Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Remembering Diablo 3's Impressive Switch Port

Diablo 3: Eternal Collection - Nintendo Switch

Diablo III: Eternal Collection

Release Date: November 2, 2018
Available as: Digital and Physical

Over the weekend, thousands of Diablo fans had a chance to experience Diablo 4 for the first time during its open beta. Before it opened its doors, Blizzard had a closed beta for those who redeemed an eligible code granted by ordering Kentucky Fried Chicken. Even now, I don't understand the relation between certain brands and publishers. KFC and Diablo is one thing, but I remember when there was one featuring Butterfinger and Final Fantasy 14. Cross promotion is cross promotion and everyone made a buck out of selling closed beta keys so it was a win for everyone.

However, with a larger net cast thanks to the open beta, public opinion was more resolute. The verdict? A far better reception than Diablo 3's launch. However, most would recall the launch of Diablo 3 to be a bit hazy and that's because the game that players are playing now was not the same game it was when it released. Online only requirements, auction houses, and other questionable decisions caused a rift to form between player and developers. By the the time the expansion, Reaper of Souls, released in 2014, much of the game's initial criticisms were addressed. Moving forward, the game enjoyed a healthy player base yet one player base remains its own separate community.

Fans of "large numbers" tend to love Diablo I noticed.

The console version of Diablo 3 is slightly different than the PC version as the first two games were developed with the PC in mind. Blizzard wanted the game to branch out on consoles and be just as playable there as it was on PC. As such, the game played like a modern dungeon crawler, a stark contrast to the traditional gameplay of the previous games. While this polarized the PC player base initially, the console players were forgiving. The main feature that bogged the PC version, its online only feature, was lenient on consoles. It was a no-frills experience that eliminated the bloated features and gave players a solid gameplay foundation.

Blizzard's agenda was to release Diablo 3 on many platforms as possible and the newly released Nintendo Switch was no different. As a portable console, the Nintendo Switch's power was questioned as it was uncertain if the game would perform well on the Switch's hardware. Fortunately, Diablo 3's post launch content was completed with the release of the necromancer DLC. This meant that the Switch would receive the best version of the game available, foregoing the shaky launch. I bought this game as one of my first Switch titles, alongside Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and the Mario Kart 8 that was included. It was on sale and having played the original on both the Xbox 360 and PC, I was curious to see how it played on consoles now.

Don't talk to me or my calf ever again.

It's also worth noting that there was exclusive Switch content, which included Legend of Zelda themed costumes and skins, including Ganondorf. Players could also connect locally with their individual Switches up to four players. It was common knowledge that the Nintendo Switch performed far better when docked than when handheld, so how did this affect Diablo 3? Surprisingly, not by much. The controls were responsive, which helps the fact that the button mapping is identical to other console versions. Nothing was compromised in terms of gameplay and story aside from projecting the game in a lower resolution. This is also reflected on the game's file size, being one of the largest in size at the time. In some areas, the Switch version loaded things fairly quickly and slowdowns whenever there were many enemies on the screen was rare.

One advantage that the Switch had over all console ports was its portability. Players could enjoy their playthrough while the Switch is docked, only to switch to handheld when convenient. This also combined with the console's leniency towards an "online only" experience, making Adventure mode really stand out. Adventure mode was one of the new features added to Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, including a new story act and the Crusader class. The Adventure mode was my favorite mode of Diablo 3 and it would not only become the game's most popular feature but it's a mode that's being updated even to this day.

It was always satisfying seeing large numbers like "472,000,000" condensed to "472M"

Adventure Mode serves as the game's "free play" mode where the player can venture to any of the game's five acts and complete bounties, compete in roguelike Nephalem Rifts, or earn exclusive seasonal rewards. Each "season" consisted of a few months and players who wanted to obtain exclusive sets would make a seasonal character and complete its challenges.

Certain items like banners and pets were also exclusive to each season and it served as an incentive for a player to try a new class or a new build for a class. This turned the Switch to one of the best consoles to play a top-down dungeon crawler as it was seamless. Players could play for a few levels, set the console down, and pick it back up again without needing an external output device like a TV or needing to log in.

All captures were from my Nintendo Switch circa 2019 so these may be a bit dated.

With Diablo 4 and Diablo 3 being over a decade apart from each other, it is unknown if Diablo 4 can release on the switch with minimal compromise as Blizzard was able to do with Diablo 3. Currently there are no plans to bring their latest title on to the Nintendo console, but it's a possibility that isn't ruled out. For now, it's best for eager fans of the Nintendo console to see how things pan out on release date before any further plans for ports are planned.

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