Review – Diablo III: Eternal Collection

In what has certainly been an uneventful and controversy-free week for the Diablo franchise, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the franchise’s long awaited debut on the Nintendo Switch. Including all content, running at a crisp 60 fps in both modes, and with a few Nintendo-themed exclusives, it seeks to distinguish itself from the large variety of shoddy ports that find their way onto the eShop. Blizzard and Nintendo even partnered up for a not-half-bad limited edition console, one of the few times they have done so with a third-party developer. For a port of a 6 year old game, everyone involved meant business.

Legendary in a barrel

This is how I found my first Legendary item in the game. In a barrel.

The Diablo III: Eternal Collection comes with all the content ever released for the game. This includes both the Reaper of Souls expansion, which included Act V, the Crusader hero class, and Adventure Mode, and the Rise of the Necromancer pack, which added the fan-favorite Necromancer hero class and some themed cosmetics. Also included are all the patches ever released for the other versions of the game, including Seasons synced right up with everyone else. There’s also some neat little Nintendo-exclusive bonuses, like Ganondorf being in the game. Surprisingly enough, all of this is included on the physical cartridge, so if you go physical there’s no Day 1 patch to download. Just insert and play.

No expense was spared in getting it to run and play on the Switch as if it was natively designed for it. The game manages to run at a solid 60 fps at 720p in handheld mode, and 1080p while docked. It manages to cling to that framerate no matter what you throw at it (including Necromancers, the lord of framerate drops) in handheld mode, and although it does occasionally dip during particularly demanding instances (Necromancers will probably be involved) while docked, it’s only a few frames, and it quickly snaps back to a smooth 60. It feels absolutely amazing, and excluding PC – possibly including it, honestly – this the definite version of Diablo III, no joke.

Adventure Mode

Unlike other versions of the game, which required you to finish campaign first, Adventure Mode is available right from the start. No need to search for hidden footprints.

Which is not to say zero concessions had to be made to get here. After all, even the much more powerful PS4 drops frames when things get hectic, especially when some fool brings a pet Necro along. The answer is actually not dynamic scaling, which has become the popular solution when it comes to Switch ports retaining pairity with other consoles, but instead good ol’ graphical downgrading. Nothing too drastic, though.

Environments, models, and the UI are still rendered to scale. So no need to worry about the pixelated blurry look some Switch games suffer from (Xenoblade Chronicles 2, for example). Instead, spell and enemy effects were reduced, sometimes quite drastically in some particular case. Most notably, the Necromancer’s Army of the Dead skill, where hundreds of skeletons rise up and suicide bomb the enemy, has had its visual effects reduced for the sake of performance. While this is now far less epic, it has the bonus of not killing your framerate along with the enemy.

Hell Frozen Over

You know what they say about Hell freezing over.

The portable nature of the Switch has proven to be a huge selling point, with the idea of taking your favorite games on the go (by which I mean lounge around upside down on your couch because that’s what real people do) causing many to pull the trigger on a purchase. Diablo III is one of the most attractive offerings so far, with its grind-driven nature, expansive range of content, and easy drop-in drop-out local co-op, making it easy for you to pick up and play however you want for as long as you want, wherever you may be, this perfect Switch fodder. It’s also super helpful for those times where you don’t have a phone handy.

Graphics: 8.0

This is a 6 year old game, and it wasn’t exactly graphically impressive when it originally released. It wasn’t, and still isn’t ugly, but it is by no means a looker. While the environments and models retain the same quality as other HD versions of the game, the effects have been downgraded, quite significantly in some areas, though it never takes you out of the game. Acts IV and V are still the standouts, from the glowing splendor of the High Heavens to the glorious confusion that is Pandemonium Fortress’ level design.

Gameplay: 10

Diablo III has certainly had a colorful history ever since it was released 6 years ago, but one thing everyone has always agreed upon is how satisfying combat feels. That’s no different here, aided in no small part by the situational rumble (depending on which side of the screen your attack starts on, the corresponding Joy-con vibrates first, then moves over). Exploration is well rewarded as well, with plentiful collectibles to find and achievements to unlock. There’s incentive not just to fully explore an area, but to do so more then once with the same character.

Sound: 9.5

The howls of hellish demons, the slam of a hammer hitting flesh, the crackling of fireballs incinerating hordes, the sound design is top if the line, and helps draw you into the grind cycle. The soundtrack not so much, with the base game Soundtrack leaving a bit to be desired. This is offset by the music added with the Reaper of Souls expansion, more directly inspired from the original games and adding to the gothic dark atmosphere of the game.

Fun Factor: 10

Slamming into hordes of screeching demons, annihilating them with powerful blasts of sizzling arcane energy, and then watching the carnage rain down upon you simply never gets old. The variety in build crafting across the classes, including the astounding amount of content to run, all with up to 3 other friends means that the fun doesn’t end quickly either.

Final Verdict: 9.5

Diablo 3 is available now on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.