Diablo 3 was released on the PC back in 2012 and quickly became one of the fastest selling PC games of all time. The title hit 3.5 million sales on day one and surpassed 6 million in its first week. By the end of 2012, Diablo 3 sold over 12 million units and has currently been played by over 14 million unique users. It's safe to say that Diablo 3 was a solid hit for the PC market, even with the controversy regarding the server issues and real money auction house.
Now Blizzard are looking to expand upon those figures with the release of Diablo 3 into the console market. I was initially apprehensive as to how a game like Diablo would translate from keyboard and mouse to gamepad, but after getting to grips with my favourite class, the Barbarian, the gamepad controls seamlessly became second nature to me very quickly indeed.
We reviewed Diablo 3 for PC back in 2012, but stay a while and listen; allow me to recap what is going down in Sanctuary for you, the dear reader.
The story of Diablo 3 sets you two decades past the events of the battle with Baal in Diablo 2: Lords of Destruction. Taking the role of a Barbarian, Wizard, Witch Doctor, Monk or Demon Hunter in search of the fallen star, which shattered through the walls of a cathedral in Tristram; where Deckard Cain was predicting the resurgence of evil throughout the land of Sanctuary. Your quest takes you through a number of visually diverse locations where you learn that Diablo himself is on the verge of resurrection and that you are of Nephalem descent. This discovery makes you the biggest threat not only to the hordes of demon spawn, but also to the legion of angels.
From the moment you fire up this game you just know that you're about to be swallowed whole by the pit of atmosphere. This game is so good at immersing you into the storyline, dropping little books of lore for you to learn more about the world, what's happening in Tristram and about the monsters you're slaying. Having a dark and brooding start to your playtime will get those hairs on the back of your neck standing straight and the goosebumps rising; with the guitar playing in the background, you're finally set to unravel the mystery of the fallen star and save Sanctuary.
As I stated earlier, there are five classes in total for players to use. Monk and Barbarian are your melee combatants, Demon Hunter, Wizard and Witch Doctor are ranged classes. There is something for every play style going with the selection; those with a penchant for destruction will go for the brutal raw strength of the Barbarian, while those looking for a little more finesse will choose Monk and their lightning reflexes.
A fan of bows or crossbows? Then Demon Hunter is for you, while those preferring the mystical arcane arts will no doubt choose Wizard. This leaves us with the Witch Doctor, firing deadly darts from their blowpipe and summoning minions of pure evil to enter the fray in their place.
Once you have selected your class and difficulty level, you may start your adventure. The selection of difficulty is where PC players may find something slightly confusing. Gone are the normal, hard, hell and inferno difficulty levels and replaced with easy, normal, hard and then a number of master levels. These master levels condense the 10 monster power levels that the PC version has in half. They also increase the rate of XP gain, magic find and gold find during your adventures in Sanctuary. Currently here is what each master level entails in terms of these bonuses;
- Master I: +60% Magic Find, +60% Gold Find, +120% XP Bonus.
- Master II: +70% Magic Find, +70% Gold Find, +140% XP Bonus.
- Master III: +80% Magic Find, +80% Gold Find, +160% XP Bonus.
- Master IV: +90% Magic Find, +90% Gold Find, +180% XP Bonus.
- Master V: +100% Magic Find, +100% Gold Find, +200% XP Bonus.
It's also worth noting while each master level gains you greater rewards, there is also greater risk as the enemies you encounter will be tougher and harder to kill. Additionally, you can enter hardcore mode where death is permanent for your character for an even greater challenge.
Getting around to the graphics and everything looks fantastic on a big screen, the actual game camera has been pulled in slightly, meaning you lose some view distance but gain sharper visuals on the action as everything is closer to the screen. Movement is handled with the left analogue stick, while new for the console version, rolling is performed with the right analogue stick. This new roll mechanic allows the player to quickly dodge incoming melee and ranged attacks which normally would have prompted the player to click somewhere to get the character moving.
This roll eliminates that PC mechanic and in all honesty feels more fluid and faster paced for the console market. Your attacks are on the pad face buttons and shoulder/triggers with a health pot on the left shoulder/bumper for those "oh shit" moments of low health. PC veterans of Diablo 3 may feel some trepidation when giving the console version a go but this game on a pad works very well indeed, hats off to Blizzard for making this a solid control method for the game.
While adventuring and levelling up, you may assign new skills to the buttons as you unlock them, or enter the options and enable elective mode. This allows you to put whatever damn skill you want on whatever button you may desire, just like the PC version. The method of doing this, along with equipping new gear and general vendor gubbins, is handled with a brand new radial menu style UI which is perfect for the gamepad. Simply rotate your left stick to the area you want to make a change, press a couple of buttons and it's job done.
The story progression, main acts of the game, bosses, enemies and areas are exactly the same as the PC version and have not undergone any changes. Though the loot drops have undergone some tweaking since that was released. Now loot will drop more frequently off mobs, be more in line of the class you're playing and will generally be a more rewarding experience for the player. Also with this being a console version and Blizzard having no direct control over user logins and such, there is no auction house or real money auction house. You have something valuable? Then it will be a case of just hitting the forums and joining an online game to do a trade with someone else.
I have to say the best way to fully enjoy Diablo 3 on console would be to get three friends around and play four player local co-op on the same screen. Playing this way is such an enjoyable experience as you bounce off each other in conversation when someone ninja's loot off the ground, then the jovial insults start flying and finally the laughter when everything goes tits up with everyone ending up dead.
Each player is identified with a coloured ring around their character, so when things are overwhelming you can press your right thumbstick in order to cast a coloured light beacon above your head to show where you are on the screen while surrounded by the hordes of the undead.
If you have a sound system pumping out the audio of the game then you're in for a treat! Turn up that bass and feel each swing, war cry, stomp and roar as it thunders out of your speakers. While this would be the optimum way of experiencing the game, those without sound systems are still in for a treat with everything pumping out of your TV or headset, ready to make your ears bleed with vigor.
Now, there are a couple of issues that I would like to bring up at this stage. Firstly that there have been a few occasions where the game would freeze for a split second mid fight. This could be due to a number of things, but the freeze can still chip away at the experience even if it is for a fraction of a second.
Secondly when you're in battle and you happen to come across a book filled with lore, the game admirably attempts to lower the volume of the on-screen action while the audio of the book is playing. However, this doesn't really have the desired effect as you're still struggling to listen to what is being said and if you're in a battle, it's easier said than done to just stop fighting so you can listen.
Overall, the transition from PC to console feels so right that I feel dirty for saying it. A self proclaimed member of the PC gaming master race enjoying Diablo 3 on the console, and dare I say it; enjoyed the experience more on the console than I did back on the PC? Yes, there are a couple of niggling issues but they're quite minor on the grand scale of things. Either way, Blizzard have done an exceptional job at bringing the title to a wider audience and no doubt will become a solid hit with the respective console communities.
Diablo III (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Diablo 3 was released on the PC back in 2012 and quickly became one of the fastest selling PC games of all time. The title hit 3.5 million sales on day one and surpassed 6 million in its first week. By the end of 2012, Diablo 3 sold over 12 million units and has currently been played by over 14 million unique users.