|System: Xbox One, PS3, PS4*, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Blizzard Entertainment|
|Pub: Blizzard Entertainment|
|Release: August 19, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Violence|
by Joshua Bruce
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.