August 26, 2014
How many times can you re-release the same game? In this era of HD remakes and what not it seems that the answer is: forever. But it'd be nice if we got some new games now and then. Next up on the “have we seen this before?” production line is Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition. Only this time it comes with an expansion pack and it’s the first time it's appeared on the newest generation of consoles. So that makes it practically a new game, right?
For the uninitiated, or perpetually uninterested, Diablo III is a dungeon crawler. In fact, it is probably the dungeon crawler. The idea is that players take on one of six classes (including the new Crusader type) and smash through randomly generated environments in a quest to defeat the evil demon Diablo. Well, that is ostensibly the crux of the matter, but you soon learn that the real goal is playing through the game time after time to find the perfect array of loot to deck out your little group of vagabonds.
Since I first reviewed the game here, not a lot has changed and I still find myself having the same issues now that I did back then. The ongoing story, despite the addition of a tacked-on new chapter, feels flimsy and uninspired. Enemies and areas are easily blitzed through, especially in a group, unless you jack up the difficulty and turn it into a slower more methodical affair but, even then, the right skills will see you triumph. So once the story is done the only real motivation to continue is for the sake of loot, loot and more loot, which may not appeal to everyone.
Mercifully though, there are a few changes that make things a bit more diverse and interesting. For a start you can import your old characters to the new game, thereby letting them take advantage of the new level cap and gear. You can also take part in Adventure Mode, that lets you free roam the Diablo world and beat the living tar out of a variety of creatures. Bounties have been added to the game too, which are essentially side quests that give you a range of tasks and rewards. Some of those rewards may well be fragments that allow you to access the randomly generated Nephalem Rifts for even more unique exploration and loot. Plus the new Mystic craftsman lets you upgrade your equipment in new ways, though it is only truly useful once you hit higher levels.
It’s great that Blizzard has added a bunch of new content and ideas to keep you busy, even if most of it is just variations on the same theme rather than brand new content. Even though Adventure Mode, bounties and the rifts are fun, they're still stuffed with pretty much the same enemies and environments that you will have seen throughout the game. Plus, even though you may have imported your characters and gear from an old save you will still have to do all the game again to unlock areas and achievements from the first time around, so don’t expect a free ride.
As with the last round of console releases the game still handles beautifully on a controller, with navigating around areas, assigning skills and browsing the menus all proving as easy as it would be using a mouse and keyboard. There is still an issue around precision targeting of skills when in combat, but it’s never an issue that feels like it's impeding you in any significant way. The step up to the newest generation of consoles has also added an extra visual polish so that players are finally getting a wonderful experience that PC players have had for some time, and the environments have never looked better.
The best tweaks have probably come in terms of the multiplayer modes, if truth be told. Diablo III is a game that is always much better with friends and the option of having up to four players in local or online co-op is ideal. Beyond that you can easily team with other people regardless of their level thanks to the Apprentice Mode, which sees a high level player mentor a newbie and sees them able to actively be useful and level up at a much faster rate too. Another neat twist is the Nemesis system, whereby enemies that kill you are unleashed into your friends' games as named villains with each successive kill seeing them grow in power and reward. Should you be feeling generous you can also share your loot with others via the easy to use mail and gifting system, so feel free to give away those stinky pants you keep on getting.
As mentioned earlier, the achievements are much the same as they were in Diablo III, but you’ll still have to carry out all of the requirements once again even if you import all the characters you have. Plus, you can expect to have to grind every single class to level 70 to get the full 100% which is not as hard as it sounds, mainly thatnks to the Apprentice Mode, but may still be offputting for those that have a favourite class. Oh, and you’ll need to hit level 70 in Hardcore mode too (the one where your save is deleted if you die) so no doubt that will cause a few players some sleepless nights.
As a bright and breezy loot gathering game, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls has few equals, but as someone that went through the game five times only a year ago this doesn’t add enough interesting new content to make me want to go back for more over and over again. The combat and story are still uninspired and while some variety has been introduced with all of the new additions it's not enough to make the Ultimate Evil Edition anything more than a perpetual loot grind. If you haven’t played the game yet then Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition is the definitive version and well worth a go, but for old hands it's just more of the same with a nice lick of paint.
The same wonderful score and voice work, with a few new snippets thanks to the extra content.
A graphical upgrade over the last console version, and one that makes sure the game looks as good as it was always meant to.
Easy to pick up and play, and the range of new modes and multiplayer options make playing with friends even easier. It’s nice to see that low level players can hang with their buddies too, and be rewarded for it.
The best Diablo III package you're likely to get, with a raft of content to keep you occupied. The only problem is that repetition may soon kick in, which could be offputting for some.
The same bog standard list as a year ago, only now you need to grind EVERY class to level 70 and do the same in Hardcore mode to boot. Neither are especially hard, but the time and repetition required are too much.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition is a bumper package for loot hunters but is still not a very interesting game to play once you’ve been through it once. Long time players will easily get sucked back in to grinding for legendary loot, but the rest may well be mystified by the obsession. Still this is undoubtedly the version to get if you haven’t been sucked in before now and all the bells and whistles add to the overall appeal.