It follows the original game - itself the third in the series - and a subsequent port to old-gen consoles, plus the Reaper of Souls expansion, which was released on PC earlier this year. The Ultimate Evil Edition brings all of these various strands together into one comprehensive package.
If you've already played Diablo III on PC or old-gen, you can skip right to the last few paragraphs. If you're new to the series and are looking for something fresh to spin in your console's disc drive for the next while, then carry on reading.
Diablo III is an isometric action-RPG. It's filled with grotesque demons and morbid monsters of all shapes and sizes, there's obscene amounts of loot, some wonderfully realised locations, and a silly fantasy story about demons and angels that holds it all together. You control your character from above, guiding them through the world as they destroy literally thousands of monsters that stand in your way.
There's the four chapters of the base game, plus the fifth chapter that came in the expansion pack. That content alone will take you between 15 and 20 hours to complete, but Diablo has been built around the concept of extreme replayability. Once you make your way through the campaign there's several difficulty settings that'll up the challenge and yield more rewards, plus an Adventure mode that recycles content and offers fresh impetus for return visits.
At its most fundamental level, Diablo III is about optimising your character and bringing down destruction on all that oppose you. Blizzard pulls off a clever trick by pacing it just right; you feel like a hero, a total badass, and for the vast majority of the time, you feel in complete in control, dealing with scenarios in a deliberate and purposeful manner.
The aforementioned optimisation takes place gradually and via a variety of different methods. The most obvious is the equipment that you pick up, and the skills you unlock as you level up. The equipment is discovered via loot that drops from chests and downed enemies as you explore. XP accumulates over time and characters regularly level up, and each promotion unlocks new abilities and/or runes that can be used the alter or tweak the way abilities work on the battlefield.
Playing Diablo is an evolutionary process. As more equipment is found/earned and abilities are unlocked, your character is slowly moulded into a killing machine that reflects exactly how you want to play. This process starts from the initial decision you make when you load up the game for the first time. There's six different classes - Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor, Wizard, and the Crusader - and each has a fundamentally different play-style.
For our first pass through new-gen Diablo, we skipped over the Monk class already familiar to us from our time with the PC version, and jumped straight into the Crusader class (it is, after all, the new class that came with the Reaper of Souls expansion). The Crusader is a bit of tank, and can soak up damage while dealing it out tenfold. Over the course of the campaign we settled on the moves that we liked the best, tinkered with them, swapped in new skills, brought back old ones, and added in new runes to subtly adjust the way our attacks affected with our opponents. By the end we had a settled style, and an intimate understanding of how best to play with our particular configuration.
It's the same across all the classes; there's options aplenty. You can go ranged, melee-focused, use brute force or magic and cunning. It's really up to you, and Blizzard has done a fantastic job of facilitating of this flexibility, not just in terms of the different classes that you can choose from, but also in regards to the range of options available within each class. There's also followers who tag along for the adventure, so if you're a ranged character, you can bring a melee-centric ally with you into battle, thus broadening the tactics available at any given moment (you can also choose from a limited selection of skills for your followers, further complementing the decisions made with your character's build).
Your journey through the story will take you to some beautifully realised settings (and, as always with Blizzard, some incredible cutscenes). The artwork is stunning at times, from the intricately detailed locations, to the wonderful backgrounds. Levels are filled with breakable items (you get speed boosts for stringing together chains of broken scenery), and there's often either multiple routes through tangled tunnels/dungeons, or expansive areas filled to the brim with hidden gems of exposition and character.
The beasts that roam inside the levels are a hugely diverse bunch. Blizzard is always throwing something new at you, and given the amount of replayabilty they're offering for those with dedication, it's a good job too. Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, and interacting with them (smashing them in the face with hammer/sword/arrow/spell) is immensely satisfying. There's a crunch to the combat that's easy to appreciate, and even in the most chaotic moments, when many, many enemies surround you, it's usually pretty easy to read what's unfolding and act accordingly. Killing enemies in quick succession builds up a score multiplier, and so you're rewarded for taking on huge swathes creatures and dispatching them in style. The smaller enemies you face are usually only a button press away from obliteration, but there's also a decent number of more fearsome adversaries lurking in discoverable events dotted around the world, or waiting for you at the end of the story missions.
If you've played before, you'll know all that, so let's move onto what's new in this particular package.
Firstly there's the asynchronous Nemesis Mode, whereby enemy demons that kill your friends will, from time to time, make an appearance in your game. Every time they kill a player they get stronger, and then move on to another player's game. We killed the demons that came our way (albeit we only had a limited pool of people to swap enemies with), but it was a nice way of connecting our solo experience to that of those on our friend list. You also get gifts for completing these challenges and can share them with your friends.
The other feature of note is the Apprentice mode, whereby lower-level players can get a boost when they play with more advanced companions in both local and online co-op. It's a nice touch, and it ensures that the experience isn't totally one-sided when two differently skilled characters get stuck into the same game. We tried both local and online (local for much longer), and the system seemed to work well. Our low-level companion did die a little more often, but they were still useful and involved. Another nice touch is the fact that the loot is dropped for both characters, and as it's picked it up it filters automatically to the right player.
Another new feature is the Adventure mode (new in so far as it came with the Reaper of Souls expansion). Here players can revisit previously conquered locations, killing specific enemies for additional loot. Taking out bosses also drops keystones that be can collected together to open up Nephalem Rifts. These are randomised dungeons that are rammed full of enemies and that culminate in a battle with a Rift Guardian, who, once downed, yields up some tasty loot. Once again, there's plenty of replayability here.
So to sum up: Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition is the definitive version of the Blizzard's action-RPG. It looks phenomenal on new-gen if you've got one of those to hand, and the enhanced framerate ensures a silky-smooth experience. Perhaps the thing that surprised us most was that we actually prefered the console controls to the more traditional mouse + keyboard combo (with the mouse we always felt like were dragging our character around, coercing them into combat, but with the analog controls it felt more like we were more in control of our Crusader, it felt like more purposeful movement). There's a huge amount of replayability to be found, and the Adventure mode and harder difficulty settings will give dedicated dungeon crawlers plenty to do once the credits have rolled. The continued presence of couch co-op is another huge positive, and the Apprentice mode mentioned before is a great way of encouraging friends to play together, even if one is more dedicated than the other.
All told, we were really impressed by the Ultimate Evil Edition. If you've played it extensively on the PC then you've seen the significant stuff already, and it's not a straightforward recommendation; you'd have to really want the game on console. If you've got the old-gen version of Diablo III then there's just about enough to make it worth a return visit (the ability to transfer your save game is a blessing), though perhaps you might want to give it a little while until the price drops, that way you might feel like you're getting better value for your money. And finally, if you've never played Diablo before, then now's the perfect time to get stuck in, because this is a great version of a great game and it's well worth an investment of both your time and your money.
Loading next content