If you talk or write about a common hobby, comparisons with familiar information are a good way to save time and allow the listeners/readers a quicker start. In the area of computer and video games, (new) titles are therefore often compared with genre sizes in order to explain gameplay and game direction more quickly. When it comes to the classic Dungeon Crawler, the Diablo series is used according to its popularity – especially the current, albeit no longer entirely new, offshoot Diablo III. So what does a poor game editor do when it comes to the genre itself, which is now available for Nintendo’s Switch? Compare Diablo with Diablo with? Why not…
Superlatives are nowadays very often given away inflationarily, but one can certainly claim that Diablo III is “the best” dungeon crawler for many – at the moment and/or still -; the one by which all other representatives of the genre have to measure themselves. But it wasn’t always like that. The memory of the PC release at the beginning of 2012 still causes traumatic flashbacks for veterans of the game today. One of the main problems: online coercion. The reason for this, then as now, was that you can only put a stop to cheaters and hackers if you save all character profiles exclusively online. Even in a single game, all actions, collected items and accumulated experience points are monitored by central servers to prevent the manipulation of scores and the use of cheat software. Despite extensive load tests and big promises, the servers did not stand the onslaught of the players in the beginning. The desire to play a round quickly started and ended with the feared error 37: “The servers are busy at this time. Please try again later”. Apart from such technical problems, things like the infamous Blizzard real-money auction house, which had long since been abolished, also brought in a lot of blame. But Blizzard learned from his mistakes, and gradually what he is today became what he is today, and besides PC players, many PlayStation and Xbox owners have been making demons their heaven for some time.
All in, all in
Now it’s time for a Nintendo console for the first time. Diablo III – Eternal Collection for Nintendo’s Switch already contains all content that has to be purchased separately on other platforms: The basic game, the expansion Reaper of Souls and the additional package Return of the Necromancer. Thus, a total of seven character classes are available to slaughter oneself through five acts full of demons.
The seven possible classes cover – optionally in female or male variants – the classical genre archetypes: The barbarian seeks hand-to-hand combat and no one wields larger weapons. The Monk is also a melee fighter, but scores more with speed than with massiveness. Witchdoctors prefer to let ghosts, curses and vermin loose on their enemies from a safe distance and the magician also unleashes the power of the elements predominantly from far away. Demon hunters also use their arsenal of firearms and weapons mainly from a distance, but they also like to use traps and other deadly equipment. Later, crusaders and necromancers were added by extension and additional package. The former is heavily armored and trusts in the power of his faith. The latter trusts above all himself and the army of the undead, which he can lead into the field.
Each class can (with the appropriate character level) place up to six active attacks/skills on the keys and keep up to four passive skills active. Active abilities can also be modified with runes unlocked over time. In total, you have more than 800 abilities to choose from. But most players will soon find the combinations that best fit their playing style and then have little reason to change anything again.
Earlier everything was … different
The Diablo III played today – no matter on which platform – has developed further in gameplay technology and shows strong differences to the original version from 2012 as well as partly real breaks with the predecessors Diablo and Diablo II. With the changes made, the core attributes exchanged several times, the merging of gameplay elements and rationalized functions, entire books could be filled. Character attributes are not assigned by the user, the class archetype can only be individualized via the created equipment and the selection of class-specific skills. Healing potions, scrolls to identify items or to quickly return to the city have been rationalized away as unnecessary resources and simply transformed into standard abilities. The goal has always been to make the game more beginner-friendly, streamlined and reduce it to the absolute core gameplay: Kill monsters in eerie environments and (hopefully) take them to the next battle with rich rewards.
Even the classic campaign thinking was softened for this purpose. Of course, you can experience the history of the game in a normal way, watch sequences, defeat evil, save the world. In addition, there is also the adventure mode, which removes even the “distractions”. Here you can travel through the individual files and hunt monsters and demons as you like. For some of them there are then interesting bounties in the form of items, gold or experience points to dust off. If that’s not enough, you can take on bigger challenges in the form of special dungeons that can only be accessed via special portals. In addition, new seasons will be launched at regular intervals, offering temporary and sometimes even unique rewards for completing certain tasks.
The question remains: Did this whole “streamlining” of the concept succeed? Many – and the still considerable number of players after almost seven years – say yes. Others – some of them quite fans of the first hour – have and will probably never forgive Blizzard for the changes. But unfortunately, you can’t please everyone. In any case, the customers have talked with their wallets and their invested playing time and clearly agree with the developers – at least as far as the current end product is concerned.
Diablo Network vs. Battle.net
If you start a new game from the Nintendo Switch console, you will be welcomed similarly as on PC & Co.: with the current patch notes (at the time of the test version 2.6) and information about the current season (15). What is not happening, however, is a log-in to Blizzard’s Battle.net. Instead – but only if you are online – a connection to the “Diablo Network” is established automatically. The Switch version – just like the other console versions – is also capable of offline use, unlike the PC version.
As much as the independence from Blizzard’s servers is an advantage, it also means that you have to do without all the advantages of the platform – friend lists, chat functions, etc. – and even your existing account cannot be connected to the switch. Existing heroes can no longer be played on, bought or earned rewards such as pets and cosmetic items remain separated by platform. Switch-exclusive are and remain a transmogrification set inspired by Zelda villain Ganondorf (i.e. parts of our equipment can look like this through magic), a Cucco chicken as a pet, as well as a pair of (purely cosmetic) wings for our character and a special Triforce frame for his portrait.
Multiplayer & Switch Online
Just for the switch that is often used on the go, an online constraint would be an absolute death sentence, and so it is not surprising that neither the single player nor the local multiplayer require an Internet connection. Only for “real” online multiplayers is an internet connection necessary and recently of course membership in Nintendo’s paid online service.
Offline and online, you can definitely go into battle with up to three friends: locally either via a split screen on a single switch or with up to four switch consoles, whereby TV and handheld mode can also be combined with each other. Unbelievable but true: The split screen mode also works in handheld mode and each of the two players can play with one of the two JoyCons! The control is – due to the reduced number of action keys – a bit adventurous and some combinations have to be learned first, but it still works surprisingly well. At the latest when a player opens his inventory, however, it becomes confusing. Therefore only in acute cases of Diablo-Koop withdrawal symptoms really recommended.
I must confess that I was actually convinced that my Diablo addiction, which I had developed many years ago, had long since been overcome. In fact, I only played the main game on the PC and the expansion only played through. The long break, coupled with the almost unbelievable suitability of the title for the switch platform, was enough to grab me again. I can well imagine that I will make some more visits to Sanctuario, especially if I am on the road.
What is Diablo III – Eternal Collection? Porting the Dungeon Crawler genre king to a mobile platform
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Tested: Nintendo Switch
Developer / Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Release: November 02, 2018