Release Date: August 19, 2014Platform: Xbox One, PS4 (Reviewed)Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentGenre: Action RPG
Diablo 3 is unbalanced. It’s controversial, broken, the game that killed a popular Blizzard franchise.
Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is fun, surprising, and what we wanted from the original all along. It’s another typical Blizzard success.
If it’s been a couple of years since you played Blizzard’s dungeon crawler, I don’t blame you. The original Diablo 3 released on the PC in May 2012 received a lot of criticism from gamers and critics alike. The game’s original cluttered and imprecise loot system combined with the infamous “auction house” experiment turned a lot of hardcore Diablo fans off.
But Blizzard took the complaints to heart and has spent the last two years cleaning up the mess. Each new patch or re-release has felt at times like a personal apology from the developer.
First, there was the release last year on Xbox 360 and PS3, bringing couch co-op and unique controls to your living room sans auction house. Earlier this year, the PC version saw its first expansion, Reaper of Souls, which might as well be called “Diablo 4.” It essentially made the game what everyone thought it should have been two years ago. With every new iteration, Diablo 3 has become a little bit more worthy of your gaming time.
Which brings us to Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Ultimate Evil Edition finally brings the Reaper of Souls expansion and all of those awesome loot and gear changes to console gamers. It also brings a pretty massive graphics upgrade, at least when compared to last generation. Add in those same great console controls and the argument can be made that Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is the definitive edition of the game.
This latest release adds a fifth act to the game and a progression of the story to go with it. This should be very welcome to anyone who has been mindlessly farming the original game over the last year. I won’t give anything away, but you’ll see some familiar faces from the first four acts pop up again in Act V as you chase down the game’s new end boss Malthael.
You’ll also get an opportunity to go into battle as a Crusader, the game’s new class. I might be biased as I’ve played a paladin in that other famous Blizzard game for the better part of 10 years, but I quite enjoyed smiting my way through the new zones in Westmarch.
Perhaps the best addition to the game with this release is the new Adventure Mode. This mode essentially allows you to ignore the story and focus solely on getting as much loot as you can handle. You can quickly travel to any area of the game and complete unique challenges without having to repeatedly cancel out of all of the story cinematics over and over again. The Nephalem Rifts really change up the end game scene, giving you a unique and different battle every time you enter.
If you’ve played Reaper of Souls on a high-end PC, the upgraded console graphics might not seem like that big of a deal. But sitting back on your couch in the dark and watching the demon-slaying action unfold in front of you on a huge TV at 1080p and 60 frames per second is pretty damn cool. It looks smooth and fluid and just feels great.
I played the game on PS4 and had no issues with the controller. The console specific user interface makes it quite easy to map out commands to the buttons you like. The more ergonomical design of the PS4 controller compared to the PS3 was a noticeable benefit for me. I played for hours with no discomfort, something I can’t say about my experience with the PS3 version.
Speaking of which, Ultimate Evil Edition allows you to import your save data from the last generation of consoles so those thinking of upgrading won’t lose their precious loot.
And what amazing loot it is. The Loot 2.0 system should see most players getting multiple legendary items in just one playthrough. The game tosses out just enough loot to keep the game fun but without oversaturating you. Almost every piece that drops should be useful to you under this new “smart” drop system.
There are some additional console specific touches here, but nothing too crazy. There’s a system that allows you to fight monsters that have killed players on your friends list. Avenge your friend by taking the monster out and you’ll both get a reward. But if you also fall in battle, the monster will “level up” and then go after someone else on your list. PS4 players get a special treat in the form of a Rift that features monsters ripped straight out of The Last of Us. This rift seems to spawn randomly and is a bit rare to encounter. It’s cool fan service, but once you’ve beaten it once, it’s won’t seem like that big of a deal if you encounter it again.
As much as I’d like to try and nitpick, I really can’t find much to dislike about Ultimate Evil Edition. If you still haven’t taken the plunge, it’s a toss up between this and the PC version and probably will come down to which control scheme you prefer. But if you like to game with your friends in person on the couch as opposed to over the Internet, this version is a must-buy.