Video Game Review: Diablo III Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition

Diablo was one of the first games I played on PC. Imagine my shock to learn that it’s 21 years old now. The second game followed just four years later. It took 13 years to get this third game out. Now… was it worth the wait?

What Is It?

Several version of Diablo III were released in 2013: the standard four-act game with five character classes (Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter, Wizard, Monk) then the expansion pack Reaper of Souls which include a fifth act and a new character class (the Crusader) was released separately on PC. There was no separate expansion version for console, so the game was re-released as a package with all acts, classes and other additions (such as Adventure Mode) as Ultimate Evil Edition.

The Plot

Set some 25 years after the original game, you play as a new character arriving at New Tristram just as it is under siege following the arrival of a falling star crashing through its cathedral. Rumours abound about the grave evil brought with it. You’ll meet old friends and new as your journey across the various places in the world of Diablo, smashing zombies, demons and other evil creatures until you face the Great Evils including Diablo himself in the High Heavens. The fifth act takes place after the defeat of Diablo at a place all too familiar to long time places – Westmarch. Here, you will ultimately go up against Malthael.

What I Liked

Character range: The first Diablo game had three character classes: the warrior (like a knight – male character), the sorcerer (self-explanatory – male character) and a rogue (archer – female character). Diablo II took that to a whole new level with 7 character classes (Amazon – female, Necromancer – male, Barbarian – male, Sorceress – female, Paladin – male, Assassin – female, Druid – male). Diablo III’s characters are in the tradition of the second game but with slight variations on the older classes (see above). However, rather than having set genders, you may choose whichever you like. You can be a female brawn character such as barbarian or a male speed character such as the demon hunter).

Extra features: My concern going into this that it would not have the playability. At times, I got quite bored with its repetitiveness (see below). I suspect that the designers and developers understand just how much the gaming world has changed since Diablo II. Now, you can play online or as an off-line co-op. There is also a “seasons” option so you don’t max out your character and get bored. At the end of the “season”, it will kick you back to scratch with a new character. Then there is the “adventure” mode which allows you to play endlessly once you have completed the game with any character. It’s packed full of new gameplay features, adding to longevity.

Mindless fun: Let’s face it, nobody plays Diablo for musings on the human condition or to have their life philosophies fundamentally challenged. It does what it is supposed to do and that is to provide hours of mindless fun. It’s therapeutic and you get to switch your brain off for a few hours. Sometimes, that is all you need.

What I Didn’t Like

Repetitive: You know what to expect from Diablo – go over there and kill shit. Then get given a task to do in which you will need to kill more things before rescuing somebody a few feet away. Along the way, pick up money and weapons to either sell or break down to get better weapons. That really is it. The formula hasn’t changed in over 20 years. Sure, it works, but I felt that just maybe they could have tried something slightly new. I can’t see myself still playing this in five years unlike with Diablo II which gave me many years of pleasure.

Characters are less customisation than Diablo II: The biggest letdown for me was the lack of skill customisation. I remember Diablo II’s skills tree being quite complex so you could level up on favoured skills and ignore those you couldn’t get used to. This allowed great flexibility. Sadly (and surprisingly given the extra power today’s PCs and consoles have), that has been simplified for Diablo III. You get a group of skills and talents whenever you reach the next level and that is it.

Cheesy story: Diablo has always been cliched and cheesy. It’s a fairly stock, formulaic fantasy adventure game. But never before did parts of the story make just outright cringe. I could never decide whether the game was laughing at itself or taking itself too seriously. I suspect both on occasion in slightly equal measure. Neither Diablo nor none of the other Great Evils inspire the same terror that they did in previous games and that is a shame.

Verdict

This is a fun game that does what it is supposed to do. The character classes are at once familiar and new having brought new skills and weaknesses to each. There are fewer games easier to control than this – you simply assign one skill to each button. This is simple and intuitive combat as it is supposed to be. But it’s not doing anything new. It’s generally easier than the previous games and doesn’t inspire the same fear of facing a boss. The story makes me cringe too. It simply doesn’t have the staying power of previous titles 6/10.

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