Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition Review
Two years out from the original launch of Diablo III, the game has changed pretty significantly thanks to a slew of patches and a PC-only expansion earlier in the year. That expansion is now making its way to consoles both previous and current generation packaged on one disc with the original game intact too. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition, ends up being a very competently adjusted version of what was a very solid game to begin with.
It only makes sense to start with control. Diablo as a series has always been defined by point-and-click control, something that just isn't possible on the PlayStation or Xbox without plugging in peripherals the vast majority won't bother with. As such, that's been switched for a more action game like setup.
In essence it plays a bit like any fairly far zoomed out third person game, with one stick controlling your movement and the other used for a dodge move that at the flick of a stick sends you rolling out of the way of enemy attacks.
The way that your attacks are executed hasn't changed, but with far less buttons to work with, how you pull those off has been jigged about in a way that I can only really describe as smart. I never really felt like I was hurting for a breadth of attacks to handle any situation, despite being able to equip a few fewer to the console hotkeys than I might on PC.
Something controller-based gameplay allows for which is difficult on PC is easy same-screen co-operative play. Co-op is arguably the best way to enjoy this game, and with your partner sitting next to you it's potentially even better still.
Thanks to the relatively recent hardware in the new generation of consoles, the PS4 version that I tested looks pretty damn good, and seems to perform on par with the PC version running at 1080p, albeit with a frame rate that appears to be slightly less smooth when a lot is going on. If you don't have a PC set up in your living room, a slight frame rate hit might be worth it for the allure of playing from the couch and on a bigger screen - the performance hit is relatively minimal.
The menus have been adjusted, too, to make sure that everything fits the concept of big-screen play. The PC text runs smaller and is less friendly to bigger screens and further viewing distances, but here on console everything has been adjusted to make it easier to browse and read on a typical living room TV screen.
There's not much to say about this other than that it works. If you're used to the PC version as I was some of the changes might take some getting used to, but in the end I found it all very comfortable.
As for the actual game, as mentioned earlier, Diablo III has been hugely improved since its original release, and all of those changes carry over into this new version. Your usual high-quality Blizzard CG cinematics introduce you to the major players in the story, but the story is one that by and large I tend to ignore - I find it a bit overwrought, and being immersed in it doesn't really benefit gameplay, which is what I come to dungeon crawlers for.
The game now naturally transitions from the content of the original game through into the Reaper of Souls expansion content, and no real adjustment has been made to how this is on PC - what was once the ending now just kicks right into another cinematic to lead you into the new content. Those unfamiliar may even remain unaware of where the original game ends and where the expansion begins.
Beyond the linear story, Adventure Mode is an offering that feels, in a sense, more suited to console play. Each adventure mode mission is a shorter chunk suitable for one uninterrupted session, taking place in the same areas as the core campaign but offering up different objectives. It's unfortunate that it doesn't unlock until after the story has been completed like the rest of the endgame content, as it'd be cool to have out of the gate. That said, there is quite a decent slate of post-game content to keep you interested and offer fresh challenges.
There's a Diablo III Review and a Reaper of Souls Review from its original PC release up on the site, and most of the comments made there about the way the game's meat - combat - plays out remains the same. Bluntly, it's one of the best action RPGs out there, with satisfying and engaging gameplay systems that offer you a suite of ways to build out your character and build strategies for blowing the undead, demons and all other manner of creatures away.
There's a great variety of ways you can build out your own character and strategy to suit your personal play style preference, and the combat seems to find itself happily occupying that sweet spot where you zone out just enough that the real world begins to melt away around you but not so much that the game becomes a mindless button masher - at least, that's the case on harder difficulties.
If I have one criticism of the gameplay on offer, in fact, it's that - the game is actually a little easy on its default difficulty settings, of which there are a slightly mind boggling number of permutations. I bumped it up by a few notches to get more of a challenge, and I heartily encourage others to do the same.
If you're looking for some dungeon crawling action, Diablo III was always the logical choice. Reaper of Souls' Ultimate Evil Edition now gives a definitive version on console, and if you're not in possession of a gaming PC or simply more interested in playing this game in a console-friendlier setting, you now have an obvious answer, slight frame rate hitches and control learning curve noted. Playing it is fun, cathartic, and leaves you wanting more - and that's enough to sell me.