Diablo III: Reaper of Souls: Ultimate Evil Edition

Finish your goddamned exposition. I want to kill some demons.

He seems nice

Player 1 has Joined

I never played Diablo 2.

At this point, you may have mentally dismissed this review. “How on earth” — you might say — “is he able to even render an opinion on Diablo III without having devoured Diablo 2!?” — brief pause to wipe furious froth from the mouth — “He should go back to playing his baby games! For babies!”

So, I never played Diablo 2. I also never played Borderlands, Torchlight, Destiny or any number of other loot games. I guess I never understood the appeal; yes it’s fun to see the numbers go up, but it achieves little more than the opportunity to see them go up some more, right?

Die! Die by fire!

Wrong. It turns out watching the numbers go up is fun. My bad.

Diablo is a top-down hack-and-slash game. Practically speaking, you walk towards an objective marked by a glowing arrow. En route, you hit, burn, freeze, mince, bludgeon, burn, cleave, reave, impale or otherwise inconvenience hordes of demons that desperately want to use your scalp as a hat.

Upon death demons drop gold and gear, which you collect and store in your implausibly deep pockets. Once sufficient trinkets are hoarded, your party will pause to staple said trinkets to various parts of their bodies. Perhaps you have a slightly better hat, or a weighty possum-on-a-stick weapon that supersedes your — now obsolete — rat-on-a-stick.

Die! Die by electricity!

Thus the basic loop of the game is formed: kill demons, loot demons, don loot, sell remaining loot, kill demons. There is a story but it doesn’t matter; a mess of angels and demons and NEPHILIM who are all bastards. It’s a framing device and has little effect on your enjoyment either way. The next glowing arrow should be your only concern.

Die! Die by zombie dogs!

Player 2 has Joined

We never would have tried Diablo were it not for this amusingly melodramatic piece from Kotaku. It always seemed the antithesis of what we would play together. A long, dark RPG, replete with complicated mechanics and inventory management. The game has seventeen difficulty levels for god’s sake.

There is crafting and leveling and alchemy. There are quests and side quests and random events. There are active abilities and passive abilities and two different stats for health. In short, too much to handle.

And yet, we had a great time with this game, and here is the secret: ignore all that shit. We never engaged with crafting, or alchemy, or any number of higher level mechanics. We leveled our characters and went about our merry, violent way.

Die! Die by hatstand!

The controls seem complicated at first. Your character has multiple abilities that they can trigger at any time. Luckily, the game unlocks ability slots slowly, meaning Tong had plenty of time to get used to managing 3 abilities before getting a 4th, and so on. She never found it overwhelming. Tong did not experience any motion sickness with the game.

Tong played as the Witch Doctor character, a summoner. She became very attached to her zombie dogs, making them a constant presence early on. Later, they would be ruthlessly discarded in favour of the gargantuan, a hulking Frankenstein/zombie crossover, who accompanied us for the remainder of the game.

She took to the leveling and gear systems relatively easily. The interface is initially cluttered and confusing, and it took a couple of evenings before we were comfortable with what each stat/ability did. Don’t be afraid to Google. We would pause every hour or so to “do our stuff”, meaning sort through new loot and abilities. Frustratingly you cannot both do this at once, making this a perfect time for a toilet break.

Die! Die by flying pointy thing!

Can you share it?

Yes, but to reiterate:

  • Do not engage with Crafting, Disassembly, Skill Runes, Persistent Followers, online elements or NPCs other than merchants.
  • Do not try and understand the story.
  • Play on Expert (3/17) Difficulty. The default difficulty (1/17) is far too easy.

We completed the game together in around 20 hours. It didn’t drag or overstay its welcome, but one play-through was enough. I do not think we’ll return to it for the obsessive replaying customary to the series.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls: Ultimate Evil Edition was developed by Blizzard Entertainment and is available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Co-op is only available on the console versions.