Diablo 2 Resurrected Tips: What You Should Know Before Playing


Diablo 2: Resurrected brings back the classic action-RPG for modern platforms, and while it's gotten a visual overhaul and some other quality-of-life improvements, it's a largely faithful remake of a two-decade-old game. As such, you can expect it to generally be less friendly to players than Diablo 3--if that's your only exposure to the series thus far, prepare for Resurrected to tell you a whole lot less, kick your teeth in, and then make you walk--not run--away because you've run out of stamina.

Fortunately, this being largely faithful means there are plenty of existing resources to help guide you through the many complex elements of Diablo 2, be it the complexities of the Horadric Cube, Runewords, or character builds. Here, we're taking a look at some essential tips that will help ease you into the world of Diablo 2 based on our experience with the original game and Resurrected's beta--it should be useful whether you're a first-time player or someone who just hasn't picked up the game in years and forgot all about the joys of Scrolls of Identify, Baal runs, and those damn cows.

Table of Contents [hide]
  • Pick a good starter class
  • Make a plan with your class and stick to it
  • Be mindful of your stamina
  • Death is serious business
  • Prioritize your targets
  • Buy a Tome of Town Portal and Tome of Identify early
  • Be smart about what you pick up
  • Prepare to grind
  • Hire a mercenary for help
  • Socketed items and Runewords are powerful
  • Use the Horadric Cube

Pick a good starter class

Your first decision upon starting is choosing a class, and unfortunately, the game does about as little as possible to explain what it's like to play as any of them. Aside from a brief description, you're left to make your choice largely based on the look of each class. While you can always roll additional new characters, there's no swapping classes once you make your choice, so any time you sink into a character will be for naught if you decide you'd actually rather play something else. (You can, thankfully, make use of the new shared loot box to move items between characters--no more starting a session, dropping everything you own in town, exiting, and then returning with another character to move items.)

Some classes are better-suited for newcomers than others; Sorceress is heavily dependent on spellcasting and mana, as you'd imagine, and is relatively frail, making it a more challenging character to play solo at the start (although her teleport ability is a real life-saver once you get it). On the other hand, Paladins can take more of a hit and can heal without potions, while Necromancers can summon an army of minions who will not only dish out damage, but more importantly, distract and absorb enemy attacks, helping to keep you alive.

From a pure entertainment perspective, this is an entirely subjective choice, though there's a reason Barbarian was the one returning character in Diablo 3 at launch--Blizzard thought there was real room for improvement with that one. The limited amount of information on the character creation screen doesn't allude to this, but there are numerous class builds and radically different ways of playing as any a given class.

Make a plan with your class and stick to it

That wide range of possibilities means each class can function quite differently depending on your choices. With the aforementioned Necromancer, you might focus entirely on summoning an army of minions, or you might opt for a build that invests points in poison/bone spells, letting you deal damage more directly. Assassins can focus on traps they summon or martial arts skills. Druids can be shapeshifters or rely on elemental attacks. Depending on the class, you can also center your entire build around a single skill, as with Zeal Paladins or Blessed Hammer Paladins, who are also known in the community as Hammerdins.

Spend your attribute points wisely, too

While you're free to mix and match skills as you wish, it's generally best to make a plan and invest accordingly. You have a limited number of skill points to allot, meaning you won't be able to acquire everything in the skill tree. And even if you do invest heavily in a particular skill, that may dictate what other skills you should choose due to skill synergies, which you can see listed when hovering over a skill. For instance, the basic Raise Skeleton skill for Necromancers gets a bonus from Skeleton Mastery and Summon Resist, making those important skills for a summoner to choose.

Resurrected features a respec system, so you aren't entirely locked into the choices you make, but there are limitations on it (you'll earn some respec opportunities for free as you play, while subsequent ones require gathering certain resources). As a result, don't plan on being able to freely experiment to the same degree that you can in Diablo 3.

Be mindful of your stamina

One gameplay mechanic that might catch you off-guard is stamina. Essentially, you can only sprint for a limited period of time before running out of energy and being forced to walk. You can toggle between running and walking on your own to preserve stamina and ensure you aren't left on empty if you suddenly need to put some distance between you and an enemy. Stamina potions can help in this situation, and some items (as well as the Vitality stat) will provide you with a boost as well, but it's something you should always keep an eye on along with your health and mana, particularly if you're playing solo. There's nothing worse than being unable to escape a fight because you were running around needlessly a moment prior and left without stamina when you most needed it.

Death is serious business

Along the lines of the stamina system, if you're someone who has only played Diablo 3, there are some habits you may need to break or changes you'll need to become accustomed to. There are the more immediate things you may notice, such as the lack of a combat roll (an addition to Diablo 3 when it was ported to consoles) that will shift how you approach fights. But the first time you die, you might be surprised to find that you'll respawn back in town--sans gear.

In order to recover your loot, you'll need to make your way back to your corpse and pick it up. Without any armor, you'll be extremely vulnerable, so keeping backup items in your stash for these cases is a smart move, though be aware that you'll need room in your inventory to pick up your previous items. If you're venturing into a tough fight, it's also wise to open a town portal before starting, which will save you the frustrating walk all the way back to where you died. Luckily, if you do die again before recovering your corpse, you'll just drop additional corpses; this isn't a case where you have only a single chance to get your gear back. You can also save yourself some potential trouble by storing gold in your stash, ensuring you won't need to recover your corpse to get it back.

The exception to all of this is Hardcore mode, where a single death spells the end--all of your progress is lost upon death.

Prioritize your targets

Players aren't the only ones who can be revived in Diablo 2. Particularly if you're playing with a controller, it can be easy to default to attacking whatever is closest to you. That might work much of the time, but you should be mindful of fights with enemies who can resurrect their allies. You'll encounter this in the game's first quest, when you explore the Den of Evil. There you'll find Fallen Shaman units who will bring foes you've slain back to life--and they'll keep doing this for as long as they're still standing. That means you should ensure you hunt down the Shaman first. This is also a lesson in paying attention to the enemy attributes displayed at the top of the screen; you'll see the Fallen Shaman is listed with "raises Fallen," and throughout the game you'll encounter other enemies that should be prioritized ahead of lesser foes.

Buy a Tome of Town Portal and Tome of Identify early

Diablo 2 Resurrected's inventory screen and shared stash space

Among the items available from the NPC Akara (your first quest-giver) are two tomes: one for Scrolls of Town Portal, and another for Scrolls of Identify. These scrolls are highly useful, as the former let you quickly visit town and then return to the action, while the latter reveal hidden attributes on items (which must be done before they can be equipped). You'll likely always want to have some of these scrolls on you, but they each take up one square in your inventory. These tomes take up just two squares each but can hold up to 20 of their respective scrolls. Managing your inventory is essential, and you'll be glad to save space with these tomes as scrolls you pick up are automatically inserted into them, provided they aren't already holding 20.

Once you enlist the help of Deckard Cain, the need for Scrolls of Identify will be dramatically reduced, as he'll be able to identify items en masse whenever you return to town. But you'll want access to town portals throughout the game.

Be smart about what you pick up

You'll come across a lot of loot as you play, and not all of it is necessarily worth picking up. While you can sell anything back in town, repeatedly returning can quickly become tedious and will cost you a small amount in the form of a Scroll of Town Portal. As such, your time is better spent only picking up more valuable items. Those that are specific to a class--wands, sacred globes, scepters, barbarian helmets, and so on--are a good bet, as are rings/amulets and items that provide a point to one of a class's skills. Focus on nabbing these instead of bolts or other low-value items that take up a lot of space to maximize your earnings and reduce the number of trips back to town you need to make.

Prepare to grind

Diablo 2 doesn't have an endgame like you'd expect from a modern game, and eventually you'll likely spend a lot of time on boss runs, where you repeatedly square off against a boss to earn better items. But even before reaching that point, you may find yourself underpowered, so you'll want to grind out XP (and hopefully earn some good items) by repeating certain sections of the game. Tristram, the Countess, Act 1's catacombs, Act 2's tombs, Act 3's council, and so on are fertile ground for earning XP more quickly than usual; be prepared to make your way through these numerous times.

Hire a mercenary for help

As noted above, the Necromancer's ability to summon allies is invaluable for keeping some of the heat off of you. Fortunately, everyone can enlist help even without diving into multiplayer. As you progress through the early Act 1 story, you'll gain the ability to hire your first mercenary from Kashya (one of the NPCs in the Act 1 town, the Rogue Encampment). There are various types of mercenaries you'll be able to hire as you progress through the game, beginning with the bow-wielding rogues of Act 1.

You can only have one mercenary at a time, so you'll want to make sure you choose one that complements your class. Pay attention to their skills when looking to hire one; a rogue with Cold Arrow (which slows enemies but deals less damage) might be less useful to you if you're a Sorceress who's already slowing down enemies or a Necromancer with summons who will divert enemies' attention.

Once you have a mercenary, make sure to equip them with gear to increase their effectiveness. Also of note is that ethereal items, which can't be repaired, are useful with mercenaries due to the fact that merc-equipped items don't lose durability.

Socketed items and Runewords are powerful

Even in the early going, you'll begin acquiring gems that can be placed into items with sockets. These can be extremely beneficial, and socketed weapons in particular can provide you with a major damage boost. Even if the inherent attributes of an item aren't great, bear in mind that a sufficient number of sockets can be transformative if you use them in the right way.

That's where Runewords come in. Like the various gems you'll find, runes can be placed into sockets for beneficial effects. But if specific runes are inserted into items in a particular order, you'll activate a Runeword, which activates extremely important effects that go beyond what the individual runes would normally provide. For instance, Enigma provides +1 to Teleport--a Sorceress-only skill that Enigma makes available to, say, Paladins, enabling something like the deadly Hammerdin build to reach its full potential.

You can find Runeword lists online from the original game, but a crucial thing to note is that they are only compatible with items that have gray text; for example, magical items, which are designated by their blue text, don't support Runewords. However, the stats of the item are still relevant for making the most of a Runeword, so don't be too quick to throw runes into the first item with sockets that you happen upon.

In the early game, farming Countess in Act 1 is a good way to acquire runes. This will help to build some of the lower-level Runewords, such as Stealth (Tal + Eth; provides a boost to movement speed, mana recovery, and other things) or Leaf (Tir + Ral; provides a variety of useful skills for Sorceress).

Use the Horadric Cube

In Act 2, you'll acquire the Horadric Cube. By placing specific items inside, the Cube can convert them into something else. There are tons of recipes, but it's important to know that even something as simple as chipped gems can be placed inside to upgrade them to the next level of rarity; three chipped rubies become one flawed ruby, while three of those become one ruby, and so on. Three runes of the same type can also be combined to obtain a different specific rune, or an equippable item can be upgraded to the next rarity level. One important recipe is a socketed item, a Hel rune, and a Scroll of Town Portal--this will remove (and destroy) anything from the item's sockets, freeing it up to be socketed differently.

Resurrected is releasing amid the ongoing Activision Blizzard discrimination lawsuit and SEC investigation, which you can read all about in our timeline of events.

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