A tale of loot and mobs, eternally retold.
It's the game so good, I've owned it thrice.
No, seriously. Had we not gotten a review code in for this, I was going to go buy Diablo III on the Switch, and it would have been my third copy of this game. I don't think I've ever done that with a game before. And that alone tells you the quality of Diablo III as, well, a game.
If you've never played it before, it's your classic Diablo setup. Run around as one of several classes, kick ass, kill lots of monsters, get loot, level up, get new powers, kick bigger and more impressive asses for better loot, repeat. Honestly, if you want to know how the game plays from scratch, you're better served looking up a review from the PS4 or Xbox One console ports.
(As a quick sidenote, though, avoid the early PC reviews. The game had a lot of troubles in its initial PC launch that took a while to iron out, troubles that were not there in the console releases because we never had a real money auction house to deal with.)
The really interesting questions to ask about this game, instead, are how it fares in the porting. What's the game like on the Switch, which has notably weaker hardware than its contemporaries? And is it worth your time if you already have one of those?
I'm going to tackle the second one first, because the question of worth is hard to evaluate if you already have an up-to-date copy. Real talk, my previous copies are actually from the PS3 ports of the game, so I was missing a lot of content and no longer even had the right console hooked up to play them. This made my decision a lot easier for me.
I can tell you right now, this is a port without compromise. Everything that's in the latest PS4/XBO version is here, and then some. Not only do you have the core game, but all of the adventure mode and seasonal endgame stuff, too. You even have adventure mode unlocked from the start, running on the assumption that you've probably beaten the story at least a few times.
We've got some details to poke at down the line, but first, let's talk core performance while we're here.
I decided, both for the sake of the review and for trying something I hadn't gotten to play before, to start running through the game as the Necromancer. Unlike the Witch Doctor's summons, the Necromancer calls up some real hordes. From a fairly low level, I can have seven skeleton warriors, five skeletal mages, plus all of the enemies, plus new corpse models for the Necromancer's powers, PLUS all of the stuff my Necromancer himself is doing.
That is to say, the Necromancer puts a lot of stuff into the game. A fight against a proper mob with a Necromancer firing on all cylinders, pushes the game in a way that no other class does. If there's something that's going to just crack the entire artifice, it's going to be in running the Necromancer.
And even when I kicked it to maximum, with raging skeletons and ferocious mages and zombie mobs and everything, I couldn't make the thing hiccup. I couldn't get a frame dip I could recognize, or a resolution drop that was visible. I don't know what black magic they're doing, but somehow this game just runs like butter.
Quick sidenote, content. We do get a few new things, but it's pretty slim. There's a special armor that makes you look like Ganondorf, there's some cool new wings, and some stuff with your banner, and that's...kinda...it.
You're not buying this for the exclusives, is what I'm getting at.
The real reason you buy this is for portability. And while the game certainly makes the Switch work, it still ran crisp and smooth for me in handheld mode, and played like a dream. For a game that feels utterly astounding to play as a meditative thing while listening to podcasts or just clearing my head, having it in my hands, anywhere I go, is superb.
That said...That does bring me to the problems. And despite this being such a solid game, there are two.
The first is with regards to its Seasonal mode. If you're not familiar, basically you start a season with a fresh character and are tasked with getting as far as you can and getting as much good loot as possible, within the tight confines of a single season, and the whole thing's leaderboarded and tracked.
This is cool as hell...But it requires online to work. It's, actually, just about the only feature in the game that doesn't work offline. But with the Switch, that means if you're focused on this, you don't really get to play it in places where you can't get a steady, unblocked internet connection. Which kind of sucks. It would've been nice if the system could do check-ins and go off the grid for even just a few hours.
The other thing is, related to this, the Adventure mode. Which rolls up five challenges in each of the game's Acts, and lets you just sandbox through them. This is ALSO really cool, and a great way to just enjoy the meditative slaughter without having to worry about the story too much...But, as far as I can tell, there's no way to save a given instance. So as soon as you quit out, you've got to start a new instance. And if you're three bounties in to a run when someone wants to play Mario Kart...Well, that's kind of a problem.
But these are singular little issues. I'm hoping they're patchable issues. And I'll tell you right now, they don't make the core gameplay loop any less satisfying.
So we come to the core question of should you buy this? First, real talk, if you've got it on PC or on a current-gen console, maybe not. If you don't do a lot of gaming out and about, maybe dipping in yet another time on Diablo III just isn't worth it.
But if those don't apply? If you haven't had a copy in a while, or especially if you're mostly a Nintendo fan and this is your first time the game's been available on your hardware?
You should already be running to the store to buy a copy. This is, as far as I can tell, a near-perfect presentation of an already great game. Now go, go get it!