Here is a little bit of information all you non PAX goes might not know. We of the media are lucky enough to enter the Exhibition hall an hour early on the first day of PAX. While many ran toward booths for The Last of Us, League of Legends, or any one of the dozens of other big name booths, I choose to go to Blizzard. Why you ask? Well, Blizzard had a playable version of Diablo III for the Playstation 3. Yes, I went to the year old game on a new platform, the reason being that I thoroughly enjoyed Diablo III and with the jump to consoles. I wanted to see if things held up. It was the most logical game to move to consoles if Blizzard were to ever make the jump, so now it was a matter of seeing how it turned out. Luckily, it was awesome.
I shouldn’t have to tell you what Diablo III is all about — you can see our review here if you need a refresher — so let’s just get down to the nitty gritty. Blizzard was quick to talk about how intuitive the controls are and how the game was completely reworked to be a AAA console experience. This was most apparent when I could pick up the controller and immediately play without having to look at the control scheme. The Witch Doctor and Barbarian were the only two characters to choose from for this particular demo, of which I chose the former. I was never fond of the Barbarian on the PC, I always preferred the Wizard myself, but boy was he fun this time. Maybe it was my longing for the days of old with the likes of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, where I played Barbarian type classes, but he just felt right with a controller. Each skill was tied to either a face button or one of the triggers making each on easy to access. The right stick was used to execute a dodge roll and the left stick was used to move, pretty standard stuff, but that’s the point. Blizzard didn’t try to reinvent the wheel and risk ruining the experience, they had the sense to just go with what works, a smart move in my opinion. Combat was just as visceral as ever and I found myself in more than one sticky situation, but despite the change in how you control the game, the way you play hasn’t. That alone is reason enough to call this an early success.
The menus are where the most apparent changes have taken place. The inventory is separated into weapon and armor types and other items like potions. It is all placed in a radial format which works well with the joystick. One nice addition to the inventory system is actually outside the inventory. Most items are picked up automatically on the field, but magic and higher items must be picked up. Before you do, the game will show a comparison to your current equipped piece and allows you to immediately equip it, rather than go into the inventory itself. You must still identify unidentified items before equipping them, but this is a simple addition that can go a long way for console players. Changes to other menus, such as the skills page, have also received changes that make them more console friendly.
My time with Diablo III on the Playstation 3 was short, but I found it to be just as enjoyable, if not more so in some cases, than its PC counterpart. Blizzard is clearly taking this port very seriously and it will undoubtedly be an excellent final product. Whether you’re a long time fan of have never played Diablo before, this is surely a game to be looking forward to. Diablo III has been announced for the Playstation 3 & 4 with no set release date.