Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition Xbox One Review
Console gamers and fans of Diablo III who wanted to play the game with a pad on a comfy couch were left waiting well over a year before the console port of Diablo III was released on Xbox 360 and PS3. I reviewed the console adaptation and mentioned that Blizzard had done an outstanding job bringing the game to those systems. It worked fantastic with a controller, which is thanks to how the UI was modified to fit with the layout of the gaming pads. Also, the way the core skill setup in Diablo III was designed meant that its gameplay wasn’t altered or handicapped when moved from keyboard and mouse to the controller – it really was a great way to play the game.
The expansion pack, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, which released on PC earlier in the year (PC review) is now finally on PS3 and Xbox 360 after a shorter time period of five months between the two releases. This also marks the first time that gamers can play the complete Diablo III experience on their infant PS4s and Xbox Ones, as this Ultimate Evil Edition brings the addiction of loot collecting to the current generation, while also throwing in some amusing extras for added fun that are unique to the this console version. And of course, who can forget the wonderful upgrade to 1080p that makes the art detail standout and the models sharp, while the target 60 frames per second, which holds up for the majority of the game, keeps the action flowing smoothly. It’s a much silkier, prettier version of what was on the Xbox 360/PS3.
My favourite of the exclusive console features is a new monster called the Nemesis. This twisted being begins as a normal enemy, but if it manages to slay you, it has a chance of turning into a unique Nemesis being and is teleported randomly to another person’s game who exists on your friends list. It seems that if no one on your friends list is playing, the monster can warp back on yourself, as I was playing with three other people and the monster that killed my lovely Aya (the demon hunter) randomly showed up later in my game as a Nemesis, showcasing that he had killed my character, as it displays this under its name for all people to see, then assaulted me and my random adventurers. If it manages to kill again, then it levels up and goes off to visit another friend’s game, but if you do kill it, you are rewarded with good loot and the ability to gloat and say you revenged your friend, or in an amusing twist of fate, yourself.
While it’s not an earth shattering feature, the Nemesis idea is probably the best inclusion of all the console exclusive features. The other modes are Apprentice, a mode that allows people who are rather low level compared to their adventuring team mates to have an increase in power, giving them the chance to stand up better against the fiends of hell. It’s only a temporary boost, as once the session is finished the player’s stats will drop down to their original level. This feature is certainly a good way to build up experience, while at the same time being able to hang with friends who might have played more of the game than you. Lastly, there is the ability to mail gifts to people using the mailbox planted in the safe zones of each act. Overall, the PC crowd doesn’t need to cry for these features, as they are just small superfluous extras that add a bit of fun to the overall Diablo III experience.
What is the most important part of Ultimate Evil Edition is the Reaper of Souls content. This big addition follows after the success of the Nephalem’s destruction of the prime evil, Diablo, at the end of Diablo III. To keep humanity and heaven safe from the chance of another hellish invasion from the demonic spawn, Tyrael takes the black soulstone and hides it deep within the grounds of Sanctuary, under an area known as Westmarch. Unknowing to Tyrael, he was followed by Malthael, the Angel of Death, who wants to take the power of the soulstone and use it for himself to sacrifice all humanity to stop the Eternal Conflict between Heaven and Hell. As Malthael walks away with the black soulstone, a surviving Horadrim manages to escape and is tasked by Tyrael to find the Nephalem and alert them to the troubles that are coming. The beginning of Act 5 starts as the Nelphalem arrives on the outskirts of the reaper infested city of Westmarch and from there must put a stop to Malthael’s grand scheme.
Act 5 comes across very different in mood compared to the original game’s four acts. The journey to Malthael is one full of new enemies, the army of reapers, who are going around the city of Westmarch and sucking out the souls of every living human. To represent this, the setting of act 5 is devoured of any rich colour pallet, using strong tones of grey to give off an aura that life has been sucked out of the city. A lot of the earlier sections of Westmarch are fairly linear, made up of streets and buildings that are mostly straight pathways to the next area.
The locations open up a bit when you’re in the outskirts; offering a wide map in the marshes that requires you to pinpoint the correct entrance, out of four possible options, to continue the journey. It’s nice to see a part of the game that requires the player to explore to progress, needing to find posts that offer clues into which symbol is the correct entrance. You can take a guess and progress through a cave to see if it’s right, but if wrong, you’re met with a teleport stone that returns you back to the marsh to find the remaining entrances. This is an aspect I would love to see expanded in another expansion, making the journey through Diablo III more than a simple point A to point B adventure. The overall length of Act 5 is around three hours, similar to the length of Act 2. It’s an act filled with varied locations, and design wise, is probably the best act in the game, but the amusing thing is that this act isn’t even the best added content in Reaper of Souls. That award goes to ultra-addictive Adventure Mode.
After beating Act 5, Adventure Mode becomes accessible from the main menu. This new content allows a character to freely jump between any of the five acts to a randomised set of five bounties per act. Bounties are random tasks, which are different every time you create a new Adventure Mode, opening endless possibilities for anyone into the Diablo III gameplay. The bounty concept makes the Adventure Mode a sweet place to hang in if you want to have a quick 15 minutes with the game and make some meaningful progress with your character. Story mode is no longer required to level up the character, and with all of the game’s retuned difficulties – five in total, with the last one, torment, having stages that increase the difficulty even more – available from the get go, this is an area of the expansion that I feel everyone will move to once the story is completed. It’s simply a more open, thrilling and varied mode that can be played on your own or with other people online.
There are also huge experience rewards for finishing off an act’s five bounties when the act is highlighted with “bonus” on the world map. I can’t stress enough how helpful Adventure Mode is for levelling up a character and getting shiny new loot for them. Also related to successfully completing bounties is the reward of keystone fragments, which allow the opening of a Nephalem rift to an unknown randomly created dungeon made up of elements taken from the game’s acts. These rifts are nothing more than kill-a-thons, where the player is tasked with butchering enemies until a metre is filled and a rift guardian appears for your blood. Killing the guardian rewards with another large lump of bonus gold, experience and new currency called blood shards, which can be exchanged for randomly generated weapons from a seller in the act’s safe home.
Reaper of Souls has changed Diablo III into a game with no end in sight. The level cap for a character is now 70, and this comes with some new skills and additional passive slot for all existing characters, but the biggest change is down to the Paragon system, with Paragon 2.0 removing the level 100 cap from the game, leaving it open to how far you are willing to put time into getting the experience to level up. Paragon levels are also no longer character specific, with the system going global across all your created characters. To make this work, each character has a unique pool of points to spend, with a point unlocked for every paragon level reached. Points can be placed into categories, such as vitality, attack speed, critical hit, bonus armour and so forth. This even works on a level one character, so creating a hardcore character can benefit from another character’s gain of paragon points to make that mode slightly less daunting.
The last new addition of Reaper of Souls is the new Crusader class, a sort of call on the Paladin from Diablo II mixed with elements of the Barbarian. It’s a slow class, following a tanking play style, as the class is based on dealing huge damage, while having high defence to take anything thrown at it, thanks to its use of huge shields and the strength to wield powerful swords. Their skill tree has some amusing abilities, such as casting a horse to rush out from the Crusader or calling down a holy beam of light from the heavens that will track an enemy and deal damage until its duration runs out. I certainly had fun playing the Crusader class from the start, and I feel that there is just enough difference for people who played the Barbarian to enjoy playing another heavy hitting character in the expansion.
Console players of Diablo III are in for such a good time with Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition. Blizzard has included all the great content from the PC version, plus building on what started in the original console version of Diablo III to improve the loot drops and eradicate the odious auction house, has made this current generation version of Reaper of Souls a truly ultimately fun experience for console players and people who are fans of action RPGs. There really is no other choice on current generation consoles that allows oneself to waste hours away on your own or with friends smashing enemies and powering up through shiny, sparkling loot and coming away after a session feeling so good about it.