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Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition Review

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Death becomes you

★★★★

On paper, porting Diablo III to the next-gen consoles sounds like the most unlikely of exercises. With its zoomed-out, isometric perspective and Gothic, HP Lovecraft-style vibes, you would say that its roots lie in a previous millennium (let alone a previous console cycle). And its hack-and-slash gameplay doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. However, it’s so good that it manages to confound conventional thinking at every turn.

And Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition isn’t just some lazy porting job – it’s the absolute acme of Diablo III, with everything bar the kitchen sink thrown in. So you get the Reaper Of Souls add-on, which adds a breathless coda to the story (and ups the level-cap to 70). Then, once you’ve finished the story, you can jump into Adventure Mode, a randomised orgy of killing monster hordes and hoovering up loot. Apprentice Mode lets two people at different stages in the game (and therefore levelled up to wildly different extents) play together co-operatively (mainly by buffing and equipping the lower-levelled player). Teams of up to four people can play co-operatively, either two to a console or via the PSN and Xbox Live.

The Nephalem Rifts provide all the randomly-generated dungeon activity you could ever desire, and on the PS4, there are dungeons populated by the zombies from The Last Of Us to be found there (along with Shadow Of The Colossus-inspired armour). Plus the Nemesis system lets you and your mates play pass-the-parcel with a fearsome monster that drops into and out of each others’ games, which will kill you all – it’s just a matter of how long you last against it. In other words, to describe Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition as “meaty” would be to understate – to explore most of it, you will need to set months aside.

If you haven’t played Diablo before (and Blizzard claims 15 million people have played Diablo III alone), then to describe it as a hack-and-slash does it a disservice. It’s really an action-RPG which has been pared down so that emphasis is split between levelling up to enhance your character’s abilities and collecting loot in the form of weapons, armour and gold. Within that framework, all the complexities of RPGs are present, including crafting and runes, which essentially add perks. Since it was initially developed for the PC, there will always be those who prefer to play it with a keyboard and mouse, but on the consoles, Blizzard has nailed the control system – on the PS4, for example, the crucial inventory and skills menu is easily accessed by pressing the touch-pad. And on the PS4 and Xbox One, it looks much as it would if you had splashed out over £1,000 on a gaming PC.

It isn’t perfect – the portentous and often clichéd dialogue you have with the characters you meet can sometimes jar, and it isn’t one of those games in which the gameplay varies noticeably. Plus it’s fearsomely expensive on the next-gen consoles, although a bit of shopping around will help you minimise that damage. But it is insanely addictive, and one of the meatiest, longest-lasting games you’ll ever get your hands on. Which makes this a slightly odd time for it to be coming out – it couldn’t be better suited for those long winter months when you don’t fancy leaving the house.

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