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Diablo 2: Resurrected's hotkeys are still a goddamn mess

Turns out an old game still feels old sometimes

Terrible news continues to pour out of Blizzard like pus from of a festering wound around a splinter you forgot about and left for way too long. You should really get that looked at. Still, they must be drawing some comfort from the fact that Diablo II: Resurrected is out today, one of Blizz's most beloved games of all time.

Naturally, a lot of people will be excited for the remastered version. But if my tone is more immediately aggro than the last time I wrote about Diablerrected, that's because I was previously playing the beta through the rose-tinted haze of this game being very important to me and a big part of my childhood, and bonding with my older brother, and so on. This time, I have been playing the final version for several hours, and am cross.

Cover image for YouTube videoDiablo II: Resurrected | Cinematic Trailer

First of all, the always-online thing where you have to have separate characters for your online games and other ones for your offline games is very annoying, because if you start playing online (the default) and then it can't reach its bastard servers the next time you boot it up, you have to either start a new character from the beginning or just wait until the servers work again. This didn't happen to me loads, but I had to lie down and eat a plain cream cracker every time it did. It is the year of our Lord 2021. Video games should not be behaving like motorway service stations, where I am forced to make decisions I don't want to because there's nowhere else to do a wee in a 30 mile radius and they know they've got me over a barrel.

I have also been reminded that, by today's standards, there are a few bits of Diablo II that are just plain irritating, chiefly the hotkey system for swapping abilities. I've been maining as a trappy assassin, which means I have quite a few abilites (you know, your firebomb, your electric caltrop, that kind of thing). But Diablo II doesn't have a fun lil' bar of tiny icons that you can either click or smash the hotkey for. It has a kind of pop-up menu of all your skills that you manually assign hotkeys too, and I hate it, I hate it, I forgot how much I hate it.

This is a useless keybinding on a level 0 Barbarian, which I took just to illustrate this post because the servers are down before launch and thus I cannot play as my assassin.

It's just so awkward, and places too much burden on me, an idiot, to remember what abilities I decided to hotkey how. Why not just let me look at the little colours to jog my memory, like WOW and other games like that have elected to do in the intervening years, huh? And World Of Warcraft didn't even come out that many years after Diablo II! Diablo II is the perfect hangover game, where you stare at the screen and click on things to make them fall over. This is an unacceptable need for me to engage my brain. You can roll through your abilities with a mousewheel, if you want, but this tends to make me panic, especially because you have to keep clicking with your index finger at the same time. It's like patting your head and rubbing your tummy. But for your hand.

I think this debacle is another reason I was so bad at playing the assassin as a kid, on top of just being a kid who was bad at games. I got much further as the barbarian, who is a big tank that can hit things good even if you've specced him really poorly. When I got older, I played Diablo II with pretty simple builds and it's no wonder. In fairness, though, this isn't the fault of the team on Resurrected - this is just an old game feeling its age when you replay it. Who knew. Although learning that Diablo II might not be as good today as I always believed it would be is a bit of a shake to the old core.

In other respects, I can report that Diablo II is still Diablo II, and Resurrected looks nice and has cool remade cutscenes. Further bulletins as events warrant (or after the weekend, when I've had more time to play).

California's Department Of Fair Employment And Housing are currently suing parent company Activision Blizzard for discrimination, harrassment, and retaliation, alleging that women are paid less and treated poorly in "a pervasive 'frat boy' workplace culture". Over 2600 current and former Actiblizz employees signed an open letter condeming the company's initial response and many took part in a walkout. Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack left the company after that, as did a senior Blizzard HR man, and a number of others have reportedly been let go. The state agency have since claimed that the company have "suppressed evidence and interfered with a government investigation."

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Alice Bell avatar

Alice Bell

Deputy Editor

Small person powered by tea and books; RPS's dep ed since 2018. Send her etymological facts and cool horror or puzzle games.