Diablo fans have been having a funny old week. On the one hand they met the announcement of Diablo Immortal – a mobile phone entry in the series – with disbelief, derision and a complete lack of compassion or general good manners. On the other, with the release of Diablo III: Eternal Collection on Switch, they’re getting the most fully featured version of the last entry in their beloved franchise in a form that they play it anywhere they like. In a mobile manner, you might say.
There’s no getting away from the fact though that Diablo III itself is six and a half years old, and for any number of PC fans there could well be very little reason to want to return once more to face Diablo. It’s so old that the consoles it subsequently launched on were the Xbox 360 and PS3, but that’s probably not the point. There’ll be a huge swathe of people, and in particular Nintendo fans, who’ve never experienced one of the greatest dungeon crawlers of all time.
The Eternal Collection is to all intents and purposes the most complete version of Diablo III you can currently buy, with all of the previously released content including the Reaper of Souls and Rise of the Necromancer expansions, latest patches and features like Seasons fully implemented. The fact that you can now take this on the go is going to be an alluring proposition for a raft of current players, while newcomers have an almost overwhelming amount of content to slip into.
On top of everything else that previous versions have had, the Eternal Collection adds a few exclusive features of its own, primary amongst which is immediate access to the Adventure Mode. From here you can explore the world of Sanctuary in an endless loop of Bounties and opening Nephalem Rifts, and for those who’ve already made it through the campaign at least once before, it’s nice that you can jump straight into this mode.
If you’ve got a bunch of amiibo hanging around – and who doesn’t? – you can open a portal that unleashes some enemies that might have a few fancy items , while the forthcoming Treasure Goblin figurine looks as though it’ll give you exceedingly special rewards. There’s also the alluring offer of being able to play as the Legend of Zelda’s greatest villain Ganondorf with an armour skin that works for every character class.
It was with some trepidation that I approached Diablo III again, after putting a few too many hours into it in my semi-distant past, but its systems, story and gameplay loop are as expertly crafted as it’s possible for them to be. I soon found myself sucked back in, poring over loot I’d collected through a section of dungeon, weighing up the pros and cons of each item for minute gains, or considering a slightly altered loadout.
That loop – kill, loot, collect, equip – is just so tempting, and time will become a foreign concept to you as you fight a bit longer, advancing just a touch further. Diablo III metes out its best stuff at random, but that’s mostly part of the fun, unless the RNG is proving particularly horrible that day. Forget that there’s an almost ridiculous amount of variation to the way their stats can present themselves and you’ll find yourself heading down the rabbit hole faster than Bugs Bunny on a promise.
What gives Diablo III on the Switch a shot at being the best version of the game is its portability and its multiplayer options. You can play the full four-player version of the game on one screen – impressively that’s both docked and undocked, where you can use a single Joy-Con per person – or connect up to four consoles while you’re on the go. There’s also the online option as well which gives the broadest range of ways to bring players together the Diablo series has ever seen.
Admittedly, playing multiplayer on the undocked screen of a Nintendo Switch will require some keen eyesight, as it’s not the clearest game at various points thanks to the oppressive darkness that often envelops the land. There’s an obvious loss of clarity undocked whether you’re playing alone or with friends, but it’s more than playable. Connecting the game up to your television sees it make a pleasing jump in visual clarity, and while it’s closer to the 360 and PS3 versions than the PS4 and Xbox One, it’s a clean and attractive version of Diablo III that amazingly runs without any problems.
It is, by its nature, a fairly repetitive game, and once you’ve run your way through one dungeon Diablo III has really played its hand. However, its compelling world and the way it doles out loot and experience for your character just makes it rewarding enough to keep bringing you back time and time again. The ability to pick it up for short periods on the Switch really suits it as well, though don’t be surprised to find a few minutes becoming a few hours.
Diablo III Eternal Collection is the best version of a classic game, and on Nintendo Switch it makes more sense than ever, whether playing alone or with others.