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Diablo 3: Eternal Collection Switch Review - Better With Age

  • First Released May 15, 2012
  • Reviewed Nov 1, 2018
  • NS

Even after all this time.

More than anything, Diablo 3: Eternal Collection proves just how well Blizzard's action-RPG has aged. Six years after its original release, the dungeon crawler remains as rewarding as ever, and despite a few technical concessions, it has found yet another welcoming home on Nintendo's portable console.

For those unfamiliar with Blizzard's 2012 loot fest, Diablo 3 places you in the shoes of a superpowered demon-slayer in a hellish, gothic world. You explore five disparate regions from a top-down view, upgrading your character and earning new loot as you battle the lords of the underworld and their monstrous swarms.

With the Eternal Collection, Diablo 3 includes every expansion, every character, every quality-of-life improvement the RPG has ever added. One of the more notable options is the ability to play Adventure Mode right from the start, eliminating the need to slog through the slower-paced story out of necessity.

Of course, in coming to Nintendo Switch, Diablo 3 has also become a portable game. And it works. It works incredibly well.

In fact, I can think of few games better suited for a handheld port. So much of Diablo 3 plays best in short bursts, from the 10-minute chase for that next legendary item, to the satisfying flow of a challenge rift. I completed bounties on my way to work and organized my inventory on the way back. Of the 50 hours I spent with Diablo 3 on Switch, about half of them played out in handheld mode. It's another testament to the novelty of Nintendo's console, yes, but also the elegance of Diablo 3's design.

Movement still feels natural on the analog sticks--whether you're playing with the Joy-Cons or Pro controller--and custom controls make it easy to maximize your character build at any time. As was the case with Diablo 3's previous jump to PS4 and Xbox One, the mechanical leap to Switch is painless and fluid. It's just as easy to rely on muscle memory while you focus on the kaleidoscopic display of magic and fire. To paraphrase the designer Don Norman: good design is invisible.

When it comes to visual fidelity, Blizzard ensured that Diablo 3 on Switch runs at 60 frames across the board--aside from rare occasions when elemental effects didn't animate, the Eternal Collection is remarkably clean. Even during high-level challenge rifts, with hundreds of demons covering the screen, the dungeon crawler maintained a smooth and steady pace. The framerate is equally stable in handheld mode, and crunching those mobs is just as satisfying as it's ever been.

The Eternal Collection's resolution, on the other hand, is a bit more muddled. In the Switch's docked mode, Diablo 3 looks aggressively fine, or at least, as good as any other isometric game released in 2012. In handheld mode's 720p resolution, however, things get cloudier. I mean that both literally and metaphorically. In Diablo 3's darker areas--of which there are many--I have to crank my console's brightness all the way in order to really see what is going on. Even then, there's a slight haze over everything, making character models look more like mirages than actual figures. Handheld mode's jagged edges and foggy panoramas aren't massive flaws by any means, but after playing for long periods in docked mode, they tend to stand out.

What they don't do, however, is detract from Diablo's thrilling combat. And of course, in true series tradition, that combat is often more thrilling with a friend or two.

Few cooperative experiences compare to a Monk, Demon Hunter, Barbarian, and Wizard working in concert to whittle down mobs down little by little, one demon at a time. It's a special thrill to see my character build factor into a larger group, and an even better one to see how that group dynamic changes how I play. I'm still mainly focused on killing every enemy possible, but I'm also thinking about tanking with my Crusader, or healing with my Monk, or littering the screen with corpses to give my Necromancer ally more ammunition.

As with previous console iterations of Diablo 3, The Eternal Collection allows for up to four players on one console at a time. Item management is less satisfying in this scenario, as you're either quick-equipping new loot without appreciating its subtleties, or pausing the game for the entire party just so you can boost your damage by 100 points. The radial menus are also still as imprecise as ever, but I'm hard-pressed to think of a better solution without a mouse and keyboard.

I came into the Eternal Edition expecting a eulogy for one of my favorite games. Instead, I stumbled upon a celebration.

And although Diablo 3 on Switch gives you the option to use Joy-Cons as individual controllers, be warned: It's counterintuitive and cumbersome, with poor button-mapping and an overreliance on motion controls. Blizzard did the best it could with what the Joy-Con offers, but when in doubt, stick to the Pro controller or the dual Joy-Con rig.

The Eternal Collection brings the additional ease of playing via LAN connection on each player's respective Switch. It's helpful to have the camera focused solely on your character, especially in Diablo 3's more hectic moments. But I still couldn't help preferring local co-op. There's something novel--even nostalgic--about playing on the same screen, watching the same chaos unfold as the person next to you. Diablo 3 on Switch allows for several methods of playing with friends, and whatever your preference, the experience still holds up.

Like the best games, Diablo 3 has gotten better with time. And despite a few setbacks, the Switch is now my preferred home for the extraordinary RPG. It includes every major improvement Blizzard made to the formula, with the added handheld versatility every Switch port offers.

Diablo 3 is a game about long term goals accomplished in short, thrilling bursts. It's rewarding and subtle. It's flashy and boisterous. I have spent six years enjoying it, and will likely spend six years more. As far as video games go, that's a long time--I came into the Eternal Collection expecting a eulogy for one of my favorite games. Instead, I stumbled upon a celebration.

Mike Mahardy on Google+
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The Good
Diablo 3 combat and loot grind have aged extremely well
Multiplayer options make great use of Switch capabilities
Handheld mode is fluid and seamless
Includes every expansion and DLC since original 2012 release
The Bad
Radial menus are still imprecise and cumbersome
Handheld mode's low resolution results in foggy visuals
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Diablo III

About the Author

Mike Mahardy has spent more than 600 hours playing Diablo 3 throughout his life (50 of which took place on Switch) and he somehow still doesn't regret it.
123 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for amillionhp

I read up until the part about "custom controls" this is important to me because it was pretty much the nail in the coffin for me about the previous console versions. Can anyone elaborate on what exactly is meant by "custom controls" does that just mean button maping? How does the game handle spell/ability targeting? I'm hoping there is a way to use the right stick to move targeting. Can anyone explain? Thank you.

Avatar image for pedal2metal214

@amillionhp: I don't know w/r to the Nintendo Switch but on Xbox consoles, there is a mode called "Elective" mode which allows the player to assign any power to any power-related control input on the controller, vs having fixed power assignments. There are 6 controller power control inputs: 4 buttons (A, X, Y, B), Right Bumper (RB), & Right Trigger (RT), which may be assigned to any available power by the player vs. the default assignment(s). The Left Bumper (LB) is dedicated to health potions.

It sounds like you may be looking for something else given your "nail in the coffin about the previous console versions" comment as Elective mode was available from Day 1 on Diablo 3 Vanilla on the Xbox 360 in 2013 & remains unchanged on my XB1X version today. Maybe Nintendo Switch is more sophisticated/different but I'm guessing it's similar where whatever the Switch controller inputs are may be assigned to powers under player election.

my $0.02...

Avatar image for Xristophoros

can't tell if diablo 3 is one of the most over rated games of all time -- with the likes of halo, etc. -- or if it is really as good as people say it is... i mean, it is a mindless, grindy, hack and slash loot game, void of even a decent story, so how good can it possibly be? i will have to try it out sometime so i can have a real opinion on it i suppose, but everything i have seen of it looks unremarkable.

another big question i have is: how many people could there possibly be out there who are happy to buy diablo 3 for possibly the 3rd or 4th time (and at full price again lol) for the switch? can anyone actually say that is good use of their money?

Avatar image for jsprunk

@Xristophoros: Don't forget that playing through Diablo 3 just once is essentially worthless. You'll need to play through the game hundreds of times at progressively tougher difficulty levels. The "end-game" material in Diablo 3 basically consists of replaying the entire game to increase skills and one or two pieces of gear slightly. It's mind-numbing imho.

Avatar image for pedal2metal214

@Xristophoros: I bought original on 360 in 2013. RoS on 360 in 2016. RoS:UEE on XB1X 1Q2018. I've enjoyed all 3 versions. While I don't have a Nintendo Switch, I fully agree with the reviewer that it's particularly well-suited to a portable platform. You can literally play in 15 minute chunks & have a great time, especially since Adventure mode is accessible right from the get-go (15 minutes is the Greater Rift time target). If someone has a Nintendo Switch & enjoys mindless action on-the-go, it's hard to imagine D3 wouldn't be a solid game purchase. It's always fun to play with others too. my $0.02, good luck!

Avatar image for paullyv

@Xristophoros: on PC, I didn't like it because it felt blocky and small to me even though the sounds and fx were I play FPS mainly on PC, but on the switch, it's an awesome game!! it feels really good, it's fast and fast loading, and It's packed with things to do and all kinds of interesting loot. Great on TV or's awesome for long plays or short bursts during breaks. All story and the voice acting is A+ and it seems they added a lot of new stuff since I played it in 2012. It's my top Switch game so far.

Avatar image for aross2004

@Xristophoros: Why does anything have to be a "good use" of someone's money?

Some argue that video games are a waste of money, period. But of course, it's all subjective.

That being said, I am still seriously addicted to this game and it was a no-brainer for me to purchase it a 3rd time since I travel a lot, and having the entirety of this game in portable form is just awesome.

Avatar image for trueepower44

@Xristophoros: It's a hack and slash loot game. So if you don't like those types of games... you might not like this one. But, some of strengths of D3 are the characters, and different skills to choose from. In D2 the atmosphere was much more enjoyable (when it was made around 2000), because it had that gothic - creepy feel. That is what disappointed people who loved Diablo 2, about Diablo 3. Diablo 3's graphics are more color, vibrant, and cartoonish. Some areas look look better than others though.

But, Diablo 3 has a lot of different interesting characters and skills to choose from that can make the grind interesting. On the switch the game is perfect, and for me I've purchased this game 7 times (no DLC purchases made though, all in package deals). Even though, it's less than perfect, especially from when Diablo 2 was released back 2000. It's still a solid title. Definetely worth checking out if you have any interest in loot grinding, and character building.

Avatar image for NaturallyEvil

@Xristophoros: I'm pretty sure the target audience for all 3rd party Switch games are mostly kids who didn't play the other versions and people who don't have time to sit at home to play.

Anyway, it's fun but I wouldn't set your expectations too high. It's definitely overrated and dumbed-down, but not to the point where the game sucks. It feels like a slightly above-average Diablo rip-off rather than a continuation of the series, so you can probably judge it on your love or hate of the genre.

Avatar image for DeadlyMustard

Dumped this game as soon as I bought it when it got released. Will probably pick it up once the price drops on NS and see if it's improved much!

Avatar image for consolehaven

//open sarcasm//

But, does it cross play with PS4?

//End Sarcasm//

Avatar image for VampireLord123

Just wait for Warframe to release in NS, that one has even a bigger fanbase now i think and is better than D3

Avatar image for mari3k


Meh, nobody like free to play , cashshop games ...

Avatar image for VampireLord123

@mari3k: Well i have played both, similar idea for MMO, and I can assure you that Warframe is better by a mile in pretty much everything from graphics, content, community (one of the best ones), and developers keep bringing new content regularly.

Avatar image for kiggor

@VampireLord123: i kinda doubt its strong enough to run the game well right?

Avatar image for VampireLord123

@kiggor: Warframe is actually very optimized, i think it should run fine, but it will suprise me if the NS wont stutter once you are fighting a horde of infested. Probably, wont have the nice graphics that PC and the other consoles have though.

Edit: I am hoping they will add Samus Aran as a Warframe, that would be awesome.

Avatar image for silv3rst0rm

Play Diablo 3 anywhere eh?

They gotta mean anywhere you have Wifi?
Cause correct me if I'm wrong, Diablo3 had to be "always" online to play right?

So my son wouldn't get to play Diablo 3 on long car rides or wherever WIFI is NOT covered...?

Avatar image for pedal2metal214

@silv3rst0rm: D3 can be played offline on consoles.

Avatar image for xantufrog

@silv3rst0rm: it works offline

Moderator Online
Avatar image for WingChopMasta

@silv3rst0rm: They don't "gotta mean" that because the Internet isn't required. The same as the other console ports. Do you morons do any research before saying this stuff?

So your son CAN play on long car rides to avoid the fact that his dad still asks easily findable information on comment sections disguised as complaining. Man.

Avatar image for souxoux

@silv3rst0rm: The Nintendo Switch version can be played offline. Was confirmed a while back.

Avatar image for consolehaven

@silv3rst0rm: What about letting him use 3G on his cell and sharing the internet connection?

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

Looks like a good port of a game that ment from mediocrity to quite good. Not sure about the full price, though, when you can find it cheaper in other systems (unless the idea is playing it on the go)

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

Looks like a good port of a game that ment from mediocrity to quite good. Not sure about the full price, though, when you can find it cheaper in other systems (unless the idea is playing it on the go)

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

Does the PC version still have to be played online?

Avatar image for dzimm

@Gelugon_baat: Yes.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@dzimm: *Ugh*.

Avatar image for agramonte

$60?... LOL! Good luck with that.

Avatar image for mari3k

@agramonte: I bought 2, just for this comment, lol

Avatar image for agramonte

@mari3k: I bought RedDead 2 for home ($60) and Valkyria4 ($40) on my Switch for my commute... for less than your "two".

Keep my old copy Diablo 3 on PC where it should be.

Avatar image for WingChopMasta

@agramonte: They don't need good luck. This game has been the unicorn of mobile devices. If there's one phrase that comes up on anything is "Is there a game like Diablo for this particular mobile device?". It'll crush expectations. Guaranteed. It's mobile, can be played offline, and plays better with controls. No brainer for D3 fans that have a Switch.

People investing in Nintendo are also well aware of the pricing. We're not Steam sale peasants. $60 is fine for a game I'll put another 300+ hours into. Same reason Skyrim sold very well too at full price.

Avatar image for agramonte

@WingChopMasta: Lots of people who invested in a Switch also invested in a PS4 and PC and played this to death already. Who plays online and only has a switch 🙃

Tons of better things to play at $60 dollars. Not like I am rushing home to play D3 right now - Be some time I am done with all the new releases and have any desire to boot up D3 again.

Yes, it is the Mobile age... I can keep entertained on the GO with all my other mobile Gadgets until my Switch gets a game worth paying $60.

Skyrim sold "very well" compared to the other rehash games on Switch - Compared with the top $60 games it didn't even chart in 2017.

Avatar image for mtron32

@agramonte: I ignored Diablo 3 till it came to Switch because that's actually my prefered platform. I own a PPS4 and a powerful PC but theyre rarely used for gaming these days because I just prefer the portability. Doom 3 fits perfectly and was a no brainer purchase at 60.

Avatar image for WingChopMasta

@agramonte: I have no clue what you just said. Who cares how many devices people have? That's never been a factor with games like Diablo.

Also, people using their own spending habits that vastly contradict the average is probably one of the dumbest things I see in the comment sections. No one is talking about you then. You're not the demographic for this, obviously but to think this game isn't going to be insanely popular on Switch day one. haha. you're either a child or a jaded gamer that can't afford to keep up.

Go play your Steam sale library and let other people play their favorite games while on their commute to their well-paying jobs.

Avatar image for Zenopants

@WingChopMasta: "Go play your Steam sale library and let other people play their favorite games while on their commute to their well-paying jobs."

Avatar image for agramonte

@WingChopMasta: People with "Well paying jobs" have a Switch, PS4 and an MSI GTX 1070Ti Titanium. And not pretending getting a port of D3 in 2018 is all that of a big deal... I would know 😏

Last time I played my Switch to work was Torna... $60 old ports not changing that

Avatar image for mari3k

@agramonte: so what ? are you poor ? LOOOL

Avatar image for agramonte

@mari3k: no, just not stupid... this will be in the bargain bin in no time next to LABO and Starlink 😂

Avatar image for WingChopMasta

@agramonte: Hahah. You cold sad people on the outside looking it. It's cute. Now go stretch out those $5 dollars you have left in your bank account on some fun Steam sales. That Masterrace of begging peasants with their empty bowls out! "Can I have some more, please?"

Avatar image for agramonte

@WingChopMasta: lol! "On the outside looking in" are the poor saps who only have a Switch. Begging for 6 year old ports. Tell me another one please 😂🙃

Avatar image for Kezzy123

I remember when I used to play this game years ago. Glad some people could buy a brand new system to play these coleco games all over again.

I cannot wait to see the Duck hunt port they are working on for switch!

Avatar image for aross2004

@Kezzy123: That's the best you've got?

People don't even try any more...

Avatar image for briguyb13

The salt is real.

Diablo III More Info

  • First Released May 15, 2012
    • Macintosh
    • Nintendo Switch
    • + 5 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Diablo III is a fantasy action RPG that continues the land of Sanctuary's battle against a reoccurring demonic evil, and provides players around the world with the opportunity to create the ultimate hero to quest against it with friends online, or on their own.
    Average Rating5330 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Diablo III
    Developed by:
    Blizzard Entertainment, Activision
    Published by:
    Blizzard Entertainment, Nintendo, Activision, Square Enix
    Role-Playing, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Violence