Let’s just skip right to the chase here: Diablo 3 (D3) on the console is, in my opinion, superior in just about every way to the PC version. It’s necessary that I emphasize the weight behind that statement, as someone who still considers herself a PC gamer and has a long history with Diablo 2.
Playing D3 on the console takes me back to some classic console ARPGs like Gauntlet, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, and Champions of Norrath - all games that have been heralded as great couch co-op games. Like all of those games, D3 supports local (yes, optionally offline!) shared-screen co-op with up to four players, but it also supports online and combo co-op as well! While shared-screen can be pretty hit-or-miss in ARPGs, D3 has implemented it fantastically. When players start to split up, the camera slowly begins to zoom out. Eventually it won’t be able to zoom out anymore, and players are stuck on that screen, but it hardly ever feels super restrictive. Furthermore, if someone puts down their controller to grab a snack, his or her character will follow around the other party members automatically or teleport to them if he or she gets too far away. Players connecting to the game online are not tethered to shared-screen whatsoever.
Delicious four-player co-op
I played a good amount of Diablo 3 on the PC launch, and while I can safely say that the game’s the same as far as story, classes, etc., the console version has completely redesigned many aspects from the ground up. Most apparent is the interface. We all know that a poorly designed console interface for an ARPG can be an absolute nightmare; happily, D3’s interface (utilizing radial menus as well as lists) is easy to navigate and use. The console version ditched the whole “size” concept of items to help accomplish this. Polearms now take up exactly the same space in your inventory as rings. I know. Your mind has been blown.
Inventory management - they are ALL the same size (brain 'splodes)
Speaking of items, the item drop system has been completely redesigned as well for the console version. Less items drop, but the items that do drop are of higher quality and more tailored to the classes in the party. My party was getting 2-3 legendary items an hour and almost all of them were immediately useful (or duplicates, which were immediately sequestered for alts). Let me pause for a second while you pick up little pieces of your brain from the floor. Since there’s no auction house in the console version (please, keep your cheering down for a moment), players have to be able to get by on the drops they get in their own games. For players on the same console, drops are shared so anyone can pick them up and trade as needed. Players connecting into the same game over the internet won’t see those drops and will instead receive their own set of drops.
Then there’s the evade feature. The left analog stick is mapped to general movement while the right analog stick is for the sole purpose of combat rolling. Being able to roll away from a charged up attack or out of a pool of lava revolutionized D3 for me. There’s no cooldown or stamina restriction on rolling, so you can roll whenever you want as much as you want. It’s an amazing addition to the game and now I wouldn’t want to ever play without it.
Skill management - more lovely radial menus
Another amazing addition to the game is the difficulty setting. D3 launched with four “mode” difficulties (Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno) which got progressively harder. Upon beating the game the first time in Normal, players went back to the beginning of the game and started the game on Nightmare with higher level enemies. This hasn’t changed for the console version. On top of it has been added a second difficulty setting (called “difficulty”) that can be set from the beginning of the game and changed whenever. When you first boot up the game you can pick between Easy, Medium, and Hard, but very soon Master I and Master II difficulties unlock as well. Master I and Master II are much more difficult, but enemies give increased gold and XP and players receive bonus Magic Find and Gold Find. I absolutely love this new feature. Master II difficulty is a blast, and I can get a challenging experience with better drops really early in the game instead of having to wait until reaching Nightmare and beyond.
There’s a bunch of other changes/refinements that I could gush on about like the quick equip system (which lets players cycle through a little menu by their health bar, telling them if items are upgrades or downgrades regarding damage, armor, and health), the adjusted camera (the Belial fight is now about 250% more awesome), or Nephilim Glory orbs (gold power-ups that drop on the ground). Honestly, I only have two very small complaints about the game. One is that in shared-screen co-op, players can’t be in the main menu at the same time, so everyone has to take their own turn setting skills or selling. The second is that there are very tiny lag spikes here and there, but they don’t really impact gameplay. These minor complaints pale to the quality co-op experience the game has to offer.
When the PC version of Diablo 3 launched, I was pretty disillusioned for a number of reasons. After about a month of playing it, I put the game down (with a fair amount of disgust) and never picked it back up. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be singing such praises of the console version over a year later. The console version was the version of D3 that I didn’t know I wanted. The console team for D3 made me remember why I love Diablo. It’s the worthy successor to Diablo 2 and more than worth your time if you own a console.
The Co-Optimus Review of Diablo 3 (Console) is based on the Playstation 3 version of the game, purchased by the reviewer.