At first glance, Blizzard’s “Diablo” games seem to offer little more than a grind through limitless hordes of enemies in the never-ending quest to acquire rare items and powerful artifacts. Yet the polish and considerable depth of these titles has made the series a massive hit that has withstood the test of time.

The staying power of the franchise is evident with the release of “Diablo III: Eternal Collection” for the Nintendo Switch. The ability to play the dungeon crawler on the go has given the six-year-old game new life.

The action role-playing game tasks players with battling the demonic and undead agents of the archdemon Diablo, cheerily known as the “Lord of Terror,” through the world of Sanctuary. While there are interesting bits of the world’s lore to uncover for players who choose to investigate, the plot is basically there to support the simple but addictive formula of smash monster, loot treasure.

Players can choose from seven classes to tackle the game’s many dungeons and quests, with each bringing their own strengths to the battle against Diablo and his allies. Demon hunters are masters of ranged attacks, while necromancers can raise undead abominations to aid in the fight. Crusaders smite enemies with light-based attacks and bash them to pieces with their shields. Witch doctors enjoy a truly bonkers set of skills, including hurling jars of spiders at foes.

The mighty barbarian, spell-slinging wizard and balanced monk round out the roster of characters.

While each class initially favours a certain play style, they become more adaptable as they increase in level and unlock new passive and active skills. The skills can be mapped to any available button and can be augmented by one of five available runes. For example, a rune attached to the necromancer’s bone spear attack can give the added effect of slowing advancing enemies. The mixing and matching of skills and augmentations allows for a high degree of customization, which can make plowing through unrelenting throngs of demons and zombies more interesting.

Gameplay becomes more complex as characters reach a high enough level to take on the game at one of its more daunting difficulty settings, where the loot becomes more valuable but the monsters start to gain resistances to certain attacks as well as enhancements to their own abilities. Players can still lay waste to multiple enemies, but will have to do so more strategically.

All content in “Diablo III” can be tackled solo, but the game becomes much more fun when forming a party with up to three other players. “Diablo III” can be played with others through the Nintendo Switch online service, which requires a fee to use. But if you have friends close at hand, four people can play locally on one Switch console, and multiple consoles can be linked through a local area connection.

Where the Switch version of “Diablo III” excels beyond being a faithful port of an aging game comes from the seamless transition to the system’s handheld mode. Playing on the go works perfectly with the game’s pick-up-and-put-down nature. It’s as satisfying to knock out one or two short dungeon runs during the morning commute as it is to run through an entire series of quests with a group of friends.

And there is quite a bit of game to get through. The “Eternal Collection” includes all of the original game’s expansions and added content.

“Diablo III” runs quite smoothly on the Switch in both docked and portable modes, but it’s not without its kinks. There were some issues during a test play where a character would do a couple of unprompted dodges, occasionally rolling into harm’s way. The vocal cues for using some abilities seem to occasionally lag behind the fast pace of the game, with a character insisting he or she can’t use a power, while simultaneously using said power to wipe enemies off the screen.

The online multiplayer is also not yet compatible with the Nintendo Switch Online app for voice chat, and figuring out how to make games public in order to group up with players not on your Switch friends list is not as intuitive as it could be.

Minor quibbles aside, “Diablo III” is a well done port of a classic game. It’s a great entry point for players new to “Diablo,” and the chance to play it on a portable system makes it worth the investment for established fans.

“Diablo III” is rated M for mature audiences and retails for about $80.



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