Diablo III is back, again, and this time on consoles. Released back in May 2012, Diablo III hit the PC market with one of the biggest launches in PC history. Gamers waited years for the sequel to Blizzard Entertainment’s dungeon crawler Diablo II and it released to critical acclaim and strong sales numbers. Following up in February 2013, Blizzard’s Chris Metzen came on stage at Sony’s PS4 announcement conference to announce that Diablo III would be getting a console release. Eight months later, Diablo III releases on PS3 and Xbox 360.
Title: Diablo III
Genre: Action RPG Hack-and-Slash
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: 9/3/13
The Story – Diablo 3 takes place 20 years after the events of Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. Sanctuary has been at peace for these last twenty years, even after the destruction of the Worldstone. Deckard Cain has not been at peace however. He, being the last of the Horadrim, knows that evil is coming assuming the prophecies are true. In this time, his adopted niece Leah has been doubting her uncle’s work. Cain returns to the battered town of Tristram to find some answers and that is when the meteor falls. Cain is lost, Leah is distraught, and it is up to you, one of five hero classes, to find Cain and determine the truth behind this meteor and the demons it brings.
- Not Just Any Port: While many games just port from platform to platform, Diablo III seemed to be more built for consoles. The game flows nicely in performance and while it isn’t as pretty as its PC brother, it is definitely not bad by any means.
- Gameplay: Virtually identical to the PC counterpart, gameplay is still strong. They implemented the abilities effectively to the controller while adding a new evading ability that is tied to the right analog. The console release also features all the current balancing changes (from what I could tell) that the PC is sporting, so console users are getting most of the same benefits the PC users experience.
- Offline Coop: The biggest surprise for many gamers by far has to be the addition of offline coop. If you have your buds over, you can just connect a controller and have them join you, up to four, on the same screen. Something that isn’t really feasible on PC but a very welcome addition to the console’s release.
- No Auction House: While I think the Gold Auction House is a great addition, I still feel the Real Money AH is one of the negatives of the PC world. Without the Auction House, Blizzard was forced to change the ways itemization works on the consoles and because of this, players actually get more loot, better loot, and gold is much more important again.
- Updated Camera: Blizzard changed the camera a little bit for console players. They zoomed in more on the character and altered the angles at which we see two of the boss fights (Belial and Azmodan). The camera angles a little bit for both of the bosses and changes the way the fight seems to flow in a good way.
- Inventory Changes: Adding a new “junk” option for the inventory makes working with items a fun and quick experience. If you want to get rid of an item at a vendor, you can sell all your “junk” items with the click of a button and saves time between little breaks to town. This also applies to salvaging so the player does not need to go through each item to decide whether or not to salvage something.
- Difficulty: While Monster Power is not an option for console players (yet, who knows, it may be added), Blizzard did add an “Easy, Medium, Hard” option for difficulty as well as an unlockable “Master I, Master II” option. I played the game on Medium and it did offer a surprising challenge for me considering I usually play Monster Power 10 on the PC. Jumping over to Hard, it was still bearable but Master I and Master II was definitely a much bigger challenge that many diehards will enjoy.
- Menus: While I do like the way Blizzard designed the menus and inventory screens, it can be a small pain every now and again. They are designed nicely but sometimes they feel wonky when you navigate. Nothing that hurts the game by any means, but sometimes a nuisance when you are trying to be quick. Thankfully, the game pauses when offline so I guess it was more of my own dealings that made it worse for me.
- Cinematics: While still strong, there is the small gripe that they compressed them a little too much and you can see some pixelation. This is slightly distracting when you consider how absolutely beautiful they are on PC.
- Accidental Buying: One thing that slightly gets to me is that gold is so much more valuable in the console version and because of this, most players will get agitated by opening up a merchant and accidentally purchasing something because you clicked too much. At least, this happened to me many times and because there is no prompt on purchase, you are out 5000 gold and can only sell the item back for not even 1% of the initial cost. While this is mostly a player error, it does happen and at least you can salvage that item to get some value out of it.
- No Monster Power: It would have been nice to have in order to give the player more control over their own difficulty, but considering the options stated above, it is not that bad of a minus for the game.
- Still No Strong PvP Options: Many gamers were hoping when this was announced that Blizzard would have focused on getting that PvP out but still nothing for the console launch. Blizzard has stated they are experimenting with some PvP options but they do not want to promise anything for the first expansion, Reaper of Souls.
In saying, Diablo III is definitely one to pick up on consoles, and maybe even more so than PC. With full offline support, players can go to the foothills of nowhere and still get their dungeon crawler fix. My only real questions with this release will involve the PS4 that Diablo was originally announced on. Will we still see a next gen launch as promised back in February? What about the expansion as well? While Reaper of Souls will likely release on PC first, how long will console gamers have to wait? Regardless, I recommend any fan of dungeon crawlers to pick this one up on consoles. It does so many things right and has some potential to be a great future franchise for console gamers.
Update: Blizzard confirmed to me that the PS4 version is still in development, however, there is no news in regards to a potential launch date. Good to know, might have to review that one as well.
Superb – Better than great–this game’s quality deserves praise. We highly recommend purchasing it.