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Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition Review

This will come as a surprise to no one, but Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition is fantastic. It's a game that takes players to heaven and hell in both the literal and metaphorical sense: Up in the clouds, Diablo III proves why it's earned the moniker of the industry's premier AAA dungeon crawler. Even though it often sinks to the bowls of school boy-design errors, the highs often eclipse the lows; resulting in a gameplay experience only Diablo can deliver.

There's a story knocking around in there somewhere. Something about a falling star that hits a cathedral causing zombies to rise. The player decides to investigate, then it becomes a boring affair of good versus evil. There's even a plot twist you can see coming a mile off. It's uninspired and fails to offer up anything we haven't seen several times over, elsewhere. 

The game expects you to care about these characters you meet and become invested in their fates. Are characters that spew text bubbles over their heads relatable? Can you care about someone who appears small because of the top-down camera? Does only having a few fully-rendered cut-scenes affect how well we get to know these characters? Does everyone talking in bullet points add to or hinder speech?

The story isn't helped by some bizarre performances. There's the usual roundtable of upper echelon RPG actors – Robin Atkin Downes, Jennifer Hale, Gideon Emery, Troy Baker and so on – yet some of the roles come across as camp or lifeless – as though there isn't any clear direction. Michael Gough, for example, who is a great actor in his own right, makes Deckard Cain sound like a bumbling idiot who's smoked one too many pipes. Camp and over-the-top acting is fine if it's intentional, but here it just feels like a load of actors took the day off. Okay, okay, so this is all sounding pretty bad so far.

Don't worry, though. Only one more gripe. Diablo III can be a great looking game, but it isn't consistently beautiful. The opening section of the game is dark and lacks any real distinguishing features to fill out the vast emptiness of faming land and marshes. It's supposed to be dark, that's fine, but even if something's dark, it should still have things of interest. If you compare the beginning of Diablo III with the beginning of the included-expansion Reaper of Souls, Reaper of Souls shows how a world can use a fixed-palette of dark colours and scenery to generate an ugly kind of beauty that the opening moments fail to capture. ;

Oh yeah, that desert area: When viewing a sandy area from a top-down perspective, all the player sees is flat shades of yellow. In short, the desert areas look incredibly bland unless the developer fills it with something of interest, which they don't. There's some camps here and there, but it's mostly just sand followed by even more sand followed by even more even more sand. Which appears as just a load of stagnant textures as far as the eye can see.

In its defence, Diablo starts off looking insipid. But do stick with it, it gets better the more time you sink in.

So to reiterate, the story's weak, the acting ranges from Sean Bean in Game of Thrones to Sean Bean in Silent Hill 2, and some of the textures aren't pretty. Now let's focus on everything Diablo III gets right, which is essentially everything else.

Gameplay is where Diablo III takes to the skies. There's a total of six classes to choose from in the Ultimate Edition. The Barbarian is your smack 'em with over-sized weapons kind of guy. The Witch Doctor utilises voodoo to summon pets and compliment damage through different spells. The Wizard is your mage class. The Monk specialises in fast, close up attacks. The Demon Hunter uses both ranged weaponry and arcane powers to dispatch foes from afar. And courtesy of The Reaper of Souls, there's also The Crusader, who goes into battle brandishing a sword and shield combo.

Interestingly, all of the classes offer a male and female option, complete with different voices and dialogue options, which is neat.

What Diablo does better than any other dungeon crawler is to create classes that all feel inherently different to one another. The Barbarian doesn't handle the same as other melee classes as each offer their own unique playstyle. So by the time you reach the end of the twenty-hour single-player campaign, you'll either want to carry on playing and continue levelling your character or start it all again as someone completely divergent.

After much deliberation, I ended settling on Witch Doctor, because, you know, voodoo is cool, yo! 

There's what seems like an endless amount of options when it comes to building your playstyle. Each character has a signature move (which is mapped to X on PS4) that costs nothing to cast. This becomes your bread and butter move while you're waiting on cooldowns or mana to refill.

For example, the Witch Doctor can either shoot poisonous darts (which can further be upgraded to shoot fire, return mana, or shoot snakes), or he can throw a jar of spiders, or he can release a knot of toads which explode, poison, or confuse. And this is all just for his signature move. Nearly every other button on the controller has a move attached to it, so the possibility to cause mayhem in a variety of different and peculiar ways is seemingly endless.

As for the rest of the spells available, some of the standout incantations include summoning zombie dogs to feast on your foes, calling a giant zombie to smack anything that moves, or zombie piranhas to nibble away at enemies stupid enough to get caught inside their pool of chomping.

Seriously, summoning a pool of piranhas, then slowing your enemy so they can't move, never, ever gets old, and even if it did, there's plenty of other horrifying ways to dispatch enemies for fun.

'Fun' is the keyword when it comes to Diablo. Scouring dungeons in search of loot, bigger enemies, and more loot, is boundlessly enjoyable. Diablo III isn't a game that's meant to be 'experienced,' it's a game that's meant to be played. Picking a class, customising it, then venturing into an unexplored world in search of riches to better your character, then repeating the process in a different area or dungeon, is the most fun you can have while keeping your clothes on. 

When exploring, it's not always clear where you're meant to go. The game will tell you the name of the place, but you'll only get a map marker when you're near. It's the same for dungeons, there's an enemy somewhere, but you'll need to explore in order to find it. 

This lack of hand-holding helps add to the sense of exploration. You're going in blind, so it's up to you and your team to find the whereabouts of entrances or boss enemies and whatnot.

The most divisive aspect of Diablo III is sure to be its difficulty. It's Marmite; some will love it, others will see it as a soppy brown mess. Okay, maybe not Marmite, but you know…

Diablo III becomes easy, fast. The game will point out when you need to up the difficulty based on how well (or badly) you're progressing. I found upping the difficulty at least once per act kept things fresh and exciting. Plus you get more XP and better loot drops. You could, of course, just stick to normal difficulty, but there's every chance the game will become so easy that all of the fun is sapped.

Diablo isn't perfect. Its flaws are obvious but easily overlooked when you're blissfully sending out wave after wave of exploding toads. It's best played with friends, either online or three-player couch co-op via two controllers and a PS Vita. Its highs are holy, and its lows wicked. Yeah, it's flawed, but its problems can be easily smited away following a lengthy play session.

Diablo is a shining example of grinding done properly. As I attempt to write this outro, I keep getting distracted thinking about Diablo III. Who should I play as next? Should I carry on levelling my Witch Doctor's paragon status to improve his skills? Should I carry on searching for new gear? Why don't I get as many in-game gifts as I find for my friends?

I should be coming up with a snappy outro. Maybe sticking with the recurring heaven theme, something about Stairway To Heaven and how Diablo III is one ride you should definitely consider taking? But alas, no. Instead, I'm just going to leave and go play me some Diablo III. Who's with me?

Words by Wes Copeland.

(Version Tested: PS4)


+ Endless amount of replay value.
+ Chaotic fun when played online.
+ The cow level.


- Textures can look 'meh'.
- Story is throw away.
- Deckard Cain's voice.

Edited On 27 Aug, 2014

( 4 )
Im Going Space's avatar
Im Going Space 2 years ago
i like it so far, been waiting for a decent crawler on nxt gen since release. i'm up to Act 5 right now, on playthrough 1. i skipped this game last gen waiting for the release on X1. well worth it. super smooth on single player even with 70 odd enemies on screen plus effects.
Zombieflamingo's avatar
Zombieflamingo 2 years ago
I would like to point out that it's not a cow level it is the level of sparkly happiness and rainbows. I have been playing it constantly since release and it is still fun.
shiny miller's avatar
shiny miller 2 years ago
How is local multiplayer though - does it get confusing with several people?
Zombieflamingo's avatar
Zombieflamingo 2 years ago
The only difference is you are limited to the same screen so you can't split up or anything like that. All the loot is set for each character so even if you have one of those friends who runs and picks up everything you still get a fair share which is good if you are a wizard or demon hunter. Online any loot that drops is for you alone but you can also trade.

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