Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition Review (PlayStation 4)
Blizzard has finally brought Diablo III: Reaper of Souls over to current-gen consoles in the form of its Ultimate Evil Edition. Bringing over the mouse-oriented loot grind of Diablo was no easy task, but Blizzard has successfully translated every spell, attack and piece of gear you could possibly think of over to the PS4. While Blizzard did not change Diablo III's lackluster story or alter the cringeworthy, snore-filled explanations of its beastiary, the game's presentation and controls have been optimized in the Ultimate Evil Edition. With a multitude of new content and features, the Ultimate Evil Edition is, quite simply, the definitive way of playing Diablo III on a home console.
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition offers an excellent segue for those who played Acts I-IV on legacy systems and wish to upgrade to current-gen and see Westmarch. Even if you played on an Xbox 360 and switched over to PS4, you can gain access to your characters just after a few minutes of inputting your information. Evil Ed. (yes, that's a 'Fright Night' reference) brings all of the new content that was added with the Reaper of Souls expansion earlier this year, which the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Diablo III never had. Console players now get the beautiful fifth act of Diablo, the Crusader class, the raised level cap, the finely-tuned new skills, Nephalem Rifts, Adventure Mode, the Mystic artisan, Transmogrifications and much more. Even better, Ultimate Evil Edition incorporates all of the massive, much-needed changes that two years of patching brought to the core game, including the Loot 2.0 system.
For those who do not have a high-end PC rig and were hoping for maximum graphics on the PlayStation 4, the Ultimate Evil Edition of Diablo III absolutely delivers. Evil Ed. offers optimum aesthetics on current-gen consoles. While it might not play at the highest possible level of graphics that max settings on a $700+ graphics card could provide, Evil Ed.'s visuals are absolutely gorgeous and the next best thing. Even when playing online multiplayer with four players' dynamic spells and attacks happening across enemy-filled battlegrounds, Evil Ed.'s frame rate never dipped -- everything played smoothly. The only exception to this were the very rare instances when there were a multitude of spell effects on screen due to multiple rare monsters being fought at once. The second phase of Belial's boss fight in Act II also had minor instances of lag during online gameplay, but this was negligible when we fought the boss again without any cohorts helping us. Overall, the visuals of the Ultimate Evil Edition do not disappoint, offering the most bang for your buck that you wouldn't be able to get unless your PC had a graphics card inside it that costs more than two PS4 consoles.
In terms of controls, the Ultimate Evil Edition successfully crams the keyboard and mouse controls of the PC version of Diablo to a controller scheme, but at a minor cost. The PC version allows you to hold shift and click the screen in order to use your attacks in place without having to move, which is great for ranged classes like the Wizard, Demon Hunter and Witch Doctor. Unfortunately, the PS4 version does not let you do that. which makes combat a little bit harder for ranged characters. The beautiful graphics of the various spells and attacks makes it very easy to ignore the lack Ultimate Evil's lack of a shift key, as does its ability to roll away so you can nuke your enemies from afar.
On the other hand, melee combat is much more effective with a controller. There are minute details added into this version of Diablo that let your melee character take an extra step towards an enemy each time you do a physical attack. When you combine this with using the analog stick to move, hand-to-hand combat in Diablo feels much more authentic and accurate than before. You also feel the "oomph" of every single melee hit, making your frontline fighter feel more powerful throughout the game. Once you start getting more and more skills and attacks, this effect amplifies your immersion, making you feel like you have a grizzled war veteran in the fight against the hordes of hell. The addition of an Evade move makes combat a lot more easier, allowing you to roll in any direction with a flick of the right analog stick. Combined with using the left stick for navigation, playing Diablo III at the higher difficulty settings (and there are many difficulty settings) is much easier due to its tighter movement skills, but we still miss the accuracy of using a mouse to click on our ranged targets while our character stayed in place.
Mapping your Nephalem's attacks to the primary face buttons feels just as genuine as using a keyboard and mouse. It was a great decision to map your primary attack to X and your secondary one to R2. The allocation of your other skills to triangle, circle and square helps remind you that these skills are there to assist you and are not something that you simply spam when the going gets tough. Some of these defensive and utility abilities' have noticeable cooldowns, which encourages you to use them strategically.
We must comment on using the PlayStation 4's Remote Play function for Diablo III. Simply put, Diablo III on the PS Vita via Remote Play is almost unplayable. While you can navigate the map and slay creatures, but using the back touch pad as a replacement for L2 and R2 simply isn't accurate enough to rely on during the heat of battle. This is particularly important since R2 is your secondary attack, which is usually your bread-and-butter for whittling down bigger enemies when your primary attack isn't enough -- there were simply too many instances when the Vita's limited controls failed, especially when it comes to using L2 and R2 on the rear touch pad.
On top of this, the text and numbers on the Vita's screen are simply illegible due to how crammed the Vita's five-inch screen gets. Diablo's color gets warped on this screen as well. The OLED display of the Vita results in most blue text (which is used to display all uncommon items) blending into most dark backgrounds, which is what most acts of Diablo III are comprised of, except for Act II. On the other hand, if you have to do some dungeon-crawling atop the porcelain throne, switching over to the Vita is decent for random exploration, but it's simply not dependable for long-term journeys or even trying to sort out your inventory.
Ultimate Evil's online multiplayer offers a great drop-in and drop-out experience, and it doesn't punish you or your companions for having to leave the game early. If you get another character in your party, the demons of hell get stronger and you have a higher drop rate for items and gold. This effect stacks once you get up to four players together and scales down whenever a person leaves. Localized multiplayer feels great as well, especially since the DualShock 4's light bar is illuminated to match the color of your character's portrait, so you can tell whose controller goes with which character in case you and your friends have to put the game on hold. A brilliant new feature is the Nemesis encounter system. If a certain monster kills one of your online friends in their standalone game, it can travel over to your encounters, offering you a chance at redemption for a fallen friend and a great change to the overall grind.
Make no mistake, if you love fighting hell's minions with a controller in your hand, Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition is for you. If you've already beaten Reaper of Souls on a bottom-to-mid tier gaming PC and have a level 70 character of every class, then you might consider the Ultimate Evil Edition only if you want to play Diablo with optimized graphics. Evil Ed. offers a near-perfect portrayal of the Diablo III experience with nothing lost in translation except the vanity of zooming in on the action and the loss of the shift key. Other than that, Evil Ed. is the absolute best modern dungeon crawler available on current-gen and legacy consoles. Its narrative qualities are still abysmal, but you're not reading this review hoping for a great story, you're hoping Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition is a great dungeon crawler, and there is absolutely none better. While those with high-end PCs need not apply, Evil Ed. makes hell look like heaven.
This review was completed using a purchased digital copy of Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition for PlayStation 4.