Diablo II: Resurrected Designer Thinks Players Should Do What They Feel Is Right
Despite server instability, Diablo II: Resurrected has been a hit, although its development was hampered by so much allegations and controversy that even long-term fans were left unsure if they should support the company by buying Activison Blizzard's newest release - a fact that certainly wasn't lost on the designers. In an
article by Axios
, Principle Designer Rob Gallerani discusses the legal calamity, visual design changes within the game, and says that people should “do what they feel is right” when considering whether to buy Diablo II: Resurrected.
Despite headlining such an important project, Gallerani is relatively new to Blizzard Entertainment, having only come on in the last couple years. Unlike Warcraft III: Reforged, the Diablo remake is primarily being made by Vicarious Visions, an Activision subsidiary located in upstate New York which has worked on a variety of games - most notably Skylanders, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, and supporting Bungie in developing Destiny 2. After the
dismantling of Blizzard's Classic Games Division
, Vicarious Visions went from being an autonomous support studio to one fully
merged into Blizzard Entertainment
, in order to provide long-term support to existing Blizzard games and initiatives - starting with Diablo II: Resurrected.
Activision sub studio Vicarious Visions took the lead on Diablo 2 development, after being folded into Blizzard Entertainment.
While that happened long before the
lawsuit was announced
, it came well after the allegations which led to that point, and Vicarious Visions has not been implicated in the legal calamity. Still, Gallerani shared that “it was definitely very troubling to hear these types of things, and we really wanted to support our colleagues and our co-workers.” The allegations also caused the team to reflect on what they could do to improve; “We heard a lot of really positive things, but I don't think that we ever get a pass on that,” he says. “We always need to keep asking.”
The controversy also triggered a scrub through the original Diablo II content, looking for any problematic references, which we've already seen impacting other games. References to former
employees have been scrubbed from WoW
, an entire
zone was renamed
, and even seemingly innocuous
have been changed. Gallerani told Axios the Diablo check found nothing, although players have already spotted some subtle changes in the Resurrected art.
Changes seem to vary, as the
have been removed from Act II, while other mutilations are left
full on display
. Despite these small changes, there is still
of blood and gore in the remaster.
Though other changes are not so subtle. Fans immediately noticed the Amazon redesign, which garnered criticism due to the formerly beauty queen being hardened up, while her appearance in the subsequent character trailer seemingly softened the lines of her face to make her look a bit closer to the original version, she still looks much more battle hardened than the overly buxom beauty of the past - something that not all fans were happy with. Andariel was similarly criticized over the
addition of a loincloth
covering her butt, despite retaining
prominent nipple clamps
, indicating that censorship was clearly not the primary consideration. In an earlier
interview with PCGames
, Lead Artist Chris Amaral spoke about their intent to maintain a 70/30 split - keeping 70% of the classic visuals, with 30% leeway to elevate the art - which would seem to be the case with these targeted redesigns, as while some things have been covered and bodies have been removed, many more are still prominently on display.
The Amazon remodel was heavily criticized, although her somewhat softer
appearance in the trailer
was much better received.
In response to the criticisms both for and against overt sexuality within Blizzard games, Gallerani told Axios that those points of view weighed heavily on them, though the Amazon's revamp was more an effort to make all the characters look more like warriors battling demons from hell, rather than people who just rolled out of a nightclub.
As the design lead of Diablo II: Resurrected at Vicarious Visions, Gallerani is responsible for overseeing design decisions and ensuring they are adhering to their vision for the game, aligning with other teams such as engineering and art to keep everything cohesive and meeting with the community and press to clearly communicate the progress and intent of the game.
Getting to work on a classic game and bring it forward to a modern audience was a heavy responsibility and an honor. I'm learning a lot of history on this project and hope to bring my lessons forward to more great Blizzard games in the future. Our partners and new family at Blizzard were incredibly welcoming, and I can't wait for the next project with them.
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