The Ultimate Diablo: New version of Blizzard’s classic game released on consolesWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For being one of the most popular PC games ever made, “Diablo 3″ is surprisingly simplistic when it comes to its actual gameplay. From moment to moment, the action RPG largely consists of walking into a new section of map (mine, dungeon, Heaven, Hell, what have you) and mashing buttons to kill all the enemies in front of you as quickly as possible. Sure, that sentence could describe most games, but it sums up few as unabashedly as “Diablo.”
Really, when one strips away the particulars from Blizzard’s epic, you’re left with what is on its surface a fairly thin experience in term of actual gameplay. But that would be missing the point, because the particulars are what “Diablo 3″ is really all about. Sure the combat is simple, but you can augment it with more variables by leveling up and collecting ever-increasingly powerful items. The game becomes an endless loop of exploration and combat, grinding your way through this challenge so you can be better prepared for the next.
The fact that the basics of “Diablo 3″‘s interface are so basic yet addictive makes the game oddly perfect for a transition to consoles. Whereas many PC games struggle to make the leap to a controller-and-couch setting, simply because their complex control schemes may be impossible on a console interface, “Diablo”‘s relatively simple combat mechanics almost work better in a console environment. And honestly, the idea of playing a game like this with numerous friends crowded around the same big screen TV might in and of itself justify buying “Diablo” all over again.
When the game was first released on consoles last fall — on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 — it was a well-made but flawed edition that mostly did a fine job keeping up the production values PC “Diablo” fans were used to, but occasionally lagged in performance and had to make graphical concessions to make the game workable for last-gen. More crucially, though, the title would not see the regular updates PC fans were used to — the publishers, Blizzard Entertainment, are famous for consistently pushing out patches and tweaks to their titles for years, but such regular alterations to “Diablo” just wouldn’t be possible with old school platform architecture.
Well, a new day has dawned with the release of the new “Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition” for platforms. Not only does this new release include the excellent “Reaper of Souls” expansion pack which came out this past February (along with several new modes that greatly increase the game’s replay value), but it marks “Diablo”‘s debut on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. These releases aren’t cheap, though, with the next-gen versions running a full $60, while the PS3 and 360 “Ultimate Evil” editions cost $20 less. Is next-gen worth the upgrade? More to the point, is this new version worth it for fans who already own “Diablo” in some capacity?
It’s hard to say the changes made for the new version of the game will warrant the hefty price tag for longtime fans, but there is little doubt that the tweaks made for next-gen consoles make for a much more smooth and enjoyable experience. The game (on PS4, at least, the version played for this review) runs reliably at a smooth 60 fps, with not a hint of the stuttering and chugging that plagued its PS3 counterpart. Menus and status bars have been slightly redesigned to make them easier to use and more functional. Load times have been reduced significantly.
The game even makes it easy for fans who have previous console versions to upgrade without losing progress: Your game save and all characters can be transferred to the new release, meaning not a single precious item will be lost. In addition, Blizzard has made it clear that the architecture of next-gen systems means that any patches made for the PC version of the game will eventually find their way to consoles, as well. (This promise will be tested soon, as the PC version just saw the release of Patch 2.1, introducing a bunch of new features — when it will arrive on PS4 and Xbox remains to be seen.)
In all, fans who have already played “Diablo” on consoles will find a clearly superior experience with the “Ultimate Evil Edition,” and fans that have never experienced the game are in for a treat. Whether it’s worth the cost for fans who already own the original game (on PC or console) is entirely up to the individual. Personally, I find the improved performance and promise of updates are enough to justify the switch. But for a casual fan just looking to raid some dungeons with his buddies, the original game will still more than serve their purpose.