Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first - If you played the PC version of Diablo III then you played the ultimate version. If, however, you thought what the PC version was missing was some local co-op action then I would suggest you may want to revisit New Tristram again.
Do you hear what I hear?
When I first heard Diablo III was being released for consoles I was mildly interested but having played through on the PC I thought it would be more of a bargain bin buy. I am a sucker for Achievements and if I can get them quick and easy the better! It was while I was writing an article on it for the Weekly New Releases that I found Diablo III supported local co-op! The kicker was that both Mrs. Soup and I love a good fantasy game so I jumped on the opportunity to play with my wife!
I always loved Blizzards games from the first Warcraft on. I was impressed not only with the quality of game play in each of their games but it’s their cutscenes that send shivers up my spine. Those scenes have always set the mood, exploited every ounce of oomph my PC had and brought me into their world. Diablo III is the same. Why am I putting importance on the cutscenes? As much as I love Blizzard the rest of the so called story between those scenes have always been a little threadbare for my liking. I have excused it in the past but we have seen large advances in storytelling in games and the dialogue in Diablo III is cheesy at the best of times.
The good thing is the dialogue is at a minimum and the hack and slack is at maximum! If you need a coles notes version of the story : The ultimate evil has arisen again and all of Heaven and Earth are threatened. It is up to you to save all of humanity and the gods above by slaying everything in your path. That is pretty much it. Simple, straightforward, no real surprises along the way.
You are gonna shoot your eye out kid!
So how does it play? Actually, I was quite surprised at how well the controls were mapped out and how easy it was to move my hero around while targeting and, in my barbarians case, hacking the living or undead crap out of everything in my path. Mrs. Soup managed to take her Demon Hunter and provide ranged support and in too many cases bail my strategy be damned ass out. Both of us picked up the controls relatively quickly but it took a little longer to find our characters strengths and weaknesses.
I am not great at setting all my hotkeys in most of my PC games. I have the best intentions but generally rely on one or two easy to reach keys and the rest of my abilities go to waste. Having all the abilities mapped to different buttons and triggers actually simplified things for me and I found myself trying more combinations than I normally would. One other major difference I noticed that may turn up the noses of those PC enthusiasts was the lack of need to replenish Mana and in most instances Health (at least on the normal difficulty).
Oh this isn’t a costume. I’m an elf!
The character customization in Diablo III is on par with the PC version. I had my barbarian made in a matter of seconds but Mrs. Soup likes to take her time. Playing on the PC I played as the Demon Hunter and thought it would be a good fit for her as she isn’t the charge ahead kind of player. She was happily surprised that not only could she choose a gender but after choosing the female version she found her to be relatively clothed! More than once I have heard about the females in RPG’s must be superior at everything as most of their outfits tend to be Princess Leah in a gold bikini while all the guys are full on stormtrooper or Boba Fett. Don’t get the wrong idea, neither of us are prudish and we both know the artists design these females for the predominantly male demographic but I was happy to not be laughed at when my character perished while a scantily clad ranger in the back ran away from the fight.
Besides the character customization, the maps, the story, the progression are all same as the PC version minus the much maligned and soon to be closed Auction House. I was never a fan of that feature and viewed it as a hive of scum and villainy so I did not shed a tear when it didn’t make it to the console versions. Diablo III added AI characters that you meet on quests that can join your party in Single Player. They are actually pretty decent AI and do help out a fair bit. These AI characters are available on the console as well but when playing co-op they join you only for a short time and basically stand around and are useless after that. I would have liked them to stick around and provide some added variety to our party but after a mission or two they hightail it back to camp and hang out with the rest of the characters you picked up along the way.
The light only lights on one side
I have highlighted only some of the differences between the PC and Console versions but there is one difference that on the surface looks like it would work great on a console but more often than not it made me angry.
The Console Version of the Inventory
The inventory screens and shopping/upgrading/crafting screens were all redone to make it easier to navigate with thumbsticks. I think Blizzard mostly succeeded at making it easier to use with a gamepad but the sensitivity seemed to be a bit off. I was constantly going to the wrong section of the inventory to look at things as I likely moved the thumbstick ever so slightly before I hit the button. We also noticed that in each category of inventory the loot you picked up would resort itself after every item you sold. This had each of us buy back a number of items we inadvertently sold. Not a big deal but more of just a pain in the ass. We did notice, however, that if you start selling from the bottom the items tended to stay in order with the rare/magical items up top and the normal items below.
The PC Version of the Inventory
If you haven’t seen it the Diablo I, II & III PC version of the inventory it is a big grid. Each item has a certain size and can take up more than one square. If your squares are full or the item you want to pick up is larger than the squares available you are out of luck. If you have enough squares but they are not adjoining you could always play inventory tetris and move pieces around to create the size you need.
The console version is more of a 1 to 1 relationship. Regardless of size each piece counts as 1. As you level up you gain more room. What I love about the PC layout is ability to see everything you have all on one screen. With the console version everything you pick up is categorized and placed in the approriate position. If you picked up a helm you would move the cursor to your helm and you could browse through all the helms you are carrying and the one you have equipped.
Then he got an idea. An awful idea.
There is, sadly, one unforgivable sin in the console version of Diablo III. One that if you only play as single player you would never notice. Blizzard forgot the cardinal rule of co-op gaming: “Giveth each player thy own menu”
According to Raptr, Mrs. Soup and I put in about 30 hours from beginning to end of Diablo III. While I believe those 30 hours were well spent in gaming and quality time with the Mrs., when I played the PC version back in 2012 I finished it in around 15. Why double? Well the easy answer would be there was two of us but in reality Mrs. Soup loves trying on all the new loot and then gazing at what each new piece of armor, ring, helm, pendant does to boost her abilities. We spent a lot of time in the inventory, shop and gem management screens. I spent most of that time napping until I heard her chime up “Done! Look at my new outfit!”.
I wasn’t napping because I was bored or had sold all my goods. I was napping because only one person can be in the bloody store or inventory screen at a time. The other person is sitting there, waiting, and waiting...and waiting until the other player is done. I don’t know if this was an artificial way of extending the game playtime but that was it’s exact outcome. Originally I would have guessed that we would take maybe 20 hours to finish as she likes to explore and expose the map but also find all the little side quests. In most RPG’s I start off a game that way too but usually get to a point where I just want to be done and start to find the most direct path to the finish line. My lovely wife has way more patience than I do but when we play together I have learned to let her direct as much as possible. That has been a hard lesson to learn but it makes our play time much more enjoyable.
Overall if you haven’t played Diablo III on PC and you have someone that you could play through on co-op I would recommend you pick up this game. I gave the multiplayer a quick try as well and if you find a good group or have a good group of friends to play with you will enjoy that experience as well. However, if you have played the PC version and looking for more Diablo III you are better off waiting for the expansion Reaper of Souls than picking up this game. Unless, like me, you have someone to play it with.
There was a serious drought of couch co-op RPG/Hack and slash type games in this last generation and Diablo III is a welcome addition to the genre. That being said, the only reason I am giving this a Price Drop, is that it has been out for some time and you should be able to find it on sale.