Impressions: Diablo 3 (PS3)

As you may remember, I had some pretty harsh criticisms for Diablo 3 when it first came out for the PC. There were some severe flaws that left the game in a very disappointing place and they didn’t seem able to fix them. Droprates were absurdly low, items were bland, and the game’s difficulty neutered build diversity. All told, it was a huge letdown… but with a Blizzard game, that isn’t the end of the story. Never one to give up, they’ve been busy creating a console version of Diablo for both the PS3 and Xbox 360… and here are some brief impressions.

Diablo With a… Controller?

Yes, it’s true. The console version uses the typical controller, and although I’m surprised to admit it I really like the way it handles. Some changes had to be made to accommodate this, such as the menu being made into a radial and the addition of a roll button that allows you to perform relatively quick dodges. Overall, I’m a huge fan of the way it was optimized, with a few exceptions. The radial menu can be awkward to use, and my wife was frequently struggling with it. The lack of a mouse makes certain abilities just not fun to use. Things like meteor, spike trap, hydra, and other targeted area of effect spells are just not satisfying when you can’t control them. Fortunately, the majority of skills don’t fall in this category, but for those of us who really love the idea of a specific targeted aoe like meteor… sadly you may just have to live without it.

Slaying With Your Friends

While the online multiplayer is really no different than the PC version, the addition of local multiplayer really changes the game. My wife and I frequently played together, and this is the best way to play this version of the game. There’s something inherently satisfying and joyful about rampaging through hordes of demons with a friend by your side – or even better, with a loved one at your side. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

Loot 1.5

Blizzard has been, in their discussion of Reaper of Souls – Diablo 3’s first expansion – touting their new loot system “Loot 2.0” which strives to correct many of the woes Diablo 3’s loot system had. The console version has apparently been used as a testing ground for these changes, with several improvements leaving D3’s PS3 version in, surprisingly, a pretty good state.

Drops are frequent, items are far more interesting than in the PC release, the items that drop are frequently tailored to the class you’re playing, and overall it’s just a huge improvement. This does lead to one of the few issues with the local coop – as loot in local coop is shared unlike online multiplayer… and that is that it seems to cater all of the drops to one of the two players. While playing with my wife, probably 90% of the items that dropped were dexterity based since I was a Monk, which meant that finding items for her Wizard was a difficult task.

Glorious

Probably my favourite addition to the game are a new form of health globe that are yellow in colour… seems simple but they change the game in a really significant way: they give you a buff that causes you to deal additional damage and move faster. This sounds like a minor change, and in a way it is… but this minor change ripples out into the game in a huge way. The buff refreshes when you grab health globes and stacks up to 3 times. As it does, you get more extravagant visual effects on your attacks which makes it even more satisfying slaughtering enemies. This leads to getting one of these ‘Nephalem Globes’ acting as a cue for you to redouble your pace… it makes for a nice little minigame amid the chaos.

Overall

Looking at the game and taking everything into account, I don’t see it as having much longevity. But, for a console game, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a near-perfect console interpretation of the Diablo experience. It also does a great job of helping to get me excited about some of these changes being implemented in the core version of the game.