The initial launch of Diablo III back in 2012 was rougher than expected for Blizzard, as the always online aspect of the game was shinned by the majority of players. Even those looking to play the game solo were at the mercy of the servers, and around launch, this proved to be a hindrance due to unstable servers. Since launch, Blizzard has made great strides to improve both the performance and the content of the game, especially with the release of the Reaper of Souls expansion on PC this year and the Loot 2.0 update.
The base version of the game was later ported to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with all the current content updates from the PC version up to that point. The added ability to play offline, the removal of the auction house and the superb controller support made it the best way to play Diablo III. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition brings the Reaper of Soulsexpansion and the highly praised Loot 2.0 update to the current generation of consoles, as well as last-generation. The base game is included, making the Ultimate Evil Edition the perfect addition for newcomers to the console version of Diablo. For those that purchased the previously released console version, you are able to import your save across brands (PlayStation to Xbox and vice-versa) and even into the current generation of consoles. If you started a new game prior to importing, your save file will be overwritten by the imported save. With added features that won’t find their way into the PC version of the game. Blizzard has once again released the best version of Diablo III.
Leveling with friends has always been an issue within my circle of friends, as someone always manages to out level everyone else or under level, leaving them well behind. Through the use of the console exclusive apprentice mode, low-level players are able to play with their high-level friends and more importantly not be a burden on the group. The game not only takes in account the levels of both players, but boosts the low-level player to even out the playing field, generating a world that will reflect the party level. Since the game includes the Loot 2.0 and the latest PC updates (Seasons will not make its way to consoles), the drop rates for legendary items have been increased, and will be more targeted to your class. This means less time screaming profanities as the umpteenth identified legendary item you find is for a different class. It does make it harder for you to use one character to find items for other classes however.
Further expanding the social aspects of the console version, a gifting system has been implemented. Sometimes when you find a legendary (or a green set piece), a small gift box will drop allowing you to send a random item to someone on your friends list. The game randomly selects who the recipient of the item is, but you’ll have to manually send it from your inventory through the in-game mail system. My favorite addition to the game has been the nemesis system, as I now cower in fear when the controller randomly starts to shake and the bells toll signaling a nemesis has entered the world. If one of your friends is killed, there is a chance the creature will become a much stronger demon, appearing in your game with a Diablo-esque appearance and improved strength. The nemesis keeps track of who and how many heroes have fallen, becoming even more powerful with every kill. A defeated Nemesis will drop a gift for the perished friend, allowing you to exact revenge for the fallen comrade.
When I reviewed the PS3 version of Diablo III, I made note regarding the visual aspect of the game was not up to par with the PC version. With the additional power of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the games visual prowess equals that of the PC version. The PlayStation 4 version of the game runs at full 1080p at a smooth 60 frames per second, only dropping slightly when the action covers the entire screen. For a world ripe with destruction and death, you’ll be venturing through colorful locations, each with their own visual charm, complete with bits and pieces that will be affected by powerful attacks.
The biggest draw for the game, and one of the best aspects of The Ultimate Evil Edition is the controller-based control layout. While the mouse and keyboard control scheme works for Diablo and other games in the same genre, the fluidity of the controller trumps the tried and true traditional controls. Giving players direct control over the character, the game feels completely different. Instead of clicking your way to move out of danger, the right stick is mapped to a directional dodge, allowing you to get out of the way immediately. A lot of the times on the PC version I would try and click to move and instead end up attacking nearby enemies, so separating movement from attacking and adding a dodge allows for a more engaging combat system.
Once you save the world of Sanctuary from Diablo once again and defeat Death in Act V, you’ll unlock arguably the best mode in the game, Adventure mode. Previously you would have to run through the campaign countless times in order to obtain new gear or to continue leveling up your character or alternate characters. Adventure mode allows you to complete Rifts and bounties in any of the Acts, unlocking portals on the map for easy access. You may have to return to Act I and defeat The Skeleton King, transporting players to just before the fight, or venture through the Dahlgur Oasis, slaughtering demon after demon to find a specific named creature. Adventure mode is locked at the start of the game, so you’ll have to get at least one character past Act V. Once completed however, any subsequent characters can immediately start in Adventure mode.
Exclusive to both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 versions are unique rifts inspired by Naughty Dog’s masterpiece; The Last of Us. While I have run rifts to completion many times over already, I have yet to have the randomly generated dungeons appear. Using Remote Play, Diablo III translates perfectly to the smaller screen size. I originally played through the entire story mode on the Vita, as I was on vacation when the game was released. The controls feel a little looser due to the analog sticks on the Vita and triggering your R2 skill can be finicky at times as it is mapped to the back touch pad.
The inventory management has stayed the same as it was in the first console release of Diablo III. While hardcore PC players may find it dumbed down, especially how the game generalizes the stats on items into three basic categories. It makes for sorting items a breeze, but it ignores the more intricate details of items.
Diablo III was designed with multiplayer in mind, and whether you join a game with random players or make your way through hundreds of demons with a friend, the game is significantly better experienced with others. With the exclusive content and Remote Play option, the PlayStation 4 is arguable the best way to experience Diablo.
Note: The Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition review was written based on a digital PlayStation 4 version of the game.