Giant Bomb Review

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Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition Review

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  • PS4

Diablo III is a great game that, despite its mouse-and-keyboard roots, adapts to consoles surprisingly well.

It's handy to have another warm body around, if only to soak up some of the damage heading your way.

Diablo III has changed quite a bit in the two years since its initial release. Things like "real money auction houses" came and went, the loot system got redesigned, and an expansion was released along with a new adventure mode that gives you a new way to grind through the game without having to see the story beats time and time again. An exciting action-RPG got better and reinvigorated by that work. Now it's all bundled up into one pack for consoles. This "Ultimate Evil Edition" is a fine version of the game with effective adjustments that make the game just about as playable with a controller as it is with a mouse and keyboard.

The key to all that, of course, is direct character control. As opposed to left-clicking your way around the world, this console version of Diablo III simply lets you walk around using the left analog stick. It's a big difference, but one that still feels natural, especially if you were raised on console games like Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance. The right stick is used for a exclusive-to-consoles roll move that gives you a bit of mobility, but it never feels especially crucial. Of course, the rest of the controls have also been adapted to fit a controller, so you'll eventually have like six abilities mapped to different buttons on the controller. You can swap those abilities around however you like, which either means that you'll be able to find a setup that feels natural for you or you'll constantly be confused about which button does what, depending on what type of player you are. It all works just fine.

The game's interface and menus have also had to be rebuilt for controllers and living rooms, meaning there's a ton of big-ass text in the menus. The equipment and skills sections are built with radial menus, making it fairly easy to get around and check out different item types. The arrows on each item make it easy to see, in a basic sense, if an item is going to help you out or not. And there's a junk system in place to make it easy to flag the stuff that you want to sell or salvage next time you're back in town. It took me an hour or two to get used to each system, since each one feels like it's about one or two button presses too many, but once I became familiar with how Diablo III handles things, it eventually became second nature. Still, having to button deep into menus to dig into the numbers and real stats on an item is kind of a pain, and it's the one spot where I missed the PC's relative elegance.

Adventure mode lets you chop up the world into bite-sized chunks.

Beyond that, this is Diablo III with the Reaper of Souls expansion included. The story is a little boneheaded but largely stays out of the way, giving you hours and hours of satisfying action-RPG combat and interesting abilities to choose from as you devise numerous ways to blow up skeletons, demons, shambling tree men, evil goat men, devils, fallen angels, zombies, vomiting zombies, barrels, tables, and whatever the hell else happens to be around your character when things start jumping off. The destructible set dressing strewn across Diablo's dungeons ended up being one of my favorite visuals in the entire game--as you begin combat, anything that isn't bolted down just seems to get blown up during the ensuing fray.

One thing I'll say about the way this Ultimate Evil Edition is packaged is that the game doesn't do a great job of transitioning you from the main campaign into what used to be expansion content. Reaper of Souls exists as a fifth act to the main game, so once you beat the main game's final boss, rather than get any sense of meaningful closure you're just thrust into the next area after a couple of cinematics. Without the context that Act V is separate from the rest, the transition feels disjointed and rough. Also, the game has a closing cinematic, but since it's the closing cinematic for the expansion, it doesn't really feel like it has enough of a meaningful impact. It goes out with a whimper, not a bang, complete with a dialogue window that pops up after beating the final boss that pretty much says "push X to go to the main menu." It makes an already ignorable story feel even flimsier.

That's why it'd be great if you could just hop into adventure mode without beating the game's story first. Adventure mode lets you skip around the game at will and take on an endless series of bounties set across the same landscapes used in story mode. Most of them are relatively short, so if you have an hour or two, you could complete a set of five bounties and be on your way. It's a great way to segment the game into smaller, more manageable chunks, if that's your thing. The endgame mode also allows you to explore various "rifts," which are separate areas that throw enemies together in new configurations and help ensure that you've always got something to do, whether you're grinding up to level 70 or taking it beyond the maximum level with the game's paragon system, allowing you to further build up max level characters. There are also 10 different difficulty settings. Do yourself a favor and start on hard, as a minimum, and don't be afraid to creep up to something higher if you're getting bored. The difficulties are really misnamed--hard most definitely isn't "hard."

Feel free to work your way up the difficulty tree, the names sound scarier than they actually are.

The game looks fine on the PS4, roughly in line with what you'd expect out of the PC version at 1080p, though the frame rate would pop and hitch on occasion, usually when large enemies are in the process of blowing up and spitting loot all over the ground. There's some great music to fit with the action and, overall, it presents quite well.

It's great with a group and fine if you're playing alone, but I'd still say that, if you're able, the PC version is the one to get unless you're specifically looking for a local co-op mode. Barring that, though, the console versions of Diablo III are well-built and adapted to a controller quite well, so at some point it becomes a matter of preference. If you're excited about the genre and love to smash enemies to watch a series of numbers go up as you collect better and better gear, this is a good way to fulfill those needs.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
81 Comments
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Edited by frytup

What is this strange post? A "review"? Never heard of such a thing.

Posted by Humanity

Another "Gerstmann Crusher" !

Posted by mikey87144

I was wondering whether to play this on PS4 or PC. PC version ordered.

Posted by rarlsatan

Just might have to pick this up.

Posted by ninnyjams

Definitely getting it to play with the girlie.

Posted by t3hh

What's this?

A review?

I thought they were extinct. ;)

Great work, Jeff!

Posted by Hassun

But when are they going to add the roll to the PC version?

Posted by FLStyle

Oh boy an actual review, I look forward to reading this, especially as someone who's never tried the fabled Diablo games.

Thanks Jeff!

Posted by Centurion73

Have it on PC, but local co-op is a big selling point for my fiancée and I.

Posted by nccows

Love it! Reviews are something I've been missing on the site recently; I would love for the crew to get back in the habit.

Edited by petrolhead

The PS4 and XboxOne apparentely have a graphic power equivalent to a 560GTX, seems wierd the graphics are as blurry and muddy as on the PS3, when it should be as clear and sharp as on PC, even at 1080P.

Posted by NeoCalypso

@hassun: They don't need to add the roll, you have significantly more control over your movement based abilities with the mouse. A barbarian can leap where he wants, a wizard can teleport where they want, etc, etc. So you don't really need an extra thing to help you dodge.

Edited by gamefreak9

Just as I was complaining that I haven't read much by the non-Patrick crew lately. Good review! MOAR PLEASE!

Edited by Zirilius

@branthog said:

Man, I don't know. There's barely anything on the consoles to play right now, but do I really want to return to Diablo 3? The eight hours it took me to finish it the month it came out was enough (and I don't understand people who play the same game over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over)...

... Yet... part of me kind of wants to buy this. And not even on the PC...

As someone who probably has close to 300 hours of Diablo 3 under his belt on PC I can say part of the appeal is loot grinding. I primarily play Demon Hunter and can easily do Torment III in a group. Its difficult but still fun and I get regular legendary drops, sometimes multiple drops per run. I've almost got a full Marauder set and Danetta's hand crossbows. Still I persist though cause I'm a crazy person who wants to have the set.

I've also got level 70 Barbarian, Crusader, and Mage. There's fun to be had especially when playing in a group but its mindless enough that you don't always have to give it your full attention.

My characters

Posted by Brendan

Wait, a review? Maybe I jumped the gun but I sort of assumed the GB crew was getting away from reviews entirely. This is a welcome surprise!

Posted by Lausebub

This is weirding me out a bit. I don't mind if the site keeps doing reviews, but when it it's this infrequent it's just strange. I wonder if they are discussing whether they should stop doing this stuff or not. I guess it's nice to have for some games, becaue it forces you to get through something. Anyway, good review. I was thinking about buying it for a while, but I'm going to use these barren times to get through some old stuff.

Posted by development

What the hell is a review?

Posted by MrPlatitude

I enjoyed Dark Alliance and Dark Alliance II, but I just can't see myself playing these games with a controller anymore.

Posted by Castiel

What is this? A written review on Giant Bomb? I don't believe it!

I wish GB would do more written reviews.

Edited by iAmJohn

Video game reviews are still a(n incredibly welcome) threat!

Edited by GERALTITUDE

*insert review joke*

Local co-op is my reason for picking this baby up.

Plus, direct control Diablo just sounds like fun.

Edited by SSully

I am really curious how well the local coop works. Maybe they can show a bit of it on UPF?

Posted by Bill_P

Seems like Jeff likes these kinds of games. Looks like playing League with bots to me.

Posted by ShaggE

Seems like Jeff likes these kinds of games. Looks like playing League with bots to me.

How? League is a completely different kind of game.

Posted by RioStarwind

I've always enjoyed playing action RPG's with a controller so the PS4 version was always the one I was most likely to get. Good to see that it's still a awesome game even if it doesn't translate over perfectly to consoles.

Edited by Crono

@branthog said:

Man, I don't know. There's barely anything on the consoles to play right now, but do I really want to return to Diablo 3? The eight hours it took me to finish it the month it came out was enough (and I don't understand people who play the same game over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over)...

... Yet... part of me kind of wants to buy this. And not even on the PC...

Don't buy it (again) then. You're probably just really bored from a lack of new titles. Diablo games and games like them are meant for long-term commitment to get the most out of them (and yes I am aware of how nerdy and awful that sounded). They are really better as social games, or for people who like to see and do everything in a game. If that's not you, then you will generally be disappointed. I have spent over 1,000 hours playing Diablo 3 since it first came out. I love it, personally, but I understand that it isn't for everyone. For me, I like to try and find all the best gear, and go further and further, the carrot-on-stick approach that D3 uses is blatant... yet works surprisingly well. It really isn't all that different than most games anymore, in terms of keeping you hooked, but this is Blizzard's wheelhouse. They have been doing it longer than any other company I can think of.

I like these kinds of games because I don't like games dictating when I am done with them. I like to decide when I am through with a game. Games structured rigidly around narrative bore me because usually the stories are predictable and thus boring, and they are linear in that there is a definitive beginning and end to the game. So I enjoy games where the story takes a backseat such as Diablo and where I get to decide whether I am truly "done" with the game or not. If I am pressed for time, I can boot it up and spend 15 minutes feeling like I accomplished something in the game. Or if I have a lot of time I can play it and get a lot of satisfaction out of a big play session too. If you get around to integrating within the community, even passively (such as doing research about the rarest items and different character builds, or checking out reddit posts on r/diablo every once in awhile) then you start to find yourself getting addicted to the mere idea of finding all this amazing loot because it fundamentally changes the way you play your hero; nevermind all the different end-game challenges you can play through. It's really cool to be playing a hero for a long time and then find an item that completely changes the way you approach the game. It's like you unlocked a power and what you once thought was the highest potential of your character was only the tip of the iceberg of it's ultimate potential.

Anyway, I just wanted to try and explain things from the other side of someone who generally plays multiplayer focused titles that focus less on narrative and more on gameplay, and briefly sum up what some the allure is for playing the same game "over and over and over".

I can pretty much echo Jeff's sentiments in his review. The difficulties are true misnomers and don't really explain to new players why you would really want to play on tougher difficulties. The controller feels way better in terms of controlling your hero, but the menu navigation just plain sucks - I really don't think that is a problem with the game design but just a logistic issue of playing this kind of game with a controller. Overall it's a great game for people who value gameplay over story with a focus on carrot-on-stick progression. The "randomness" of the game and it's deep combat system will keep you hooked for hundreds of hours if you let it.

Posted by Dixavd

I think it's odd how many people are pointing out the rarity of reviews; they've had a fairly consistent output of one review per month (they aren't common, but they shouldn't be a huge surpirse either).

Edited by bybeach

Coming back for a third effort in Adventure mode. Been on my mind for a while to do that, and make sure Monk Needlebutt hasn't hijacked my account, again.

Mine is pc, but I wonders if I would like controller if they offered it. And yes I had to lower my resolution for my TV a bit because of words.

Posted by Bill_P

@shagge: I don't know. On the surface it looks the same. I don't like action RPGs because the controls aren't good enough. Action games with RPG elements are great, but when it's all about the leveling and not about controlling your character I get bored quickly.

Posted by GristleMcThornbody

Relax, it's the summer. Very few large releases means very few reviews. Mystery solved. Reviews aren't going anywhere. I'm going to go buy Diablo 3 now. Thanks,

Posted by SpaceCouncil

blah, I wouldn't want an adaption. I would want the option to control it however the F I wanted to regardless of my platform. Though in this specific case, mouse and keyboard is the way to be.

Posted by csl316

Since I'm always afraid of my laptop melting these days, I'm definitely intrigued by the PS4 version. But I gotta wait for a price drop for a game I already beat.

Still, at least people are digging it. Played 24 hours the first week of release and stopped, so I'm really curious to see how much has changed.

Posted by ShaggE

@shagge: I don't know. On the surface it looks the same. I don't like action RPGs because the controls aren't good enough. Action games with RPG elements are great, but when it's all about the leveling and not about controlling your character I get bored quickly.

I'd suggest trying the console version(s), as you directly control the character in those. I won't lie, though; Diablo is indeed very much about leveling, grinding and looting. The enemies are basically walking slot machines. That's a ton of fun to me (I still get giddy when legendaries drop, even though they drop a LOT more than they used to), but I can understand why it would turn some people off.

But I do think you should at least give the demo a shot. It might surprise you.

Edited by Bill_P
Posted by GalacticPunt

A text review? What is this, 2008?

/sarcasm ( I read the whole review in spite of not ever being excited by the Diablo series)

Posted by ChalkCharmer

Blizz, I'd give you $10 to play this again on the PS4, but since I already own the PC version + RoS as well as the PS3 version and you're still asking $50... nope.

Not that you care. Hopefully people in my situation don't sway the other way

Posted by buemba

Anybody knows how well this game works with a Vita through remote play? I'd love to be able to do a couple of bounties before going to sleep.

Posted by VoidProd

A review? What is this, Gamespot? Jeez...

Posted by pinner458

Yeah there just haven't been that many games noteworthy enough to warrant a review the past couple of months or so. Personally I didn't even think a review of Valiant Hearts was necessary I expected a Transistor review despite ending up losing interest after its initial release. In an episode of Bombin' the AM with Spooks and The Wolf Alex said he'd have a review of The Wolf Among Us the Friday after episode 5 came out but he never posted it... I would have liked to have seen that.

Posted by MeAuntieNora

Good review!

Despite sinking dozens of hours into D3 since release I might just have to Gamefly the PS4 version to check it out. (Yes, I still have Gamefly it's cool screw you)

Posted by ripelivejam

i only view it once why do they call them REviews

who are these people

Posted by ripelivejam

Definitely getting it to play with the girlie.

same, except replace "girlie" with "four cats that aren't mine but i got roped into taking care of for a year and going"

Posted by DookieRope

Behold! The long form written quick-look. A rare beast in its natural habitat.

Posted by Fitzgerald

The story is a little boneheaded but largely stays out of the way,

The story is so lame that I can't bring myself to buy it. Same with Heart of the Swarm. I understand videogames aren't exactly fine literature, but it shouldn't be so bad that it's embarrassing to play.

This is a huge shame given how subtle and moody Diablo 2's writing was. Blizzard, what happened?

Posted by President_Barackbar

@ninjaculate said:

Definitely getting it to play with the girlie.

same, except replace "girlie" with "four cats that aren't mine but i got roped into taking care of for a year and going"

Are you secretly Marc Maron?

Posted by ronindrummer200

Thanks for the review Jeff!

Diablo 3 is my podcast game.

Posted by MormonWarrior

I think the local co-op has sold me on getting the console version rather than PC. I already have Torchlight II for all my clicking needs...

Posted by flippyandnod

Thanks for doing a review, Jeff.

Now I gotta decide if I want to go digital on this or buy the disc.

Anyone know how large the download is?

Posted by Nags

Got this preloaded and ready to go on PS4. Less than 2 hours now... Can't wait!

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