With endless and addictive action, the original version of the fantasy role-playing game Diablo III was already a great game. But with the new Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition, Blizzard are not only bringing an expanded and improved version to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for the first time, but to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well.
For those unfamiliar with Diablo III, or this series in general, Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition is a fantasy-flavored action-RPG in which you use magic and weapons of both the melee and ranged variety to take on hordes of supernatural creatures, with many of your fights finding you outnumbered and, on occasion, outgunned. Played from an aerial perspective, the game has a button-mashy arcade feel when it comes to the combat, but is made deeper by letting you customize your character’s abilities, skills, and attacks, both when you create them and after they’ve leveled up.
For the most part, Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition is fairly typical of this type of game. Set twenty years after the events of 2000’s Diablo II, you once again have to save the world from the evil dickweed Diablo. Though before you do, you’ll have to kill a lot of his minions. And I do mean a lot.
But while the story may be your typical fantasy fare, as is the action, Diablo III did add to the template of action-RPGs in some interesting ways.
In many games of this ilk, you chose your attacks and skills as you level up, and unless you’re willing to reset everything and redo your character — often at great cost to you — you’re stuck that way. But Diablo III let you change your skills whenever you like, provided you’re not in the middle of a battle. And you can not only change what attack goes with what button, but the modifiers for those attacks as well.
Diablo III also added some interactivity to the dungeons you’ll be exploring. Not only can you break a chain that’s holding up a chandelier, sending it crashing down on some unsuspecting enemy’s head, for instance, but you can also take out a support beam and drop part of a wall on them as well.
Though Diablo III changed one of the genre’s templates in a way that could take some getting used to. Instead of using the right thumbstick to control the camera, the game’s perspective is fixed, and the right thumbstick is instead used to dive out of the way. Which can be especially handy in a frantic battle, since it means you can dodge and then attack from another angle. But if you’ve played a lot of action-RPGs with an aerial viewpoint, you may find yourself leaping to the left when you just want to move the camera that way. Well, for a little while, anyway.
While all of this added up to a rather ripping good adventure, clearly the good people at Blizzard felt there were some changes they could implement in the Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition, much the way they changed things when they first brought Diablo III from PCs to the consoles.
One of the big changes in Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition is what Blizzard calls “Loot 2.0.” Essentially, what they’ve done is make it so the weapons and other items you find in chests or beneath your enemies’ corpses will be much more useful to your character. The trade-off being that there won’t be as much of it. So while you might’ve previous found six swords that your Wizard can’t use, now you’ll only find two swords but also one staff that you’ll actually want.
The thing is, by giving you fewer but better items in Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition, you’ll not only get stuff you might actually use, but it also eliminates the need to keep running back to town to sell all the crap you’ve found but don’t want, just so you can raise the cash to buy stuff you do. Which means that if you’re like me, and you grab everything you can get your grubby hands on so you can sell it, playing a full game of Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition will be more fun, since you won’t spend half your time running back and forth, but won’t take as long as it did with the original Diablo III.
Or rather it would if the Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition didn’t expand the story and the world with a huge fifth chapter called “Reaper Of Souls.” Picking up where the original Diablo III left off — which seemed like a rather satisfying conclusion to me at the time, but whatever — “Reaper Of Souls” expands the story with, well, more of the same killin’, explorin’, and lootin’.
Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition also adds some interesting adjustments for people who have friends. When you’re not playing together, you can send them gifts. Just in-game stuff, mind you, not anything really cool like a book, but it’s still nice. And when you find something really cool, there’s a chance your friends may get a super cool gift as well. Though on the flipside, if you get killed by certain powerful enemies, one of your friends may get a visit from The Nemesis, and as you can probably gather from his name, he’s not bringing your friend a book.
If you take things to the next step, and play Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition co-op with a friend, and that friend is either more or less powerful than you, the weaker character will be given a boost so they won’t get their asses handed to them all the time. The lower level characters will also get even more XP, so they’ll level up quickly, while both of you will get loot that’s appropriate for your individual skill levels. All of which makes playing with other people a lot easier since you don’t have to worry that your pal may dominate every fight or that you’ll have to carry them.
Then there’s Adventure Mode, which opens up the entire world in Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition, and lets you go wherever you want. And while you have to beat the game to unlock it, that’s not a bad deal, since you wouldn’t want to play like this to start off.
Last, and yeah least, there’s the visual upgrade that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition gets over the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions. While you might not expect much, given how the game’s aerial viewpoint makes the characters and the world so tiny, when you get close to your TV, you’ll notice there’s a lot more detail in these versions than on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Granted, that added detail doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t have an impact on performance or the gameplay, and it’s decidedly less noticeable if you sit at a reasonable distance from the TV like your momma told you to, but…yeah, I guess that’s about it.
Though sitting at that reasonable distance also brings up a problem with the Diablo III Ultimate Evil Editionthat’s so common these days that I now just cut and paste this paragraph into almost every game review I do (seriously, go check): some of the type is too small. Which makes it tough to read the minute details of items, what some of the people have to say, and the subtitles.
Then there’s the fact that if you already own the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions of Diablo III, you can’t just buy “Reaper Of Souls” expansion, “Adventure” mode, or the other improvements on their own. You have to buy the Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition. Which is a dick move on Blizzard’s part.
That said, if you do decide that Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition has enough to make it worth the double dip, you can bring your old character along for the ride. And not just on the same system; you can also carry them over from Xbox 360 to Xbox One and PS3 to PS4, or even from Xbox 360 to PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 3 to Xbox One.
In the end, the Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition is decidedly worth it if you like this kind of game and you either missed the original version of Diablo III or if you really want the “Reaper Of Souls” expansion and the other improvements and don’t mind buying the same game twice. Because even without the new bells and whistles, without the expanded story, without the new sharing and co-op stuff, Diablo III is, and always will be, a great fantasy action-RPG. No matter what else they do to it.