Published on September 18th, 2013 | by Alex Porter2
Review: Diablo 3
Diablo is back! And this time he is trying to take over Sanctuary on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3! The third game in the beloved Diablo series was released back in May of 2012 but it has finally made its console debut and with more than 150 hours clocked up on the PC version of Diablo 3, with playthroughs across all difficulties including Inferno, who better to review the console version of the game! I aim to provide a review that will talk about Diablo 3 from the perspectives of both newcomers and experienced players of the PC version, such as myself. So if you are a veteran of Diablo 3 on PC, then you can probably skip the next two paragraphs!
The Diablo series focuses around the world of Sanctuary with both the Heavens and Hell existing alongside it, each full of Angels and Demons as you would expect. Diablo himself, the Lord of Terror, is the main antagonist of the series with each game tasking players with stopping Diablo in order to return the world of Sanctuary to peace. Diablo 3 is no different and it brings back the dungeon crawling and loot trawling that the first two games of the series brought with them.
Diablo 3’s story is told primarily through the use of in-game dialogue with a few CG cut-scenes every now and again. The cut-scenes are few and far between but are beautifully done and help to bring major moments in the story forward. As for the in-game dialogue, the voice acting is done well across all of the game’s characters and by using this as a way to bring the story across, the action is rarely interrupted. As for the story itself, it is decent but many of the events of the game can be predicted by anyone who has been paying attention as they play, but there is the odd curve ball thrown in along the way. There are also many references and recurring characters from the previous games that will surely be recognised and enjoyed by any Diablo fan. As far as I can tell though, there are no story differences between the PC and console versions of the game.
The game can be played either alone or with up to 3 other players to make 4 player co-op. In single player, you will have one of three companions with you at all times but their job is more to distract the enemy while you dish out the real damage. By having this companion, you never really feel like you are playing alone and the banter that sometimes happens between them and the protagonist will put a smile on your face. As for co-op, the console version allows for couch sharing as well as online play or a combination of both. Co-operative play is the way that Diablo 3 was meant to be played! Regardless of platform, Diablo 3 is an amazing co-op game that will ramp up the difficulty as more players join in. The console versions allow for a combination of splitscreen and online which makes the game accessible to more players, something that the PC version lacks. With loot being separate for each person, there is no arguing over items and it encourages players to share items that may benefit other classes more. With many of the in-game skills designed to give team-mates benefits, co-op play is the definitive way to enjoy Diablo 3!
Unlike the PC version of the game however, the console versions do not need to be played online nor is a Battle Net account needed, so console gamers can jump straight into the action at any time! This is a definite bonus as PC gamers must make sure that they are connected to the Internet before playing as well as having to wait to login and authenticate their accounts, actions that waste valuable playing time. The console versions also differ in that they have no auction houses. The PC version has both a gold and a real money auction house where players can buy and sell items. I believe that the decision to remove this feature was the correct one as most players that sell items on the auction house overcharge to the extreme in the hopes that some poor fool will drop several billion gold on an almost worthless item. This, combined with an overly complicated searching system, put me off using the auction house and by removing it, players can focus on finding loot for themselves through the slaughter of in-game enemies, making for a far more enjoyable looting experience!
Speaking of loot, Blizzard have revamped the loot system for the console versions in order to make looting less of a task. On the PC, loot tends to be thrown at the players with little regard as to what would benefit their class and the player’s inventory can fill up very fast forcing them to make regular trips to town in order to sell or store their items. This has been vastly improved for the consoles by reducing the amount of loot that is found, which helps to clear up the screen at times, but by also providing loot that is aimed at the player’s class. Individual items are also slightly improved which compensates for the loot reduction and Legendary items are a bit more common than on the PC. Set items are still very rare but by making the standard Legendary items more common, looting becomes much more fun. These changes are of huge benefit and improve the overall experience as picking up loot feels worthwhile, whereas on the PC there is so much loot with so little chance of gaining anything that it becomes a chore.
The RPG elements of the game have remained the same from the PC version with there being a standard set of 60 levels, each giving your character higher stats and new skills. Beyond level 60, there is the Paragon level that will provide small bonuses to your skills but are really only there for the more committed of players as it takes a lot of time to get up through each Paragon level. These skills help to keep each class fresh as players can switch them out to completely change up their tactics in combat as there are hundreds of possible combinations to be made with the dozens of skills and runes that each character gets.
My biggest concern with Blizzard bringing Diablo 3 to consoles was that they would fail to find a control scheme that would work with a gamepad. In this regard, they have surprised me! The controls feel natural with the analog stick providing a level of control over your character that a mouse fails to do in a game like this. Each of your skills are simply assigned to six of the controller’s buttons which makes for easy skill usage, and with the addition of an evade, avoiding traps and explosions is a much more achievable task. Blizzard have nailed the control scheme for the console versions and I would go as far to say that it is much more enjoyable than using a mouse and keyboard. Despite the excellent controls however, the menu system lets the game down a bit. The PC menus are excellent and work well with a mouse, however, the changes made to facilitate a controller make for a very fiddly menu system that can be a pain to work with at times.
What gives Diablo 3 so much replay value is a combination of many of the game’s features. First off is the enemies. Cutting down hordes of randomised demons is fun, pure and simple, and with the stronger randomised Elite enemies thrown in every-so-often, combat never gets boring. These Elites pack with them different abilities that make each engagement unique as one fight could involve you staying up close and personal to avoid mortar fire, while the next could see you dodging area-of-effect attacks while trying to close the distance… or both from the same enemy!
The second feature is the terrain. Most dungeons are randomised to an extent, making each traversal different. The dungeon exits do tend to become predictable after playing a few times but they are still randomised enough to keep things interesting. Many of these dungeons also have sidequests that are only sometimes available so stumbling across them helps to break up the action and provide rewards.
The third feature is the difficulty. Diablo 3 has four standard difficulties, each unlocking upon completion of the previous and each becoming more difficult than the last. As well as these difficulties, there is a more fine tuned difficulty within each making the game effectively have dozens of difficulty levels. And on top of these, there is Hardcore which will render a character unusable if they die while playing. Diablo 3’s addictive gameplay makes it worthwhile checking each of the difficulties out and allows for individuals to fine tune the game to what they feel is the best experience for them. Blizzard have definitely managed to bring back much of the challenge that the PC version has within its difficulties.
The fourth feature is the different classes and skills. There are five classes in Diablo 3 each with their own range of skills and abilities. Each class has dozens of skills with each having runes that change up their effects. Many players will find themselves switching up skills in order to completely change their play-style. These skills and runes effectively mean that there are many ways to play and two players of the same class can find themselves using completely different tactics.
The fifth and final feature is a combination of the loot and your character’s stats. Once you reach level 60, it can be easy to be become obsessed with trying to find items that will improve your characters stats, even if just by a small percentage. It is reminiscent of those PC gamers who like to push their desktop computer to the very limit in order to only slightly improve performance. This is no bad thing, and it will definitely keep some gamers playing the game for a long time.
Graphically, the game looks great, both the audio and visuals are well done and whether there is 1 or 100 enemies on screen, the game’s performance never lets up. Obviously the PC version will have the best graphics but Blizzard have done a great job with the visuals for the console versions and players, both new and old, will enjoy rampaging through the world of Sanctuary. The only performance issue that was noticeable was the odd bit of screen tearing which happened on rare occasions, and even then it was always outside of combat. Aside from that minor issue, Diablo 3 looks and plays great on console!
Diablo 3 is a great game on PC, and Blizzard have done a fantastic job of bringing the beloved series to the current generation of consoles. They have revamped both the co-op and loot systems which make the dungeon crawling experience one to savour with friends. This is a game worth picking up for both newcomers to the series and PC veterans alike. With controls and an experience that rival the PC version, the console version of Diablo 3 is only let down by a mediocre menu system. There are many changes to be found in the game but it is still the same old Diablo 3 that I’ve come to know and love!
Summary: Diablo 3's console debut brings with it a fantastic new control scheme and loot system but retains all of the charm and addictive gameplay of the PC version. A game worth your time whether you are a newcomer or a veteren of the Diablo 3 on the PC.