The lifespan of Diablo 3 has surpassed two years as the original was released for PC in May of 2012. While Blizzard has rubbed some fans the wrong way with its choices on the direction of the game, the results have been enjoyable overall. By the time the expansion Reaper of Souls hit on PC, Blizzard canned the Auction House and offered better drops, Paragons, and improved balance. All while doing this, Blizzard successfully kicked out a console version of the game which brought even more skeptics along the way. They were able to create a control scheme that worked all while maintaining the integrity of the game, and even converting a few people from the PC version to the console version at the same time. The success of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Diablo 3 has ultimately led to the release of the expansion Reaper of Souls on the new generation systems. Is the upgrade worth the $60 price tag for owners of the previous games? Or, if you have somehow skipped all the other versions, is it worth picking up the new generation version? Let's find out.
The Diablo series has always been the king of PC dungeon crawlers. The game was designed for a mouse and keyboard setup, with tons of grinding and a great story. The only other console release was the original game on PlayStation (which is a rare game now). Diablo 3 offered a simpler and more approachable experience on PS3 and Xbox 360, and this setup carries over with Reaper of Souls on PS4 and Xbox One. Characters can be imported from your game saves on PS3 and 360, and you will be granted a magic item if you link your console's account with your Blizzard account. The Crusader is the new class, and plays like a hybrid Barbarian and Monk.
Diablo 3: Reapers of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition certainly has its perks. If you skipped out on the other versions due to a lack of a competent PC or a last generation system, the game does include the original five acts from the first release of Diablo 3. Players will be able to share loot with friends through a mail system, and Nemesis kills allow heroes to avenge fallen friends to earn special rewards. There is also a non-stop exploration mode called Adventure mode where all waypoints are unlocked. This mode is grinder’s heaven, and of course can be done with other people online or local.
The biggest addition to Reaper of Souls is Loot 2.0, which comes over from the PC version. This allows for amazing drops that are targeted for each class, including insane legendary items that will put your character way over the hump. The pickup system is a bit different on the consoles as compared to PC. Where you can hover over the item and compare with what’s equipped on PC, the console versions have you pick up the items, sort through on the left via the D-Pad, and it gives you a summary of the improvements. Anything you don’t want, you mark as junk, and you can sell the junk at bulk at merchants. It’s a bit different at first, but then becomes second nature. Honestly, anyone who hasn’t touched the PC version of Diablo 3 should have an easier time understanding the navigation of the console version. The menu does make use of the DualShock 4’s touchpad as you can slide it to navigate the menus.
As for the game itself, Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Edition for PS4 and Xbox One plays identical to the previous console version. If you enjoyed playing on the PS3 and Xbox 360, you will feel right at home. The biggest change with the newer generation versions is the graphics, but the change is far from substantial. The game runs smooth and the frame rate seems locked, but not at 60 frames per second. If it is supposed to be at 60, it doesn’t feel that way, as it feels something closer to 40. The lighting has improved as you will see this on the player models, especially in the menu. The environments are more detailed and seem to pop out much more. The world is still extremely vibrant, as well as dark, where it needs to be.
The major element that went unchanged is the sound, because the sound effects and music don’t get much better than this. Diablo 3 started off setting great atmospheres for different areas of the game with the ambient music it would use, especially in caves and other dwellings. On top of this, the sound effects from the monsters are amazing, especially when some of them die. It’s reminiscent to Castlevania: SOTN’s enemy death sound effects. It’s all really creepy and really loud.
The controls are spot on and responsive with the PS4 version. The console versions have an evade stick, which makes it easier to do up close battles with bigger monsters. Much like the PC version, you won’t tap each assigned skill button to attack, rather hold it down like a mouse button. Because of the control setup, you feel more engaged in the battle in comparison to the PC version.
Reaper of Souls supports four people in one match at a time. This is online or offline. You can set your game to public, friends only, or LAN. You can also mix local and online friends for cooperative play. Honestly, the biggest draw is the idea of having four people in one room playing the same game at the same time. Hardly is this seen anymore. Not many games have taken advantage of the PS4’s touchpad or support of four controllers. It’s much like the days of Gauntlet or even old arcade games. Having the adventure mode available is a good thing too with this. The seamless multiplayer involved in Reaper of Souls works perfectly for jumping in and out of online matches.
Loot 2.0 is a grand inclusion to Diablo 3. The drops that are given can be flat out amazing and miles ahead of what your character currently is equipped with. Loot can also be shared using the mail box. It was a good idea for Blizzard to dump the Auction House so the looting aspect that defined the series could stand out.
Diablo 3 has infinite replayability. This was part of the reason that players could import their saves from the previous console version onto Reaper of Souls. There is a problem with the pricing model though. It is understandable that anyone new to the series on a newer generation console should pay a full $60 for the game. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Reaper of Souls are only selling for $40, with the same options to import characters. The character importing is all done through linking your account with Battle.net, Blizzard’s website. It would have been nice to see a digital upgrade option with a verified account for $40, as $60 for what is still an expansion pack that isn’t a giant leap forward than the previous version is too much.
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls is just as fun as the other versions, but provides better loot, Paradigms, a Level 70 cap, and somewhat improved visuals. If you’ve held off knowing the PS4 version would eventually come, certainly pick it up and start your journey. If you’re making the jump from the previous console version to the PS4 or Xbox One version, you might want to consider sticking with the previous generation expansion due to the difference in price and the lack of differences in everything else.
+ Infinite replayability
+ Loot 2.0 provides excellent drops
+ Can import characters from previous version
- No major differences between the two generations of the game
- A $60 upgrade for an expansion pack is steep
- Visual improvements are minimal
A copy for PS4 was provided for review.