The Diablo 2: Resurrected beta opened its fiery gates to everyone last month, and by Alice B’s account it was quite the enjoyable nostalgia trip. Some players, however, may have been having a little too much fun – specifically though the use of ultrawide monitors, which Blizzard say will no longer receive full 21:9 aspect ratio support in the remaster.
Developers Blizzard Entertainment – who friendly reminder, are part of Activision Blizzard, who are currently being sued over an alleged culture of sexual harassment and discrimination and stand accused of destroying documents relating to the case – explained the 21:9 issue in a blog post. Apparently, as far back as April’s technical alpha test, it became apparent that ultrawide resolutions allowed players to see and interact with monsters (i.e. extinguish their lives) at ranges “beyond the original game’s intention.”
In other words, archer characters could spot the baddies, presumably just chilling, outside of their usual aggro range, upon which they could attack with impunity. So much, in fact, that the demons’ AI wouldn’t allow them to react at all, let alone see them dragged into the fight at a longer-than-usual distance. The resulting range advantage would apparently let players simply plink their distant quarries to death at their leisure.
In a purely singleplayer game this might qualify as a merely amusing oversight, though of course, Resurrected has a multiplayer component as well, and the advantage 21:9 players had over those with a more standard 16:9 monitor was evidently too much for Blizzard. “To protect the integrity of everyone’s experience and promote an equal playing field for all,” reads the post, “those with ultrawide monitors will be able to have their game screen purview extended to 19:9 (the maximum length of the in-game limitation zones) with a vignette on the sides of the game screen.”
“We recognize that players have spent a lot of money to assemble their 21:9 hardware setups and seeing black bars may be frustrating for their experience. So, we’ll continue to watch these discussions and explore possible solutions that don’t change how the game is played.”
19:9 is still technically an ultrawide aspect ratio but yes, expect some big black bookends if you end up playing Diablo 2: Resurrected on an ultrawide screen when it launches on September 23rd. Since this is a remaster rather than a remake, I’m wondering if there wasn’t a feasible technical alternative like extending aggro ranges, or if such changes were possible but not felt to be in keeping with the original game’s spirit and feel.
In any case, it’s a bit of a shame - some of the best gaming monitors are ultrawide - but as my dad always says, “better to compromise than to lose widescreen aspect ratio support entirely.”