Diablo III: Eternal Collection for Nintendo Switch Review – I Diablo dare you, in fact I triple dare you…

 

Diablo III for the Nintendo Switch

Upon receiving the Diablo III: Eternal Collection for review earlier this month, I promptly messaged a dear friend of mine to tell him the good news:

“Maaaaaaaate! Only gone and got a review code for Diablo III on the Nintendo Switch, haven’t I?”

“That’s great – you’re only six years late to the party.”

“Oh…”

To say I was underwhelmed by the response of my so-called ‘friend’ is an understatement. In theory, Diablo III is the biggest title I have been afforded the opportunity to review so far, both in terms of developer stature and the cult following that it has grown. As I sat waiting for the lengthy digital download to complete, coming in at roughly 18GB, I mulled over my mates’ rather flippant comment. I came to only one conclusion, and it is this: with previous releases of Diablo III on Windows, Mac, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, I am not late to the party. In fact, I’m not even attending that party at all. Instead, some six years later, I am attending a new party – one that has learnt the good, the bad and the ugly from all the previous parties that have come before it. So, in my eyes, I was about to embark on potentially the greatest party of them all – the Great Gatsby of parties, if you will. The only question is, would I recommend this party to you?

Designed, developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment in 2012, Diablo III has graced every major console with its presence in the six years that have followed. Alongside the graphical and performance enhancements that have occurred in this time, there has also been a wealth of additional content added to the base game. In what served as the first indicator this may be the greatest party of them all, the Eternal Collection released on the Switch includes some excellent DLC. The ‘Reaper of Souls’ expansion and the ‘Rise of the Necromancer’ pack are included, culminating in seven classes, five acts and many seasons worth of new content. In true Nintendo style, pieces of ‘Zelda’s world are scattered throughout Sanctuary, with the Cucco companion pet, a Triforce portrait frame, and an exclusive transmogrification set that will let your heroes sport Ganondorf’s iconic armour’ all present.

With all additional content feeding into the main storyline, the setting is a familiar yet inspired one. In a world where angels and demons once lived in peace, you are now an inhabitant. Unfortunately, they have now come to claim it back. With a host of creatures at their disposal, you must stave off the enemy to keep Sanctuary safe from harm. Armed with seven different classes, from Demon Hunter to Wizard, Barbarian to Necromancer, there is more than enough variety to enable you to find a playstyle that suits you. Each has its own unique features and feels different enough to warrant multiple playthroughs with each class.

Beginning the game as a Demon Hunter, Act 1 of 5 started with a truly exceptional series of cutscenes. In what fast became one of my favourite art styles of 2018, I was engrossed in the backstory provided by said cutscenes and was more than happy to take my time with them. It was here that I also made full use of the screenshot feature of the Switch for the first time, with the sheer beauty of the graphics unlike any I had experienced on my hybrid console to date. Because of this, in a rather rare occurrence for me, I was disappointed when they had ended and the game had to begin.

Starting with the basic apparel and weapons of my Demon Hunter, I began traversing the landscape and making conversation with NPCs. What struck me immediately was just how thorough the game is. Every single interaction with the characters that occupy the towns is worthwhile, be it for some well-placed humour, an interesting fact or some additional backstory to the main themes. I found myself attempting dialogue with anyone and everyone in the hope of obtaining another hint about what had plagued this land.

For me, a true testament to a games worth can always be found in the smaller details. There are so many games on the market that use a tried and tested formula, place a different ‘skin’ upon it, and use this alone to provide the gaming experience. Here, Diablo III has ensured that outside of the other-worldly combat and storytelling, there is so much more on offer to compliment it. For one, I have regularly been in awe of the customisation options available in Diablo. Your character can be equipped with a whole host of different equipment, ranging from armour plates to shoulder guards and many more in between. There are no fewer than 14 different customisable parts to your character, and each has an impact on how your chosen class of character moves, fights and defends itself. These are obtained through the traditional methods we have come to expect of games of this nature: purchasing from a merchant, looting areas and defeating enemies. I was always pleased to have found something new and would immediately navigate to the inventory of the in-game menus so that I could experiment with the different options to find the combination which best suited me.

Another example of just how much you can delve into character development, there is a second menu entitled ‘Skills.’ In this section, you can assign different moves to the joy-con buttons to improve your character’s combat. Split into sections, you can select moves, perks and skills from the following: Primary, Secondary, Defensive, Hunting, Devices and Archery. I spent long periods of time trialling all of the different strategies to determine how I could best utilise all that was on offer to improve my abilities and the in-game experience. What I liked most about this is that it can all be done at any point within the game, just by pausing and making the changes I desired. Furthermore, there are similar options available for the ‘follower’ – the person assisting you in battle.

It doesn’t stop there though! As you earn more and more XP, obtained by defeating enemies and completing quests, your character levels up. Each level offers yet more customisation and unlockables. Once you reach the level cap, which Blizzard has determined to be 70, you then have the opportunity to improve your character’s Paragon Level. This has been included so that the game doesn’t become stale as people continue to put the countless hours in. Each time you level up at Paragon Status, you receive points which you can spend on four main skill sets: Core, Offense, Defense and Utility. These allow you to improve everything from the chance of a critical hit to movement speed and the amount of life regenerated per second.

Now, I am conscious as I write that there is a lot here and for some, this may be off-putting. However, the level of depth that you wish to go into here is entirely up to you. I enjoyed selecting the equipment that ensured the most damage and yet there are some who would rather look for the most aesthetically pleasing combination. By allowing for the difficulty to be changed in-game, Blizzard has catered for the masses. A seasoned veteran, Diablo newbie and anything in between – everyone can have a blast here!

The gameplay itself can be described as a fairly linear experience, where you go from point A to B fending off hordes of grotesque, belligerent enemies who are intent on ensuring you do not make it there. This statement suggests that the game could become a little tiring a little too quickly, however, it could not be further from the truth. The combat is fast-paced, intuitive and engaging; requiring an element of strategy which left me impressed with what I had achieved once I managed to take a breather. It is an exceptionally well-designed game and has kept me coming back for more and more, even when other gaming commitments have suggested that I don’t!

Likes

If it wasn’t already clear, I am a huge fan of this game. It has honed its craft over a number of years and now I am reaping the benefit of six years hard graft. With so much to like about this game, my highlights are those of which I haven’t spoken of yet. First of all, the ability to play with friends either online or in local multiplayer is fantastic. The game is incredibly well-suited to this, with up to four characters working together on-screen to defeat the hordes of enemies with an arsenal of weapons to choose from. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Second on my list of ‘likes’ are the game modes available outside of the ‘Campaign.’ There are two further opportunities to enjoy this game in all its glory, ‘Adventure’ mode and ‘Challenge Rifts.’ Selecting ‘Adventure’ allows you to enable different kinds of gameplay such as Bounties and Nephalem Rifts. The second, ‘Challenge Rifts’ is unlocked after completing a solo Greater Rift. Both continue to enhance the level of depth Diablo III has conjured and I am very much looking forward to making full use of these once the Campaign is finished.

Finally, the inclusion of ‘Seasons.’ is a superb one. Employed in other games with incredible success i.e. Fortnite, FIFA Ultimate Team etc. it makes sense for Blizzard to seize the opportunity in Diablo III. It offers objectives for you to complete, across a variety of game modes, and this will ensure the life of the game continues long after people have completed the main story. Well played, Blizzard!

Dislikes

Naturally, this section is going to be considerably shorter than the one before it, however, there is one issue with Diablo III that I wish to delve into. As a hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch has had incredible success, in part due to its portable nature. I have found it an absolute joy to be able to take my FIFA career mode or Breath of the Wild journey on-the-go and had great plans to do the same with Diablo. What I found, however, is that having signed up to a ‘Seasonal’ campaign, my save file is then inaccessible if I am to play offline (without WiFi.)

Although I understand the reasoning behind this, it meant that I couldn’t continue my game during a recent weekend away and there was no chance of me starting a new save! Social media has informed me that I am not alone here, however, some have found a workaround by starting the campaign with WiFi, then placing the console into sleep mode and starting from where you left off at a later point. It feels an oversight for me and one I hope that Blizzard is able to rectify, as it would make me think twice about enabling seasons in the future.

Conclusion

Personally, Diablo III provides a timely reminder of what it means to be a AAA title. It is detailed, addictive and creative, providing some of the best graphics in cutscenes I have seen on the Switch so far. The customisation on offer is on-point, with countless choices which directly impact in-game performance. Blizzard has managed all of this whilst still ensuring that for all its depth, it is accessible to all. Diablo III: Eternal Collection is a serious Nintendo Switch ‘Game of The Year’ contender for me. In fact, I would go as far as to say it is up there as one of the best games of the console’s life to date. I implore you to buy this game…NOW!

Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Shaun Hughes on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Blizzard Entertainment.

 

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