Blizzard has handed Diablo 1’s keys to GOG, and you can buy it right now

blizzard has handed diablo 1s keys to gog and you can buy it right now 489129

We ask Blizzard and GOG what the heck is going on, test new “quality of life” updates.

Blizzard / Aurich

Blizzard, a renowned gaming company, made a bold declaration two years ago about their plans to unveil a collection of revamped classic games. True to their word, they have been diligently fulfilling this promise. In August 2017, they successfully unveiled StarCraft Remastered, a remarkable and authentic recreation. Presently, Blizzard is fervently toiling away on the development of World of WarCraft Classic and WarCraft III: Reforged.

The Diablo fans, a classic-minded Blizzard fanbase, have been left out in the cold, feeling neglected. They expressed their disappointment when Blizzard unveiled Diablo Immortal, a smartphone-only “freemium” game, instead of announcing any news about Diablo IV at BlizzCon 2018. The word “Diablo” has become quite sensitive recently.

Today’s jaw-dropping revelation comes as a delightful surprise: Blizzard has unexpectedly unveiled a digital sale for Diablo 1, a groundbreaking move for the iconic 1996 game, without any prior warning. Although not a complete remaster, this release boasts noteworthy enhancements for an improved gaming experience and marks Blizzard’s long-awaited return to DRM-free game launches.

Additionally, Blizzard has entrusted the game’s access to a completely distinct online platform: GOG.Com. This renowned marketplace, known for its absence of digital rights management (DRM), is managed by CD Projekt Group, the Polish company that also possesses the game development studio CD Projekt Red (famous for The Witcher series). In order to obtain and install Diablo 1 (available for $10), one must visit GOG instead of using the Blizzard Launcher app. Once the files, tailored for Windows PCs, are downloaded, no further online verifications or CD keys are necessary. This marks a significant milestone as it is the first time a Blizzard game is being sold digitally without these requirements.

This is just the beginning, and there’s more to come. GOG has exciting plans to unveil future releases, starting with the launch of Diablo, and later, re-releasing the original files of the first two WarCraft RTS games.

The news reached us around seven days ago, and we’re still engaging in a comical act of vigorously shaking our heads, followed by rubbing our eyes, gazing upwards, and uttering, “huuuuuh?” However, the truth remains that this unexpected announcement, coupled with an unexpected collaboration, is genuine–and we have thoroughly examined the outcomes.

Diablo, meet “DX”

As you embark on your journey into GOG’s rendition of Diablo 1, a mysterious obsidian box materializes before you. Just beneath it, an enticing menu beckons, offering you the opportunity to tinker with the enigmatic “DX video settings” described in detail further down. Prepare to be mesmerized as you delve into the captivating gallery, showcasing side-by-side snapshots that unveil the awe-inspiring visual transformations.

  • As you embark on your journey into GOG’s rendition of Diablo 1, a mysterious obsidian box materializes before you. Just beneath it, an enticing menu beckons, offering you the opportunity to tinker with the enigmatic “DX video settings” described in detail further down. Prepare to be mesmerized as you delve into the captivating gallery, showcasing side-by-side snapshots that unveil the awe-inspiring visual transformations.

  • (You’ll want to full-screen the gallery to perceive differences.) Integer scaling is enabled in this shot, to guarantee a proper pixel-placement ratio.

  • This image has MSAA and AFx16 enabled. It looks better in motion than in a still frame, but it’s still not a great look for Diablo. Thanks for the option, anyway.

  • Integer scaling enabled. I’d prefer to stay for a while and listen with more pixels.

  • MSAA/AF enabled.

  • Integer scaling enabled.

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  • MSAA/AF enabled.

  • GOG’s bundle is a treasure trove featuring dual editions of Diablo 1. The first edition, known as the “vanilla” version, operates on the game’s 1.09b codebase with a single but significant enhancement: a scaling fix that guarantees the game’s original 4:3 screen ratio, regardless of your display size. However, it does have a peculiar side effect of resizing background windows in Windows 10. On the other hand, attempting to play the game using a combination of the original CD-ROM and official patch files may result in a distorted screen unless you incorporate third-party mods.

    GOG has impressively crafted the second version of the game, powered by DirectX, with an array of enhancements exclusively developed in-house. These enhancements encompass diverse resolutions and refresh rates, a captivating “borderless window” alternative, an adjustable v-sync option, a dynamic gamma slider, and an impressive duo of visual filters: anisotropic filtering reaching up to 16x and anti-aliasing capable of reaching up to 8x MSAA.

    If you desire a smudged yet captivating Diablo 1 encounter, don’t hesitate to activate that MSAA. However, for the true aficionados, an alternative awaits in the menus: “integer scaling.” This option ensures that the game’s original pixels maintain a pristine 1:1 ratio, preserving their charmingly pixelated, 16-bit color-depth magnificence. While GOG’s “DX” rendition of Diablo 1 with anti-aliasing may offer a slightly smoother visual flow, it is important to remember that the game’s artistic style and animations were never intended to be obscured by pixel-smoothing substances. Hence, it is strongly advised to enable integer scaling.

    If you desire to engage with online companions through the game’s authentic Battle.Net platform, it is necessary to operate the unmodified version… And grant access to certain channels. Prior to being able to join your friends in the game’s archaic Battle.Net chat-lobby system, you must navigate through Windows menus and configure your router’s settings to unlock specific ports (specifically, 6112-6119, for both TCP and UDP protocols).

    Let us venture forth… Towards the realm of Battle.Net. (While the rest of the multiplayer modes function within the “DX” edition, D1’s Battle.Net system can only be accessed through GOG’s original version.)

  • Let us venture forth… Towards the realm of Battle.Net. (While the rest of the multiplayer modes function within the “DX” edition, D1’s Battle.Net system can only be accessed through GOG’s original version.)

  • A rare occasion in which I didn’t name my character “Butts” or something even sillier.

  • Read below for why we don’t necessarily recommend doing this.

  • These are not the same credentials you use on the modern Blizzard launcher. And they don’t require email authentication.

  • Use this IRC-like interface to connect with friends on Blizzard’s official service.

  • Yes, they’re still relying on this very antiquated “profile” page system.

  • Joining friends’ games is a bit clunky, but so long as my tester and I were in the same chat channel, our games appeared in each other’s interfaces. Just be warned: alt-tabbing out of Diablo 1‘s vanilla version is a pain, so get your VoIP of choice running before you launch a session.

  • I teamed up with another tester to validate that once those ports are unlocked, you can anticipate flawless Diablo-over-IP performance, accompanied by some era-appropriate glitches. Notably, my partner and I both utilized items from our inventory, only to discover (on an exceptionally rare occasion) that their impact had not yet taken effect, yet we had already lost the item. Furthermore, as depicted in the aforementioned gallery, the Battle.Net interface of yore is incredibly basic. It astonishingly still includes “age,” “sex,” and “location” in its profile pages. The jokes about the Internet in 1996 practically write themselves.

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    Punch a big hole in your firewall?

    Concerning the safeguarding of engaging in this rendition of Diablo online through Battle.Net, allow me to pass the metaphorical microphone to my esteemed accomplice from Ars Technica and Windows specialist, Peter Bright. He eloquently articulated the subsequent segment:

    No rose-tinted glasses required

    Apart from that substantial warning, it embodies the essence of Diablo, flaws and everything. We’re transported back to the year 1996, a time when online gaming lacked conveniences such as the visibility of co-op players on your mini-map. Similarly, the single-player campaigns of that era failed to save your progress before you were inevitably defeated on a mere second floor of the treacherous dungeon.

    Blizzard North nailed numerous aspects in its initial attempt at the action-RPG genre, resulting in a game that, even in its most primitive form, effortlessly captivates players into an immersive, late-night click-fest of dungeon exploration.

    There is no need for tinted spectacles to appreciate the timeless appeal of Diablo 1. Its visually captivating pixel art showcases delightfully wicked designs and atmospheric levels that are generated at random, enhanced by basic lighting effects. Moreover, the sound design is truly remarkable. The soundtrack is a mesmerizing blend of haunting melodies and immersive atmospheric effects, while the voices of the enemies, filled with snarls and madness, provide an enjoyable insanity.

    However, the animation suite of your heroes is extremely inflexible, causing the simple and repetitive tasks of combat and looting to become a distressing experience once you understand the potential for a much more satisfying action. Frankly, after exploring this newly released edition of Diablo 1 for a few hours (and becoming aware of the numerous accidental and inaccurate clicks I made in the process), I felt compelled to switch to Diablo II instead. Diablo II successfully addressed nearly all of the issues from the original game while introducing even more astonishing pixel art.

    With the release of a captivating 2016 Diablo II update by Blizzard, achieving this on contemporary Windows PCs has become a breeze. Graciously, Blizzard’s online emporium offers CD keys for both D2 and its remarkable Lord of Destruction expansion pack (merely $10 each), followed by the opportunity to effortlessly download a standalone EXE for either or both. However, it is worth mentioning that this sequel harbors its own set of modern-day constraints, primarily characterized by an unfortunate absence of adequate resolution scaling beyond the confines of 800×600.

    “We were bummed”

    GOG’s rendition offers a delightful array of bonuses, featuring a meticulously detailed scan of the authentic manual. Delight in the captivating essence of its pages as you peruse through this enchanting gallery.

  • GOG’s rendition offers a delightful array of bonuses, featuring a meticulously detailed scan of the authentic manual. Delight in the captivating essence of its pages as you peruse through this enchanting gallery.

  • Get to know your classes.

  • Who does it from behind? Rogues do.

  • Sorcerer.

  • The opening page for the “spells” section.

  • The end of the spells section, up against the beginning of the Bestiary. (Blizzard can spell that word however it pleases, though.)

  • Sample beasts.

  • Upon inquiry, GOG’s representatives directed us to the company’s official statement, consisting of a single remark from a GOG executive, serving as a gentle reminder to customers that Diablo 1 has consistently held a prominent position on GOG users’ demand charts. Additionally, the press release features a notable quote from Blizzard VP, Rob Bridenbecker, expressing their disappointment regarding the unavailability of these legendary games to their players, and their subsequent delight in collaborating with the team at GOG.COM to address this issue.

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    Fortunately, Blizzard provided us with a plethora of straightforward responses, including a significant one: what prompted the decision to collaborate with GOG rather than releasing classic games on the Blizzard Launcher?

    Blizzard Global PR Manager Sara Zaidi explained that for any software to be featured on the Blizzard launcher, it must be linked to the advanced Battle.Net stack. However, this requirement poses a challenge for older titles such as Diablo 1, as they lack the necessary infrastructure to be included on the launcher. Recognizing the importance of granting players access to these beloved games, Blizzard collaborated with GOG to make Diablo 1 accessible on their platform, a partnership that brought great satisfaction to both parties.

    Zaidi remained tight-lipped when questioned about the reasons behind GOG’s decision to develop this week’s Diablo 1 build with a touch of DirectX, rather than relying on an in-house Blizzard team. Instead, she praised GOG’s commendable track record of revitalizing vintage games for contemporary devices. Moreover, she had no updates to share regarding the anticipated announcement dates for GOG’s releases of WarCraft 1 & 2.

    Blizzard’s official responses didn’t imply our previous estimation for the timing of this release: as a peace offering to the most vocal critics of the series. The unveiling of Diablo Immortal in late 2018 caused a storm of complaints, even from fans present at its BlizzCon event, and Blizzard has since retreated from discussing the game. When it eventually resurfaces, it remains uncertain if it will still bear a striking resemblance to the microtransaction-heavy, smartphone-exclusive Diablo clones already produced by NetEase, its developer. If the game is being delayed to undergo some improvements, then perhaps Diablo 1 could serve as an enjoyable diversion for fans in the meantime.

    Allow me to clarify: I am filled with anticipation, hoping that Diablo Immortal will provide an immersive and authentic dungeon-crawling adventure that truly lives up to the esteemed reputation of the series. This anticipation is accompanied by an even stronger desire for a distinctively nostalgic experience: the remastered version of Diablo II, built upon the remarkable foundation of its original and awe-inspiring sprite-art. The fact that Blizzard has been recruiting since as early as 2015 indicates their inclination towards this as well. However, there are other Blizzard Classic games scheduled for release prior to Diablo II. So, what options does a disheartened Diablo enthusiast have in the interim, apart from indulging in the well-crafted Nintendo Switch adaptation of Diablo III?

    Blizzard’s response to the criticism can be perceived as lacking effort – simply digitally re-releasing the original Diablo files. Similar to the 2016 Diablo II patch, this update offers minimal improvements, merely ensuring that the first installment of the series is compatible with modern computers (although the outdated netcode issue still persists). However, there is a certain charm in witnessing a massive company like Activision-Blizzard allowing this game to be released without any DRM restrictions. Moreover, they generously gift fans with $10 worth of nostalgia, reminiscent of the good old days when games didn’t require complex launch software. Just like the homemade dishes prepared by our mothers.

    The article has been refreshed to provide clarity regarding GOG’s rendition of Diablo, which unfortunately lacks the inclusion of soundtrack audio files. Within the game’s preliminary release, there were tantalizing references to MP3 and FLAC files, yet regrettably, these did not find their way into the ultimate edition.

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