Welcome to Tristram, traveler. Whether you’ve been there before or it’s your first time, Diablo II: Resurrected isn’t going to give you a warm welcome, unless you consider the embrace of a burning demon warm, that is. This remake of the classic action RPG that took over the world of PC gaming over two decades ago has returned and is just as brutal and devilish as ever. The new coat of paint brings a fresh breath of life to this dying world, but the core of the game remains as it was all those years ago. Some mechanics and design decisions have aged better than others, but there’s no denying this is a terrific way to reintroduce the Diablo style of game to a new generation.
Starting out a new action RPG is already hard enough, let alone one designed 20 years ago. Newer takes on the genre, and even the sequel Diablo 3, have refined a lot of the rough corners this influential game had. If the name wasn’t a big enough clue, Diablo II: Resurrected is a tough-as-nails game. If you step foot in the wrong area unprepared, the hoards of monsters, demons, and other nightmares won’t hesitate to rip your character apart. To make your opening hours go a bit smoother, check out this beginner’s guide to Diablo II: Resurrected.
Before you even get a glimpse at the world, Diablo II: Resurrected will present you with the most important decision in the game: What class will you pick? Each hero class comes with a brief description to tell you their general style, but there’s a lot more not told that you should consider before committing to any of the seven options presented to you. No class is bad, so don’t think you can pick wrong here, but each does cater to a different style of player. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know about each class to make the best choice.
The Amazon class is a balanced class that uses spears for close-quarters combat but can fall back and use bows or crossbows, or even hurl javelins from range. Her main benefit above other classes is her movement speed. The Amazon can run circles around foes, which makes her perfect for kiting mobs of enemies around an area. This also makes her AOE abilities much more effective if you can corral a group and unleash a devastating hit on all of them at once.
The Amazon’s three skill branches are Javelin and Spear, Passive and Magic, and Bow and Crossbow. Javelin and Spear focuses on dishing out raw damage with said weapons but also pairs with poison and lightning elemental damage. Passive and Magic will make your Amazon much more of a tank, buff your damage, and give you the ability to summon a Valkyrie to fight alongside you. Bow and Crossbow will make you a ranged monster, leading to fire and ice effects and an insane rate of fire.
Originally not part of the base game, but included in an expansion pack, we can now pick the Assassin right off the bat in Diablo II: Resurrected. This is a tricky class, but in the right hands can pull off some awesome feats. They’re naturally quick and utilize many indirect forms of attacking, like laying traps and spells. They’re one of the squishiest classes on the list but also have an incredibly useful skill to open locked chests without needing a key.
The Assassin skill trees are Martial Arts, Shadow Discipline, and Traps. Martial Arts will help the Assassin’s melee options deal decent damage and add in some elemental effects. You still won’t want to be tanking hits going down this route, and instead will use one high-damaging attack to instantly kill an enemy. Shadow Discipline is your buff branch. Here, you can give yourself better speed and things of that nature, but also summon some help to draw aggro off yourself. Traps are just what you expect. Set down different traps, such as sentries, to automatically deal damage to enemies that get too close.
Okay, so some classes are more complex than others. The Barbarian is probably exactly what you think he is. If you want to rush in, let the demons surround you, and bash them into dust while shrugging off their hits, the Barbarian is your pick. He can dual-wield any weapons you hand him, hits hard, and comes with plenty of buffs for himself and your party to stay alive and kicking.
Skill-wise, the Barbarian can go down the Warcries, Combat Masteries, and Combat Skills branches. Warcries are the Barbarian’s buffs, but there are also some that help him draw and disperse aggro from himself. Later on, you will get buffs for life, mana, and stamina for yourself and your party, plus the useful Find Item skill. Combat Masteries just makes you that much stronger with whatever weapon you put points into. Unlike other classes, you can build your Barbarian to be lethal with any weapon in the game, if you invest in it. Combat Skills are where you can get the flashy moves that hit hard, such as Bash and Double Swing, which are two great early-game skills to wipe out low-level enemies and bosses.
A Druid may not immediately come to mind when you think of who you’d want to play as when facing off against the embodiment of evil and their forces, but the Druid’s magic is nothing to sneeze at. Another class that’s not part of the base game, he is something of a mixed class as well, but in a unique way. He has summoning skills, but also strong melee options if you want, or need, to get in close. Because they can do so much, you’ll want to focus on one or two aspects to be effective by the late game.
The Druid’s skill trees are broken down into Elemental, Shape Shifting, and Summoning. Starting with Elemental, this branch gives you, well, elemental skills that are great for exploiting enemy weakness. These are particularly useful when you get deeper into the game and encounter more enemy types that are immune to specific elements. Shape Shifting lets you transform yourself into either a bear or a wolf, and then learn new skills for that specific transformation. This is the path you’ll want if you want to build into a melee build, with the bear form being more of a tank and the wolf DPS. Summoning is a popular branch for Druids since there are summoning options to support just about any build.
The Necromancer is a tricky class, especially for beginners. This class is very squishy and is not built to tank hits. However, while it can’t take much abuse, played right, the Necromancer can dish out some of the highest damage of any class. This class turns the tides of how Diablo II: Resurrected normally plays, with you getting swarmed by enemies, and has you creating your own small army of soldiers to do the fighting for you. But, you will need to create some dead bodies before you can rise them to fight for you, so his real potential needs time to snowball before it becomes unstoppable.
Our three skill branches are Summoning, Poison and Bone, and Curses. Summoning is the Necromancer’s bread and butter. These skills allow you to form armies of skeleton warriors, mages, and various types of golems. You can also bring back fallen enemies, as mentioned before. This branch is so strong that you could make a great build only by putting points here. Poison and Bone give you some really strong attack spells, such as Corpse Explosion, which detonates any dead bodies on the field, or Bone Spear for direct, piercing damage. Skills in the Curses branch are great supplements for your build. Here, you can learn powerful debuffs that weaken enemies, make them blind, slow them, and plenty of other afflictions.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the Necromancer, at least thematically, is the holy Paladin class. These men of faith use their skills to provide buffs to themselves and your party with passive auras. They lean more on the tanky side of things with high defense but can be outfitted to smite down foes with strong high DPS as well. The Paladin was considered one of, if not the strongest class in the original, and that remains true for the remake. You might feel a bit underpowered in the early game, but this class scales extraordinarily well.
The skill tree breakdown for the Paladin is Defensive Auras, Offensive Auras, and Combat Skills. Defensive Auras are, well, exactly that. They are useful from beginning to endgame since the new abilities scale really well. Early auras are basic, but later on, you can regain health and magic or even buff speed. Offensive Auras, again, are mostly self-explanatory, though they are primarily active skills rather than passive. They can obviously boost you and your team’s damage but also add in elemental damage to exploit weaknesses. Combat Skills are where your fun abilities will be found. There are AOE attacks, single-target attacks, and all that good stuff. Just don’t spread yourself too thin here to make sure your damage output doesn’t lag.
Last but not least is the Sorceress. This spell caster is one of the most popular classes from the original game, and we expect the same in Diablo II: Resurrected. She’s fast and fragile but can unleash overwhelmingly powerful elemental spells. She’s able to use just about every elemental spell type in the game, plus has a teleport ability to get you out of danger if you find yourself cornered. If you’re able to keep your distance or are with a companion who can tank, the Sorceress is a fantastic glass cannon-style class.
We’ll be looking into the Cold, Lightning, and Fire branches of the Sorceress here. Cold will grant you spells that carry with them freezing effects, plus spells that make cold spells more effective on targets, and even some defense buffs for yourself to help stay alive. Lighting is the killer here and what you will rely on most heavily if you go into the endgame content. Chain Lightning alone is worth adding to any build just for how beautifully it melts entire gangs of enemies. Either way, you should at least invest in this branch for the Teleport spell. Fire is our last branch, and early on, looks like it would be your most powerful option. That, unfortunately, doesn’t last, as resistances in later stages will drastically reduce your fire spells’ effectiveness. But there’s still good stuff in here, such as a spell that buffs a teammate’s weapon with fire damage or one that increases your magic regen.
Let’s be honest, if you’re not fighting something in Diablo II: Resurrected, you’re probably wishing you were. As an RPG, there’s a lot of management you will need to do outside of combat between missions. This time used to be a drag in the original, but thankfully, this remake has added some much-appreciated shortcuts that can cut down your time in menus and shops.
Starting with shops, here are a few quick tips to speed up your transactions. First, to sell an item with a single click, just hold Control and then left-click on the item in your inventory to sell it right away. Next, when buying items, rather than repeatedly buying individual items like potions that you know you want a bunch of, just hold Shift and right-click the item to buy a stack of 20 all at once. This is great for things like potions and scrolls.
While you’re managing your items, just hold Shift and left-click on whatever you want to send it straight to your belt.
Finally, make looting way easier by hitting your Alt key after every fight. Instead of having to pixel hunt between the corpses and new environments for gold and items so you don’t miss any, this will highlight every item still on the ground so you can spot them right away. It also has the added benefit of actually telling you what an item is before you pick it up, so you can just leave any useless junk on the ground instead of picking it up only to have to dump it later.
Scrolls and potions should have dedicated space reserved for them in your inventory basically at all times. Potions probably don’t need any justification. They will heal you and restore your magic, which you will obviously want. Scrolls, though, have much more specific and important uses. The Town Portal scroll in particular is going to be one you use most often in Diablo II: Resurrected. But having a ton of scrolls will easily fill up your inventory before you even set off on your mission, so consolidate them with Tomes. One Tome can hold 20 scrolls, vastly cutting down on inventory clutter. Get at least one for Town Portal scrolls, and ideally a second for Identify scrolls.
One mechanic that is very easy to miss out on or just forget about is the option to hire a mercenary to fight alongside you. Each act of the game has different mercenaries you can pay to join you on your missions. They’re by no means as strong or useful as another human player, but they do a fine job of at least drawing aggro if you’re playing by yourself. Now, these mercs are going to die, there’s no getting around it, but you can at least equip some potions and spare gear on them to make them last a little longer. If you’re, say, a Sorceress class, then having something to tank for you is way better than nothing.
You can start hiring mercenaries after beating the Blood Raven quest by talking to Kashya. Once hired, they’ll follow you until they inevitably bite the dust.
Leveling up is one of the most exciting things about RPGs like Diablo II: Resurrected, but don’t let that adrenaline surge you get when you see the number go up lure you into spending your points without thinking first. Even if you haven’t played the original, you know how leveling up works here. Kill enemies, complete quests, earn XP, and level up. Each time you level up, you will get five Attribute points and one Skill Point to spend. Your Attribute Points will go into increasing your stats, which we’ll go over below, and your Skill Point will let you unlock new class-specific skills.
Skill Points will go into one of the three branches of your class’s skill tree we covered earlier. Each branch has a total of 10 skills you can unlock inside, meaning there’s a grand total of 30 skills per character class. However, this isn’t the kind of RPG where you will eventually get and use everything. Instead, you will want to invest points into the skills you’re going to rely on to make them stronger until they’re at max level.
Now, you can stock your Skill Points to spend them later, but there’s really no reason you should. The logic is sound on paper since there are skills that can’t be unlocked until you reach a certain level, but Diablo II: Resurrected accounts for this. Skill Points you unlock can only be used on skills that you could get when you are at that specific level. For example, if you’re eyeing a sweet skill that requires you to be level 10, and you have a point you’ve been holding since level 5, you won’t be able to use it on that skill.
Here’s the rub with Skill Points and Attribute Points. Once they’re set, you basically get one do-over outside of restarting the game. You will get your one option to refund any points you’ve spent after beating the Den of Evil quest during act 1 and speaking to Akara. Once you use this chance, the only other possible way to redo your character without starting fresh is to beat the game on Hell difficulty. If your build is bad enough that you want to respec it, odds are you won’t be able to overcome that challenge anyway.
Now that we’ve exhausted talking about skills, let’s go over what your attributes are. These four stats will not only impact your stats to some extent but are more important for meeting certain gear requirements. Here’s how they break down:
Strength: This is the most important stat for melee and tank builds. Most weapons and armor will come with a strength requirement you need to meet to equip them.
Dexterity: This is the equivalent to strength, but for a wholly different set of gear. Things like shields and ranged weapons benefit from higher dex. You’ll need it if you want to excel with weapons like bows, daggers, spears, and things of that nature.
Vitality: Every class should allocate at least some points to vitality, raising your HP and stamina. Even if you’re a Sorceress who never intends on getting touched, upping your vitality will give you enough stamina to keep yourself away from danger. The extra HP you get at the same time is just a bonus in that case, but alone is going to be required as you get further and further into the game.
Energy: This stat is the least versatile. All energy really does is give you more mana, which might sound important, but there are just so many other ways to boost your mana. You can equip gear or just drink mana potions to refill your mana without having to dump precious points into the stat. If you do put points into energy, don’t go overboard.
The final tip is quick and easy. Don’t let all that old loot burn a hole in your pocket. If you have, say, a great weapon you no longer need in act 1, don’t just sell it straight away. Dedicate some space to keeping the most valuable items you find and hold them until you cross over into the next act of the game. Prices those items will sell for can double if you just hold out until the next chapter. Also, remember to make sure any item you’re selling is fully repaired. That will also drive prices way up in your favor.