More than two decades later, the Dark Wanderer’s legacy and the demonic burden he bears is being reborn in the realms of humanity. The renaissance of the acclaimed genre-defining RPG from Blizzard Entertainment is almost here! For the first time, console players who pre order Diablo II: Resurrected will be able to experience firsthand the updated epic Diablo II with early access to the open beta, now available on PS5 and PS4.
Diablo II’s legacy will continue on new platforms 20 years after its original PC release in 2000. New players and veterans alike will be able to dive into this iconic chapter of Eternal Conflict thanks to the exceptional capabilities of PlayStation consoles and the PS4 DualShock 4 controller. and a DualSense wireless controller on the PS5.
Bringing classic keyboard and mouse gameplay to a controller was a unique challenge. To illustrate the Diablo II: Resurrected team’s approach to adapting sensations and controls for PlayStation controllers, we invited Design Director Robert Gallerani to share his thoughts.
When we started developing the controller control scheme, we divided the work into several categories. Each of these factors was central to something we wanted to keep in mind when we introduced Diablo II: Resurrected to console players.
With the keyboard and mouse, the player acts like an “eye in the sky”, telling his character what to do and where to go by clicking somewhere. Do you use ranged abilities on monsters? Do you go to the chest and open it? Perhaps you will open the door? With the mouse, the player first enters a click that transmits aiming, a specific ability, or action. The game then directs the character to a location where he can perform the action, finding a way for you.
However, on the controller, the player acts as an avatar. This is starting to have serious repercussions on many levels, but for our players, it just has to work.
Watch the iconic Diablo II: Resurrected intro
On the controller, the movement is tied to an analog joystick. This means that the player, not the game, guides the character where to go. To do this, we disabled pathfinding in the game. However, players can now travel to places the game would never have guided you to before. For example, the player can try to crash into a wall or collide with collision objects. It also makes it easier to evade malicious attacks.
Besides considering where you are going, you also need to determine how fast you are going. Diablo II has a stamina system. This means that there are two modes of movement: walking and running. When your stamina is depleted, you can no longer run. We needed this system to work in parallel with the players’ expectations that when you press the analog stick a little, you move a little, and when you press it fully, you move at maximum speed. We tried to use only club deflection to increase player speed, but it made it too difficult to “just walk”. Walking gives your character the best stats in the game, so it was important that we make it easier for players to control this. In the end, we settled on the switch because it kept the conscious decision to walk rather than run. This was vital when it came to picking items, but more on that later.
The next big difference when you don’t have a mouse is probably the most obvious. You don’t have a cursor, you can tell the game what to attack. However, with the help of our thumb on the controller, we always scan the playing field with a large cone and prioritize targets at many levels – monsters, items, objects you can interact with, other players, your corpse, etc. – and the priorities are adjusted for each class. So, for example, a necromancer will pay more attention to corpses than other classes. We experimented with showing the player all the different aiming options, but this became information overload. We settled on just showing the player his main goal. Thus, even if we do not show a highlighted corpse, we choose the closest one if the player activates an ability that requires a corpse.
Looting with ease
The only thing as important as killing monsters in Diablo II is looting them after they’re dead. Players loot with the keyboard and mouse, usually holding a key to see the item’s shortcut and then clicking on the name. Some players may feel uncomfortable holding a button on a controller, so we’ve removed the need to hold down an item label button (although it’s still there). When using the controller, the names of the items are displayed depending on the time and distance to the player. This means that if an item is near the player, it will always be displayed. And when an item falls, its name will remain on the screen for a short period of time.
The next task was to determine how the player picks up the item. With the controller, it just made sense for the player to walk up to the item. This proved to be quite difficult when the monster exploded and turned into a piñata of loot, but the player only wanted that particular item. So, in the end, we added the ability for players to walk very slowly and stop between different objects on the ground so that they can loot the specific item they need, which made the looting process on the console much more accessible.
Here we knew we had to meet the expectations of Diablo III players. In the original Diablo II, the player has two buttons: the left and right mouse buttons. To access any number of other abilities, players use hotkeys to quickly reassign these two buttons. This is a very roundabout way of using abilities. In the controller, we changed this so as not to reassign, but so that the buttons directly trigger abilities. We then display these abilities, much like Diablo III, in the tray at the bottom of the screen. However, given that players can have a significant number of abilities at any given time, we allow players to hold the left trigger to give the player access to the other six slots, effectively giving players 12 slots to quickly trigger any abilities.
The balance of the classics
A common problem with a controller is that we have far fewer buttons on the controller than on the keyboard, so we spend a lot of time weighing the button assignment tradeoffs and ensuring that the most important capabilities are on the simplest buttons. … Based on the feedback we received during the tech alpha (from players playing on PC controllers), we believe we’ve taken controller support in a solid direction that we hope is in line with what players expect. We’re still polishing the edge of the case, but we think we’ve found the right balance between a modern feel and retaining classic mechanics.
–Robert Gallerani, Design Director
As Robert pointed out, we’ve received a lot of great feedback from PC players who have used the controllers throughout our technical alpha testing. This insight has helped us shape, refine, and customize the controller controls so that the player feels comfortable and mimics the true way of playing Diablo II. We’re looking forward to giving PlayStation players the opportunity to immerse themselves in Diablo II: Resurrected.
In addition to early access to the Open Beta, starting August 13 at 10:00 AM PT, players who pre-order Diablo II: Resurrected will receive the Heritage of Arreat transmog set for Diablo III (shown above). pre-order Diablo Prime’s Evil Collection includes several additional in-game items, including the Grip of Hatred cosmetic and Mephisto’s Pet.
Bring your friends together. In the upcoming Early Access Test *, multiplayer will be enabled, allowing up to eight players to play together in Act I: The Sightless Eye and Act II: The Secret of the Wizards. Players will be able to choose from five of seven unique Diablo II classes to experience: Amazon, Barbarian, Druid, Paladin, and Witch; each with custom builds and gear options that players can explore throughout the test.
Can’t participate in Early Access? No problem. On the Aug 20, 10:00 a.m. PDT.Open Beta Weekend * begins. All players in the PlayStation community will be able to download Diablo II: Resurrected Open Beta for free and battle the Burning Hells minions (game content is the same as in Early Access).
Watch the updated Act 2 video above.
In truth, now is the best time to become a Diablo fan. Whether you’re new to the game or a longtime fan eager to relive this timeless classic, the gates of hell are open to you. We’re thrilled to share Diablo II: Resurrected with you, and we hope you’ll join us in Early Access and Open Beta ahead of our September 23rd launch. We’d love to hear your feedback and impressions of this gameplay. before our launch.
*PlayStation Plus is not required during Early Access or Open Beta, but will be required to access multiplayer features when launched on PlayStation systems.