Diablo II: Resurrected – Crafting the controller experience

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Diablo II: Resurrected – Crafting the controller experience

Pre-order to gain early access to the Beta, now live on PS4 and PS5.

After more than two decades, the legacy of the Dark Wanderer and the demonic burden he bears is making a resurgence in the realms of humanity. Blizzard Entertainment’s resurrection of the acclaimed action role-playing game that defined a genre is nearly here! For the first time, console players who pre-order Diablo II: Resurrected will be able to experience first-hand the remastered epic of Diablo II with Early Access to the Open Beta, now live on PS5 and PS4.

Diablo II’s legacy will continue on new platforms over 20 years after its original release on PC in 2000. New players and veterans will be able to experience this iconic chapter of the Eternal Conflict through the extraordinary capabilities of the PlayStation consoles and DualShock 4 controller on PS4 and DualSense wireless controller on PS5.

Bringing the classic keyboard-and-mouse gameplay to a controller was a unique challenge. To illustrate the Diablo II: Resurrected team’s approach to adapting the feel and controls to PlayStation controllers, we invited Design Director Robert Gallerani to share his insights.

When we set out designing the controller control scheme, we broke down the work into a handful of categories. Each of these were core considerations we wanted to be mindful of as we brought Diablo II: Resurrected to console players.

With a keyboard and mouse, the player acts as an “eye in the sky” telling their character what to do and where to go by clicking somewhere. Do you perform a ranged ability on a monster? Do you walk over to a chest and open it? Perhaps you open a door? With the mouse, the players’ primary input is a click that conveys aiming or a specific ability or action. The game then guides the character to the place where it can perform the action, finding a path for you.

On a controller, however, the player is more directly acting as their avatar. This starts to have serious ramifications at many levels—but to our players, it all just needs “to work.”

Diablo II: Resurrected – Crafting the controller experience

Watch the iconic intro cinematic, remastered in Diablo II: Resurrected

Tweaking the Movement

On a controller, movement is tied to the analog stick. This means that the player, and not the game, is directing the character where to go. To achieve this, we turned off the game’s pathfinding. However, now players can travel to places the game would never have guided you before. For example, a player can try and run into a wall or move against collision objects. This also makes it easier to evade oncoming attacks from adversaries.

In addition to considering where you go, you also need to determine how fast you go. Diablo II has a stamina system. This means that there are two modes of travel: walking and running. When your stamina depletes, you can no longer run. We needed to have this system work in parallel with players’ expectations that when you push the analog stick a little, you move a small amount, and when you push it all the way, you move at top speed. We tried having stick deflection alone drive the player’s speed, but this made it too hard to “just walk.” Walking gives your character better stats in the game, so it was important we made it easy for players to control this. We settled on a toggle in the end, because it preserved the conscious decision of choosing to walk instead of run. This was vital when it comes to picking up items, but more on that later.

Finding the Targets

The next big difference when not having a mouse is probably the most obvious. You have no cursor, your means to tell the game what to attack. However, with a thumb stick on the controller, we are always scanning the playfield with a large cone, and prioritizing targets at many levels—monsters, items, objects you can interact with, other players, your corpse, and so on—and the priorities are tuned per class. So, for example, a Necromancer will tend to prioritize corpses more than other classes do. We experimented with showing a player all the different targeting options, but it became information overload. We settled on just showing the player their primary target. So even though we don’t show a corpse being highlighted, we are selecting the closest one should the player trigger an ability that requires a corpse.

Looting with Ease

The only thing as important as killing monsters in Diablo II is looting them once they are dead. The way players loot with keyboard and mouse is typically to hold a key to see the items’ label, and then they would click on the name. To some players, holding a button on a controller can be uncomfortable, so we removed the need to hold down the item label button (although it is still present). When using the controller, item names are shown based on time and distance to the player. This means that if an item is near a player, it will always show. And when an item drops, its name will stay on screen for a short period of time.

The next challenge was to determine how a player picks the item up. With a controller, it just made sense to have the player walk over to the item. This proved quite tricky when a monster would explode into a loot pinata, but the player only wanted that one specific item. So, in the end, we added the ability for players to walk very slow and stop in between different items on the ground so that they could loot the specific item they wanted, making the looting experience on console far more accessible. 

Triggering the Abilities

Here we knew we had to meet Diablo III players’ expectations. In the original Diablo II, a player has two buttons: left and right mouse click. To gain access to any number of other abilities, players use hotkeys to quickly remap these two buttons. This is a very roundabout way to use abilities. With a controller, we changed this to not remap, but to have buttons directly trigger the abilities. We then display these abilities very similarly to Diablo III, in a “tray” on 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 provide the player with access to another six slots, effectively giving players 12 slots to quickly launch any abilities.

Balancing the Classic

A frequent challenge with the controller is that we have far fewer buttons on a controller than a keyboard, so we spend a lot of time weighing the trade-offs of button mappings and ensuring the most essential abilities are on the easiest-to-reach buttons. Based on the feedback from the Technical Alpha (from PC controller players), we feel we’ve taken controller support in a solid direction that we hope meets players’ expectations. We are still polishing edge cases, but we think we have struck the right balance between a modern feel and preserving the classic mechanics.

–Robert Gallerani, Design Director

As Robert noted, we got a lot of excellent feedback from PC players who used controllers throughout the Technical Alpha. That insight helped us mold, iterate on, and tune the controller controls in a fashion that feels comfortable for the player and emulates the authentic journey of playing Diablo II. We can’t wait to introduce opportunities for PlayStation players to dive into Diablo II: Resurrected.

In addition to getting Early Access to the Open Beta which begins on August 13 at 10am PT, players who pre-order Diablo II: Resurrected will get the Heritage of Arreat transmog set for Diablo III (shown above), while those who pre-order the Diablo Prime Evil Collection will loot a few additional in-game goodies, including the Hatred’s Grasp Wings cosmetic, Mephisto Pet.

Rally your friends. The upcoming Early Access* test will have multiplayer enabled, allowing up to eight players to play cooperatively in Act I: The Sightless Eye and Act II: The Secret of the Vizjerei. Players will be able to choose from five of Diablo II’s seven unique classes to experience—the Amazon, Barbarian, Druid, Paladin, and Sorceress; each with highly customizable builds and gear options for players to explore throughout the test.

Unable to participate in Early Access? No worries. On August 20 at 10:00 a.m. PDT, the Open Beta* weekend will kick-off. All the players across the PlayStation community will be able to freely download the Diablo II: Resurrected Open Beta and confront the minions of the Burning Hells (playable content is the same as the Early Access).

Diablo II: Resurrected – Crafting the controller experience

Check out the remastered Act 2 cinematic above.

Truly, there isn’t a better time to be a Diablo fan. Whether you’re new to this game or a longtime fan itching to relive this timeless classic, the gates of Hell are opened to you. We’re thrilled to share Diablo II: Resurrected with you and hope you’ll join us in the Early Access and Open Beta in the lead up to launch on September 23. We’d love to see your feedback and impressions of this gameplay experience before our launch.

*PlayStation Plus is not required during Early Access or the Open Beta, but will be required to access multiplayer features at launch on PlayStation systems.

Comments are closed.


    • IKR. Why can’t they see we don’t want their old crap. I hope they don’t make any money off of this cash grab.

  • Can you use keyboard and mouse? I am currently playing on a PC D2R beta but boy its so slow on my crappy system, wondering if you can use keyboard and mouse on PS5?

  • I remember when you were able to play a demo to decide whether you wanted to buy and now it’s buy to play the demo.

  • I wanted to get this game at retail but it seems to be digital only. Are there any plans to bring it to retail.

  • I hope it’s better than reforged

  • I want to play, but I just can’t support Activision/Blizzard at the moment until meaningful change has happened in the company. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be coming anytime in the near future.

    • Totally agree, until there is real change in Activision/Blizzard, I will not be purchasing any of their products. This happened on Bobby Kotick’s watch and he should resign. Sorry Sony but no sale here.

    • Same here. I feel that buying their products is passively condoning their actions.
      I’ve been a loyal customer since the first Warcraft game and truly hope that one day Blizzard will be a company worth supporting again.

    • Completely understand but this can hurt the people we want to hurt much more. The devs and artists bonus are tide to sales so boycotting can hurt their livelihood.

    • @casey I guess they better be making very good games if they don’t want to be “hurt”. This is business. You expect people to support a business that makes crap decisions?
      I can’t believe there are still people like this living today. This person seems to believe that you should just support and give everyone money for no reason at all. WOW.

  • This game should’ve had a physical release. I will wait til this game is half off before buying.

  • interesting

  • Don’t stop at 2…give us 1 too! dang.

  • Cool QoL changes for console, thanks

  • Blizzard …. really? HAHA

  • Prefer to decrease multiplayer character limit to 4 to avoid PSPlus requirement.

  • I always knew the second Vicarious Visions was absorbed into Blizzard, it would mean they are a developer that are pretty much dead to me now. But after what has come out about Blizzard the past 2 weeks………… it pains me even more about Vicarious and the horrible place they are now.

  • This game is unplayable due to lag on PS4 PRO.

    The always show item thing cannot be turned off or toggled. I only want to see item names when I hold a button.

    The enemy health bars are constantly on and cannot be turned off.

    Graphics are very good, but reducing/increasing resolution and quality does nothing for performance. Even forcing a PS4 PRO to 720p does nothing to help.

    I deleted the beta after playing for a couple hours and am canceling preorder until I know it’s fixed.

    Thanks for listening.

  • A whole article about controllers but not a single word on dualsense features?

  • Too bad there’s no planned physical release; otherwise, I’d buy it at launch.

  • Controller Feedback for D2R PS4 Closed Beta

    Generally things seem to work well. However, there are some things that I think should be changed/added.

    1. Full Button Mapping Customization – I think being able to fully customize all button mappings would be great. More customization better player experience for everyone.

    2. Lock in Place Command – As far as I can tell there is no lock in place command, an analogue to PC shift button. Kiting enemies and switching targets without unwanted toward movement is something that would be useful.

    3. Lock-On Trageting – Some way to let us lock on to enemies we want targeted down would be welcomed.

    4. Free-Fire Casting – I would like to be able to cast without the game choosing a target to shoot at.

    5. Belt Customization – Currently they enable consumable use directly from the player’s inventory. Currently this feature is limits the slots to specified inventory use roles: Slot 1 is health; Slot 2 is Mana, Slot 3 is rejuvs, Slot 4 is TP Scrolls. The ability to customize the consumables that are used from inventory for an empty belt slot would be appreciated.

    6. Cube as Extra Inventory – as far as I can tell, on console the cube cannot serve as extra inventory on consoles when an inventory is full because there’s no way hold an item in suspension directly from the ground.

    7. Loot Cycling – They currently have some kind of item selection based on position. I want to be able to have more precise selection. This has been successfully done in PoE so there’s no reason it can’t be done. If they want their simple positional system as default, fine but I would appreciate the OPTION to have more precise looting.

    Finally: Target Selection Casting – In a PlayStation Blog interview they said they settled on a specific corpse targeting system for the Necro.

    “We experimented with showing a player all the different targeting options, but it became information overload. We settled on just showing the player their primary target. So even though we don’t show a corpse being highlighted, we are selecting the closest one should the player trigger an ability that requires a corpse.”

    That’s fine as an OPTION, but they should allow additional casting options for players who care and don’t get “information overload” and rather get “paucity of information” with their easy targeting. A possible way to implement this is when binding a skill they allow different options for casting the skill (if they are worried about more “information overload” just make “Show advanced casting options” a check markable box that’s default unchecked for players those who care can customize it while leaving things simple for other players.

    I’m not saying that their current setup needs to be replaced just that the OPTION for it to be augmented be available for those who want it.

    • Well said. My biggest issues with the beta on console was the no lock in place command. Hated constantly walking towards enemies hoping it would fire where I wanted.

      The positional loot thing isnt great. Definitely needs something where you can cycle through everything your by. I couldnt get an item that Andy dropped because her portal opened right on top of it

      Maybe this button exists but need something where you can fill belt or tombs with one click.

      From what I can tell ‘L1’ serves no purpose during game play. Seems like an easy fix to make this the button to hold for all the above

    • cube extra inventory
      you can do

      1 = jes
      2= once you start atacking a enemi = need to continu untile enemi dead .
      4= jes

      5 = i have
      2 rows healt
      1 row rejuvs
      1 row of mag
      need to lock ith then only auto refuel them whith inventory ore pick up

      6 = option in menu
      witch quality you want to keep + see on the ground

  • Do you get bigger bags eventually? I have to warp back every 5 minutes.

    • No, your inventory stays the same size. You have to be selective in what you pick up. Don’t pick up everything. Rings, Amulets, Charms are worth good money at the start. Check items that can have +skills (staves, wands, scepters, Necromancer heads) if they don’t have +skills drop it, sell the ones that do.

  • Hey, I per-order this game , after playing beta test, i don’t like this game, can i get a refund??? this game is not console friendly at all.

  • top

    some changes needed on ps version =
    – potions you only can see diference when you see amount botel whith 0 golden rings = 30 ( now =100 ?) 0 rings – 1 ring -2ring -3 rings bigest version ?
    -also a option to give potions to folower instand ( ore stack them in folower potion stach ? )

    – option box menu to only licht loot above some level

  • to sony = i want ma ssd
    wd black 2 tb in mi ps5 ( if ssd geting a firmware update = how on ps5 ?)

    moast boaring summer ever on ps
    al good summer games =
    monster harvest
    kytaria fables

    them are comming out now whith
    tales of arise
    diablo 2
    far cry 6
    dying licht 2

    = how you kil games

    • Your ssd question is answered on the Internet as it is part of the next firmware update on ps5 that is in bata right now

    • to yasink

      i now

      only i takes to long
      to give use all the unlock = day 1 on ms
      ith wil come some months later = realy ?????

      ( sony need to launch fast = to many new big games are coming )

      sony give more options = jes

      ms easy plug in = top

      also i hope al of the ones matching the specs geting a ps5 symbol + a oficial update list of sony them selve = lots of peopel wil buy the rong ones = 100%

  • Fix your company first.

  • Played the betas. Please add KBM. It’s a must. Otherwise, no point to my favorite builds. Some work, I understand it’s a console. But after trying to use guided arrow on a zon and teleport with a sorc, the game feels broken, lagged, unresponsive, annoying loot grabs (constantly!!!), very very limited with a controller. Very. I hate the fact that I actually dragged out a keyboard and mouse. But I needed to after playing 5 days on beta and fully building a zon, sorc, paly. But controller made me complain out loud and want to quit. No KBM option? I’ll play. But I’ll most likely drop quick and forever when other titles release. Please.

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