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Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition - Review
Diablo 3 has finally made its way to next generation consoles, alongside its DLC expansion, Reaper of Souls, in what could arguably be called the definitive version of the game at this point.
So what are the differences? In all honesty, not all that many, once you remove the on-disc DLC from the equation; which includes an extra act to play through. Most of the improvements are minor technical changes; a higher frame rate and slight improved visuals being the most notable. It's unlikely to be an upgrade that PS3/Xbox 360 Diablo 3 players will be desperate to have.
For those that are new to the series however this is still perhaps the most complete version. Diablo is the archetypal dungeon-crawler, a game that, in all honesty, has players repeat the same cycles of attacking, looting and levelling up, until they get bored enough to move on to another game. The series has never been an especially elegant example of game design - its random loot-drops and equipment grinding only serving to satisfy a specific kind of player that can put up with its repetition.
Granted, Diablo 3 does have a few aces in its sleeves, its six characters, five from the original game and one from the expansion are all varied enough to require different approaches. Classes such as the Witch Doctor excel at crowd control abilities, with the power to summon zombie dogs and hulking undead goliaths but not having many precision moves for one-on-one combat. Other classes, such as the Demon Hunter, have to carefully balance their skills (only a limited number can be hot-keyed at a time), to ensure that mobs and single, elite enemies can both be defeated with ease with the hunter's long-ranged attacks.
However, Diablo 3 is still a game that risks drying up incredibly quickly. The first few tentative hours in the game's first chapter are its best; your character is still developing and new skills are unlocked at a brisk pace, requiring that you constantly re-evaluate your set-up to be as efficient as possible. Later chapters though, risk descending into a dull grind. Many areas become boring, with repetitive level design and identikit creatures which aren't helped at all by the copy-and-paste elite "powers" that some of the enemies have, such as the ability to spit acid pools or lock you in place for several seconds.
"Bosses" don't fare any better either. Each act is usually bookended by a bigger fight, but the process entails the same actions as usually. Many of these encounters simply take place in a bigger arena than usual but your strategy will typically remain the same; mashing away with a button or two along with judicious use of the evade stick. Overall, given the sameness of pretty much every scrap, it kills the game's pacing, making every quest feel like an endless trudge rather than a chance to get excited.
Likewise, whilst the rune system is in one sense a great idea, allowing players the ability to experiment with different builds without committing to any particular one due to stat allocations, it also leads to some rather bland, simplistic gameplay; once you've "solved" your build deciding what works the best, there's very little room for experimenting or altering your set-up.
This leaves picking up new loot as one of the sole reasons to continue, the game quickly descending into little more than a fancy roulette table as you wait for the next mental rush from the game's randomness. Here again some of the game's design choices cause loot and new equipment to quickly become bland. Weapons and armour are tied to one specific stat, which varies depending on your class; Barbarians require strength, for example, whilst Witch Doctors and Wizards need intelligence. Since class effectiveness is so closely tied to one stat it reduces the vast majority of your character's loot to nothing more than junk. There's very little creativity to be had when improving your characters equipment given that cold, hard maths will usually dictate which is the best weapon or piece of armour. Altogether it makes the process feel rather soulless.
Diablo 3 is the kind of game that appeals to a specific kind of player. If you're someone that enjoys the thrill of randomness, or perhaps enjoys the warm glow of a fruit machine, then Diablo 3's wheel of fortune might appeal to you. For those that actually want a degree of strategy to their dungeon crawlers however, then you're perhaps best looking elsewhere, you're not likely to find it here.
Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition was released for Xbox One, 360, PS4 and PS3 on August 19th.
This review is based on the PS4 version.
© 2014 LudoLogic