I was so much more enamoured with the Switch in its first twelve months than I am right now. While there have been consistent first-party releases, they’ve not been of the same calibre as Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, with Smash in December being the next big one. Instead, the Switch has become something of a port-machine, receiving re-releases left, right, and centre. This includes Diablo III: Eternal Collection, which is likely to bring me back to the machine earlier than I’d planned.
I played Diablo III back in 2012, and, like many others, I was pretty disappointed with how it had turned out. So much so that I’ve barely touched it since, spurning it even after the improvements and changes that have been made. I’d been burned and turned off from the game entirely, and that seemed like it was going to stick until I was offered a crack at the Switch version. Now I’m hanging out for its release, and having Blizzard’s hack’n’slash RPG on the go is an appealing prospect.
The game runs smoothly in both docked and handheld modes, devoid of any stuttering, lag, or screen-tearing. Blizzard has said that it should run at 60FPS in both modes and, while my eyes aren’t able to pick out the exact framerate at any given moment, it certainly felt like that was the case. This version of the game doesn’t look particularly fantastic and looks to have received something of a visual downgrade, but that’s to be expected on the Switch. It’s not exactly a graphical powerhouse. It also arguably looks its best in handheld mode, where the reduced screen size makes the lower quality appearance (compared to other platforms) less noticeable.
The controls are tight and responsive, handling well on a controller. It shouldn’t be surprising, but a dungeon crawler like Diablo can feel much more comfortable with a controller compared to a keyboard and mouse. Having direct control over your characters movement instead of clicking where you want to go feels much more satisfying, especially for twitch-reflexes in combat. Nothing on the controller has gone unused either, every button being mapped to an ability or movement function, and the whole thing feels well laid out.
The Eternal Collection also has all previously released content post-launch, including all character classes and access to the adventure mode from the beginning. It’s hard to say exactly how that will translate to the final release, as the demo I played was clearly trying to put its best, most powerful foot forward. I picked the Necromancer, having never played him before, and was dishing out damage in the millions. A surging cloud of impaling bones surrounded me on a semi-permanent basis, dropping only when I forgot to spam my abilities every few seconds. Whatever wasn’t obliterated by the grim shield of literal death was ripped apart by what I can only assume was the mightiest scythe weapon in the game.
While I’m sure my time with the demo was barely indicative of what the final experience will be like, I wish more demos would do this. For the briefest of moments, I was not unlike a God marching through a sea of some of the strongest monsters Diablo III could throw at me, effortlessly bringing them low. It gives me an idea of what I can expect at the very end of the game, which is ostensibly what anyone playing this is working toward, and lets me have immediate fun. It was pretty sweet, and the build even went as far as trying to implement a little story. It was silly, incorporating the Bovine warriors and Unicorns from the easter-egg levels of the game, but it was better than it trying to be so edgy I’d lose my hand trying to play it.
The other side of this kind of demo presentation is that it’s hard to focus on any negative aspects when you’re having such a good time. Honestly, I have no criticisms here; this demo has single-handedly changed my opinion of Diablo III in general and brought me around to wanting to play it again. If you’re in the same boat as me and were disappointed with the 2012 release, or have never played it before, this feels like it will be a great way to play through everything. Hopefully, Nintendo’s ass-backwards online friends system won’t hold it back.