Diablo 3: Eternal Collection Review (Switch)
Since its debut a year and a half ago, the Nintendo Switch has easily become one of the most well-rounded consoles in regards to sheer variety of RPGs. There have been fantastic console exclusives in the form of Octopath Traveler, all the way down to educational RPGs, such as Spellspire. You could say that there is something for just about any RPG enthusiast – save for one facet: the loot-driven, dungeon crawling action RPG.
While July’s Titan Quest promised many of the same base features found in a Diablo game, it ultimately did not turn out to be the best representation of a console port. But after spending hours upon hours in the world of Sanctuary, it is clear that the Switch version of Diablo III proves to be a shining example of a console port done right. Diablo III: Eternal Collection releases on Nintendo Switch on November 2nd, 2018, and features the Reaper of Souls expansion, Rise of the Necromancer pack, and Switch-exclusive cosmetic perks.
Diablo III pits you into the world of Sanctuary, the dark world that is the focal point of the Diablo series. You play as a nephalem, the progeny of angels and demons that almost always finds a way to get caught up in the eternal conflict between its forefathers. But the actual line between good and evil isn’t always cut and dry, as history of both the mortal and otherworldly realms have shown that, time and time again, neither side has the nephalem’s best interest at heart.
Diablo III has the nephalem taking to the battlefield to combat new threats and recurring baddies, alongside new and familiar companions from the previous entries. All of the Diablo games are rich in lore, so there will be no spoilers here. While the story for Diablo III has not been as well received as earlier games in the series, it is still a good experience. The primary fault could very well stem from the transition of almost silent demon lords in Diablo II to the mocking you at every opportunity kind found in Diablo III.
And if you really don’t care at all about the story, you can actually ignore it entirely on the Switch version by diving right into the Adventure Mode instead of the story-driven Campaign Mode. The ability to choose your own way is amazing not only for those disinterested in the lore, but for Diablo III veterans that want to jump right back into the action as well. But if you’re brand new to the series, it may be in your best interest to go ahead and follow the campaign on your first character to better learn the ropes.
The main objective in Diablo III is to, basically, kill all of the things. A new game has you selecting from one of seven unique classes: Barbarian, Crusader, Demon Hunter, Monk, Necromancer, Witch Doctor, and Wizard. Slaying heaps of demons with your hero will level you up, which increases your character’s attributes while occasionally unlocking skills in the process.
You can only commit to a handful of skills at a time, but are free to change them on-the-fly in most scenarios. Each active skill comes with five runes that can further empower the ability, such as the Barbarian’s Whirlwind ability spawning small tornadoes in its wake, or siphoning the blood of its enemies on critical hits. It is not uncommon for you to swap these in and out a lot as new skills, runes, and equipment become available to you.
An obvious perk to Diablo III being an older game instead of being the new kid on the block is that character skills have been fine-tuned for years and are generally balanced across the board. Just about any sort of crazy build you can think of is completely viable if you have the proper associated equipment and passives in tow. While a meta will always exist in the highest levels of competitive play, you could easily put together your own unique build with the proper time investment in supplementary gear.
The skill system, as a whole, in Diablo III has experienced a lukewarm reception over the years because it is very much streamlined in comparison to the much larger skill trees found in Diablo 2 and Path of Exile. If you’re the kind of player that wants to get lost in a multi-branching skill system, you might be a little disappointed in what is available to you. Genuine arguments can be made for both sides of the fence, but there is something quite satisfying about the system found in Diablo III despite fewer overall choices compared to other games. The limited selection of skills and runes makes the impact of new skill and rune choices immediately noticeable rather than simply giving a negligible percentage increase to damage.
Diablo III throws a lot of loot at you, and it never gets old. Adjustments were made early on in the game’s lifespan that cut some of the “junk” bloat out in favor of giving you fewer, but more meaningful showers of plunder. While plenty of trash items are still yours for the taking, genuinely useful stuff will drop far more often. But go ahead and pick up everything while you’re at it, because the crafting system, which will be discussed later, makes use of even the crappiest of equipment out there.
Gear in Diablo III comes in five qualities: Common, Magic, Rare, Set and Legendary, with the last two being the most sought-after equipment in the game. Both set and legendary gear typically provide unique and powerful bonuses to your character, with even a single piece having the potential to drastically change the way your character plays. Fortunately, the depth from the equipment system is not limited to high level characters, as most legendaries can drop and scale down to even the lowest level nephalem.
If the RNG gods are being cruel to you, or you are just looking to round out a gear set, you can always look to your artisans for help. You can create new items at the Blacksmith, combine gems and infuse them in socketed equipment at the Jeweler, and can change the magical properties of equipment via the Mystic. What is great about all of these artificers is that they stay relevant pretty much throughout the entire experience. Even though you may not always have a need to craft loads of gear at endgame, the Blacksmith’s ability to break down equipment into components used for other systems is absolutely essential.
Then there is Kanai’s Cube, which is a whole other beast entirely. It serves as a way to manipulate discovered legendary equipment in various ways, with the most important initially being power extraction. The pool of legendary powers you catalog allow you to equip up to three legendary abilities regardless of your current gear setup. Want your Barbarian to benefit from the triple leap granted from Lut Socks, but found a much better piece to use in its place? No problem, break it down in Kanai’s Cube, equip as a passive, and leap to your heart’s content.
Besides power extraction, Kanai’s Cube allows various item and equipment conversions, the ability to reforge or augment certain gear for a chance at better stats, turn rare items into random legendaries, and more. Of course, none of these transmutes can be performed for free and usually require a handful of reagents which are organically collected from participating in common endgame activities.
Diablo III is very much about repeating the same forms of content ad nauseam in hopes of greater rewards. It is a clearly defined treadmill that is designed with grinders in mind. The bulk of content in Diablo III comes in the form of the story-driven Campaign mode and the more open-ended Adventure Mode, which has you either completing bounties or diving into rifts. You can think of bounties as a set of randomly selected quests you can complete for a cache of goodies.
A common complaint in vanilla Diablo III was the lack of map randomization that was iconic to the earlier games in the franchise. Luckily, the Rift system introduced in the Reaper of Souls expansion, more or less, takes care of the problem. Rifts are labyrinths of randomly generated dungeons that can be completed for various rewards, or just for mass demon-slaying fun. Nephalem Rifts are the most casual of the bunch, and provide access to tons of loot and, potentially, Greater Rift keystones. These Greater Rifts have you racing against the clock in order to acquire powerful legendary gems and upgrade them accordingly, in addition to your standard treasure. The difficulty and potential rewards from Greater Rifts scale infinitely, so there is always an avenue for those that want to push their character and build to the extreme.
New players might struggle with these concepts initially, but it won’t take long for it to become second nature. At the end of the day, you can always just walk around aimlessly and explore. Meaningful rewards are possible regardless of what path you take, with some just being more optimal than others.
If you’re into the competitive side of things, you’ll want to keep and eye out on the various leaderboards, and maybe even consider a seasonal character. The leaderboards in Diablo III feature the best players in a variety of categories, from highest level of completed Greater Rift, to Season-specific achievement scores, and more. If you’re wondering about seasons, they last up to several months and have you starting from scratch, with all seasonal characters and equipment being converted to normal characters at the end of each season. Incentives in the form of bragging rights from the aforementioned season-specific leaderboards and exclusive items are among a few reasons to try it out.
If you’re all about living on the edge, you could also try a hardcore character. While normal characters can be resurrected upon death, hardcore characters are permanently dead and take all of their equipped gear and cash to the grave. It can be a constant thrill, but don’t rage when you are one-shot by a random demon and lose everything. In Sanctuary, only demons can hear you scream.
But what about the PvP content? While a basic, party-driven brawling arena does exist, Diablo III, has never received the attention it deserves when it comes to PvP. And seeing as we’re this far into the lifespan of the game, I’m not holding my breath for an overhaul any time soon.
Diablo Vs. Switch
Skeptics will be happy to know that Diablo III runs almost flawlessly on the Switch in both docked and handheld mode. Performance hovers at 60FPS pretty consistently with the occasional, minor dip whenever the screen is filled to the brim with enemies and lots of particle effects are going off. These dips are not significant enough to deter you from the demon-slaying task at hand, however. Diablo III sits at a fairly sharp 960p whilst in the dock while reverting to the occasionally blurry 720p in handheld mode. Both resolutions are more than acceptable considering the age of the game and the amount of chaos that can be going on at any given time.
The FMVs associated with the story have fallen victim to some compression as well, making them a bit blurry in the process. There was a singular occurrence of the background music stacking on itself after bringing the Switch out of suspension, but that was easily remedied by just changing maps. Loading times are essentially a non-issue outside of the initial game load, but even then they really aren’t that long. There isn’t much else to say about how Diablo III runs on the Switch because it, outside of the previously mentioned minor issues, performs great.
Diablo III: Eternal Collection is an absolutely loot-crazed, addicting blast on the Switch. While there may be little incentive to double-dip outside of the portable aspect, it is a must buy for new players and veterans that want to take advantage of its on-the-go capabilities. Being able to dive into the world of Sanctuary and wreak havoc at any time is pretty freaking great.