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Diablo 3 for Switch: Portable play keeps the game fresh

Going to hell, again. The Switch makes 'Diablo 3' feel brand-new

Image used with permission by copyright holder

I bought Diablo 3 on launch day in 2012. Like many others, I experienced annoying connection issues in those first few days that hindered my experience. But once those subsided, I became engrossed in the dungeon crawling loot-based loop. I put more than 100 hours into Diablo 3 in the first month. I purchased the subsequent Xbox 360 port, and though I bounced back to the PC version, I was surprised how well the game translated to the couch. I even bought it again for PS4 the following year. Don’t ask me why. I just wanted it, ok?

Now, more than six years after its launch, Diablo 3 and all of its add-on content has arrived on Nintendo Switch as Diablo 3: Eternal Collection. I’ve played through Diablo 3 at least a dozen times, but on Switch, I once again feel compelled to stick around for one last journey to hell.

When I first booted Diablo 3 on Switch, I was disappointed to learn that it doesn’t support I didn’t think my previous characters would port over, but I hoped to see some integration of achievement or other rewards. That isn’t the case. I had to start from scratch. Yet after sinking 15 hours in the campaign over the course of three days, I began to appreciate this baffling omission — or, at least, I came to tolerate it. Building a new character, a Necromancer, from level one to level 40 (so far) has proven good fun.

This isn’t the first game I’ve enjoyed on Switch after already playing it on a different platform, but it’s by far the one I previously had the most experience with, which, at face value, should make it the least exciting of Switch to start all over. Yet I found myself craving each level, each upgrade, each new skill. The isometric camera angle has a distinctly portable look to it, and the combat, which only requires you to hold a button to keep attacking, is simple enough to pick up and play at a moment’s notice. Diablo 3 is a game of many short quests — five minutes for a bounty here, 15 minutes for a rift there — and that’s perfect for mobile play.

While I’ve given my full attention to Diablo 3 for most of the 40 levels I’ve played, I multi-tasked for a few of those hours by watching TV while playing. In that sense, it’s the rare game that can be enjoyed as both an active and passive experience. When focused on the massive final form of Belial, I’m staring intently at the screen, dodging his attacks and hurling piercing projectiles at his monstrous face. When wading through the large Chamber of Suffering, I’m able to find a group of enemies, start attacking, and then look up to see what’s happening on TV.

If for you have no interest in returning to the campaign for the umpteenth time (I wouldn’t blame you — the story doesn’t hold up), you can jump straight into Adventure mode. Normally endgame content, it’s scaled down appropriately so you can track down bounties and explore Nephalem Rifts with low level characters. Adventure mode offers access to random bounties and rifts, the game’s random end-game dungeons. It’s a great way to level up and, since there’s no story to follow, you can play it for just minutes at a time without losing track of what’s happening.

The only part of Diablo 3 on Switch that requires an online connection is Seasons, the revolving door of challenges that tasks you to create a temporary hero for a chance at unique rewards. Besides Seasons, you can play locally with up to four players, and Diablo 3 is simple enough mechanically to introduce to those who don’t typically play “hardcore” RPGs.

It’s a bit too early to say if I’ll sink hundreds of hours into the Switch version, but this is the closest I’ve felt to the magic of the PC release, and it helps bide the time until the inevitable Diablo 4 announcement. Let’s just hope Blizzard doesn’t make us wait too long.

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Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
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