I don't hide my love of Diablo III, I've put a few hundred hours into the PC version across multiple characters - but I never bothered picking up the expansion, primarily because when it first released I had moved on from Sanctuary to lands (and games) anew.
Now we have shiny new consoles and a revamped and refined game in Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition
(reviewed here on the PlayStation 4) and I have to say this feels like how the game is meant to be played.
This version of Diablo III
contains the expansion Reaper of Souls
and treats it like a genuine part of the core game, to the point of removing the original end's CG cutscene in order to slide us effortlessly in to the fifth act. This extra act also brings in a new game mode with the most original moniker to ever exist - 'Adventure Mode'.
Sarcasm aside, this new mode essentially adds an end-game that was missing from the original release. In the old version you found yourself repeating the core game at increasing difficulties until you hit boredom, insanity or a boss that somehow tore through your top-tier geared character as if she were warm butter. Guess which category I came under?
For those who are venturing in to the world of Sanctuary for the first time the basic gist is that you are an adventurer who finds themselves being drawn to the town of New Tristram where a fireball is seen crashing from the heavens. You choose a class, a gender and head off to begin 40+ hours of demon-smashing mayhem, gaining levels and new skills. Clobbering the bad guys also results in the genre's primary hook - loot.
In the original release, looting the corpses of one's enemies could be a mixed blessing. Most of the time you would find yourself in possession of items you could not equip with your chosen class and your inventory on PC would fill up quickly, forcing you to head back to town to sell your scrap for gold or break it down for crafting new gear. You also had to return to town to identify Legendary items, further breaking the flow of the game. Now you can store sixty pieces of gear without having to spend forever arranging your inventory, meaning more time in the fields or rampaging through dungeons looking for ever shinier pieces of equipment.
I haven't mentioned much on the story so far and that is on purpose, if you haven't already had it spoiled for you, either through playing it yourself or watching others do so then I recommend going in almost completely blind to what will unfold. The narrative isn't mind-blowing, but it is masterfully executed with a mix of character interactions, journals you find in the world, gorgeous animated faux-ink-drawn chapter breaks and absolutely stunning full CG Act 'bookend' scenes.
Each class has their own take on events and whilst the overall story isn't affected you do get treated to your individual character's motivations. Every character is fully voiced to a delightfully cheesy degree and the game doesn't take itself too seriously even when proceedings go to dark places.
Technically speaking now, the game runs at a solid 60fps and it is visually stunning with crisp textures and wonderfully designed set dressing. I had some audio issues with stuttering in-game and with some of the cutscenes, but this could be more to do with my television than the game itself.
The online multiplayer has been incredibly stable for me and I have enjoyed about a dozen hours in total of playing with random people through public games, but we would expect that from a game that has had years to perfect its online features. What came as a massive (and pleasant) surprise was the couch co-op.
I popped a friend's Diablo
cherry through this increasingly rare feature and we had a blast. It isn't split screen, but instead forces both players to remain in the screen together. This might annoy some people, but considering how chaotic things get when you have an epic enemy on screen that can clone itself, you don't want other members of your party somewhere else in the dungeon. If you lose sight of yourself in the chaos a quick press of R3 causes a vertical beam of light to appear over your character, something that came in useful many times.
For those who already own the game it might be worth waiting for the price to drop before upgrading, but for those new to Diablo III
this is a bargain. Action RPGs are rarely this well polished and there is something for almost everyone to love.
If you need any more convincing - Commander Shepard voices one of the main characters, so there's that.
+ Addictive gameplay loop of smash demons, get loot, smash bigger demons.
+ Still looks beautiful, especially the new content from the expansion.
+ Couch co-op!
- Gear stat comparisons and inventory presentation in general.
SPOnG Score: 4.5/5