Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Diablo III Eternal Collection" Switch Review

Since its 2012 PC release, "Diablo III" has stood as one of the most fascinating and content-rich action RPGs in all of gaming. Blizzard has taken its time to spread the game to other consoles, in each instance managing to release a bigger, bolder version of the towering adventure -- gracing PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013, then the PS4 and Xbox One in 2014 -- that it seemed to have been coded from the ground up for the new platform.

Now the game finally makes its Switch debut. What some expected to be a pared-down version of the game instead is a robust release that makes a strong, virulent case for being the definitive version of the game. Rounding up all previously released DLC, as well as the myriad updates and enhancements that developers have trotted out over the years, this is a slickly playing, gorgeous-looking, impossibly deep version of the game that easily stands alongside the substance you'll find on the Xbox One and PS4, surpassing those versions in many ways.

Blizzard casts the template for how hardcore multiplayer co-op should have been done all along, and must be followed in the future. With lobbies that boast masterful matchmaking and friend pairing, the multiplayer aspect of "Diablo III," which is integral to its makeup, shimmers in a way that had not yet been even hinted at on the Switch. Only "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" and "Splatoon 2" have even hinted at such a level of well-honed infrastructure, and although hampered by Nintendo's insipid approach to voice communication, it smooths over the rocky roads with a satisfying suite of communication tools. 

With all modes unlocked from the start -- including the instanced rift modes that continue to dole out high-powered enemies and rare loot ad infinitum -- it's easy to jump back into the maelstrom even if you're a veteran who has poured dozens of hours into the game over the years. You're reading that right. The likes of "Reaper of Souls," "The Rise of the Necromancer" and "Kanai's Cube" are all accessible from the get-go. Seasonal additions that were previously native to the other platforms are also promised to come, along with the online challenge ladders.

Nintendo-specific enhancements are also there, including a Legend of Ganondorf armor set, Triforce portrait frame and other Easter eggs add a Zelda seasoning to the mix. Naturally, the Pro Controller is supported. The game looks gorgeous at home, but playing it on the go makes for a giddily fresh experience that seems almost too good to be true. For a frame of reference, think of that feeling you got while playing "Skyrim" on the go.

Perhaps the game's greatest triumph has little to do with "Diablo III" itself, but what it portends for the future of the Switch, as well as gaming as a whole. This is an adaptation that's likely to open the eyes and minds of other publishers and developers to see what's possible for Switch ports of top-tier games. "Well, if Blizzard can do it with 'Diablo III' then we can do it with Game X," may well become the mentality for the creative class moving forward.

If that proves true, this "Eternal Collection" will prove to be even more of a legendary drop indeed.
Publisher provided review code.

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