Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition Review

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We’ve Only Just Begun

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition, I guess Blizzard just couldn’t bring itself to call it Diablo 3: GOTY edition, ‘Remaster’ or just plain Diablo 3 HD complete.  Essentially the complete Diablo 3 package, you get the base game, ostensibly for free according to the promotional bumf, and the Reaper of Souls expansion all wrapped in glorious next gen goodness.

Its an enticing package, both for newbies to the game and also people like me who put a good 40+ hours into the vanilla Xbox 360 version back in September 2013.  A dungeon crawling, loot hunting, monster bashing, RPG hack ’n’ slash game.  The basic Diablo 3 was very well received on all platforms, nudging towards 90 on Metacritic.  The expansion that this release brings to consoles was also pretty darn good, our very own Karlos Morale gave it an impressive 9/10 on PC and he’s probably the hardest to please person I’ve ever known. Review HERE

If you’ve played Diablo before, chances are you already know if you are interested in D3:RoSUEE, but if you’ve yet to jump in then hopefully this review will give you an idea of what you’re letting yourself in for.

First up, the story is your usual load of completely forgettable cods-wallop.  Big bad evil, heroic protagonist, and annoyingly clichéd companions with annoyingly clichéd voice acting, but as with most games it’s a means to an end of getting your chosen character from A to B.  Whilst most of the narrative unfolds in game, Blizzard have done their customary fine work of making the chapter ending cut scenes a thing of pure beauty.  You won’t care one bit about the story, and the fact that the game only really gets going on your second playthrough does mean that these elements, and especially the in-game dialogue can drag but you won’t be going back just to hear the story unfold again, you’ll be going back for the pure joy of the gameplay.

barb-002-largeStuck In The Middle With You

The six classes of fearless warrior now available after the addition of the Crusader class really do offer fantastic variety.  From the long range Wizard and Demon Hunter, to the melee combat focused Monk and Barbarian, there is something for everyone. The Witch Doctor, who summons bestial minions and the tank like Crusader round out the options nicely.  Whichever class you chose, the high level warrior you end up with will be almost unrecognisable after a few hours.  Whilst abilities are unlocked in progression when you level up, you can’t use them all at the same time.  Take the Wizard for example, his basic attack is the magic missile.  Get your character up to level six and a skill rune is unlocked which adds rather a bit more punch to his primary attack. At level 13 it changes this attack into an icy glacial spike, up to level 31 and the next skill rune splits your attack into three. Only one of these runes can be active per power, so whilst each class might have 20 or so abilities, this increases to a crazy amount of different loadouts once you factor in that each ability can be customised.

Combat in D3:RoSUEE feels simply sublime, the jump up to 60fps from 30fps in this next gen version is like using some expensive fragrant lube rather than spittle.  Everything feels perfect and Diablo is well suited to being played with a controller. The left stick guides your chosen hero, whilst just about every other single button is used to activate an ability or attack,  you’ll be using just about every trick in your arsenal to battle the seemingly never ending hordes of enemies.  From zombies, giant bats, Ent like tree beings, trolls, spiders, angels, ghosts, Minotaur’s, the list of bad guys you’ll be facing off against is seemingly endless.  Whilst none of them will ever prove too much of a challenge on normal difficulty, the sheers number of things trying to kill you at anyone time might well overwhelm.  You’ll kill thousands of foes in your first play through alone, and one of the best bits about such wanton slaughter is all the lovely loot that the vanquished will drop.

Loot is king in Diablo, it will lead you to playing just that little bit longer than you planned on the off chance of more and better spoils to come.  From weapons, and armour, to shields and rings.  Basic level stuff will just boost your defence rating, but the higher level and thus rarer items will boost and buff your character in so many ways.  Boots that make you move faster, a ring that helps regenerate your health.  Its absolutely mind boggling the different combinations of active effects that wearing all these weird and wonderful things gives you.

reaper-of-souls-02-largeThe End Has No End

All in all, if you only play through the campaign once, Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition is a cracking game. Multiplayer both online and couch co-op is undoubtedly the best way to experience it.  It’s in the extra end game content that Diablo 3 really comes alive.  There is now so much to do right at the end of the campaign, that everything that went before can be merely considered an Aperitif to the main course.  Its quite possible to spend hundreds of hours with Diablo, an impressive feat for any game let alone one with a 20 hour campaign.  Adventure mode lets you continue the fight with bounties and rifts. Bounties let you dive back into the game to kill specific high level enemies or complete a certain objectives, complete enough of these and you’ll then be able to tackle some Rifts.  These are random dungeons cobbled together from campaign sections, your goal is to butcher enough foes so that a stonkingly powerful boss arrives, leading to more levelling and of course a whole lot more loot.

Nearly a year after first playing Diablo 3 on 360, I’m still playing and enjoying it with the Ultimate Evil Edition on Xbox One. I’m not one for remasters or remakes, but the added content that comes with this edition on which ever platform you chose genuinely adds a whole bunch of stuff to keep you going for a long long time. If you have already played it, the extra campaign act and all the end game extras are welcome and engaging.  If you’re new to Diablo then you’re in for a real treat. 6 months down the line I’m pretty sure I’ll still be playing it, not everyday or even every week but I’ll still be going after the end game bounties and more than likely starting from scratch to get a new character up to the highest levels.  Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition might sound like a mouthful but it’s a fine addition to any gamer’s collection.

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Publisher: Blizzard

Xbox One Version Played

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Review

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Diablo 3 – Reaper of Souls Review | PC | Blizzard Entertainment

Somewhere in the lowest echelons of humanity, nestled in between the child abductors and Michael Gove, there is a special place for the rubberneckers and those who can’t wait to glory in the misery of others. The kind of people who are quite happy to cause a 20 mile tailback in order that they might have a good old stare out of their window at a car accident on the other side of the road.

What is it that these people want to see? Are they looking for a severed arm on the central reservation? Perhaps some brain matter spread across the windscreen of the smashed up vehicle. Personally,  I have a grim determination to not look at the aftermath of an accident if there’s nothing I can do to help – I don’t want to see something that I’ll wake up with night sweats dreaming about years later. So, those people who are happy to ruin your day by slowing down to stare, how do they feel when there’s nothing to see?

Probably about the same as all those dullards who have been polishing up their ‘error 37’ jokes ahead of the launch on Monday of the long awaited expansion to Diablo 3, Reaper of Souls. Yes, we rightly gave Blizzard a load of shit about the terrible launch of their online-only title when it dropped in May 2012. Error 37 was the code applied to the failure to connect to a server – and there was a great deal of that at launch.

Diablo Dong

Indeed, at launch, Diablo 3 was a bit of a fuck up all over the place. It quickly became apparent to players that the loot system in this latest iteration of the well-loved franchise was broken and that the Auction House (which ultimately lead to the real money trading of ingame goods) was less than ideal. Basically, Diablo 3 – despite looking pretty and somehow retaining a bit of a community – was a lame duck with no decent end game.

Fast forward then to 2014, and I’m here to tell you that not only is Diablo 3 now finally an excellent video game but that you should buy it and its expansion, Reaper of Souls. The launch of which was absolutely seamless, I might add – kudos where it’s due, Blizzard. No matter what AAA releases follow this year, if you invest £50 of your hard-earned into this, then you’ll be getting tons of fun and value for money. That’s all we ask, right?

DIABLO 3 – WHAT’S CHANGED

First up then, Diablo 3. For the uninitiated, Diablo is a loot gathering, isometric, action RPG. You play through 4 Acts, leading up to a final encounter with the titular villain. As you do so, your character progresses from fragile, weedy derp to fire, lightning and holy light spewing killing machine by levelling up and acquiring better gear.

Thanks to the Loot 2.0 system that Blizzard put into D3 ahead of the RoS launch, this process of getting new gear is now a lot more fun. The holy grail for players – the legendary items – now drop with greater frequency and do much more interesting things for the player. You are also much more likely to receive loot drops that are usable by your class. The frustration of a run through the game resulting in a mere 2 legendary items, neither of which you can use, has been eliminated. As such, nearly every game session you play is going to result in you getting something that will upgrade your character – which means every game session feels fun and worthwhile.

The story in D3 is nothing to write home about, but the level settings and creature designs are certainly effective enough. Even though the tropes are familiar, the visual sheen applied by Blizzard’s design team makes exploring the world a good experience.

Diablo remains far too easy on ‘normal’ skill levels, but then it is all about pushing on through the difficulties once you have beaten the game and gathered your first decent set of equipment. It’s fair to say that the good times don’t really start to roll until you’ve beaten the game at least once, but it’s designed to be played and replayed – at least until you stump up for the new content.

Diablo III

REAPER OF SOULS – WHAT’S NEW

Epic Spoiler Alert  –  you kill Diablo at the end of the Diablo game. Shocking, right? So Reaper of Souls needed a new bad guy for us to boo and hiss at – and gets just that in a stunning cinematic that introduces the expansion pack. Malthael is Death – and he’s a bit of a git – something that is established by the fact that he wants to kill all humans. A bit like Futurama’s Bender, but not as cute.

I get the feeling that two distinct teams worked on the design for Reaper of Souls. One team designed things like Pandemonium, with its twisted fortress and shifting portals; perhaps they also designed the City of Westmarch with its winding alleyways and interesting architecture. The other team said, “Meh, let’s just do a sewer level with rats in. Everyone loves that.”  So the extra act that RoS adds to the campaign is a bit of a mixed bag visually, but plays just as well as the main game. Loads of great loot to find and an additional helper to get for your area hub.

Joining the weapon crafting Blacksmith and the magic jewel creating Jeweller, we now get a Mystic who enables players to ‘re-roll’ elements of their magic items. This means you can fine tune your favourite weapons to suit your play style as well as customise their appearance to match legendary items you’ve picked up previously – a nice touch that means you don’t have to sacrifice looking like a badass for merely being one.

Barb Avalanche

Aside from the extra act, there is Adventure Mode, which is really where the big impact of Reaper of Souls can be felt on the game play. Instead of grinding through those Acts again and again as you did in vanilla D3, once you’ve beaten the game once you can undertake ‘bounties’. Rather than a delicious coconutty chocolate treat however, these bounties are level-specific challenges which take place across different maps within the acts. Collect enough bounties and (apart from the XP and loot rewards) you will can undertake missions in the Nephalem Rifts, completely randomised loot runs which could drop any crazy combination of enemies and bosses on you for big rewards.

The last major addition is the new character class – the Crusader. A melee and mid range fighter, the Crusader is one of those great characters that starts off looking puny and ineffectual but quickly ends up (to borrow a quote) a mean motherfucking servant of God. With a glowing red, spectral horse – because, why the hell not?

The auction house is gone now – but that just means there are fewer shortcuts to getting a decent character set up. Expanding the level cap to 70 also means that even people with great gear for their level 60 characters who may have grown tired of D3, have a reason to come back and upgrade.

Path of War

I got into Diablo 3 in January, and for the last two months it has made writing about other games very difficult indeed. Now that the expansion content is here, I can envisage at least another couple of months solid gaming on this title from me. I’m the first to happily admit I have the attention span of a coked-up butterfly when it comes to games and for something to hold my attention for this long is very rare indeed.

Reaper of Souls is the delicious icing on top of an already sumptuously moist gameplay cake. It offers great options for bitesize or lengthy session gaming, with a pretty nice multiplayer community to boot. The chances are that you could easily get hooked by this game and find yourself running the dungeons of hell and pathways of heaven for, literally, years to come.

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Karlos Morale

out now for PC