In the first and second parts of my ongoing coverage of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls on PC, I pointed out it was not only the additions made by the titular expansion back that vastly improved Blizzard’s threequel, but also numerous sweeping changes made by a pre-expansion patch to the game. A number of changes to itemization, skill systems, and the randomly-generated adventure mode made Diablo III a more compelling game in nearly every way. It should come as no surprise then, that those additions, found in the Ultimate Evil Edition, also make the console version of Diablo III better than it has ever been.
My fellow editor John Tucker had plenty to say about the PS3 edition of the game, and much of that applies to this new version. Blizzard carefully retooled elements of the PC hack-and-slash clickathon to make them more at home on a console. A closer camera view, beat-em-up-style controls for fighting, a radial menu system, and a dodge roll mechanic are but a few of the tweaks that make the game both highly playable and, at times, vastly different in feel to the PC version. The addition of local co-op play rounds out the console experience, and it’s a total blast to slice, dice, and run rifts with some friends on the couch. The Reaper of Souls expansion and the various game system changes it introduced are perfectly at home with the console experience, and will undoubtedly add oodles of hours to the auction house-free adventure.
The bump to new consoles brings with it all of the tasty bells and whistles you’d expect. A higher framerate, prettier lighting, sharper resolution, and all-around excellent performance do a great job of refreshing the already-attractive last-gen versions, and the screenshot and video-sharing functions on the newer hardware make it a piece of cake to show off the prettified visuals. A chunk of frames is occasionally dropped when things get especially hairy, but those instances are rare and don’t hurt the experience much.
It’s not all purely cosmetic, though. There are several small additions exclusive to the Ultimate Evil Edition. There’s a new class of monster called a “Nemesis;” a foul beast that jumps from world to world on your friends list, growing in power with each hero it lays low. Apprentice Mode gives low-level weaklings a bit of a power boost when playing with more glorious friends, easing some of the power differential and making it a bit easier to play together in groups of different levels. There’s a gifting and mailbox system that allows you to share special items with friends, though I didn’t have much of a chance to give this a try. On that same note, while the game reportedly included references to PlayStation classics The Last of Us and Shadow of the Colossus, I haven’t (as of this writing) been able to hunt them down just yet.
Remote Play is, of course, available to those with a Vita, and I found it to be a fun, if somewhat flawed way to grind in the game. It’s not really advisable for story progression due to the incredibly cramped screen text, and you’ll fumble with one of your skill buttons being mapped to the rear touch screen, but the visuals are good enough that you could easily run a few Nephalem Rifts or go loot-hunting in brief spurts without much fuss.
If you love console-flavored Diablo III and own a PS4 or an Xbox One, it’s a no brainer to grab this version. No matter which platform you played on last generation, a handy character data transfer feature will let you pick up right where you left off and jump right into smiting Malthael’s most malicious of minions, and the slick visual cleanup, new features, and endlessly entertaining adventure mode will keep you busy for hours to come.