Last year Blizzard took a risk and brought their action RPG Diablo 3, which had gone through emergency surgery on PC to cure problems like Error 37, to the console world. Startlingly it worked. Not long ago they also released the Reaper of Souls expansion onto the PC world, before taking out controversial features like the Real Money Auction House. Mechanically the PC version represents a prize-winning Shiba Inu which, only a year ago, was fat with unnecessary features and in need of a good pampering. Now Blizzard is taking their shining dog to a whole new playing field for walkies with the (deep breath) Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition.
First and foremost let’s get something clear. This isn’t a fresh new game in the franchise but an expansion on the original — which is included in the purchase on console. Reaper of Souls‘ most obvious addition is that of Act 5. Taking place in the region of Westmarch, the Nephalem (that’s you) must help stop a crazed former angel from turning everyone into ghosts and ghouls. Of course there’s more to it than that but going into any further detail would take so long Blizzard would probably release another expansion pack. The tangled web of a storyline isn’t bad per se, just a little lacking in any particular depth or consequence.
And Diablo 3 :Reaper of Souls is better for it.
Rather than being the thread that holds events together, the narrative around the game exists simply as a basic reason for killing numerous enemies and wandering through gloomy locale after gloomy locale. To put it another way, the story resembles the frame around the Mona Lisa; it serves its purpose but doesn’t obscure the focus, that focus being its gameplay.
Reaper of Souls‘ control scheme could have been a monumental failure of Ben Affleck as Daredevil proportions. The translation from left-clicking across the floor to using the analogue stick for movement thankfully holds up extremely well. What veterans of the PC version may miss is the precision afforded by using a mouse but with the addition of a console-only roll (think Marcus Fenix in Gears of War rather than the Arwings of Starfox) allowing Nephalem to swiftly dodge incoming attacks. It’s not perfect or foolproof, but it’ll get you out of a tight corner.
Engaging in battle during the game is the crux of everything. Rarely does more than 20 seconds go by when something isn’t being trying to bash out a xylophone solo on your ribcage and giving enemies the same courtesy is nothing short of a breeze. Whether you’re dropping from the sky as a Crusader shattering the undead into a thousand tiny pieces or commanding zombie dogs into battle with the Witch Doctor, dishing out a tasty portion of death only requires the pointing of a stick and the pushing of a button. That’s not to say combat here is always easy.
Not if you don’t make it so anyhow.