It’s a great week to be a Nintendo Switch owner with a penchant for exploring fantasy dungeons, taking on terrifying monsters, and collecting powerful loot. Two of the biggest action role-playing series in the world — Dark Souls and Diablo — have just made their Nintendo debut. And it turns out that their respective blends of monster bashing are even more appealing when you can take the dungeons with you.
Diablo III came out for PC in 2012 and has since become one of the best-selling video games of all time, despite a tumultuous launch that saw Blizzard roll back several aspects of its design and further overhaul the game with console versions and a major expansion pack. (I recommend reading this dramatic chapter on its development from Jason Schreier’s book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels.) The Switch version, called the “Eternal Edition,” comes with all these years of work baked in, so if you’re playing Diablo III for the first time, you’re getting all the content updates and gameplay tweaks right from the start.
Diablo III might not be for everyone, but it’s easy to see how the game is so beloved and addictive. The story is laughable and the combat is simple, but the core loop of finding loot to level up and take on stronger enemies targets endorphin release with the precision of a box of chocolates. I haven’t had a chance to take it on a plane yet, but I have a feeling this Switch version will make intercontinental flights feel considerably shorter. It’s just too easy to get sucked in to the absorbing blend of health bars and numbers.
The Switch port is great. As with all Blizzard games, Diablo III was originally designed to run well on relatively modest PC hardware, so there hasn’t been any problem scaling it down to the Switch. It runs at a constant 60 frames per second with slightly cut-back character models and occasional minor drops in resolution. I haven’t played enough to assess performance in later stages of the game, to be fair, when things can get a lot more hectic on screen, but the base levels of performance are encouraging. This is also the first time I’ve ever played a Diablo game on a console, and I’m surprised by how much I like the way the click-heavy PC controls translate.
Diablo III: Eternal Collection has a frankly ridiculous amount of content, and it’s the perfect Switch game to curl up with on a beanbag while listening to a podcast. I’d recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have any pressing time-intensive commitments in life.
Dark Souls, meanwhile, is considerably less chill. Unquestionably one of the most influential games of the past decade, From Software’s brutal classic has lost none of its powers to frustrate and fascinate since its 2011 release. Its intense combat and compelling mythology has gripped countless players as they collect loot and descend into Lordran. And now you can play it in a park on a sunny day.
I wouldn’t recommend that, actually, because Dark Souls is very dark and you won’t be able to see the screen. But it does make for a great portable experience once you’re able to adjust to the control scheme, which relies heavily on the Joy-Cons’ slightly pokey shoulder buttons. Dark Souls is a game where every moment counts and the slightest button slip will punish you, so you might want to dock the Switch and use a Pro Controller for the tougher battles.
In general, though, portable Dark Souls is miraculous. While it carries the “Remastered” tag of the game’s PC, PS4, and Xbox One re-release from earlier this year, the Switch version doesn’t feature any of the (actually pretty minor) graphical upgrades of that iteration. This is basically the PS3 and Xbox 360 original running at a more stable 30 frames per second in 1080p on a TV and 720p in handheld. Dark Souls was never a technical showcase even in 2011, but the twisted dark fantasy art still impresses today, particularly in the palm of your hand.
It’s not just that Diablo III and Dark Souls are great ports and “perfect for the Switch,” as is proclaimed of virtually every third-party game to come to the system. It’s that games like this almost never really came to Nintendo platforms in the past, portable or otherwise. Diablo III is the first Blizzard game for a Nintendo console in decades, while From Software has never before brought any of its major titles to Nintendo platforms.
These are both fairly old games, to be sure, but they’ve only gained appeal with age. The beauty of releases like this is they’ll equally delight both veterans who get to play these legitimate classics on the go for the first time, as well as bringing in a whole new audience altogether. Few would have expected that we’d be seeing third-party software support of such quality and diversity just a year and a half on from the Switch’s release.