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Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition for XBox 360 - a Review
So What's New?
Adventure Mode: Once you've beaten the game by following the story through to the end, you unlock Adventure Mode, which allows you to play ANY part of ANY Act at ANY time! Monster power will scale to match your level, so you will always be playing at a challenging level! And you only need to beat it once; any other characters can play Adventure Mode from level 1, if you choose!
Nephalem Rifts: A unique stage where you can fight an assortment of enemies in new and unusual areas. The goal is to kill everything and collect some epic loot at the end!
Bounties: Don't just wander around Sanctuary killing stuff! Instead, take on a bounty mission and kill some specific baddies for loot, gold, experience and other goodies!
New difficulty settings: There used to be Normal, Nightmare, Hell and Inferno. Then they added Monster Power. All of that has been replaced with the Normal/Easy/Hard/Expert/Master/Torment scale which amps up the difficulty, but since monster levels follow your level no matter where you are, the difficulty just makes them more stronger (awesome grammar!) or less so. And Torment has 6 levels with increasing rewards for each level of torment you put yourself through!
I have been a long time Diablo fan, all the way back to the original game, through the Diablo 2 and Lord of Destruction years - and they were many - and got right into DIablo 3 on PC on the day that it came out. I had pre-ordered it months earlier, and was ecstatic once I started to play.
Then, a year and a bit later, Diablo 3 came out on XBox 360 (check out my previous review for D3 on Console here). I already had it on PC, and didn't see the need to pick up another copy. Then, my buddypicked up a copy, and that sealed it: I had to get one, too. So we started gaming together, and - although he far surpassed my achievements in the game - we had a blast together, taking on the minions of the Burning Hells.
When he got bored of the game, I went back to the PC version around the time that Reaper of Souls came out. I never got the expansion, but I did benefit from the Loot 2.0 system, and the changes to difficulty levels that came with the game. The bountious loot was amazing, and in my first hour, I managed to secure several upgrades for my Demon Hunter (my primary toon) and over the next couple of months upgraded all 5 toons and even managed to get the two that were sub-60 up into the top tier. I collected bucketloads of new gear and was very happy! It was everything that the Console version had added, and then more awesome stuff!
So then I heard that the Ultimate Evil Edition - which was initially announced and teased to be for PS4 only - would be coming to XBox, I was very happy! I considered getting it for Xbox One, since Hooch was telling me he wasn't planning to get it - he has been having major fun with Borderlands 2, and is stoked for the that's coming out in a few months - but I realized that, in spite of the better graphics and the stream of updated content, I would end up likely playing alone. No-one I know has an XBOne, yet, so the best option - which Mrs. SlydeDraco actually suggested I do, so we could continue our gaming adventures together - was to send Hooch an early birthday present and get back to the slaying of the monsters. Pre-Sequel
So, I have had the game for a few days now, and even managed to get in a couple of hours of play, both with and without Hooch - my first run was actually in Act V with my daughter using the new Apprentice Mode... But I'm getting ahead of myself. ON TO THE REVIEW!
Diablo 3 was presented like a play with 4 distinct Acts that each highlighted a region of the world of Sanctuary: Act I starts in the infamous town of Tristram (actually New Tristram, but you do go through a part of Old Tristram as well) and then winds through the outskirts of the town, into Wortham, through the Caves of Araneae and past the Highlands to Leoric's Mansion. Act II takes plac around Caldeum, a large and prosperous town on the edges of a desert, but with a well-kept water system that leads you to an oasis at one end, and a desolate wasteland at the other.
The next step takes you to the area around Mount Arreat, the location that the Worldstone had been. After defending the keep, you fight across the battlefield before descending into the depths of Mount Arreat. Once you have defeated the main boss, you ascend to the High Heavens in Act IV to take on Diablo and complete the game.
Ultimate Evil Edition adds the final piece, Act V, in which you travel to the oft mentioned, but never before seen city of Westmarch. The story continues with another fallen angel, Malthael, who is the Aspect of Death, taking over the town and the dead, stealing the Black Soulstone, and deciding to send the world into a never-ending place of darkness and death. In modern mythos terminology, Malthael would be the Grim Reaper, thus Reaper of Souls.
My first playthrough of Act V, I had set it t about the mid-point of the difficulty levels, and while it was not impossible even with the equipment I had carried over from my earlier playthroughs of Diablo 3, it was still a challenge. The final fight against Malthael presented numerous challenges that required not only a gear check and skill check, but a tactics check as well. Once I had tactics, I had to remember the weapons in his arsenal, plan and be careful, and then try to try (and try and try and try) again until I got it. Not only does he have several very powerful attacks that can instakill you, but the entire fight is in a small circular arena with very little wiggle room. Some of his traps can take up a lot of space on a map in which space is the second enemy!
The story, as with all of the Diablo games, was nothing that will win awards, and is certainly rife with cliches and rehashed twists and turns. But, it continues and expands upon the mythology that we have learned to love (and hate) and does present another interesting "end" to the story. However, there is no finality to it, and seems to present an opportunity for a second expansion, if not a 4th game in the series. At this point, I am not sure how I feel about either. One or the other would be fantastic, but I don't know which I would truly prefer.
Once you complete Act V, you open up my favourite part of the game so far:
Adventure Mode is one of the new additions to Reaper of Souls/Ultimate Evil Edition. Where the previous incarnations of the game limited you to following the story, Adventure Mode opens up the world for you to explore in the order and method you see fit. Don't feel like facing the Skeleton King today, but really want to fight through the Cathedral, and then smash some goat-face in the Highlands? No problem! Just hit the waypoint, pick your destination and start smiting baddies!
While this alone adds a dimension to the game that many people have been craving, there is an added bonus: Tyrael will set up some missions for you to complete during your stay in the Act. There are 5 bounties to collect that can be to kill a specific boss and a number of their minions, or just clear a dungeon. Each area will grant you experience and loot, but if you complete all 5, you will also earn extra loot!
So what kind of "extra loot" are we talking about? As you can see from the image above, completing the 5 bounties grants a set amount of gold and experience. You also receive a Horadric Cache which contains rare or higher items, and several Rift Keystones as well as some crafting materials, usually. Blood Shards - a new type of currency - are also awarded, so there is some benefit to completing the missions instead of just randomly killing and farming.
This isn't to say that farming is not viable or useful - on the contrary, if you are trying to get more legendaries, or upgrades to your gear so that you can bump up your difficulty setting, farming is as good as ever. But extra gold and XP, and the rift keystones and blood shards just make the entire process seem more fun and rewarding.
Wait... Rift Keystones? Blood Shards? What game is this?
Another addition to the game is the Nephalem Rift. This is a special area that is opened up by collecting Rift Keystones from bounties. When you have so many (I have seen it cost five, but I am not certain that is always the amount), you can use them to open a Nephalem Rift into a randomized dungeon filled with randomized baddies. Mobs will drop loot and gold as usual, and at the end of the rift, there is a Rift Guardian who is an elite boss of sorts. Defeating him grants the usual extra gold and items, and if you are lucky, a Greater Keystone will be dropped, allowing you to take on an even more powerful Greater Rift Guardian. *** EDIT*** Greater Rifts are only available in the PC version 2.1, currently, and will be available as an update for XBox One and PS4 in a future patch. They will not - much to my chagrin - be coming to the XBox 360 or PS3 versions of Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition.
The main difference with Greater Rifts is that the mobs don't drop loot or gold - only the Greater Rift Guardan will drop anything, so you have to get to them to get your reward. You are also unable to respec your character once you have entered a Greater Rift, so make sure you are setup the way you want before you go in. I haven't made it to a Greater Rift as yet, but as I understand, there are 100 levels of Greater Rift, where level 1 is similar to Normal Mode, Level 15 comparable to Torment 3 and level 25 to Torment 6. That would make 100... Torment-1Billion-Day-1-Inferno-Impossible-OHNOMYHAIRISONFIRE???? Perhaps we will just say it is going to be a challenge
Blood Shards are awarded through bounties and can be used to gamble for randomized items. Really need a new bow for your Demon Hunter? Go talk to the Bloodshard Vendor, Kadala, and you can gamble a couple of blood shards for a pretty new Sniper Bow. Beware, however, that gambling in Diablo 3 is just like gambling real life: the only guarantee you have is that you will probably lose!
I have spent a several hundred blood shards and have not found anything decent so far, but I will certainly try again. Keep in mind that you may only collect 500 Blood Shards at any one time, and since gambling them is the only use they have, go crazy and spend those bad things. If nothing else, you get a laugh at Kadala's comments on the quality of items you find, and gain more items to salvage.
If you're a fan of the lore, then you will be interested to know that Kadala is the daughter of Gheed, the gambling merchant from Diablo 2. She doesn't have anything interesting to say, though, but if you have blood shards, she is the one to see in order to spend them.
Anything else that's new?
If Adventure Mode, Nephalem Rifts and a whole new act weren't enough for you, there are also the Mystic, the Crusader, new jewel types, level cap increase, Paragon 2.0 and Loot 2.0 to keep you excited!
The Mystic is a new Artisan NPC who will allow for recrafting of items. If you have a piece of equipment with a lot of good stats, but that one thing you don't like or need, you can spend some gold and crafting materials, and she will change the enchantment for you. There will be a few options to choose from, but you can refuse the options presented and choose to try again - however this does use up the crafting materials and gold. Once you have decided on a new affix to your sweet loot, that affix remains and will be the only stat that can be adjusted for it. The item also becomes untradeable (BoA or Bind On Account), but if you are that invested in it's properties, chances are you plan to keep it anyway.
Her other interesting ability is changing the look of the armour and weapons that you bear. Really love the look of Andariel's Visage, but want to put it on your Wizard's Hat? As long as you have found and identified an Andariel's Visage since getting the UEE, you will be able to transmogrify your helm to look like it. There are a number of appearances that can be trained, much as you trained the jeweler and blacksmith, but the most interesting ones will be the legendary and set item looks.
The Crusader, who is associated with Westmarch - from what I remember hearing of the lore in D3 vanilla - is the new character class. Very much a holy knight with a history that crosses over with the Templar, he is the heir apparent to the Paladin of Diablo 2. He uses might, magic and holy power to rend and smash and cleanse the evils of the world. I haven't had a chance to play him for long, but so far I am finding him to be well rounded and fun to play.
While the 4 jewels of the origianl game, and it's 14 levels of usefulness up to Radiant Star were good, there are now an additional few levels for each gem type, as well as the new Diamond gem that has been added. Marquise, Imperial and Royal levels give an additional 5 levels of stat stacking goodness, and the Diamond provides cooldown reduction (helm), extra damage against elites (weapon), or resistance to all elemental types (anything else).
In the original game, level 60 was the goal, but in the Ultimate Evil Edition, you now have an additional 10 levels to gain. Each character class has a new ability - the Demon Hunter's Vengeance skill almost made me wet myself with glee as he started shootin' frickin' lasers!!!! On top of level increases and new skills/runes, each class gets an extra passive slot at level 70, and 3 more passive abilities to choose from.
Loot 2.0 was on everyone's lips for a long time as the loot system was completely revamped. New affixes, better rolls that actually drop items useful for the class you are playing, and better chance for legendaries make the item hunt ever more fun and exciting. The Paragon system from the original game has been upgraded as well, so that you have 4 different types of paragon points to spend on increasing things such as your damage, life regeneration, or resistances. The possibilities are quite interesting as you get deeper and deeper into it.
But wait! That's not all!
No, no, I am not about to say "Call in the next 15 minutes and we will DOUBLE YOUR ORDER!!!!"
However, there is still more... SO much more I will probably forget something.
There is the mailbox, so you can send and receive things from friends. Occasionally, loot will drop that is marked as a gift for a specific friend, which they can find in their mailbox.
There is the nemesis system, where if a monster kills you, they take a portal and end up in your friend's game where your friend must slay the baddy. If they do, awesome loot awaits, and they get the pleasure of having avenged your untimely death.
For the XBox 360 version, I have not heard much about updates, and the lack of any information on that tells me it likely won't be happening. For the newer generation of consoles however (and specifically, I was interested in this fact for Microsoft's consoles, so I am not certain it is as true for the Playstation universe), updates to the game and systems will stay somewhat in line with the PC version of the game, which is pretty exciting news! This means that new events, new items, etc., can all come to the newer systems.
If you haven't been able to tell, I am pretty stoked about D3:UEE. It has taken what I loved from the original, loved more in the Console version, loved most in the PC version, and thrown it all together to make the ultimate (hey, how cool is that: Ultimate is in the name, too!) version of Diablo 3!
I HIGHLY recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed any of the Diablo games, and hope that you get out there and help slay the tide of demonity infesting Sanctuary!