by Brian Robbins

I can’t believe I did it again. I bought Diablo 3 for the fourth time! I’v purchased both the PC original and its expansion, and now I’ve done the same with the console versions. Obviously, I am huge fan of the Diablo series, but pretty much anything Blizzard is amazing. With this developer, quality is insured. Granted, when Diablo 3 first came out on the PC there were problems everywhere, but the fundamental gameplay was still astonishingly fun. With Diablo: Reaper of Souls now available for home consoles, Blizzard has fixed literally every problem with the game thus far. You’re in for a treat.

If you’re a newcomer of the Diablo franchise, the game is a dungeon crawling action-RPG. What this means, is that you (or you and your friends) will be hunting Demons, Undead and various beasts across the world of Sanctuary. The fundamental gameplay objective of the player is to make his or her character as powerful as possible. Which happens via gear upgrades and character ability customization. What’s great about this rendition of Diablo 3, is that it comes with the recently released expansion pack, Reaper of Souls. The expansion adds multiple hours of game play, and even another playable character class, the Crusader.

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for an epic and engaging RPG story, Diablo 3 and its expansion disappoint. There’s a bevvy of cheesy lines, eye-roll inducing clichés, and you can smell the betrayals a mile away. The story in Reaper of Souls’ additional fifth act is moderately better, but it still suffers from general predictability. One highlight though, you’ll find out more lore about your computer controlled AI companions with special quests. These were fun, and added more depth and backstory to characters that felt tacked on in the original standalone version.

Gameplay in Diablo: Reaper of Souls is refined to an almost perfection. Most of the moves with all 6 classes feel polished and were a blast to execute. For instance a powerful Mage spell will rip or explode enemies across the screen, or you could find the Barbarian class slashing and hacking demon’s heads off. It’s gruesome, fun and engaging. The best addition to the console releases is the same room, four player co-op. It harkens back to the days of you and your friends sitting on the same couch and spending all afternoon playing something like Goldeneye or Halo on the same screen. The framerate never slows down and the quick button taps still allows your characters to equip and access all of your abilities. The console version’s game play is by far the highlight of Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition.

With either the Playstation or Xbox controllers, you’ll find the moves are mapped out to your liking. I never felt gimped or at a disadvantage while playing on these controllers instead of the more precise keyboard and mouse set-up. The game feels much more like a Gauntlet type, fun-for-all experience, rather than a hardcore action-RPG by one of the most serious developers out there. Exclusive on all the console versions is the ability to flick the right thumbstick in any direction to initiate a summersault with your character. This added maneuverability is a godsend for the console version, because it lacks the accuracy of the PC controls.

Of course, the main meat and potatoes of the Diablo series is ability to replay the entire campaign on a more difficult setting for better rewards. You can still do that with Diablo: Reaper of Souls but my favorite new addition is Adventure Mode. Once you complete the campaign, you’ll unlock access to this feature. Basically, your hero is tasked with going around all of the different acts of Diablo 3 and Reaper of Souls to engage in different bounties and objectives littered around the map. You’ll find amazing rewards in the form of armor and weapons. You can also open Nephalem Rifts to get even greater rewards. I loved Adventure mode and I found it less boring than repeating the same storyline over and over again.

Also new with Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is the Nemesis system. While playing the Playstation 4 version of the game, I found a powerful demon that I’ve never encountered before. Basically, one of my friends on the PSN was killed by this creature and it joined my game even stronger. Upon avenging my friend’s death, the creature dropped gratuitous amounts of loot. I could even send some back to my friend with a click of the button. This was a nice extra feature, and makes things even more exciting on the battlefield.

Obviously, I love Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition. It’s a must own if you have any of the four systems that it has been released on, Of course, the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One versions with their better textures, resolutions and overall performance is the way to go. If you’ve yet to enter the land of Sanctuary, Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is the definitive version to buy. Look for it at your local Slackers today, and prepare to be addicted.

4.5-star-turtle