At what point does a remaster becomes superfluous? That’s the question that arises with any Switch port, irrespective of its quality or the length of time from which it was originally released.
But consider this. Is a video game enhanced by the ability to enjoy it while taking a dump? In most cases, yes. And so it is for Diablo 3.
I’ve tossed and turned a little about how to discuss Diablo 3: Eternal Collection, the Switch re-release of Blizzard’s dungeon crawler whose history you should absolutely read. And part of that deliberation has centred on double-dipping, from a consumer perspective.
At what point does the ability to take an experience with you fundamentally change, or improve, that experience?
It’s a question well worth asking with many games either prioritising Nintendo or finding a second lease of life on the console, including Dark Souls; Lumines, which had a satisfactory mobile port; the classic Final Fantasy games, which are coming to the Switch next year; and Diablo 3, which launched on Nintendo late last week.
For all intents and purposes, Diablo 3 on the Switch is the same experience you’d get from the console versions. The excellent dodge roll is still there. There’s button remapping if you want everything on the face buttons instead of having them spread across the bumpers, button and triggers. And local wireless is a fun way to spice up a train ride, if you’ve got two hands.
But for the most part, you’re playing the same game that console and PC fans have had access to for years. There is one bit of exclusive content, the treasure goblin Amiibo, but there’s nothing substantially new to discover.
Diablo 3 didn’t get any new announcements at Blizzcon either. So who is the Switch version for, exactly?
I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for people who have been binging Diablo 3 since launch. The Amiibo is nice, but double dipping just for that is a bit much. It’s less of an argument for those who have played on console, since you’re dealing with the same control scheme and you already have a game that’s designed for the couch or bedroom.
Where Diablo 3: Eternal Collection makes more sense is for the PC crowd that jumped on Diablo 3 at launch, and dropped off for whatever reason. Plenty of people have played Diablo 3 – it’s sold more than 30 million copies across console and PC as of 2015. I know plenty who haven’t checked in with the game since the closure of the real money auction house, or even the Necromancer DLC.
For myself, someone who worked through D3 at launch and hasn’t returned, it’s been fun rolling around. Especially with the performance.
My biggest worry with Diablo 3 on the Switch was how well it’d handle large scale battle once all of the particle effects starting firing up. Digital Foundry, above, found that the game drops to 540p at the lowest point while in handheld mode. Beyond that, however, you’re getting a pretty stable framerate throughout, whether you’re in docked or portable mode.
At the absolute worst – with a maxed character in co-op in the thick of a Nephalem Rift – the frame rate isn’t quite so smooth. The density of the effects on screen is largely the main problem, but that’s also a worst-case scenario.
The good news: the portable version performance is basically to docked mode. So knocking off Belail or rescuing Leah, Adria, The Stranger and everyone else who gets kidnapped is just as smooth when you’re taking a dump as when you’re sitting on the couch.
And that’s largely how I’ve been enjoying Diablo 3. The story is a much more casual experience than Diablo 1 or Diablo 2, thanks to the dodge roll, the time to kill, changes to potions, inventory and other systems.
It’s almost a mindless experience. Roll into a group of enemies, freeze everyone, blow everything up with wand of bullshit that adds 433% damage to my arcane orb and makes it explode twice, and repeat.
That wand really is hilariously broken. Treasure goblins die in two hits. Maghda ran around for 10 seconds before getting plastered. The butcher barely lasted long enough to finish his voiceover.
It’s almost like I’m playing Borderlands instead of Diablo.
But that’s what I’ve enjoyed so much. It’s been a nice bit of escapism on the train, something that keeps me occupied while I do other things. I’ve been rolling through deserts while Naruto is playing in the background. And it’s certainly given me an excuse for extra-long toilet breaks. Not at work though: I haven’t quite figured out an excuse as to why I’d be taking my bag into the loo. But it certainly works at home.
And maybe that’s the only reason someone needs: a game they can chill out to. Diablo 3 on the Switch fits that role, even though it carries a far different tone to how I remember playing Diablo 1 and 2. I have very specific memories of the first game; I certainly remember it being a lot tighter, a lot more tactical and fraught. Death was always around the corner.
I’ve never even thought about dying once on the Switch version. Still having a lot of fun, and it certainly made the transpacific flight home a ton easier. That type of Diablo probably isn’t for everyone, but then you probably don’t want to be straining to survive when you’re on the loo anyway.