July 4, 2015


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Science & Technology

Diablo 3's simple barbarity will appeal to your inner teen

Diablo 3

Diablo 3

Get out your pencils: it's time for a pop quiz.

Reaper of Souls. Lord of Destruction. Hellfire. What do these three titles have in common?

A. They're subtitles for Diablo expansion packs.

B. They're titles of Slayer albums from the '80s.

C. They're the titles of all medieval fantasy books ever written.

D. All of the above.

Time's up. If you answered A, you are correct.

For the past 18 years, the Diablo series has been making high art out of the video-game equivalent of a sword-wielding barbarian riding a wolf airbrushed onto the side of a panel van. It depict a universe that seems to take place in every heavy metal album cover ever made, where giant demons from hell constantly ravage the land and titles like the a aforementioned Reaper of Souls and Lord of Destruction are used in complete sincerity.

Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition -- a disappointingly toothless subtitle, considering the series' legacy of Slayer-worthy names -- is the definitive compendium of 2012's Diablo 3, compiling all of the add-ons, fixes and goodies that have been released over the past two years and giftwrapping it for console players, especially those playing on the next-gen PS4 and Xbox One, where the Diablo series is making its first appearance.

No matter what you play it on, there's something about the Diablo 3 experience that brings about a regression in the player, making whatever technology it's running on kind of meaningless. It may look and play beautifully on the new consoles, but it still rarely feels like a modern game; the more powerful the hardware it gets, the better it simply gets at recreating the dream game of a 15-year old.

There's nothing meant to be derogatory about that statement either: Diablo 3 is a game designed to appeal to the inner teenager. There's something about it that makes you want to forego all adult responsibilities, drink Mountain Dew and eat Doritos, and listen to bad mixtapes, all while you raid dungeons, smash skeletons with swords and cast cool spells that make giant fiery creatures explode into even more fire. It's simple and repetitive -- the game rarely gets any deeper than "face horde of enemies scrambling towards you and click buttons repeatedly until they all die" -- but it gets under your skin, crawling its way into the part of your brain that holds nostalgia for Beastmaster and pushing against it again and again.

The game reaches its peak with the inclusion of multiplayer, allowing you and friends to fall back together into the type of old-fashioned on-the-couch co-op play that hasn't been done this well since the Nintendo 64 in its prime.

Perhaps that's the one thing the Ultimate Evil Edition of Diablo 3 is missing: a warning that playing it will reignite acne-inducing pizza-and-soda playing parties that you and your friends no longer have the metabolisms to handle.

 

Mel Stefaniuk is a freelance writer whose love of both video games and writing have been intertwined since growing up with the text adventures of the '80s. He can be found on Twitter as @DisgracedCop.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2014 C14

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