Diablo 3 was an easy game to fall in love with.
This was a game that expertly melded together simplicity on the surface with depth at its core, as an addictive pursuit of the absolute best gear that the game had to offer intertwined with the meticulousness of fine-tuning your character. And as my lust for loot took me to battlefields both hallowed and hazardous, across sun-glazed deserts, castles under siege and forests awash with ambling undead, my introductory Diablo experience was one that left a telling impression. If this was the game that Diablo 3 had hoped to be, then I would’ve hated to see what it used to be.
A far cry from the much maligned yet eventually revamped PC version, Diablo 3 on console represented the game that people had yearned for from the very beginning. The biggest difference was clearly the omission of the auction house, with the lack of one directly attributing to the return of Diablo’s heavily loot-infused gameplay. With no auction house to monopolize rare items and a fixed loot-drop rate among other things, the console iteration of Diablo 3 thrived, manifesting as an unlikely beacon to the true Diablo experience.
Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition joins the likes of The Last of Us Remastered, Metro Redux and the upcoming Sleeping Dogs remake in making the generational jump. And not being just a simple port that exists only to wring a little extra cash out of the brand, Diablo 3 UEE brings with it a whole host of extras that more than justify its Xbox One and PlayStation 4 tenure.
The biggest draw for existing Diablo 3 players will likely be the addition of the Reaper of Souls expansion pack, which adds a whole fifth act onto the already sizable Diablo 3 adventure. Reaper of Souls brings with it everything you would expect from a Diablo expansion, with new locales to visit, a much more varied bestiary to slay and new weapons to help you do so. Just as in the base game, Reaper of Souls’ patchwork story builds up to a climactic battle with the aspect of evil now residing at the top of the food chain, which in this case is former angel turned reaper, Malthael. And on your journey to slay the being who now holds dominion over the Black Soulstone, you’ll do battle in much more murkier and ominous locations that harken back to the Diablo of old. There’ll be no deserts of Caldeum or Gates of Heaven here, as instead, you’ll wander the dreary streets of Westmarch in your pursuit of evils latest figurehead, doing battle with a plethora of new monsters as you go.
Of course, neither the Diablo 3 base game nor the Reaper of Souls expansion really prides itself on the strength of its story. The battle of good versus evil is really as black and white as it sounds, and although Reaper of Souls operates with a little more freedom than the core Diablo 3 plot, it’s still hard to take seriously. A relief then, that Diablo 3’s biggest strength is not only recognized, but also delightfully accentuated courtesy of Reaper of Souls brand new ‘Adventure Mode’.
Adventure Mode is a sizable end-game activity that tasks players with slaughtering enemies by the droves across all corners of Sanctuary. This is more than just an aimless killing-fest however, with Adventure Mode being your gateway to some of the most aggressive and intense battles that the game has to offer. In Adventure Mode, Sanctuary will be littered with objectives called ‘Bounties’ that can be accessed in any order simply by interacting with your map. Complete enough Bounties and you’ll earn passage into a Nephalem Rift, which takes you to a randomly generated dungeon populated entirely by aberrations and atrocities from every darkened recess of Sanctuary. Survive until the very end, and only the Guardian of the Rift stands in the way of you and one of the most satisfying loot drops you could’ve possible hoped for.
Adventure Mode works so well because it embraces the chaos of Diablo conflict, whilst serving its purpose as the ideal post-game undertaking. Not only does Adventure Mode sate the desire for a varied, challenging activity that is free from the burdens of the story, but it also makes use of the freshly implemented Paragon system, which means that you can continually strive to earn the perfect gear for your character, but also consistently improve them despite having reached the level-cap.
Reaper of Souls brings with it an assortment of other welcome additions to the game too, none more so than the inclusion of a brand new character, the Crusader. The answer to the fan-favourite Diablo 2 Paladin class, the Crusader represents a defensive tank; one that can take a lot of damage, whilst doling out a fair bit of it too.
The Crusader represents one of the most team-oriented classes in the game. As well as the ability to defend themselves extensively, Crusaders are imbued with numerous runes and abilities that focus on self-preservation, area effect damage and slowing the enemy assault. For example, combining the ‘Laws of Hope’ rune with ‘Consecration’ and the passive skill ‘Vigilant’ will keep you in good health as you cut a bloody path through the dungeons and deserts of Sanctuary, whilst utilizing the ‘Fervor’ rune with the ‘Punish’ attack and ‘Celerity’ will greatly quicken your attack speed whilst utilizing one-handed weapons. The Crusader’s biggest trump card through is their shield, which, when combined with the ‘Heavenly Strength’ rune, allows them to wield a two-handed weapon and a shield at the same time. This perfectly exemplifies their role on the battlefield too, with the Crusader able to bottleneck the onrushing beasts whilst their allies take a breather away from danger.
One of the qualms I never touched on during my original review of Diablo 3 was how increasingly annoying it was to find the perfect piece of gear, only for it to make your character look less like an accomplished dealer of death and more like a rodeo clown. Step forward the Mystic then, the Reaper of Souls exclusive artisan here to solve many of your more specific loot problems.
The Mystic has two distinct abilities; alter the appearance of your items and re-roll the stats of an item one affix at a time. Like the Paragon mechanic, the re-roll ability allows you to minutely alter the traits of an item, making it fit your characters specifications that little more perfectly. And avoiding the obvious foible that could’ve seen a re-roll instantly overwrite the current stats of an item, you’re instead given a choice between three distinct alternative abilities, whilst you can always revert to your previous stat should you not like what you have been offered. The Transmogrification ability of the Mystic though panders to people like me; the lovers of all things aesthetic. Should you be unlucky enough to lack the legendary gear you so richly deserve, then you can alter the appearance of current gear without ever having to own it, giving you the look of a consummate killer without needing the loot to back it up. And just like how the Crusader character perfectly fit in alongside the other five, the Mystic is an artisan that compliments the existing two perfectly, without ever feeling like a superfluous addition.
The days of Diablo 3’s destitution are long gone, and perfectly fitting the bill as a celebration of everything the game has become, the Reaper of Souls expansion is a wedge of content that fills in any remaining gaps in Diablo 3’s repertoire. Accessible, interchangeable and enjoyably complex, Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition is the culmination of everything the game has strived to be, and an unblemished expansion to an already remarkable action RPG.
For a further look into everything outside of the expansion, click here [ http://goo.gl/INWw2G ] for my review of the base game.