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Aug 26, 2014

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $59.99
We Recommend: $49.99
  • Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Genre: Action, RPG
  • Released: Aug 19, 2014
  • Platform: Xbox One, Xbox 360

The Diablo franchise has been absent on consoles since the first incarnation on the original PlayStation. Since then, it has been PC only. Diablo III released to the previous generation of consoles last year. And so, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition is mouthful to say, but contains a compilation of an original game and its recent expansion, with a whole host of changes exclusive to the console that PC players will be begging for.

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Comparisons of Diablo III for the uninitiated can be made to the PS2-classic, Champions of Norrath. With direct control of your character and actions mapped to the face and shoulder buttons, is fairly easy to pick up and play. Some extra time to wrap your mind around the controls may be needed for those transitioning from the PC, as there are no options to play the game that way there.

The story for the game involves Diablo being reawaken after the events of a fallen star crashed into a cathedral in Tristram. While the story itself is nonsensical and at times, hard to follow, it serves enough purpose to transport to several locations as there have been undead, demons, and other hellish, nightmarish creatures brought to the surface that must be vanquished by any of the six character classes.

The different character classes: Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Wizard, Monk, and Witch Doctor all play distinctly and pair well with others. Some classes like the Witch Doctor don’t especially play well solo, and could put you in bad situations often. The new class exclusive to the Reaper of Souls expansion, is the Crusader. He plays similarly to the Barbarian, but with a heavy focus on shield abilities, makes his or her gameplay enough reason to try out something new.

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The Ultimate Evil Edition brings many new modes and gameplay additions that cannot be found elsewhere. First up, is Apprentice Mode. This allows two characters at different levels, close or far apart to be able to level easily while playing together. The lower-level character is temporarily boosted up to match the higher level for the duration of the play session. Both characters then get experience and gear in accordance to their base level. As a bonus, the lower level character gets a bit of an extra experience boost, to help them level up even faster.

A really neat social addition, is the Nemesis system. If a particularly crude monster happens to kill your character, there is a chance that it can level up, morph into a different creature, gain new abilities and transport itself out of your game and into a friend’s game via a portal. While a friend is playing, this monster can randomly appear (designated by a change in musical score to signal its arrival), and will state who it killed on your friends list. If the monster kills your friend’s character, it will become even more powerful, and transport to another friend on your friends list. This will continue until it is finally defeated. Whether you are a recipient of being killed by a monster or the one who finally vanquishes one, this makes even a singleplayer game become multiplayer by the way it inhabits and evolves from game to game.

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When a Legendary item drops for a player, there is a chance that there will be an extra “Player Gift” that drops as well. And it will have the name of someone on your friends list who plays the game. You can then use the in-game Mailbox to then send the gift to your friend for use in their game. It can be opened by any character on the friend’s account, and the item will roll the dice for a Rare or Legendary appropriate to that character.

Another new, but significant change is the way Massacre bonuses are boosted this time around. Now, the higher the kill chain, the more experience will be earned. The Destruction bonus from destroying 5 or more pieces of furniture or barrels, now provides a little speed boost. Killing enemies with traps like chandeliers is being experimented with, to possibly provide a resource boost. Again, something small can have a major impact over time, and more incentive to smash every vase and lure all enemies to a singular area for a higher chance to chain kills.

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On PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the difference in performance between them and the PC version are negligible. There are some framerate drops when the action gets hectic on next-gen consoles, but nothing terrifically bad. The inventory works well on console, if not a bit clunky in navigation and design. Some buttons are simple, like teleporting to town. The way that gear is structured, doesn’t allow you to view all of your inventory at once.

It is possible for you to import your characters from the previous gen games, if you’re upgrading to a new console or staying on the same console, you can continue playing Diablo III with all your original characters, without having to start over. For instance, you can go from Xbox 360 > PS4,  Xbox 360 > Xbox One, PS3 > Xbox One, or PS3 > PS4. Blizzard did a good job in making sure previous owners of Diablo III on console did not get left out. Now, there are technological reasons why the PC version cannot transfer to console, but as someone who has spent over a hundred hours with Diablo III on PC, it would have been nice to bring in these characters I’ve spent a lot of time with.

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There’s still an overwhelming feeling that despite all of the great additions that the console version has, the PC version just plays a bit more fluidly, save for the direct control movement. Blizzard has done a remarkable job with Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition. While I must throw caution to PC players looking to transition over, it’s absolutely a must-own for players new to the game or genre. Simply put, there is nothing like this game on any console.

A downloadable PlayStation 4 code was provided by Blizzard for review purposes