Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition was one of my most anticipated re-releases this year, so it came as no surprise when the community uptake was quite high even though there was a lot of those that owned the title on last gen or PC.
I sat down (virtually) with Munkimatt, SiStevens and Discobeaver to find out their opinions on Blizzards big console release.
So to give us a reference point, what is your own personal experience with the Diablo series of games?
Kyle : Strangely enough, none whatsoever. Considering I’ve been gaming since I’ve been old enough to use Keyboard & Mouse/Controller, it came as a surprise when there was a lot of hype surrounding the initial release of Diablo 3 on PC and i didn’t know a thing about it. It wasn’t until the release of Diablo 3 on PS3 and 360 that I took the plunge blind, based solely on recommendation of some of the guys in Midlife Gamer.
Simon : Absolutely nothing at all. I had a lot of free time coming up so was looking for a game that I could sink some time into and when discussing it, you recommended Diablo 3. After about 20 minutes of you selling it to me I ordered it.
Matt : I had no previous experience with the Diablo games. I knew they existed, but back then my folks didn’t have a PC capable of running anything like it. Hell, it struggled with Solitaire. When Diablo III came out on the 360 and PS3 I was clearing up the last of my pile of shame before moving over to the new consoles, so that passed me by too.
We have all picked this up on the current generation of consoles which had the ability to transfer saves from the last generation. Did you continue with your existing character or start anew? what character class did you go with and what are your first impressions?
Kyle : I was expecting not to be able to continue my save from the 360 version as i had a level 50 Monk. I did have the choice of either of the current gen consoles when it did finally come to PS4 & XB1 and again it boiled down to friends picking it up on PS4. initially i just figured i would have to re-roll and start over again. I then discovered that you could transfer your save, not only cross gen but cross platform, which was very, very welcome.
Not being much of a PC gamer since about 2000 I’ve not really come into contact with how Blizzard conduct themselves when it comes to functionality but the process of moving your save from last gen to new gen and not to mention cross platform was a delight to use. Very straightforward and in my case at least seamless. There was some jiggery pokery involved on the PC but let’s be honest, even if you’re not a PC gamer you would have enough ‘Internet’ smarts to at least get through this process.
So I had the chance to carry on with my awesome Monk and crank him up to level 60.
Simon : I started anew as I didn’t play this on last gen. Personally I went with the Crusader as in multiplayer I enjoying being the tank and crusader seemed the most apt for that, I also felt it was a good class for soloing the game as well as it allows you to absorb damage when taking on big groups of enemies while slowing unleashing your own powers such as smite. The problem I have with the class is that it feels both over and under powered at the same time. For example, on the day to day levels my build can easily power through on the Master Difficulty level however for the boss stages, anything higher than Normal and I get one-shotted to hell.
Matt : As this was my first time with Diablo I started with a new character. After asking for opinions on Twitter i was still none the wiser so I plumped for the Crusader.
There have been some major tweaks put forward for the UEE, so instead of XP from destroying objects you get a speed boost and killing enemies with traps gives you a resource regen boost. We also have the new power balancing system for when you join a group of players of a higher level. Have you experienced these new mechanics? and if so, how do you feel about the changes made?
Kyle : The object breaking speed boost works really well, the XP gain from breaking the objects in the initial release was negligible so overall didn’t really warrant the time spent breaking them. Now with the speed boost making traversal faster the gains warrants the time spent as anything that gets you through the game faster is a welcome addition once you’ve completed it once. Same for the traps really, they can sometimes be the opposite as you are delaying killing a mob to lure it into the trap space. They are both just something different than just the normal gain XP from doing this thing, which varies the gameplay, only slightly, but varies it none the less.
The power balancing though is fantastic, and really allows you to game with your friends despite their level. Diablo 3 is a game that can either grab you by the balls and push you to grind and build the Uber character or if your more casual about it you can simply just jump in and out when you feel like it. This does allow everyone to game together as it no longer matters if your level 60 and a friend joins your game at a lowly 45, you can tear it up together without either player being nerfed and both getting something out of it.
It’s a welcome change and a nice addition to a game that’s built itself around the multiplayer experience.
Simon : Some of the tweaks I didn’t really see the benefit of but that’s more to do with the way I play rather than the tweaks themselves. The speed boost from objects I noticed but hardly used as I tended to go around destroying objects once I had cleared a room or area, I also tended to kill off groups of enemies before I even noticed a trap in the area but I think this was more to do with the power of the Crusader build. My personal Crusader build could go from start to finish on normal level (apart from bosses) by just pushing X to win.
The Apprentice mode I loved and discovered purely by accident when I grouped up. I love the idea that if a level 2 player groups up with some level 70’s then their damage and life scales up to level 70 whilst remaining part of the group – nice touch. Apprentice mode also makes the level 70 with each class trophy much easier as the experience gained also scales up to the highest level within the group. Just a pity the drops don’t.
Matt : I had no idea this was a new thing! I can’t say I really noticed anything happening when I destroyed scenery, although I did notice a couple of pop ups when I managed to crush enemies with chandeliers and walls while in dungeons. I didn’t see it affect anything in particular though. As for the power balancing side of things, I did once jump in with some guys an act above me. I didn’t get instantly mauled, so I’m guessing that worked.
One of the unique features on the Console version is the dreaded nemesis system. Have you encountered this enemy, and if so, how did you find it?
Kyle : I for one love it, here you are minding your own business then all of a sudden this loud fog horn sounds. The first time it happens your like, ‘What the hell is that?’ then it goes again and BOOM in jumps this bad ass monster out for your head. I mean that literally as well as the mob that spawns from the nemesis system collects your friends heads and gets stronger for it.
Its the uncertainty of it as well that’s great as you never know how powerful the beast is going to be. Has it only killed one friend, has a taken out tens of them you have no idea until it spawns right on your head and the reason that is important is that the more people the monster has killed the stronger it gets. What is great though is the loot is drops is great so despite how much of a challenge it can be the rewards are always worth it.
Simon : Bloody awesome. I love this; both the idea and the execution. The fear of the battle horns as the controller rumbles to let you know that a Nemesis that has been created by an enemy killing someone on your friends list is about to drop into your game. The panic of making or finding a clear area so you can focus on the nemesis is like nothing else in the game. The extra special loot it drops. The gift it also drops for the original player it killed as well. Everything about the nemesis system has been well thought out. How did I find it? It all seems a bit random to me. I know it has to be created by one of your friends dying but other than that I don’t know if anything else triggers it. Same area as where your friend died? Taken so much damage? Killed so many mobs? Already have your screen full of enemies as it is? Actually thinking about it that last one does seem to be consistent with the 5 nemesis’s that I have encountered.
Matt : I did see a Nemesis or two. I seem to remember they absolutely tore me apart!
What is your favourite feature from the game, and what 1 thing would you change if you had the chance?
Kyle : I love the Gifts it drops for people on your friend list, you’ll be playing, minding your own business and then an item drops which has that familiar shaft of orange light. Rather than it being a legendary for you it’s a little gift wrapped box that designated for someone off your friends list. Being very much a social gamer it’s always nice to send stuff to people and likewise who the hell doesn’t like getting legendary gear in your inbox :D
What I would like to have seen though is the loot operating the same way online as it does offline when it comes to Co-Op. I tried playing this locally with a friend once I I found it a pain in the ass constantly checking the loot, swapping to between ourselves. It really slowed down the game and when your grinding through your 4/5 play through it isn’t the best.
Simon : Favorite feature would have to be between the two things I have already mentioned – Nemesis and the Apprentice Mode – I think if I had to choose it would be the apprentice system that just edges it for me. One of the worst part about MP gaming is trying to speed level so you can play at the same level as your friends, Apprentice Mode negates that allowing you to jump straight into a group and help rather than just be a tourist without the chore of grinding levels or bringing the group back to an area that you can manage.I also feel that, although it is not a “feature” I really have to mention the story. God I loved the story. Don’t know why, after all it it is very 101. No major twists, no big reveals but something that you just want to find out what happens next.
Finally what would I change? That has to be the “Press X to win” element, sometimes the game just seems too easy. I didn’t feel any fear about running head first into a group of 10 high powered mobs or a couple of elite enemies. In fact on normal level I had no fear of charging the bosses either but then as I said before the difficulty seemed off when I increased it, making the bosses truly invincible with one shot kills.
Matt : Tough one for me to answer, mainly because I really didn’t enjoy the game in any way at all. In fact, by the time I reached the end of Act 1 I was absolutely bored to tears and I’ve got no intention of revisiting it, so it’s going off for trade in. I found it pretty mindlessly repetitive, and there’s definitely an element of ‘death by stats’ too, as I seemed to spend an almost inordinate amount of time staring at menu screens, wondering if any of the several items I picked up in the previous mission were actually worthwhile using.
Blizzard have focused on controls and mechanics to accommodate the difference between mouse and KB and controller functionality. What are your opinions of how the game shapes up?
Kyle : Oh good lordy, the controls. This game feels like it was made for the controller, everything feels so smooth from the customisation of the button mapping to the addition of the avoid/roll being attached to the second stick. Everything just feels so natural and very much at home on modern day consoles.
I also want to give an honourable mention to how the Multiplayer works, it’s just seamless with each consoles friends lists attached. See a friend online, Click a button and jump straight into their game. Also the fact that you get XP gains and Mob difficulty boosts the more people that jump into your game, it pays to play together.
Simon : Very often when you play a game that made its name on the PC the controls always feel awkward on a console whether this be in the main menu with a cursor controlled by a thumb stick (yes I suffer from the “slow, slow, slow, super fast cursor is now going round in circles at warp speed 5” issue quite frequently on other games), the same button doing 97 different things based on what combination of other buttons you are holding or simply the in game HUD having too much information in/on it.
Diablo 3 seems to have captured the essence of a PC system and mapped it nicely to the console controls. A couple of times I had to stop and think where something was but his was more when I was going through my inventory and selecting my skills than in game. The in game/combat controls simply feel natural. I like the fact that you are limited to ten actual skills (four of which are passive) as it makes you think about how you play the game, what build you are aiming for, what skills you prefer, and what armour and buffs you have.
Matt : I had no issue in terms of the control mechanisms used. The Dualshock 4 was perfectly adequate in game, and menus and inventory seemed well thought out.
Finally, Scoring. No numbers allowed. Simply would you tell the community to either Buy, Wait for a Price Drop or Avoid
Kyle : If you’ve already got the friends playing it, drop on that bad boy now. Otherwise wait for the crazy period to die down then jump in once it drops in price.
Simon : Overall Diablo 3 is a funny game to give a review score/opinion on. The game was exactly what I was looking for at the particular time, however I could also see it being a little tiresome and boring if you are not in the right frame of mind for it. Would I tell people to buy this? Yes if there was absolutely nothing else being released that caught your eye. I would also say that is it dropped to £25 anywhere then totally drop on it as the Adventure Mode will keep you entertained for many hours after you have completed the game. I also think that it presently (and for the foreseeable future based on release schedules) is a unique game that would be a shame to ignore completely
Matt : A definite avoid from me, a solidly unenjoyable experience.
So, it appears for Diablo 3, the Jury is still out…