Bad news, PC gamers: The console version of Diablo 3 is much better than the release you bought
Diablo 3 on the PC was a game that offered players many “features” that they didn’t seem to want. You had to be online to play at all, the game featured a real-money auction house that allowed you to buy and sell items in the game, and of course you can’t just relax with a friend and play in LAN mode. No one seemed to care too much, the game has since sold 12 million units worldwide as of February 2013, but there was certainly room for improvement.
The good news is that Diablo 3 for consoles improved on the original PC release in nearly every way. It’s not enough that Blizzard has made a good port of Diablo for the controller, that’s a pretty big achievement by itself, but this version of Diablo 3 is in fact much better than the original PC release.
Sorry PC gamers, you kind of lose on this one.
The original Diablo 3 had a habit of drowning you in loot, but it was usually garbage. Inventory management became a game of its own, and you often had to take a break from playing in order to see what was good, what was crap, and then sell the rest. Items fell to the ground like tears in rain, and it often felt tiresome instead of awesome.
The console release has been completely rebalanced, and now loot drops are much more rare, and it’s more likely you’ll grab something you actually care about. What’s more, inventory management is a snap with a brand new menu that you access by hitting the select button, but you can also hit up on the d-pad to cycle through your items, with an easy to understand system that lets you know at a glance if you any of your items are better or worse than what you’re carrying.
So if you find a new weapon you can tap the “up” button on the digital pad, see if you see green arrows pointing up that show if it’s better in one of three categories, and then equip it instantly. It’s a great system that allows you to equip new items and weapons without leaving the game. You can manage your inventory on the fly, even in co-op, and this change helps keep the pacing tight.
Also, there is no real-money auction house. It’s just gone. The only way to get items is to earn them in the game. Thank the Maker. There are no shortcuts. This is the way it should be.
Since the real-money auction house is gone, so goes the always-online requirement. You can also play with up to three other friends in local co-op, and you’ll all share the screen. It can get a little crowded at times, but the inventory system described above makes it easy for you to always keep the best gear equipped without pausing the game every three minutes to manage your loot.
Diablo 3 has always excelled when it comes to co-op, but playing with friends on the same TV, while sitting on the same couch, controllers in your hands? It’s the best way to do it. The game also features online play for when you can’t get together, but the addition of heatseat multiplayer to the Diablo experience is pretty massive.
If you’re a social gamer, you’re going to be in heaven.
The controls are… not better. But they work fine
Diablo 3 is a click-fest on the PC, and you moved your cursor over the enemies to select them for attack, and clicked on the ground to move your character. It’s the bog-standard method of control for this sort of hack and slash, as indirect control of the character allows you to target enemies with precision. No complaints here.
The console version of the game gives you direct control of the character, allowing you to move them with the analog stick. This makes the game feel much more like Champions of Norrath than a classic Diablo title, and it feels great in practice. The game feels much more like an action title, and using the face and trigger buttons to control your abilities makes perfect sense. In an odd way it can even feel like a rhythm game as your fingers dance around the buttons as you manage the cool down of each attack or ability.
It’s tempting to try to play the game as a twin-stick shooter, but the right analog stick actually allows you to roll out of the way of enemies and attacks. This means that you have to be facing the enemy you want to attack, and that can be tricky when you’re playing a character with ranged attacks.
I have yet to play the game in the higher difficulty levels, and this could be a major problem when crowd control and targets attacks become more important.
This is the best version of Diablo 3
There is nothing wrong with playing Diablo 3 on the PC, but inviting some friends over, passing out the controllers, and playing on the same couch on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 is the way to go.
The lack of the real-money auction house and online requirement, combined with the improved inventory management system and balance make this a faster, more enjoyable, less forced game than its PC predecessor. Diablo 3 on the consoles places a bigger emphasis on fun, and less on the metagame, and that's absolutely fine by me.