Hands-on With the Diablo 3 Console Version

On Thursday during the last few hours of E3 2013, I got a chance to get some hands-on time with Blizzard's console version of Diablo 3. This play test was on the PlayStation 3, but the company also had the Xbox 360 playable build available as well. I only chose Sony's console because the station was the only one open to play – it had nothing to do with fanboy preference (I own both consoles thank you very much).

For the demo, I stuck with my favorite Wizard character class which was already leveled up to around 35 and packed full of potent, boosted abilities like Disintegrate and Frost Nova. The difficulty was also set on Hell or Nightmare – I don't remember exactly but it sounded like bad news for my character. Luckily the Wizard was ready for action.

The setting was during the "Trailing the Coven" quest towards the back of ACT I. I really didn't recognize the area although Diablo 3 gamers will know the overall terrain: each ACT has their own unique style. I mostly blew through this area killing everything with a red hot dose of Disintegrate or Frost Nova if the masses got too overwhelming. The Wizard had several other abilities on call, but these two were my most used.

So how does Diablo 3 work on the console? Incredibly well. The left analog stick handles movement while the right stick adds a new evade feature. Push down and the character quickly steps back. Push left or right, and the character jumps left or right. Piece of cake. This makes it extremely easy to stay alive in the higher game modes like Hell or Nightmare.

For skills, they're all mapped to the right side of the controller. The "X" button is Skill 1, the "Square" button is Skill 2, the "Triangle" is Skill 3, and the "Circle" button is Skill 4. The R1 button is Skill 5 and the R2 button is Skill 6. I believe the skills themselves can be mapped to wherever you want them.

On the left side, the L1 button is for potions, and the L2 button is for targeting the enemy. Finally there's the D-pad: press up for fast equipping weapons, right for using a Town Portal, and down for pulling up the map. That's it.

It's funny: Diablo 3 feels extremely comfortable on the console given it has been a PC/Mac exclusive since May 2012. Unfortunately, my time with Diablo 3 was limited, so I didn't explore other options like using the Town Portal or digging through the inventory. However the Select button brings up the Character Menu and the Start button activates the Game Menu.

So what's the verdict? Did Blizzard do an awesome job translating a PC hack-n-slash into a console gem? Yes indeed. I guess it felt a little awkward because it just looks and feels different despite being nearly identical: I can't exactly pinpoint what that "different" is outside the control setup. It could be that the point-of-view may be zoomed just a bit more than the PC versio, or maybe I was just tired and ready to wrap up E3 for the year.

Regardless, Diablo 3 for consoles doesn't feel like a port. It feels like Diablo 3 on another screen, only with controller support. That's a good thing, but don't expect to play with your buddies on Battle.net or Xbox Live: all versions are locked to their proprietary networks. Bummer I know. As for multiplayer, gamers can choose to lock everyone out, open the game up to friends, or let the entire Diablo 3 population invade their game.

Look for Diablo 3 to arrive on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September.

  • bejabbers
    Diablo 3 sucked on PC (and still sucks), so it can't really get that much worse on console.
  • Ragnar-Kon
    10973911 said:
    Diablo 3 sucked on PC (and still sucks), so it can't really get that much worse on console.
    Eh I dunno about that. It almost seems like Diablo 3 is better suited for the console than it is for the PC. Besides, Blizzard is clearly interested in the console market, and the Diablo franchise is the only franchise Blizzard owns that has even a remote chance of being decent on a console.

    But then again, this is coming from someone who finds the entire Diablo series (including the widely loved Diablo 2) one of the most boring game series ever made, and will continue to believe that Diablo 3 was perhaps the worst $60 he has ever spent. So... what do I know?
  • slomo4sho
    Anyone that would want this should already have it for PC and I don't see why there would be a new audience of players that will pickup this poorly executed game for the console especially considering the fact that the servers are separate from the PC version.
  • inthere
    Well it IS a fresh start and a fresh market/economy for all the botters out there to exploit.
  • w0_od
    There is a whole playerbase of chinese farmers blizzard wants to tap into via their RMAH
  • lpedraja2002
    I gave $5 to pre-order Diablo 3 on Gamestop when the hype train was on full speed, but after I saw the actual game, (not the reviews mind you which were all good except the user reviews) I was unsure until my buddy bought it and he told me clearly not to buy it, since he casually played through it in 3 days.

    I just finished Torchlight 2 the other day and the game was pretty damn awesome, I'm glad I bought that game instead.
  • fat_panda
    Diablo 3 didn't "suck", it was simply over hyped from too long of a wait.
  • billgatez
    I wounder ho many people will buy this. As most fans of this type of game will have played it on PC.
    Also will the real money action house work on the console?
  • tlg
    Few weeks ago I had this urge to play some Diablo 3 so I installed the game again, played no more than 5 minutes to remember how disgusted I got from this game when I initially played it and that was it. Sure we were all very hyped about this game but the ridiculous mmo-style itemization system tailored to support an AH and RMAH just ruined it for me. The rest was bad but bearable.
  • nevilence
    it will be just as dead end on a console as it was on pc. that aside i did enjoy the story line, only because of nostalgia though