Diablo 3 on console is what Diablo 3 on PC should have been: My reluctant conclusion

Diablo 3 (Console)

By on September 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Confession time: I’ve spent the last three nights on the couch, playing Diablo 3. And it’s, uh. It’s… really good.

Stop setting fire to those pitchforks and hear me out.

A lot of people take Diablo really seriously; they play on hardcore mode, they use some semblance of strategy in their battles, they pick their fights carefully. I am not that person. My idea of a good time in Diablo is when the screen is filled with exploding monsters and you can’t see the loot for the particle effects, and the person you’re playing with turns to you and says “That was awesome,” after each big fight.

(It was awesome, actually.)

Here’s the thing — I didn’t get that enjoyment out of Diablo 3 when it launched. I couldn’t even play for the first 36 hours.

Yes, I know the servers are better now. I know that some people didn’t have any issues. That’s great! It really is. Me, though, I got lag, disconnects and total lockouts, in my single-player game. And then when I did get through the connection issues to play, by halfway through Act 1 I’d purchased a weapon off the auction house that was so good I didn’t even change it until halfway through Act 2… for another amazing weapon from the auction house.

It was alright, but it felt hollow as hell. I stopped at the start of Act 4 and I haven’t come back. That was a year ago.

I’m going to drop a bit more heresy here: Diablo is kind of a dumb game. I don’t mean that the game itself is dumb, or that people who play it are dumb, or that Blizzard are dumb, I mean that the basic gameplay itself is just that: basic. Dumb. At its most base(ic) level, Diablo (and Torchlight, and Titan Quest, and all of the other games just like it that I love) are monster-killing and loot-grabbing exercises in mindless but bloody good entertainment.

You can add strategy and depth on top if you want, and the game’s designers are clever and support this with well-designed mechanics. But I don’t. For me, it’s mindless. Ultimately, I am Diablo‘s lowest common denominator.

The thing about mindless entertainment is that it only works if it’s, you know, mindless. If you have to pay attention to it or why you’re doing it then it stops being mindless and starts being annoying, which is ultimately why Diablo 3 on PC didn’t click for me. Dealing with lag and dealing with browsing the auction house and, I think, dealing with sitting at a desk as well — a posture that my body associates with work — all act to pull me out of the zone.

For me, and I imagine for a lot of others, the Diablo formula is just better on the couch with a controller. It just feels better. It feels like classic old-school couch co-op, running around with your friends and hitting things until they explode. The controls are tight as hell, and Blizzard have poured a hugely impressive amount of work into figuring out how to transfer basically the entire experience onto a controller. Even the inventory management, which at first had me scratching my head a little, became instantly easier once I picked up on the visual clues spread throughout the UI. It’s masterfully done.

I’ve spent three days playing this game now, on the couch, on my Xbox 360, and I’ve come to the following conclusion: this is the game I wanted to play. This is the game I wanted last year, the game I can switch off and enjoy like I used to when I shared a LAN with my younger brother and we hammered Diablo 2 for 100 hours a week instead of doing homework. This game is closer to Diablo than the original Diablo 3 on PC was, and the bitter irony of it all is that it took a completely different gaming environment — one derided by obnoxious PC elitists who look down on console games as simplistic — to pull it off. No, really.

The best Diablo experience on PC is still Torchlight 2, but for now — at least as far as I’m concerned — the console has taken the crown as the best way to play actual Blizzard-brand Diablo. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write, but there it is.

Blizzard are shutting down the auction houses (both of them) on Diablo 3 next year, and that’s a genuinely brave move when you consider how much money they must be churning over taking a slice of each transaction. For many players that’ll be enough to bring them back. For me it’s not: I don’t play Diablo on a deeply strategic enough level to need the precision of a mouse and keyboard, I don’t need my after-work gaming to involve the exact same desk-sitting posture that my day job involves and — let’s be brutally honest here — Diablo 3 isn’t exactly a graphically demanding game that is pushing my machine to the bleeding edge.

I’ve changed. I think Diablo has, too. If you’re a fellow Diablo fan and the game didn’t click with you on PC, grab some friends and give it a bash on console. It might just work out.

Free demos for Diablo 3 on console are available on PSN and XBL.

This copy of Diablo 3 supplied by Blizzard.

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16 comments (Leave your own)
Lord_PorkSword

Went through the game twice then got to the 3rd difficulty level and just couldn’t bring myself to chore through the same thing yet again. That was about a year ago…
Just don’t think I could possibly bring myself to playing the same chore on a console.

That said, I’m the same as you Tim. I just wanted to kill lots of bad guys without any thought and strategy and it served me well with that purpose. However, after a while though it became too repeatitive and boring. :(
I may have to checkout this Torchlight 2 game you mentioned though. I suspect I picked up a 4 pack during the last Steam Sale but never installed it. :x

 

I’d rather not spend the prices those poor bastards with the consoles have to fork out just to play a game I already own. They had the chance to keep me playing when it was first released but for some reason they thought I needed to be connected 24/7 to shitty servers half a world away, just to play it.

Good article though Tim. I’ll put my burning pitchfork away this time….. This time.

 

I must admit I’ve been seriously tempted to get the XB360 version of this game. Usually I’d be the other way around, try to go after the PC version of the game, avoid console version, yadda yadda, but this time around the fact the console version doesn’t need to worry about all that cruddy constant connection crap changed my mind considerably. I should have held off buying the PC version in the first place.

 

I played D3 when it first came out but got bored somewhere in Act III. Forced myself through to finishing the game. I was somewhat keen on hardcore but the lag and lack of local servers made that more of a chore than anything else. Throw in that it was better to farm gold and use the AH instead of “playing” killed what little remaining interest was left. I haven’t logged in since around July last year.

I will probably end up buying RoS on release if it comes in a proper CE as I do like collecting the art books. If no CE though, I don’t see myself purchasing it until it’s dirt cheap and even then it will be to play through the story once.

 

Confirmed for my view on the game too, the undeniable best game play Diablo ever had was in D2 with one of the mods that turned every monster in each zone into a particular boss (zone 1 was Andariel IIRC) and a group of friends each playing different classes.

Super fast leveling, super hard game play, crazy as hell loot farming and it lasted us for hundreds of hours of play.

Once people start talking about pvp/arena etc in that game i just stop listening, it’s not even remotely built for that type of play and it’s just not the way the game was meant to be played.

 

I’m finally trying out D2 a bit, and I have to admit that while the gameplay isn’t perfect the game is definitely lots of fun.

More games need OP teleport skills.

 

I’m just happy the console version isn’t always-online like the PC version, despite suggestions it couldn’t be done.

 

I can foresee more burning pitch forks in the future, D3 being great on console (and also offline) will be a serious dose of salt in the wounds of angry PC customers.

 

razorback47,

Yeah apparently the console version can’t exist. Go figure.

 

I agree the console versions sounds a lot better and not just because you’re on the couch.

My take on it was that Diablo3 is fundamentally about the personal narrative and journey of your character as you hack through hordes of monsters and obtain ever powerful weapons to defeat the ultimate evil.

The auction house destroys that completely and replaces it with a narrative where your hero goes shopping, buys an overpowered weapon for cheap and defeats the ultimate evil.

 

These types of games work great on consoles. But it seems if they had proper offline play and didn’t have the auction houses it would of fixed alot of what people hated about the original launch.

 

cyrinno:
These types of games work great on consoles. But it seems if they had proper offline play and didn’t have the auction houses it would of fixed alot of what people hated about the original launch.

You don’t even need to remove the auction houses, you just need to launch with some form of BOE or make items only auctionable once to stop the economy being ruined within 30 minutes of launch.

There needs to be items and gold leaving the economy at roughly the same speed as they enter.

 

Awesome re-sortof-review.

I totally agree and i’m definitely into the PC Elitist category. But anyone who couldn’t see that this game was going to be much more enjoyable on a console obviously never spent much time at arcades smashing away at those heroes? games. The ones with 4 player characters smashing hordes of things taking your dollars.

I’m wanting so deeply to get this on the 360, but it doesn’t have the new class? Plus it won’t run on the Xbox one.

Any details on the expansions release on console? Or Xbox one release?

 

They’ve said nothing about Reaper of Souls on console at all I’m sorry. Just a blanket “No plans”.

If they did release it I imagine it’d be as a whole new edition of the game rather than DLC. Though if they did do it as DLC it’d probably be next-gen consoles only which have more storage space.

 

Interesting. Have they put the controller support into the PC version too, or is that console only?

 

Console only, sorry.

 
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