Diablo 3: Ultimate Edition.
Blizzard Entertainment isn’t known for making appearances at E3—it has its own convention, after all—but this year it made a splash with Diablo 3. It wasn’t to show off the inevitable expansion PC gamers are waiting for, though. Instead, the award-winning company set up shop in Sony and Activision’s booths and invited PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to come over and see why Diablo is one of the most popular franchises in PC gaming.
D3 is unsurprisingly the perfect game for local co-op. I had an opportunity to play with someone at E3 who also happened to be a D3 veteran. I chose a Barbarian to see how cohesive melee combat is with a controller while he deferred for the Demon Hunter. Those wondering how a game known for keyboard-and-mouse controls can work on a controller will be glad to hear that it’s made a solid transition. I’d even go as far as to say that the game mechanics work better on a controller, particularly because you can only equip six skills at a time in D3.
Using abilities is as simple as pressing the bumper or face buttons. Alternating between movements and attacking in any direction can be done with much less effort than a keyboard and mouse. Navigating menus has been streamlined using bumper buttons to rotate between important menu items and the analog stick is responsible for selecting gear or items to equip. In addition, the camera’s placement gives the game a much more action-oriented look and feel.
The console versions also encourage social play with drop-in/drop-out local and online multiplayer. All it takes is the press of a button on a second, third, or fourth controller for your friends to dive into your game. You can mix and match local and online friends to play with real-life and/or e-friends without hassle.
One of the most important changes is the removal of the controversial Real-Money Auction House (RMAH). What this does is make the search for epic items much more substantial. Each time I saw an item drop I was left hoping it was an upgrade for my class rather than awaiting valuable items to sell on the auction house. It’s as if two steps have been removed so you can just gear up and enjoy the thrill of slaying enemies and gearing up your character.
To make up for the absence of the RMAH, Blizzard has gone back and tweaked loot and drop rates. While playing the 15-minute demo, my partner and I managed to stumble upon a legendary item. While luck played a part, I could tell that we were consistently finding better items. Also, dropped items are specific to the classes present in any given game so don’t worry about filling up your bags with useless loot.
If there’s one weakness the console versions have, it’s in their presentation. The PS3 and 360 versions look similar to how the game looks on low-medium settings on PC. If this bothers you, go ahead and wait for the next-gen versions. A PlayStation 4 version has been announced, without a confirmation of an Xbox One version.
As much as it pains me to say it, the console versions of D3 are a much more refined product than their PC counterpart. Instead of waiting months for the game to be updated and balanced, console gamers will be treated to the modern version of D3 with all its conveniences and content. It appears that Blizzard went into D3 development with consoles in mind, and this September, that will pay off with a release of what could be one of the best local multiplayer games of the generation.