What is old is new, is old and then new again
For those of you who have never had the joy of playing a Diablo game allow me to give you a quick rundown of how the games work: You repeatedly slash/bash/shoot/magic things in the face until they are no more and they explode into piles of gold and magic items. You then equip said items and return to slashing/bashing/shooting/magic’in things in the face until they drop more gold and items that are slightly better than what you already had on. If this does not appeal to you, I’m not sure what to say to you other than we can’t be friends any more.
Diablo 3 first came out on pc in 2012 with several controversial features including a Real Money Auction House (RMA) and an always on internet requirement in order to log in and play. The RMA forced loot drops to be much rarer than normal since you had access to buying them and always on internet meant that if your ‘net was out so was your ability to smash evil in the face for gold coins and shiny objects. Following the release on pc, Diablo 3 would make its way to consoles in 2013 with a completely reworked console interface, no RMA and the new Loot 2.0 loot system before the pc had access to it. Loot 2.0 ensures that you receive larger quantities of loot as well as better loot (LEGENDARIES!!!!). These changes were so popular that they would make their appearance in patches for the pc paving the way for the Reaper of Souls expansion on pc in early 2014 which would include a new Act to the game as well as the Crusader class. Which brings us to the Ultimate Evil Edition coming out on consoles a few weeks ago. A long a twisting road if ever there was one and one that may have had you buy the game four separate times. Well played Blizzard, well played.
Gameplay (Or how I learned to stop worrying and smite things in the face)
Gameplay in the UEE is hugely satisfying on a console. The controls are responsive and the button mapping works out wonderfully for the most part. Abilities are separated into categories with each category assigned to a button on the controller. Pro Tip : Turn on Elective Mode so that you can map multiple abilities from the same category to your controller and open up new combo possibilities. I personally rolled up a Crusader and have not looked back since.
The crusader is a close up “tanky” style of character with some mid-ranged abilities. You can Shield Charge people, throw shields like Captain America, call down divine destructive energy from the skies or focus your holy energy into hammers that smite everything in their path (The Hammerdin returns!). The game does make an interesting choice in that it assumes you will be adjusting the difficulty on the fly as you progress in levels and gear. For instance I started on normal and by half way through the game there was little to no chance of anything being able to kill me. If you have played any Diablo games before I would recommend started on at least Hard if not Expert difficulty (maybe even Master if you are super awesome). I wont spoil the plot here but it is fairly standard dark and dreary Diablo fare.
The Loot, it calls to me
Diablo is about loot, loot and more loot. As you are playing you will be upgrading constantly if not every few minutes at least several times an hour as you level. Which brings us to the question of what do you do when you reach the max level of 70? Well you have several avenues of advancement. The first is Paragon levels which give you small incremental upgrades to different statistics for your character as you gain what used to be levels. The second is, no surprise here, loot. All of the top tier “end-game” builds that allow you to completely dominate the higher (Torment) level difficulties are completely dependent on you acquiring multiple pieces of legendary loot that synergize with one another as well as your ability skills, Want to infinitely throw shields like Captain America? You are going to need at least a Gyrfalcon’s Foote and maybe a Jekangbord. Which brings us to the last OCD component of loot collection. Every time an item drops it can “roll” with a handful of different stats which may or may not be the stats you are looking for. Using the Mystic you can gamble and reroll one of your stats, and only one. This means if you really, really want to min-max your class plan on farming the same items multiple times.
Taking it back to the Couch
Far and away the most impressive feature to Diablo 3 UEE on the console is the ability to do Local Co-op for up to four people. That’s right youngsters there used to be a time where people could play a game together in the same room, and it is back with a vengeance. I cannot emphasize enough how much more fun the game is playing friends. Especially when said friends are sitting next to you and not talking through a mic. Couch co-op almost turns Diablo into the newest, best, most loot driven version of Gauntlet ever conceived (see above). There are of course a few limiting factors to couch co-op: one, everyone has to stay on the same screen at the same time and two, only one person can look at their inventory/use a vendor at a time and it pauses all gameplay when it occurs. These can be annoying but are by no means a deal-breaker.
Diablo 3: UEE is a fantastic buy with potentially 100’s of hours of content in it for someone who is hooked on the loot collection. It is without a doubt the definitive version of the product and well worth your $40 (PS3/360) – $60 (PS4/XBONE).
9.5 / 10 Smited Demonspawns