I've been thinking about this lately. It's said than any D2 remaster/remake would need to be made on a new engine since the old one would be very hard to get up to date and it's basically ancient tech by now. Blizz has probably been developing a new engine for D4 for the past few years and, also for the past few years, they've known there's a market for their old games.
It seems like a smart decision to just develop the D4 engine with the flexibility in mind to run the D2 mechanics instead of making D2:R a totally separate project. Given that a lot of things indicate D4 will be drawing significantly from D2 it seems like it would make a lot of sense.
a few observations in this scenario:
- People keep saying the Classics team is still to busy with WC3:R to do anything with D2, but in this case you can just assume that the Classics team doesn't have anything to do with D2:R at all because it's being done by the D4 team
- Lots of asset reuse between the two, which could mean D4 looks more like a modern D2 (which would probably make a lot of people happy), or that D2:R gets a lot of style changes to skip work on assets (which would probably make a lot of people mad), it's probably gonna be a bit of both.
- D2:R would get released before D4 since by now they're probably mostly done on the engine, and for D2:R the gameplay design is just re-implementation without new development and the asset work is just recreating/enhancing older ones. It would also serve as sort of a large scale (and paid) beta test for the engine and network infrastructure for D4.
- If they can do D2 inside D4, they can probably throw in D1 as well, D1 has a much smaller scope and it would be comparatively much easier to do, if the engine has the flexibility to do so.
- I imagine that even if this will basically be D4 under the hood, they won't really say that. More like "using the same technology as D4" and they're going to charge separately for D2:R. Let's say $60 for D4 and $30 for D2:R, even add $30 more for D1:R. Looks like a good way to profit by triple-dipping into that engine development. And honestly they might have the balls to charge even more than $30 since this would technically be a current gen game regarding graphics.
- It's obviously no longer going to be a remaster but more of a remake, it may be easy to make this "feel" like D2, but it would be painstaking to duplicate the gameplay exactly and going from 2D to 3D is obviously a big step on it's own. This won't be Diablo 2 in 1080p for sure.
- It might open the door to some (minor) continued development of D2:R since there will be a significant team working on this tech for at least a few more years.
Obviously, this is just speculation, but any remaster/remake of D2 would take some significant work anyway, might as well do it this way.
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