will be pushing hard for players to join to hit those servers hard because there’s obviously still work to be done. I have a horrible feeling that the first few hours could be messy. I certainly hope they’ll be cracking on with more optimisations. Bug fixes on the other hand, especially bugs and annoyances carried over from the original, could be tricky to get fixed in time for release,

Roll on this weekend! Open beta beckons.



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Grey_Man

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I liked playing the closed beta last week, even though I didn't have enough time to fully get into it. A trip in memory lane and seeing the muscle memory still exists after not playing Diablo 2 since a long time (switched to other games, including Diablo 3).

As I live in Europe the apparent crash of the European servers was a thing. Luckily the American servers still worked and I knew, from the Diablo 3 launch date issues that that might make the game accessible, though a bit slower.

Most important issues I ran into were performance related:
- rubberbanding (especially when I was back on the European servers)
- screen updates not always as smooth as you would expect from the hardware I use

But also some strange things:
- keybindings are character-specific... Meaning you have to alter the controls every time you create a new character. With the limited bindings in the defaults, that is an issue... But why would they be character specific anyway?
- the help screen is not entirely correct if you altered settings like the 'show item labels'.

And lastly the latest issue:
- cursor is nowhere to be found to click on OK button or close Diablo when battle.net is unavailable (the current situation).

I reported all to Blizzard using the report bug button (apart from the last one, as the button is currently unavailable).

As a side note:
The removal of the TCP/IP option is irritating. Not only for the modded servers, but the fact you don't get constant messages about chat-channels like 'Trade' makes playing the game a lot better. I played the original Diablo 2 from the moment it released, but apart from some short sessions all were off-line, alone or with my wife. We'll see what the consequences of this action will be for the game, but the fact it is communicated AFTER a lot of pre-perchases have been made is not a good thing (tm).

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