Diablo 3 got off to a shaky start in life when it launched on PC. The Auction house was bust, the network suffered massive failures at launch, there were bugs, a poor loot system, the list goes on! Safe to say that many fans old and new came to the game and were left with a bad taste in their mouth. Yet like a Phoenix rising from the fire, Diablo III has been reborn and may now be one of the best co-op RPG’s in years!
When I heard about the console port of this game I thought “great, a broken game with worse graphics! That is just what we need”. Then in recent weeks I started hearing nothing but praise for the game, as well as a long list of improvements, fixes, tweaks and in some cases cut features that have done nothing but improve the experience. I decided to throw caution to the wind, obtained a copy and I haven’t looked back since.
While I’m sure Diablo III offers a great experience for the single player gamer, my purpose here was to play couch co-op, by which I mean player two was screen sharing and sitting next to me (the way co-op should be!). Things started simple enough with the difficulty and character selection. The game now gives you a choice of five difficulties as well as further tweaks to the difficulty of each level to make sure you get the most out of your experience, or the most experience out of your enemies, which ever way you want to look at it.
Gameplay in general is pretty straight forward stuff, it is an isometric hack and slash dungeon crawler at heart, with a huge pile of RPG progression and story telling layered on top to great effect. The game starts out with some stunning cut-scenes and some stylish animated story telling about the end of the world, evil and generally how there are a few people who can save it. It’s still typical, tried and tested RPG stuff and plays well off the original games in the series. The story is simple enough that new comers can get straight into the action, fans will enjoy the lore and for those that just want the action it’s even possible to just skip all the story, follow map markers and run around smashing things, perfect.
Everything has been overhauled here, the menu system has been completely redone and now uses a radial system that is better suited to the twin analogue sticks of consoles, allowances have been made to let you remap any skill to any button to suit your play style and co-op benefits from a smart map overlay. Online play is no longer essential and the whole game can be enjoyed over local network or screen share co-op, making this feel all the more like an old school RPG co-op experience, sitting with friends, a pile of snacks and a few drinks together with a game.
Barbarian, Witch Doctor, Wizard, Monk or Demon Hunter are all great characters and the level progression feels intuitive, after a few hours you’re working well towards having an awesome character build that benefits from the games less frequent loot drops, which now favour more rare and powerful items as opposed to endless piles of garbage that need to be sold or traded off. This new loot structure works incredibly well and it makes exploration and fighting a lot more fun very quickly, especially now that you no longer need to use an auction house whatsoever.
Graphics are really nicely done, plenty of lighting effects, physics to throw objects from the level around the screen as you smash up tables and barrels and plenty of optional graphics settings to toggle on screen health bars, attack numbers, subtitles and more to tailor the game to your liking. The only downside I ran across is that when you want to change your attributes or equipment you have to take it in turns, only one local player can access the menu at a time. The benefit of this is that you don’t have a cut down half screen menu, everything is nice and clear to read, it just takes twice as long to do it because you have to wait for each player to complete their time in the menu.
Combat is faster and more exciting than ever too, now that evade is mapped to the right stick you suddenly find the battles are more fluid that their PC counterparts. The main skills are mapped to the face buttons, with two more on the back right shoulder buttons, with target lock and heal on the left shoulder buttons. It’s a setup that works incredibly well and all fears of the game feeling “forced” onto consoles quickly dissipate once you start playing. I love playing with keyboard and mouse, but I have to admit that this is far superior an experience to the PC edition, although that could be due to the seemingly endless set of improvements to the games system overall, not just the controls.
The game has also been equipped with every patch and update that has graced the PC edition, so bugs should be at a minimum here, throughout the 20+ hours we’ve clocked on the game so far there hasn’t been a single issue with the game, characters or levelling system, so there has certainly been a lot of improvement in that area.
This isn’t a console port of a PC game, this is the Diablo III the fans wanted in the first place and while many may feel scorned by the original PC release, I highly recommend you check out the console release, although I must admit I haven’t tried the Xbox 360 release, so I can only vouch for the PS3 edition.
You don’t have to be a Diablo fan to enjoy this game at all, this is simply one of the best co-op experiences on the market today and if you’re looking for something to fill the void after completing Borderlands 2, this more than fits the bill.
- Can be played completely offline
- Troubled auction house feature has been removed
- Local co-op
- Re-mappable controls
- Revised loot and levelling system
“The console release is great, far exceeding the PC experience in many ways and while I admit, it should not be this way, both editions should be great! It is. However, this is a fantastic game on consoles and despite any past issues, it is well worth checking if you’re a fan of the series, felt scorned by the original release or you just want some epic co-op action”