Diablo III is samey and full of repetition in the best possible way. Sure, the package is packed with some truly stunning cut-scenes and the odd nugget of nonsensical narrative exposition – but it’s the never-ending combat that will keep you hooked. Such a rinse and repeat formula should perhaps be frowned upon, but even through you’ll realise that this is repetitive – and that its plot is laughably weak – you’ll still find yourself coming back for more.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why the release is so darn addictive, but considering that the studio behind the life consuming World of Warcraft is at the helm, it’s hardly a surprise that you’ll waste days at a time slaying foul beasts and hoovering up the goodies and gold that they spew. You’ll need to invest a serious amount of time in order to obtain the legendary gear at the finish line, but it’s a pursuit that you’ll almost certainly see through – and that’s the game’s greatest strength.
Of course, that was also the case a year ago when we reviewed the PlayStation 3 version, so what does this enhanced, PlayStation 4-powered Ultimate Evil Edition bring to the table? Well, if you’re a console faithful, you should be pleased to learn that this is practically an identical version of the experience found on the PC. All of the content from the Reaper of Souls expansion is present, providing you with an additional character class to master, an extra act to conquer, and the all-new Adventure Mode.
It’s also got a few new tricks up its soiled sleeve, including the Nemesis system – which adds a slightly more social dynamic, where unbeaten antagonists can invade your friends’ games – as well as a Mailbox mechanic. There’s also a pool of PlayStation exclusive content, including some nifty Shadow of the Colossus armour and a Nephalem Rift based upon The Last of Us, complete with Clickers, Bloaters, and Stalkers.
Then, of course, there are the visual improvements, with the release running in 1080p at a largely sturdy 60 frames-per-second. This all results in more detailed textures and a generally crisper gameplay experience than was found on Sony’s previous platform, making the package worth the double dip if you enjoyed what you played before. Meanwhile, tweaks to the loot system and balancing generally give the whole affair a final coat of polish, which kicks the experience up a notch.
Naturally, if you’re arriving fresh to the Diablo III party – where have you been? – then you’ll find all four of the original acts are waiting for you to hack ‘n’ slash your way through. Meanwhile, those of you that are veterans will be able to import your progress and jump straight into the fifth act, before diving into the aforementioned Adventure Mode, which is unlocked once you’ve fully finished the game.
Here, the narrative structure has been removed, and the game instead gives you bounties to fulfil within various locations from the story. Random monsters are thrown at you to impede your progress, as you work to reach Nephalem Rifts, where greater foes and rewards can be found. This is the series’ primary experience distilled to its most pure, concentrating fully on level grinding and loot acquiring. It’s also absolutely ideal for multiplayer, better facilitating the game’s already excellent drop in/drop out couch and online co-op, with a more focused and rewarding setup for those not interested in the story.
On top of Adventure Mode, as mentioned, two other new additions lend themselves to the ‘Ultimate’ moniker. The aforesaid Mailbox is as straightforward as it sounds, allowing you to send your pals any loot that you perhaps don’t fancy but feel that they might. The whole Nemesis system is an even neater social addition, though, bringing ever more potent foes into the games of you and your buddies, which increase in stature with each ruthless kill that they successfully complete. Felling one of these mighty beasts is immensely satisfying – and the achievement is amplified by knowing that you’ve succeeded where your friends have previously failed.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls - Ultimate Evil Edition still has flaws – a boneheaded narrative, minor framerate hiccups, and an inventory system that lacks the elegance of its PC counterpart – but these small niggles fail to dent what is an otherwise exceptional experience. It’s a bit mindless, yes, but collecting loot and slaying enemies is seldom as sweet as it is here. Quite simply, this is an excellent action RPG.