Action RPGs have always been a point-and-click affair on the PC, with players issuing orders to their character through the use of the mouse. If you think that experience wouldn’t translate well to the console, you’d be sorely mistaken. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition manages to take everything good about the PC version and deliver it through a console gaming lens.
Having spent hundreds of hours on the PC version of Diablo III and its expansion pack, Reaper of Souls, I was more than enthused to see what the new Ultimate Evil Edition would play like on the PlayStation 4 console, especially since it lacked the mouse and keyboard.
Playing the game on the PC can get boring at times; the constant mouse clicking can get repetitious. Whether you’re moving, attacking an enemy or casting a spell, you’re always pressing the same two mouse buttons. The same can’t be said about playing the game with a controller (support for which I hope eventually makes its way to the PC version). Playing it with a Dualshock 4 is a vastly different experience, and provides the player with direct input over the character’s actions. It’s an immersive, rather than detached experience. Combat is more enjoyable, more impactful, and having direct control of my character requires that I pay attention all of the time–no mindless, trance-like clicking.
The improvements also make inventory management a breeze on the console. There’s the “junk” function, which allows players the option to tag items they pick up as junk and sell or salvage them immediately when at an appropriate vendor. You also have the ability to instantly inspect and equip looted items without going into a menu. If you want detailed statistics about the items you loot, you can always enter the inventory management menu by holding the touch pad. It’s all very seamless.
Beyond the improved controls, the Ultimate Evil Edition comes with a set of new features unique to the console version, Nemesis and Gifting.
Whenever the player dies to an enemy monster, there’s a chance that the monster will turn into a Nemesis that will then “invade” another person on the player’s friends list. Players will also experience periodic invasions of Nemesis monsters. Should they succumb to the Nemesis, it’ll go on to terrorize other players on the list. Killing the Nemesis will reward the player with treasures for both the player and the previous victims of the creature.
Gifting is a lot more straightforward than the Nemesis system. In addition to picking up loot for their own use, players will occasionally receive items that they can send out as gifts to other players.
I’m a bit disappointed that the story in the base game didn’t transition as well. It remains as it was when Diablo III was first released—bad. Upon its initial release the game was ripped to shreds for its subpar narrative, in particular its villains, who might as well have been from a Saturday morning cartoon. None of these issues, which were heavily criticized, have been addressed.
For all its shortcomings, Diablo III’s storyline still manages to drive the action to new environments, and the Reaper of Souls expansion content does this better than any previous chapter of the game by offering a better story involving Malthael, the Angel of Death, and his legions of Reapers, all of whom are bent on the extermination of humankind.
Beyond the game’s storyline, there’s the addition of a new Adventure Mode that gives players the option to pursue Bounties (make-shift quests involving killing a monster or clearing out a dungeon somewhere on the map) and Rifts (a randomized dungeon spanning multiple levels). These new features breathe new life into the game that, in its repetition, might otherwise feel stale.
Coupled with the new Crusader melee class, there’s a lot of new stuff in the Ultimate Evil Edition to enjoy, even if you’re tired of the original game. There’s a host of improvements that were made in Diablo III’s 2.1.0 title update for the PC that managed to make their way into the console version. Every class feels more balanced and legendary loot is not only easier to find compared to the vanilla version of Diablo III a few years ago, but also more worthwhile to equip.
The bottom line is that Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition is a fantastic console game that plays, in my opinion, better than the original PC version it’s based upon. It’s how Diablo III was always meant to be.
9.5 out of 10
A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition is developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The game retails for $59.99.