Over the years, Blizzard has released some quality titles, including Starcraft and World of Warcraft, making a solid name for itself in the industry by providing excellent support for its titles. Diablo 3 is no different, with a spate of patches and extra content dished out over its life-cycle, leading right up to the definitive version of the hack ‘n slash RPG, now available in the form of Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition on PS3 and PS4.
First and foremost, my review will focus on the Reaper of Souls expansion, which is included in the Ultimate Evil Edition, and any improvements and additions that have been made to last year’s console release of Diablo 3. For those interested in the core title, they can read Richard Archer’s Diablo 3 review. For those who have not finished Diablo 3, be warned as there will be some story-spoilers ahead.
The Reaper of Souls expansion picks up right where Diablo 3 ends. After the Nephalem defeated Diablo, Tyrael comes to the conclusion that the Black Soulstone housing the essence of the seven Great Evils is too dangerous to leave in the safekeeping of either angels or humans. Tyrael decides he will seal the stone in the tomb of Rakkis where it will never be found. Before he is able to seal the stone Tyrael and his followers are ambushed by Malthael, heaven’s former Archangel of Wisdom. Severely wounding Tyrael and killing most of his followers, Malthael steals the Soulstone and sets his army of Reapers to lay waste to the city of Westmarch.
Like Diablo 3, Reaper of Souls hasn’t seen much change from the way the story is presented; outside of the amazing opening cinematic the story is mostly presented the same way, with players talking to NPCs to move the story along. I found that with the Reaper of Souls expansion Blizzard would have addressed the bland way the story is presented. By simply talking to one NPC and receiving a quest, without any fancy presentation, left me wanting to simply skip the cutscenes and get on to the meat of the game, the dungeon crawling.
Outside of visiting new areas like the streets of Westmarch, and the never ending battlefield of angels and demons, there’s completely new enemy designs and more intricately designed boss battles that force players to do more than just outpunch them; an issue that plagued the boss battles in the core game. Reaper of Souls comes with plenty of additions to the core title. Firstl,y the game’s level cap has been increased from 60 to 70 bringing with it some new skills. Another addition is the inclusion of an extra passive skill slot once players reach level 70.
Fans will be happy to hear that the new Crusader character is not only powerful but great in groups and solid at keeping ‘agro’ away from other players. Favoring a more defensive play style the Crusader also comes with a new weapon type, the flails, crusader shields and holy magic, which can also be used by other characters.
A new shop has also been included in the expansion, which sees the inclusion of a Mystic. The Mystic allows players to Enchant their items and perform Transmogrification. Transmogrification allows players to take the look of one piece of equipment and replace it with another. The Item Enchanting on the other hand plays a very important role in post game adventuring.
Item Enchanting allows players to "re-roll" a property of an item. The selected property can be re-rolled to a higher value or completely changed to another property. For example: as a Demon Hunter your main attacking stat is Dexterity; if I received an item that gave me dexterity of 300 I may use the Item Enchanting skill to re-roll that stat for a higher number or replace it with a higher critical hit chance instead. Kadala is also a new shop keeper that can only be found in Adventure Mode. Kadala uses a new currency in the form of Blood Shards. The Blood Shards are used to purchase unidentified items. These items will mostly be magical or rare but some can be extremely powerful legendary gear. These items are completely random but I can say from firsthand experience this is a risk to take.
The meat of the expansion comes in the form of the post-game "Adventure Mode." After completing the campaign, players can access Adventure Mode which allows players to explore the entire world across all five acts at their leisure. But the big add on for Adventure Mode are the Bounties. Players have the option of tackling specific bounties which will net them better loot and items. These bounties range from killing a key target, clearing a specific area, or cleansing cursed chest. Each Act includes five Bounties and once all five have been completed players receive a plethora of items and gold, the most important of which are the Rift Keystone Fragments.
The Keystone Fragments are used to unlock secret dungeons specifically designed for Adventure mode. The dungeons are completely randomized from their structure and the enemies you encounter, and consist of enemies from all five Acts. These dungeons can be extremely difficult to get though and the PlayStation exclusive "Last of Us" dungeon can only be found in Adventure mode.
From a technical standpoint, Ultimate Evil Edition boost a fluid experience through and through. Load times are almost non existent and games run smoothly during co-op play. I didn’t encountered any technical issues and no slow down when things got hectic. I played with fellow members of PSU and at one point encountered over a hundred enemies without a hint of slowdown. It’s a pity that music in Reaper of Souls and the Diablo 3 core game, is nowhere to be heard, as there were many hours that I played without hearing a single melody, but the game looks great on both PS3 and PS4 and performs impeccably well.
Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is the definitive version of Diablo 3. Not only is it the best dungeon crawler on consoles, it is one of the most addictive titles to come out in a long time. With an infinite number of loot to find thanks to randomly generated exploration areas, an Adventure Mode that will keep you playing months to come, and the paragon system which allows you to upgrade your characters past the level 70 cap, Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is a no brainer not only for fans of the franchise but for any RPG fan.