Chances are if you like dungeon crawlers, you’ve heard of Diablo. It’s the series that inspired so many other games of the same genre – masterpieces such as Torchlight and Sacred. When Diablo 3 was released on PC it had a lot of initial launch problems that left a sour taste in many gamers’ mouths. Since then, with a few bug fixes and the removal of the notorious Auction House, Diablo 3 has been vastly improved. But does the game’s launch onto PS4 and Xbox One hold up to the standards set by the newly improved PC version?
The console iteration was designed to encourage couch co-op rather than online play, allowing up to four people to play on one console at a time. That said, online play is available and allows people to drop in and out of sessions as and when they want to. You can also have two people on one console joining online matches, opening up the possibility for couch co-op players to also experience online play.
The gameplay is pretty much the same as the PC version. Your skills are limited to one skill class per button, which can be edited to allow any skill class on any button in the options menu for the more hardcore players. It’s evident that even though there are only a handful of ways they could’ve chosen to have the game control, they chose the most effective. After hitting ‘start game’ you’re thrown into the world and given a few easy enemies to introduce you to combat and general controls before levelling up and unlocking a new skill slot. You unlock skill slots one at a time so by the time you’re used using a new skill you’ve got another one to play with. This system feels designed to entice the player – You’re given a small reward every time you level up, each reward being just enough to make the player want to keep at it.
Each skill you acquire also has a set of runes you can unlock via levelling. These runes often change the way the skill works. For example, the Demon Hunter’s rapid fire ability can be given homing missiles or grenade attachments to add more ways to deal damage or status effects. The runes are actually my favourite part of levelling up. It’s fun to see how a different rune can affect a skill or totally change a playstyle.
The game features six classes; Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Wizard, Demon Hunter, Monk and the newly added Crusader. I spent most of my time playing as the Demon Hunter, but also dabbled in playing as the Crusader and Wizard. Each class plays differently enough for it to not feel too repetitive but some skills are a little too similar – such as the wizard’s frost ray and Demon Hunter’s rapid fire, which are both essentially the same but with differing status effects and equipable runes. That said, I never felt bored of playing either character, so this is a really minor point. Each character has unique weapon classes and equipment, aswell as the paragon system which allows a max level character to earn paragon points and further increase their skills, upgrading stats like critical hit damage, magic find and movement speed. This creates a huge level of customization with new options and additions at a frequent rate.
I actually played the majority of the game with a friend, so I have more experience with the online play. I live by the rule that almost any game can be fun with a friend, which usually applies to games like Brink and other generic shooters. In this case though the game is holds up just as well alone as it does multiplayer, however I definitely recommend playing with a friend for added fun. When playing alone you’re given access to a variety of companions you find through the story, each being upgradable to help you. Their company doesn’t help much, but it provides little passive bonuses along with their handful of skills. The companion I spend most time using is the Templar, who is the first one you unlock. He has a variety of skills that range from small heals to limited crowd control. Like I said, he’s a minor bonus that is just nice to have but really isn’t necessary.
The plot is a little generic with a few twists and turns along the way, accompanied with some beautiful pre-rendered cut-scenes. I found that I never really had to pay attention to the plot to enjoy the game, but appreciated that it was there for those who do love rich, lore-filled plot. When playing multiplayer both players can skip the plot and dialogue with other characters which could really aggravate gamers hoping to enjoy the plot while playing online, but otherwise the plot is well integrated into the multiplayer experience.
The one big problem I had with Diablo 3 is the lack of a quest system. Generally you have one quest with optional other objectives as you play, which really limits your experience. There are bonus dungeons you can explore that have loot and mini-bosses at the end, but other than that there really isn’t much reason to explore. While playing I never really felt the need to do the optional dungeons. Occasionally I’d end up in one playing singleplayer, but not often. The friend I was playing with online however dragged me into every optional dungeon on the map, so perhaps this is just a personal issue that I with the game. The console editions also feature a Nemesis boss that appears after a player dies and attacks other players. For each player it kills, it gets stronger until someone finally defeats it and claims the reward. While playing on expert mode, a friend and I were mobbed by a Nemsis which resulted in hilarity and screams from both of us as we frantically fought to survive. The first three or four encounters ended with one of us dying, the nemesis levelling up and then running away. Eventually though we managed to defeat one and were rewarded with a huge amount of gold and loot.
Loot makes the world go around. Especially in Diablo 3. Each dungeon and area has the possibility of you finding some of the sweetest loot for your level. Alternatively you can craft your own equipment and salvage the loot so you can craft more with the materials. Either way, you’re going to be finding and making pieces of equipment that constantly change your character’s abilities and strength. This feeds into the small rewards motif mentioned previously – each piece of equipment can feel like a tiny success, which creates the addictive nature of hunting for loot.
Graphically the game looks fantastic on PS4. It might essentially be a glorified PC port, but playing on the PS4 looks fantastic, with little to no frame drop, and the various environments and lighting effects continued to impress me. On the topic of environments, I have to admit I expected the game to be dark, dreary and somewhat bland. For most of the first chapter this was true, but my opinion was swiftly kicked to the curb as I progressed through the other chapters. Complimented by a simple yet brilliant soundtrack, addictive weapon and skill sound effects and humorous quips from characters alongside the ranges of environments including dark crypts to a bright desert to a deep jungle, Diablo 3 is a consistently refreshing experience.
Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is a fantastic iteration of the PC version, but doesn’t really provide anything new that is noteworthy. If you have the PC version you aren’t missing much, but if you’re new to Diablo 3 this is a fantastic entry point. I also heavily recommend this if you want a couch co-op game for your Xbox One or PS4, as the co-op experience is top notch and is possibly one of the best parts of the game.
Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition was reviewed with a copy of the game on PS4 provided by the beautiful people over at Blizzard Entertainment.