Diablo III: Eternal Collection marks Blizzard’s long-awaited return to Nintendo for the first time since the N64 era. In many ways it’s indicative to how far the Switch has penetrated the mainstream gaming psyche. Gone are the days that developers and publishers shied away from releasing Mature content for Nintendo fans and when a game is as addicting and fun as Diablo III, it made perfect sense to release it for the Switch – a hybrid console that can facilitate local and online multiplayer in a way other systems can’t. Even though I’ve played through the base vanilla game years back on the PlayStation 4, the Switch experience proved to be every bit as compelling and entertaining as the first time, with only a few oversights raining on its parade.
By now most gamers have probably had some exposure to the Diablo series. At its core it plays similar to Gauntlet, where up to four players can team up and adventure together, slaying the evil beasts in search of loot. The story and monsters are more serious in tone and the blood and gore is punched up a notch, but thanks to the game’s zoomed out viewpoint it never seems too over the top. If you’re hoping to become immersed in the game world and its story, you might want to go alone to take it in at your own pace without distractions. If, however, you just want to have fun slaying monsters and leveling up with friends, the multiplayer mode is the way to go. Luckily you can create multiple playable characters, which is what my friends and I did. I used one solely for single player and the others for multiplayer, that way we stayed at similar levels and it was more fun.
Speaking of characters, you’ll be able to choose from seven different classes: Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Monk, Wizard, Demon Hunter, Crusader, and Necromancer. Each of them has different stats and will learn unique abilities, attacks, and powers. I obsessed over which one I wanted to play and was told over and over again by those in the know that you really can’t go wrong with any of them. After messing around with several I came to the same conclusion: they’re all fun! For my multiplayer run with reviewer Jay Kittelson, I was the Necromancer and he was a Wizard. My character has the ability to raise the dead and have them fight alongside me. Some of my attacks were ranged, meaning I didn’t have to get too close to the enemies to deal damage. Jay was similar, with spells that would lay waste to enemies from afar.
Part of what makes Diablo III so much damn fun is that the progression loop never wears out. As you progress through the game world and defeat countless enemies, you’ll constantly be picking up new equipment to bolster your attack and defense. On top of that, you’re always earning experience points that level your character up, and when this happens you unlock new attacks as well as passive skills. There are multiple skills to learn and within those multiple secondary traits to equip, and at some point in the game you can even mix and match at will to truly customize your version of the ultimate badass!
The cynics out there will look at Diablo III: Eternal Collection and bring up that it’s yet another old as dirt port that has appeared on every other platform under the sun. Sure, they’d be semi-correct in their assessment, but this isn’t just the base game that released on PS4/Xbox One four years ago. This version contains the Reaper of Souls and Rise of the Necromancer expansion packs (sold as a collection in 2017 for the aforementioned consoles), so when looked at through that lens this isn’t quite as late of a port as some would have you believe. There are some extras and slight tweaks to consider with the Switch version as well. The game contains special bonuses from the Zelda series, like the Triforce portrait frame, the Cucco pet, Echoes of the Mask wings, and the Legend of Ganondorf cosmetic armor set. In addition, Adventure Mode is available right away and doesn’t need to be unlocked. Also the Seasons are in place, creating special challenges and objectives to complete to unlock better loot. You can even scan an amiibo in (doesn’t matter which one) once a day to open a portal to fight a higher-end beast and potentially collect some rare loot.
There are many ways to play the game with friends. You can do four player co-op on one system for TV play, or if you get together with friends you can wirelessly sync your Switches (assuming each has a copy of the game) for some handheld fun, or a combination of TV and handheld – it’s up to you! Of course the game fully supports online, so you can game with friends or strangers as well. The downside here, and one of the problems with the Switch version, is that there is no voice chat. Now, in today’s day and age there’s really no excuse for this. Luckily most gamers I know have easy workarounds, like Skype or (in my case) using the PS4 party chat to talk with my friends while I play the Switch. It’s a minor inconvenience that shouldn’t be an issue in 2018. As far as control methods are concerned it’s open season. You can use a Pro Controller, two Joy-Con controllers, or even a single Joy-Con if you like. I primarily utilized the Pro Controller thanks to its comfort and full range of buttons, but the game is fully playable with any of the configurations.
Part of Diablo III: Eternal Collection’s appeal for me is its setting and the dark and brooding environments I was able to explore. I’m a huge fan of horror movies and games, and the world of Diablo is enveloped with supernatural creatures and scares that go bump in the night. Whether you’re ransacking a crypt or exploring a haunted mansion littered with torture chambers, there’s plenty of spooky stuff to discover. The game looks beautiful docked and in handheld mode. The framerate is a solid 60 fps and I never saw the game stutter once even with dozens of enemies and allies on the screen at once. The handheld screen worked better than I anticipated, although the reduction in resolution makes some things appear a bit muddy in places. Still, don’t let that deter you from playing this on the go – I know Jay has done so every day on his way to and from work and has loved every second of it. Really the only negative thing I can say about the game’s visuals is that sometimes there’s simply too much going on at once that I’d lose track of what enemies to target, and as a result just mash my attack buttons hoping I was doing damage.
Blizzard have always been the masters of audio, with spot-on voice acting and fantastic background music and it’s no different with this game. If you’re playing in TV mode and have your Switch hooked up to a decent surround sound system, you’ll definitely appreciate the sounds coming from every direction. The soundtrack is superb, often quietly playing in the background, but occasionally swelling to great effect when something extraordinary is playing out on-screen. If you’re playing portably you’ll definitely want to use headphones to fully appreciate the ambient noises and wonderful music.
Diablo III: Eternal Collection is a packed game with hours and hours of content to play through. There’s plenty of replayability with various characters and the Seasons change, adding new challenges and loot to collect. There are multiple difficulty settings to choose from (we had to bump our multiplayer game up a notch because we were just steamrolling the enemies and killing bosses in like 15 seconds) and you get more experience and better rewards if you do. There’s not much incentive for players who already own this game on competing platforms to double dip with the Switch version, unless you really want to play the game on the go. Having said that, this is a fantastic addition to the Switch library and comes highly recommended, especially for newcomers or those that haven’t played the expansions.
Diablo III: Eternal Collection Review
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
Diablo III: Eternal Collection is a fantastic game for the Nintendo Switch. It combines gorgeous visuals, haunting music, a great story, and exceptionally fun gameplay mechanics to create one of the best titles on the system. With solo and multiplayer options this one shouldn’t be missed.