It’s possible that for many of you, Diablo 3 has already been and gone. It hit PC gamers over two years ago in 2012 and was the best selling PC game of that year shifting in excess of 12 million copies. PS3 and 360 owners joined the fray a year later with a console edition that made the transition exceptionally well. The undead have been vanquished, all the loot has been equipped and subsequently discarded; Diablo has been defeated. Yet here we are with the PS4 edition of the game, which also includes the Reaper Of Souls expansion pack, all wrapped up in a 1080p box. Should you return to the world of Sanctuary? Or should it be junked like all those unneeded items?
Diablo 3 certainly looks the part on PS4, with crisp and clear visuals combining with a 60fps refresh rate to ensure that all that monster culling is very smooth, bar the very occasional hiccup. It’s a distinct step up from the PS3 release, and probably very close to the original game’s performance on a decent-spec PC. Its presentation however is still very PC-esque, with uninteresting text overlays, and a particularly unfussy interface. This doesn’t detract from the game in any way, especially when dealing with all that loot, but console gamers may find it less pleasing to the eye than they’re used to.
As with the original release, whilst your overarching task is to defeat Diablo, the key element of the game is killing an extortionate number of enemies to gain experience whilst collecting the resulting loot to equip to your character This in turn allows you to dispatch bigger enemies, for more experience, and more advanced loot. That’s the game’s cycle, and it’s a well thought out one at that, providing a steady stream of reciprocation from a game that wants to take you just a little bit further, to lay to rest just a few more horrors. The PS4 edition also includes the expansion pack’s Adventure Mode, which in essence is a game without end. Upon completing the main campaign the mode allows you to explore all of the areas of the game whilst continuing to level and loot to your hearts content.
The Reaper Of Souls expansion pack adds a fifth act to the campaign as well as a sixth character to the original’s roster in the form of the Crusader, who now appears alongside the Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Monk, Demon Hunter and Wizard at the beginning of your adventure. It has to be said that whilst the Crusader definitely looks the part, and plays as well as any of the other characters with a good range of interesting abilities available, his voice-acting is of a particularly poor standard, and that’s saying something for a game who’s storytelling ability is hammier than a cold buffet. It’s simply not that important though when you’re running through another villain, and perhaps Blizzard are well aware of that.
One key element of the game which is solely available to PS4 owners is the ability to remote play the game via their PS Vita. I thought that this would be a huge boon, and realistically given the nature of the game a good opportunity to hack my way through a horde or two via the work wifi. The truth is that the game simply hasn’t been optimised enough for the smaller screen, and you’re left squinting at miniscule letters and icons trying to decipher what has been said, whilst attacking creatures that make the Borrowers look like giants. The controls on the Vita just don’t hold up that well either, with the rear touchpad continuing to be a poor imitation of digital buttons. It’s a shame really as one of the key differentiators for people who’ve already played Diablo 3 would be the chance to play it on the go. I just can’t recommend that you do.
There are other additions to the PS4 version however that may prove to be more useful to players. You now have the ability to gift items to those on your friends list through the in-game mailbox, and when you find a legendary item you’re provided with a second item that you can send to those you deem worthy.
Blizzard have also looked at the trend for connected gaming with the introduction of ‘Avenger Kill’ monsters, who upon defeating you will jump into a portal and find their way into a friend’s game of Diablo 3 and attack them. If they die at this monster’s hand then it will level up again and seek out a new victim from their friends list. It’s an interesting way of personalising combat and villains which can at times become a touch too workmanlike.
Finally the game also includes an Apprentice mode, which allows you to play co-op with lower level players while they have their abilities boosted for the duration of the session. This could prove to be invaluable given that you have the ability to import your character data from PS3 to the PS4, meaning you could be a far higher level than many of your friends. In this manner you can help them advance in the game, without having your experience neutered.
Diablo 3: Reaper Of Souls – Ultimate Edition is a fantastic release of an already great game. There may just about be enough here for veterans of the original release and its expansion to return to the world of Sanctuary, but for those who’ve yet to experience it the PS4 edition is a truly excellent dungeon-crawling RPG, and the definitive console release, capable of providing hours and hours of gameplay.