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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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Posted by Mr_Creeper

Saw the Collector's Edition of Reaper of Souls for PC at Fry's for $60. I might just head back and over there this week and pick that up...

Posted by dagas

I got the PC version. It is a great game, but I feel that they should have added 2 new classes in the expansion instead of just one. Diablo 2 Lord of Destruction added 2.

Posted by Kaigan

I feel like the resources (however few) spent on reviews could be spent better somewhere else.

Not that they're bad, I just don't know who or what purpose they serve anymore.

Posted by JesusHammer

I will continue to say Diablo 3 is not a good game. I don't care if I beat the game 4 different times. I still don't like it. I don't understand how I've beat it so many times. I need to stop having friends and the need to play a game while I watch a show/listen to a podcast.

Online
Posted by AndyLonn

Ooh, Another written review. Love these. Great work Jeff

Posted by AndyLonn

@kaigan: I wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment. Yeah, I knew going in what Jeff's view on this game was, having listened to the recent podcasts and seen the quick look. But this review brings all of those elements together, and I for one would not go without.

Posted by ripelivejam

i actually want more brad reviews. man's a wordsmith tried and true. Brad Reviewsmaker should be his real name.

Posted by TheHT

It's awesome they were able to translate it to consoles so well. Curious if they'll ever add controller support for PC. Dunno how they'd handle rolling though. Give it to everyone? Only controller players? No one?

After getting the controls right, I'm most impressed with what they were able to do with the menus. Maybe they'll put Hearthstone on consoles too. Can't see why not really.

Also Reaper of Souls was great. If that was my first Diablo 3 experience I'd have played it a whole lot more. I mean, I still played it a bunch, but once I hit that Inferno Act 2 wall it all fell apart real fast.

Posted by YOUNGLINK

Not even a mention of the X1 version in the review or really anywhere else since Sony locked down the ad spots and extras. This must be how ps3 owners felt last gen...left out.

Edited by Enai

I think people should be aware that these versions of the game on the new consoles will have patch support - considering the extent to which Diablo has been patched since its launch, I think it's pretty significant plus for the console versions. Also, patch 2.1 is on its way soon with extra features such as new legendaries, greater rifts and legendary gems (personally I am waiting for this patch before I jump back in!).

Posted by PhilFancyPants

since reaper of souls released on pc i've put about 200 hours into diablo 3, rifts make the end game loot grinding alot more fun. This game is becoming one of my favorites, good review Jeff.

Posted by VictorDeLeon

having fun with D3 now, but the "avenger" thing is unbalanced, I met some at lvl 12 and lvl 15 and just watched it kill me with no way of having hope to kill it.

Posted by Corvak

I really like how the difficulties got changed. As the review states, normal is an absolute cake walk, but the rest of them scale well with gear. I found myself hopping around between Hard and Master my first time through with a new character on PC, depending on how lucky I was with loot.

D3 translates so well onto consoles, because Blizzard largely cut away all of the 'useless' skills in D2 - there were a ton of skills put in to accomodate the skill tree system in that game, and most players only used 4-5 of them. Also very happy I don't have to commit to a permanent character build, D2's most powerful builds required a slog through the first 30 levels barely using skill points.

The lack of XB1 version coverage is probably because Blizzard provided a PS4 copy - an unseen aspect to marketing deals, is which version goes out for review. I doubt Jeff would comment on a game he hasn't played yet. Though I would expect them to be practically identical.

For many though, that first impression is hard to break, and I think there are more than a few people that got burned on D3's initial release and won't be enticed back.

Edited by mcmax3000

@flippyandnod - Download is 21GB on Xbox One if that helps. I just bought it.

Posted by mcmax3000

I wasn't really thinking about getting this until Jeff said one line in the quick look, calling it a great podcast game. I'm always looking for great podcast games, and I've always been curious about Diablo, so I'm giving it a shot.

Tip for those in Canada, at least on Xbox One: Stores are selling it for $64.99, but the Xbox Live Marketplace is selling it for $59.99, so you can save a bit of money buying digital if you're like me, and don't trade games in.

Posted by shaftwaxer

Maybe it's because I didn't play the original games much at all, but as somebody who played the shit out of Baulders Gate and Champions of Norrath on the PS2, this is the way to play the game. Playing with a controller feels "right" to me.

Posted by Budwyzer

So glad to hear that the console version is great and that the PS4 version, specifically, stands up well to the PC!

This roll thing though.... It seems to me like they just didn't know what else to do with that right stick. Has anyone heard of a way to turn off the roll and map that stick to aiming. Think Forced if you've played that. I just can't imagine that running and aiming with the same stick is good for a ranged character. Though I guess it did work fine on RAW, but that mage is tankier than the Demon Hunter.

Edited by benjo_t

The additions Reaper of Souls added to the game really gave Diablo 3 some longevity that it sorely needed - Bounties and Nephelem Rifts are a solid enough "end-game" to allow people to hunt for loot without having to listen to the story again and again. Seems like this is definitely worth picking up if you don't have access to the PC version.

Posted by Belegorm

@ripelivejam:

@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 your cats actually any good at Diablo 3?

Posted by ripelivejam

@belegorm: they sort of bat at things occasionally, so i would assume fairly well?

@corvak said:
D3 translates so well onto consoles, because Blizzard largely cut away all of the 'useless' skills in D2 - there were a ton of skills put in to accomodate the skill tree system in that game, and most players only used 4-5 of them. Also very happy I don't have to commit to a permanent character build, D2's most powerful builds required a slog through the first 30 levels barely using skill points.

shhh, don't let the blizzard forums hear this sort of level-headed logic!

Posted by OldManLight

@mcmax3000: not sure if it helps but the download on PS4 was actually around 6 or 7GB which unpacked to the 20+ GB, not saying you're wrong but i just know how the Xbox One is kinda nebulous when it's installing games as to if it's actually downloading or just unpacking data. Forza 5 took like 8 hours to download and install for me over a 15Mbps connection.

Posted by mcmax3000

@oldmanlight I was going by the size listing in the Xbox Live Marketplace, which given that over five hours later, I'm just about to get to 50%, I tend to believe it.

That said, It said 'Ready to Start' at about 15%, so theoretically at least, I was able to start playing with much less downloaded.

Posted by phatsobrown

"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."

What means? I'll be trading in my copy of D3 for this, but from the review it seems like they skipped the original ending in favor of the one for Reaper of Souls. Can someone confirm or deny this?

Posted by Packfan104L4

@mcmax3000: not sure if it helps but the download on PS4 was actually around 6 or 7GB which unpacked to the 20+ GB, not saying you're wrong but i just know how the Xbox One is kinda nebulous when it's installing games as to if it's actually downloading or just unpacking data. Forza 5 took like 8 hours to download and install for me over a 15Mbps connection.

The game on PS4 downloads the first 6 to 7 gig to start the game, then it downloads the rest in the background as you play. It's about a 16 GB download total, but at least it lets you play after the first 6.

Posted by OnlyKris

"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."

What means? I'll be trading in my copy of D3 for this, but from the review it seems like they skipped the original ending in favor of the one for Reaper of Souls. Can someone confirm or deny this?

It's more to do with the pace of the writing then anything. D3 vanilla ends as you expect, with the cast of characters going "Wow you beat the big bad evil guy, congrats!" and giving the hero a pat on the back. Then the expansion starts right after that with "Oh wait but here's another bad guy!" There's a few throwaway lines of dialogue and a cutscene to transition into the expansion. It's not that bad of a transition, just a tad bit bumpy. And then the ending for Reaper is a fairly simple cutscene (not a big flashy CGI-fest like vanilla). It does its job, but its not particularly memorable.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

With over 200 hours into the PC version between the base game and RoS, I'm still kind of tempting to snag this on the PS4 for the couch coop. I'll probably wait until I can grab it for $40 or less tho.

Posted by phatsobrown
Posted by TheTerribleFamiliar

Great review!

I would have to disagree with the assertion that the dodge move never "feels crucial". I use it constantly with my WD build. It's a great tool when you get swarmed or a boss closes too quickly. My favorite use however is to pick up the nephalim orbs as you chain kills. They spawn about one "dodge roll" distance away from you, so you can kill to your hearts content and quickly roll to pick up the orb and receive a damage multiplier as they drop. It's part of the strategy for taking down big groups for me. The game is tons of fun. I'm loving it.

Posted by dbene

@branthog:

after purchasing the game, my advice is that if you don't like replaying games....don't get this. Diablo's charm is not in the story line of beating the regular mode of the game. It's a game that's primary fun is co-operative play, looting, and replaying the games with different characters. It's more of throwback to the arcade era. Think Gauntlet on steroids.

Posted by Oddballs

Here in the UK the game costs £60. Far too much for a port of a game I've already played several years ago, I probably won't play this until I can get a copy for £20-30.