Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition
Welcome back to the troubled world of Sanctuary. It's not been all that long since Diablo III first appeared on consoles but a lot has changed as the latest game in Blizzard's seminal dungeon-crawler series makes it's way to next-gen consoles.
Blizzard has poued every ounce of community feedback from the PC edition of the game into the development of the Ultimate Evil Edition for consoles. The result is a highly polished version of the game tailored very carefully for the specific requirements of console gamers with the added bonuses that the Reaper Of Souls expansion brings to the table.
The story is simple. The player takes on the mantle of an unnamed hero in one of Diablo III's six classes and take on the remaining forces of hell by smashing looting and levelling up your way through populous hordes of hostile monsters and demons.
As well as the original classes – Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor and Mage – Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Editon brings the sturdy new Crusader class added in Reaper Of Souls.
At first glance the Crusader might seem like a bit of a duplication of the tank fighter that the Barbarian is but, the Crusader's abilities are highly tailored towards fighting with a shield and weapon combination and healing and protecting fellow party members as well as slaughtering as many enemies as possible.
The Crusader has turned out to be a nicely-balanced character class. There's an impressive combination of powers from the devastating Shield Bash to the useful Consecrated Ground which aids health regeneration for all players and has an assortment of runes that can be used to slow, trap and even deal damage to enemies in the consecrated area. There's also some pretty useful passive skills that can allow the Crusader to wield two-handed weapons in one hand and a shield in the other and even revive the Crusader when he takes a fatal blow.
As always, Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition is best when enjoyed with friends and up to four player co-op either locally or online although lone wolves out there can opt to restrict their online visibility when they play to take on the Primeevils solo.
There's a handy quickmatch option if you don't mind playing with strangers and, once you've finished up to the end of Act V and hit level 50 Adventure mode unlocks. This tackles one of the chief criticisms of Diablo III when it first launched.
Adventure mode allows parties of players to dive back into whichever region of Sanctuary that they want and search for loot and new adventures. It also brings back the most popular element of previous Diablo games, procedurally generated dungeons, in the form of Nephalem Rifts.
Nephalem Rifts are triggered by completing one of several tasks in Adventure Mode from completing a bounty to defeating a unique enemy. This generates an item which opens a portal to the Nephalem Rift which is a randomly-generated dungeon between one and nine levels deep and hosting a random selection of enemies.
Adventure Mode and Nephalem Rifts add extra dimensions to Diablo III's replayability too along with its 12 (yes, 10) difficulty levels – most of which are locked out until players have reached level 70 it must be noted.
Mechanically, Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition plays very well. Each type of skill is mapped to a specific button and the radial menu implemented for the inventory and skills menus works fairly intuitively with the DualShock 4 controller. It's all very responsive and there's little or no lag between button-presses and the actions they correspond to. The way the powers are distributed between the buttons makes sense – the main attack is the X button and the most used secondary power is mapped to R2 for instance.
The only blemish on this has to he the way they use the touchpad. Touching the left side for inventory and the right side for skills makes sense by the navigation function once in the menus feels a bit over-senstitive; as if it was an after-thought rather than an integral part of the control scheme.
Blizzard would probably like to think that this Ultimate Evil Edition is probably the perfect version of the game – the result of an evolution that began in May 2012 when Diablo III first hit PC and Mac. To a certain extent this is true. The combat is well-balanced and there is plenty of replayability to be found. The social tools are as extensive as the PC version too so finding someone to play with is never more than a couple of button-presses away.
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition is great. The combination of loot-chasing, co-op multiplayer, deep leveling-up and randomly-generated dungeons makes it a very compelling adventure for all but the lightest of RPG fans. Oh, and it runs in crisp 1080p at silky-smooth 60fps on the PS4 and looks every bit as nice as the PC version does on maximum settings at the same resolution.
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition is out now on PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360.
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