It’s been fun watching Diablo III grow up.
While I still stand by my fairly glowing review of the base game from way back in 2012, there were some flaws that ended up being a bigger deal than I had expected. Fast forward to April of this year, and the Reaper of Souls expansion launched alongside the Loot 2.0 patch, which fixed most of those issues and offered a brand new character and act. Along the way, Diablo III also made its Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 premiere.
Now, Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition has been released for both previous-gen and current-gen consoles, bringing the complete experience to your living room. As such, the only questions left to ask are who this complete edition release is really for, and if it’s actually worth it.
Right off the bat, we’re going to save some time with this review. This is Diablo III, and those of you who are even remotely familiar with the franchise should know exactly what you’re getting into. If you’d like a recap of some of the more entry level things, feel free to read our previous reviews, but I’d rather not waste your time with recapping the game for its fourth iteration. The basic premise is still pick a character class, kill monsters, collect loot, and generally raise hell. ARPGs will always be held up to the Diablo benchmark, and I feel that Diablo III has done a fantastic job in continuing the series’ legacy.
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition’s entire enjoyment factor was going to depend on how well it held up using a controller. I must admit that it took me a bit to get used to actually walking around with the left stick as opposed to clicking points out in the distance, but I was surprised by how well everything translated over. Abilities are all mapped to different buttons on the controller, allowing you to easily trigger any of them at will.
One drawback we had noticed during testing was that many powerful builds rely on using two or even three abilities from the same group, and this wasn’t something that was easy to do on consoles. Of course, the option was in one of the menus, but it wasn’t exactly pronounced. Still, the option is there, so this is simply a minor annoyance as opposed to anything worth worrying about.
The only real difference between the PC version and the console version is an added roll tied to the right stick. A gentle push on the stick sends your character into a cartwheel and allows them to dodge very briefly. It didn’t seem all that useful in our testing and really only helped us escape some of the slower hits, but it is a welcome addition to a combat system that can get pretty chaotic.
The inventory system was given a pretty massive facelift as well. As you pick up items, they’ll automatically be stored in appropriate categories on your menu. All of your off hand items will be grouped separately from your helms and rings, making it pretty damn easy to navigate through everything. Your stash is handled the same way, with the added bonus of automatically having tabs set up for crafting materials, gems, items, and treasure. If anything makes the jump to the PC version, I certainly wouldn’t mind having those extra tabs set up.
Picking up an item will introduce a small pop-up near your character info, giving you a very basic idea of how good or bad it is in comparison to what you’re currently using. Without even having to go into a menu, you can equip an item, drop it, or even mark it as junk to be destroyed the next time you’re at a blacksmith. It’s a really neat time saving mechanic.
Another small issue we noticed is that by default, you’re given very limited information about your skills. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition, or any ARPG really, is a game about maxing your stats through proper use of your skills paired with the best equipment you can get. Right off the bat, when you unlock a skill you’re told what it does but not much else. Going by descriptions alone, it’s very hard to tell why you would want to use one over another outside of personal preference. After fooling around in the options menu for a bit, we found a setting called “Show Advanced Tooltips” under the gameplay tab that unlocked the full information for our skills, so you can finally tell that your Seismic Slam skill does 620% of your weapon damage vs. the 535% of your Hammer of the Ancients. I’ve wracked my brain, but I just can’t come up with a good reason as to why this important information was hidden outside of trying to keep things looking a bit cleaner.
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition does run at 1080p and aims for 60 frames-per-second on consoles. I don’t exactly want to congratulate companies for hitting what should be the bare minimum when it comes to major games, but considering that few titles have really been able to hit that level so far, it’s definitely worth mentioning. The frame rate did hold at 60 FPS pretty well, but we did perceive slight drops here and there, although they were definitely extremely minor. These were also under the most gruelling conditions we could put together, with tons of enemies and particle effects happening at once.
Co-op is where Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition really shines. Being able to sit down with up to three friends locally or even having the ability to take a party online to find that crucial third or fourth member is absolutely fantastic. Couch co-op is something we really need to see more of in every genre of games, but there’s something magical about being able to tear through enemies in an ARPG manner while accompanied by pals. Small things such as having your character automatically walk towards your partner should they start moving too far away really highlight a great attention to detail.
Of course, it’s not perfect. There are two shortcomings that are definitely issues, but I can’t say I could think of a better way to handle them. The first issue is the more minor of the two, and that’s the lack of dedicated enemy health bars. Normally, when you attack a monster, its name will pop up in the middle showing you just how much damage you’re doing, but with local co-op this is restricted to elite enemies and bosses. This was obviously done to minimize confusion and maximize your useable screen real estate, but it did lead to moments where it felt like we were doing low damage. You can turn on health bars above each individual monster’s head to help this, and while I didn’t find this personally distracting, it’ll definitely be in the way for some players, especially those using small TVs.
The second problem I don’t have an easy answer for is navigating menus. When you open up the menu, it pauses the game (if possible) and takes up the entire screen. Only one person can open their menu and go through their loot or manage their skills at any given time, leaving the other players to sit there twiddling their thumbs. It’s really a death of a thousand knives type of scenario. Of course, it’s not a big deal, but considering how often you end up in your menus for various things, it’s easy to become frustrated with your partners for not hurrying the hell up.
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition is a strange beast. I have to admit that I absolutely love some of its smaller tweaks, such as being able to compare loot as you’re picking it up, and couch co-op will always have a place in my home, but I can’t in good conscience give it a full recommendation over other versions. If your main goal is to sit down with friends or a loved one and play together, or you simply do not have a computer capable of playing the game, this is easily the way to go. I just don’t see myself spending a hell of a lot of time with the console version when I’m playing on my own. But for those times when I’ve got a few buddies over and need some mindless demon killing to pair with our beer, this is sure to get some attention.
This review is based on a PS4 version of the game, which was given to us for review purposes.
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition brings everything we love about the game to current-gen consoles, and the addition of couch co-op makes for a very tempting buy. However, unless you're purchasing it strictly for some local co-op, you'll probably be better served with the PC version.