When I heard Diablo III was coming out for consoles, I couldn’t have possibly been less interested. I was a diehard Diablo II fan, clearing the Chaos Sanctuary of Diablo and his minions, and later vanquishing Baal’s hordes when the expansion was released far more times than I’d ever cared to count. Needless to say, Diablo III being announced was a big deal for me and I got it at launch on PC. Despite playing through once and giving it a fairly good review, Diablo III quickly soured by the time I reached the the Inferno difficulty. What started as the typical loot grind and hunt for stronger gear quickly became a stone wall impassable without buying farmed gear at exorbitant prices scavenged by botters or players who had chosen a ranged class – those of which were the only characters that could survive in Inferno difficulty at launch due to the ridiculous ramp up in difficulty level once you reach Act 2. Once I realized my monk was completely helpless without buying gear that would cost over five million gold, I decided to call it quits and uninstalled Diablo III.
In February, we started making plans for PAX East, in which I made sure to get us an appointment to stop by Blizzard’s booth to see what they had brewing up and on deck. What my appointment wound up being, was a hands-on demo with Diablo III on the PlayStation 3. I was less than enthusiastic. Remembering my previous experiences with Diablo III on PC left a bitter taste in my mouth, so I wasn’t at all excited to play it on consoles. However, in a shocking twist of events, 30 seconds into the hands-on demo, I found myself not only enjoying what I was playing, but I had a revelation: This is what Diablo III is supposed to feel like. Diablo III was clearly meant to exist on consoles.
In the hands-on demo, the only playable classes were the Barbarian and the Demon Hunter. I only played the Demon Hunter because our time was short, but man did it feel great. The camera is slightly zoomed in, so it’s a little tighter than what you’re normally used to seeing on PC. The biggest and best addition to the Diablo III console build is the ability to use the right analog stick to perform defensive rolls. It’s very easy in higher difficulty to get swarmed by mobs, and even worse when you get several enemies that are enchanted with the ability to summon walls, so this simple yet hugely improved mechanic makes Diablo III considerably more fun to play. There are other UI changes that help Diablo III for console feel considerably at home – such as being able to equip the last picked up item by pressing up on the d-pad and then pressing a button to equip that item or drop it without ever opening your inventory.
Another fantastic change is that Diablo III for consoles will not have the auction house, the real money auction house, or the always online requirement that Diablo III for PC has. This means you’re free to loot, explore, and plunder as much as you want without worrying about whether or not you’re online. It’s unclear as to whether or not you’ll need your battle.net login for online play or if it’ll be simply restricted to PSN/Xbox Live. Also of note, the console version ships with all of the patches up to 1.07, but also has some multiplayer improvements from 1.08 added in the mix. There will also be a few other console exclusive related things, but we’ll find out more once we have hands on the game.