It’s A Whole New Sanctuary…Kinda
I loved the original version of Diablo III . So much so that I thought the addition of Reaper of Souls and other tweaks couldn’t do anything to improve my love for the game. I was so wrong. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition does so many things right it’s going to be hard to cram them all into this review, but it won’t be for my lack of trying.
I started off my next-gen adventure by exporting my level 60 Barbarian from my original play through of Diablo III on PS3, so I wouldn’t lose all the work I had put in last year, thus enabling me to be able to get straight to new content. This was extremely simple to do, just export your characters from your original version in the options menu and import on your console of choice, mine just happened to be the PS4. I was happy to see Slappy (my Barbarian) and after a few minutes on the battlefield, we were intimately reacquainted and destroying the hordes of hell, laughing all the way.
I dove right into Act V, which as you would imagine, takes place after the end of the original Diablo III . The whole of humanity is under threat from an unexpected force, and it is up to you as the Nephalem to stop it. Act V seemed to be longer than the other acts, but I’m not sure if it felt that way because I explore every inch of every world map and kill everything in sight, or if it was technically longer. Either way, I found myself enjoying an entirely new area, with new enemies and quests.
This brings me to the genius that has been injected into Diablo III with this latest release–Adventure Mode. One of the things that did actually bug me about the original Diablo III was the need to traverse the same story over, and over, and over, and over again to level up your characters. While the addition of a fifth act definitely extended the duration of the game and the amount of times you would have had to play through to level a character, the addition of adventure mode gives you a much more attractive way to play without the repetitiveness that could become a grind.
In Adventure Mode, you choose one of the five locations from the game and complete quests called “bounties” for rewards. This mode also opens up Rifts that have a higher legendary item drop rate (and are much more difficult) so you can outfit your character while playing through areas with a little more variety. Or if you just wish to travel to locations within the world map and lay waste to some enemies, you can do that. Basically it just opens up the game so you can play how you want to, when you want to, without having to work your way through the story again, which is a welcome change.
In addition to opening up the world of Diablo III to the player, there have also been some streamlining modifications made to several of the economy functions found in Diablo III . For instance, collecting tomes for training your Artisans is no longer required. It is also no longer necessary to craft items that are required to upgrade your artisan, everything you need can be collected. In addition, the ingredients necessary for crafting with your blacksmith have been reduced considerably. Almost everything you need for crafting weapons and armor can be obtained by salvaging unwanted items and is persistent across all levels. Meaning, instead of the tiered system of ingredients that was in place before, the yield from salvaging items is the same across all levels and difficulties, making the process of creating armor and weapons much simpler. I always hated having to combine tons of a lower tier ingredients just to get a couple of a higher tier, it made crafting items you actually wanted almost impossible.
Last but not least, there is now an additional artisan. A Mystic who can enchant or transmogrify weapons and armor. Enchanting works a little different that other games however. Instead of adding attributes to an item, you can replace an attribute with another. The process is random, but if you have an item that would be perfect for you but it has an attribute that is out of place for you, at least you have the chance to change it. Transmogrification doesn’t add any attributes to your items, but instead allows you to change the appearance to anything that’s available in the game. There is even a Guise of the Colossi recipe that allows you to make your gear themed after “Shadow of the Colossus.” In comparison to the benefit the other artisans provide, the Mystic offers little more than customization, but it is a welcome addition to an already excellent system.
The last major change to the original format of Diablo III is a simplified difficulty system. Before, you had to progress through each mode (Normal/Nightmare/Hell/Inferno) to increase your character level and get better gear. In each mode, there were varying difficulties (Easy/Normal/Hard/Master I-V) that let you increase the difficulty in each mode. Now, there is a simple difficulty system (thankfully) in which you select from Normal, Hard, Expert, Master, and Torment I-V. This has fundamentally changed the mechanics of how the game is played, so instead of having to play through each mode to get to the highest level of gear, you can simply up the difficulty on the fly as you progress.
Adding to the already bountiful selection of extra gameplay features, the addition of the Crusader class includes even more Diablo III goodness to discover. The Crusader is definitely a brawler, but with a bit of magical and ranged ability. This addition rounds out an already complete cast of characters and the power of the Crusader is undeniable.
But, though Diablo III has evolved much, there are some things that just don’t need to be changed. At least not much. One thing that remains almost completely intact from the original game is the soundscape, and rightly so. The old adage is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and that certainly applies here.
Visually, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition looks better than ever, especially on the PS4 and Xbox One. Upgraded to 1080p on PS4 (the platform on which I played) and locked at 60 fps, there is a noticeable increase in graphical clarity. Most notable is the visual performance though, through about 20 hours or so of gameplay I never saw any glaring issues. No framerate drops and no visual glitches of any kind. Even during the in-game rendered cutscenes which were notoriously finicky on the original version. Even though the visual improvement isn’t huge in terms of eye candy, it is easily much more stable and reliable and that make for much better gaming.
So, I guess it’s time for the $60 question. Is Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition worth buying? First of all, if you’ve never played Diablo III then the answer is a whole-hearted and resounding YES! You don’t know what you’re missing. If you have played Diablo III before, you can import your old characters, breathe new life into them and play a totally revamped game. What I love most about the Ultimate Evil Edition is how it does deliver the content in a fresh way and is not just a simple port. So, if you’re looking for some Action-RPG goodness, Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition is the game for you, no doubt about it.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
The upgrade of 1080p locked at 60fps makes for a visually smooth and beautiful game. 4.5 Control
The control scheme translates wonderfully to the controller interface. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Excellent voice acting punctuates and overall impressive score. 4.8 Play Value
While the core game remains largely unchanged, the addition of Act V, the Crusader class, and an adventure mode add plenty of additional playability to an already incredible game. 4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|