Diablo 3 on Switch is an absolute delight. I’d actually argue the game plays best on consoles in general (that dodge roll just feels right). But there’s one big bonus for playing the Switch version specifically—and it’s not just being able to play undocked. Although that’s nice, too, and should give players a different avenue to play Diablo on the go.
But the best part of playing on Switch is that Adventure Mode is unlocked from the start.
It’s an odd decision on Blizzard’s part, but a smart one. Adventure Mode is technically “endgame” content. The endlessly replayable mode normally doesn’t unlock until you beat main campaign’s act five—which was introduced in the Reaper of Souls expansion. That takes about 15 hours minimum for players starting from scratch.
The problem is that Diablo 3’s main campaign is kinda bunk. Oh, the gameplay is fine. You beat up demons but good and all of the game’s seven playable classes feel great. But the story is a slog. It’s a river of forgettable bad guys summoning one supposedly unbeatable monster after the next. Rinse and repeat until the last few interesting characters die off.
Adventure Mode circumvents this problem, and more, by forgoing story almost entirely. You just start the game and instantly gain access to Diablo 3’s five major zones, plus its randomized Nephalem Rifts. You can jump between them almost instantly, too. Which adds a lot of early variety to an otherwise linear set of levels.
Instead of scripted missions, Adventure Mode populates each land with repeatable bounties. Completely clearing a zone rewards you with extra-special gear and blueprints for unique sets. It boils Diablo 3 down to its loot droppin’ essentials. Although it doesn’t do much to explain the mountain of upgrade systems Blizzard has introduced since 2012.
That’s the other thing. Adventure Mode sports tons of exclusive content—zones, enemies, and upgrades—you just don’t get in the campaign. Since it launched six years ago, Diablo 3 has added all sorts of goodies for free in regular updates tied to “seasons.” Each season has leaderboards, if that’s your bag (it’s not mine), but season-exclusive rewards are the bigger draw.
Normally I don’t care much about seasons. I’ve beaten Diablo 3 multiple times on multiple systems now. The idea of starting new characters at this point, even if they’re classes I’ve never played before, sounds like too much of an investment. But the Switch version’s mix of portability and instant access to the best mode has me hooked. I just started my first Crusader and played through most of the weekend.
There are some other knickknacks on Nintendo’s console. You can dress up like Ganondorf, for instance. It’s actually a novel use of the transmogrification system, which lets you make your gear look like other gear. But that isn’t well-explained in Adventure Mode, either.
Honestly, the whole thing feels a little hacked together. NPCs refer to you saving the world even if you haven’t touched the story. One of your vendors is the ghost of a guy you kill in act two. Even with the inconsistencies, though, starting with Adventure Mode feels like the “real” way to play Diablo 3 on Switch. You can always try the story mode later. The cutscenes look cool as… HELL… at least.