Normally, I don’t review multiple versions of the same game. These days, if a game comes out on multiple platforms, a) those versions aren’t terribly different from each other, and I’ll note any differences I do know about in my original review, and b) I usually only have time to play a game all the way through once. It’s only in a very special kind of circumstance when I play the same game through more than once on more than one platform.
It does happen though, and this is one of those times. I happened to come across a copy of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls: Ultimate Evil Edition for Playstation 4 (which from here on I will just call Diablo III for ease of conversation). I knew that the game was different now than the original was when it launched, so I was looking forward to seeing just what those differences involved.
Refresh my memory. What did you think of Diablo III originally?: Well, as I mentioned here, I thought that the game was a decent addition to the series that was ultimately flawed by a lack of originality and some pretty dumb ideas such as an always-on internet requirement.
And so…. how do those things translate over to a console experience?: They don’t. The Playstation 4 version of the game (as well as, well, any other console version) doesn’t have the same internet connection requirement as the PC version. That right there makes it an improvement, even without getting into the game proper. Also, the real money auction house, another feature that I didn’t care for about the original version, is gone as well. So, again, based on just those two things, my opinion of the game has already increased tremendously.
Okay, so let’s get past that part and right to the part where we all find out how it plays.: It. Plays. Awesomely. Let me be clear, I’ve always thought that Diablo was purely a PC experience. You move, attack, and do basically everything else with mouse clicks. You wouldn’t really expect that to translate over to the console very well, and in fact most other attempts to directly port PC control schemes to a console game have ended in various degrees of failure.
But this is different somehow. Blizzard has overhauled everything from the controls to the UI with the console experience in mind. In doing so, they’ve made the game a bit faster-paced than it was before. It’s a lot easier to navigate menus and quickly compare items with each other. Which is important in a game like Diablo where loot is pretty much the sole driving force behind continued play.
Also, in addition to health potions, there are also instant health and damage bonus pickups that are sometimes dropped by groups of enemies. You wouldn’t think this would make that much of a difference, seeing as how most people who play Diablo have one finger always hovering over the health potion key, but it really, really does. It makes the game feel a little more… arcade-y, but in a good way. Not a bad way.
Also, they added a dodge roll. People who know me know that dodge rolling all over the damn place is a fundamental part of my movement strategy.
You said the multiplayer was really good in the original PC version. How is it here?: While the internet multiplayer was handled really well in the PC version, I quickly realized that Diablo, as an experience, was never meant to be played over the internet. Really, it was always meant to be a game best enjoyed when everyone playing it was in a room with each other. While the implementation was superb, the experience suffered at a rate proportional to the distance away from the other players.
So what does this mean? It means that playing Diablo III on local multiplayer mode on a PS4 and TV screen is an absolute blast.
What, really?: Definitely. Think about how much fun that a game like, say, Gauntlet was back in the day. Diablo III local multiplayer is a lot like that. It’s nostalgic as hell, just as chaotic, and absolutely one of the best multiplayer games I’ve played in recent memory (aside from something like Smash).
So you’d recommend the game, then?: I’ll go one step further. As blasphemous as this might sound, I actually prefer the PS4 version over the original PC version. Yes, I know, Diablo is firmly rooted in the PC gamer’s mentality as one of those fundamental experiences that shouldn’t ever be translated over to another medium. But you know what? In taking such care to craft the game into something more easily played on a console, Blizzard has made sure that the game owns that experience. Sure, it’s arcade-y, but that just makes it a better party game.
Anything you didn’t like?: Well, at least some of the same caveats from the original game remain, chief among them being the plot. Here’s the deal. The plot is kind of terrible. If you really think about it, though, the plot of the entire series is kind of terrible. I mean, it’s a game in which you are literally going into hell to murder the actual devil. That right there is pretty much the definition of bad Judeo-Christian fanfiction. Sure, Diablo II framed its plot in a neat manner, but the plot itself was still pretty bad. Diablo III just exasperates this by removing the clever framing.
But Diablo is one of those games that I’ve never played for the plot, either. I play it to smash things and get loot. It’s pretty theraputic, and so in this particular case, I just kind of turn off the part of my brain in which I pay attention to things like plot.
Anything else?: The Crusader class that was introduced in the Reaper of Souls expansion is near-indestructible in the early game. I’m sure the usefulness drops off in the late game, but, just, damn.
Take my word for it. This is the game that Diablo III should have been all along. Console version and everything. And if that’s wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.