Diablo is a beloved franchise that has been running strong for more than twenty years. After Diablo II‘s release in 2000, fans of the series waited another twelve years for the release of the next game, Diablo III. Though it was initially the subject of fanbase outrage due to always-online DRM, it was otherwise well received by the gaming community. Now, one year later, we’re seeing the release of Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition (D3:UE) on the Xbox One and Playstation 4. This edition combines Diablo III with its expansion, Reaper of Souls, as well as adding in some new features. Since this is my first time playing any Diablo game, this will be a review on the game itself and not the refinements from previous iterations of Diablo III.
The story of D3:UE follows the Hero of your choice (in my case, the Crusader) attempting to stop the apocalypse and the return of Diablo to Sanctuary. Working with Tyrael, a fallen angel, and Leah, a fated mystic, our Hero murders his/her way up the demonic food chain and goes through Heaven and Hell to prevent the end times. Taking place over five acts, the story of D3:UE will take you through a variety of environments: an abandoned church and cemetery, stinging deserts, ancient strongholds, Hell, a multitude of musty cellars, and two sewers. Why does every game have to have a sewer? Really, the story wasn’t anything special. It was about what I was expecting from this game, but it never made any significant contributions to the overall experience. While it was exciting seeing the new environments and new bosses to hunt, D3:UE treads familiar ground in the Action-RPG genre.
The real problem came from the repetitive gameplay that comprises the entire campaign. The controls and enemy placements are both spot-on, making the combat very satisfying (regardless of what character you play). When I first began the game, I really enjoyed bashing my way through hordes of zombies and unleashing my freshly unlocked powers on bosses. But, by the third act, I was tired of tapping the A button to get through the levels. By the final act, I was using my shield ability to simply run past all of the enemies and advance the story. Even with all of the spells and abilities you can unlock and choose between, it still boiled down to mashing your base attack button. Now, I thought that it may have been the difficulty I was playing on that caused this utter boredom. But, when I was selecting my difficulty, I chose Normal because its description plainly said, “This is the intended difficulty for playing Diablo III“. I can’t imagine that Blizzard intended for their players to be able to kill the final bosses within about thirty seconds, but I shouldn’t assume.
Graphically speaking, you can tell that D3:UE wasn’t created with the current hardware in mind. While the models look dated, the game actually excels in its textures and lighting. There were moments when I would be running through a village during a stormy night and the lightning would illuminate my surroundings, revealing slick roads and my wet armor. Keeping with Blizzard tradition, the cutscenes were absolutely stunning and quickly became my favorite part of playing. The visuals seem to be hit-or-miss; gorgeous details and cutscenes are easily overlooked when you’re focusing on a mob of sixty spiderlings that look like green lumps with legs. What D3:UE really nailed was the audio atmosphere and soundtrack. Weapons make satisfying crunches when slammed into enemies, spells crack loudly in the air, while a haunting chorus keeps you on edge while you fight through Hell. This game is definitely a treat for your ears.
While the main story holds little to no replay value, this is more than made up for with co-op and Adventure Mode, which allows players to visit any location in Sanctuary. You can collect bounties on Elite enemies and bosses or fight for loot in your favorite dungeons. There are also Nephalem Rifts. These Rifts are randomly generated areas with randomly generated enemies. The rifts can vary in difficulty, but they tend to add some of the more extreme challenges to players who have completely equipped their characters with the very best.
The achievement list is a straightforward, well balanced list of milestones in the campaign, using all of the features, and long term goals across multiple playthroughs. After my first playthrough I had unlocked 530/1,000 Gamerscore. While I could grind out another 150 Gamerscore or so with a few more hours of play, I’m pretty happy with where I ended up after being done with the game. I don’t say this very often, but I’m glad that there are some ridiculously long term achievements, because I know this is a game that many players will be putting hundreds of hours into.
I have to admit, my first excursion into the world of Diablo was a turn off. While the combat and dungeon crawling was fun for the first few hours, it quickly spiraled into an exercise in tedium. Blizzard probably owes me a new A button due to the amount of abuse it suffered while playing D3:UE. Without any real story to peak my interest and gameplay which rewards memorizing a combat pattern and repeating it endlessly, I spent a majority of my time wishing they would replace the gameplay with more cutscenes. The most disappointing part of playing this game was that I really wanted to get into the Diablo franchise, but I didn’t count on it being so damn boring.
I give Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition 3 “Inner Demons” out of 5
By Blake Edwards