Developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment, Diablo III is a hack and slash loot farming ga… OK, is there really any need to explain Diablo at this point? Or any of Blizzard’s primary three? Starcraft, it is not. Nor is it Warcraft. Assuming you’re one of the three people left in the world who don’t know what Diablo is, think Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (Titan Quest, Torchlight, Champions Of Norrath, Path Of Exile, Dungeon Siege – hell, even Gauntlet to some degree), but made by a company with the time, desire and resources to continue making it better post-launch. The real question on everybody’s mind is more about this here Ultimate Evil Edition – is it worth getting? And if so, how does it weigh up beside its previous generation counterpart? So, let’s get started.
When I first heard that Diablo 3 was coming to the new consoles my initial thought was pretty much what I thought when I discovered the same was happening with GTA:V:
Well, of course it is! It only came to console less than a year before both major players were superceded!
I wasn’t exactly inspired to get back into the game as I felt I’d had my fill of Diablo III by that point. Not to do it a disservice, I thought it was great, just ultimately too shallow when the endgame arrived. As a result, I didn’t much pay attention to the hype building behind it. I knew I’d get it eventually, but had no burning passion to get it in my hands at the soonest possible convenience… and that’s when E3 happened. Shadow Of The Colossus armour? …Clickers from Last Of Us…? Suddenly, Reaper Of Souls wasn’t the only new experience to be derived from the re-release. With launch date closing in I found myself hotly anticipating a game I had previously thought myself done with. Now I was hearing news of a wealth of new features that I had been unaware of, or thought would be unlikely to make it to the console versions, but they were all included!
For a story catch up, it’s strongly recommended simply to watch the cinematic trailer for Reaper Of Souls (seen below) for two reasons – 1) it gives you all of the story you really need to go on, outside of my listing bosses and assuring you that you will hit stuff; and 2) because you should never, EVER, miss a Blizzard cinematic. Even if you don’t really care about their games.
When it comes to the game itself there’s genuinely been a lot of new and exciting stuff added to the PC version since it released on PS3 and 360, and Blizzard have done a great job of making sure a lot of that stuff made it to the consoles. It comes with the added bonus of being able to import pre-existing characters – sans stash and inventory items – so players can pick up where they left off. The level cap has been raised to 70 from 60. Loot 2.0 and gameplay/character/enemy tweaks make the leveling process considerably faster for those wanting to get stuck into the completely revamped endgame content. The addition of a new class, The Guardian, a warrior imbued with holy power who can be as capable a damage dealer as they are a tank, with the added bonus of being able to heal, shield and otherwise protect their team (or shoulder a portion of a sudden influx of damage). This makes them a welcome addition to the existing roster of Monk, Barbarian, Wizard, Demon Hunter and Witch Doctor.
New bosses with a heavier focus on attention to mechanics than those from vanilla, new enemy models, new elite/unique monster mechanics such as orbit, frozen pulse, poison enchanted and thunderstorm. The ability to transmogrify gear and weapons to – at a price – decide how you look. The jewelcrafter and blacksmith have seen significant upgrades to their profession, and an enchanter has joined their ranks, bringing with her not only trasmogrification, but also… well, enchanting which gives you the option to pick a given stat on an item and trade it out for something more desirable for the player. The difficulty options have been changed to Normal, Hard, Expert, Master and Torment (with Torment having six stages), and all increasing the experience gain, gold finding rate and legendary drop chance as you progress through them. All that, and I’m sure there’s plenty I’m forgetting.
The endgame content is a considerable update considering when the game first launched it was simply “great, want to play it again?”. Players now have the option to simply do just that, or play in adventure mode where each act is comprised of a set amount of ever changing bounties. For instance: kill Whatshisface or clear Datplace Caverns; completing bounties earns you experience which goes – if not on your growth in levels – toward your paragon levels. Each level grants a point in one of four rotating options: Core, Offense, Defense and Utility. Within each of these options is another set, which I won’t list here, but rest assured they cater to the base four. Your paragon level is persistent across all characters, regardless of level or when they were/are created, and the points received can be spent independently. This means your main character can focus on a certain set of options, while that new character isn’t forced to share the same statistical desires. You also, naturally, gain gold for each bounty completed, as well as blood shards which can be used to purchase weapons, armour and accessories with random effects affixed. You’ll also obtain rift keystone fragments which, upon possession of five, can be brought to the nephalem obelisk in town to open a rift portal to an incredibly difficult, but equally profitable, nephalem rift. These are basically a randomized dungeon with an elite around almost every corner, and a rift guardian assault upon the demise of 100% of them.
I fear this has simply been an explanation of all the things on display in the Ultimate Evil Edition of Diablo III and less so a critique of what is on display, but the simple fact is I am genuinely in love with it all. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to say “hey, here’s what Blizzard have been up to with one of their games for the past two years” and keep that under a certain word count. There’s a lot more to be discovered from the game that I haven’t covered here, and ultimately it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in Sanctuary. Given that there is no real benefit to the PC version over the console version, perhaps beyond the frequency of updates, the experience is altogether more comfortable and in many ways superior here. Rolling is something of a crucial aspect to late game tactics and the right analog stick makes that all the easier. Visually it looks only marginally better than it has before, with the true improvement that the PS4 hardware offers is in the performance and framerate. It just… it just doesn’t flinch. Regardless of what’s going on on the screen – and it gets pretty damn busy – not once did I see any chugging. The Shadow Of The Colossus armour looks awesome, and sadly I have yet to see any Clickers from The Last Of Us, so it’s a good thing I am about as far away from done with this game as a guy could possibly be.
A review copy of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition on PlayStation 4 was provided by Activision’s PR team. The game is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.