Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Diablo 3 On Console - Taste Tester Event hosted by IGN and Blizzard

I’ll be honest; I tend not to leave the house too often. Why would I? I have everything I need at my disposal. Within the comfy confines of my apartment I am truly at peace. Consoles and PC’s with worlds to explore. An assortment of books to mentally devour. Food; when the realisation hits that I haven’t shopped for over a week and I probably shouldn’t order Thai again. However despite my love for being indoors, occasionally an opportune event arises that presents oneself with far too many advantages to allow it to pass by without attendance. The promise of merriment (Beer), sustenance (Pizza) and GLORY! That event happened to be the Diablo 3 Taste Test event held at IGN AU Headquarters. I assure you, all 3 promises were met.

Diablo 3 on console incorporates everything you loved from the PC version, and slaps in a few extras for good measure. We enter into the familiar world of Sanctuary; See also “Unluckiest world ever”. It is up to you to once again restore peace to Sanctuary by banishing the living dead and demonic monsters who roam its planes. I immediately took a fondness on how the game utilized the territory of console controls. Simple functions such as a flick of the analogue stick to dodge and the use of the left/right triggers for potions and buffs feels natural to the game. Whilst some might miss the almost rhythmic sounds of staccato mouse clicking, it feels as if the game mechanics were made to be ported to the world of consoles. The inventory management has seen a complete overhaul to accommodate this new environment. We see the removal of the mouse-friendly grid in favour of a wheel-select rotation. Whilst the wheel-select can at times be sluggish, the inclusion of trigger-buttons to swap between your menus adds fluid accessibility to your options. 

Inventory Menu - Image credit:

What about the auction house I hear you say? It has been confirmed that the auction house (love it or hate it) has been removed from the console version. Whilst this means you can no longer grind your way to buying the top gear you want, you are compensated by the knowledge that rare loot is dropped at regular intervals and will more often than not be tailored to suit the needs of the class you are playing.

After taking in these tweaks and turns, we come to perhaps the more heavily marketed point of the port; The Multiplayer experience. In the PC version we had the drop-in-and-play options to join our friends’ quests. The mechanic wasn’t perfect, but overall it worked. Here we are encouraged to invite our friends into battle whilst in the comfort of each other’s presence. Throughout the taste tester event the phrase I heard recanted often was “One Couch to Rule Them All”. Whilst I was indifferent to the bastardized LOTR motto, I heartily enjoyed the co-op experience. There is a certain appeal that comes with engaging your friends in a social gaming setting than just yelling at them over a microphone and Blizzard have now captured this perfectly. The inclusion of colour coded indicators on your character was a decidedly smart move, as at times the combat could feel a little frantic. These colour codes are also evident as arrows above an enemy’s head, allowing a clear visible indicator to see what beasts you are directing your wrath towards at any given time.

Playstation multiplayer - Image credit: 
The HUD occupies the corners of the screen and for the most part is completely non-intrusive. The display is organised and user friendly, allowing clear visibility of what skills you have assigned to the available hot-bar slots. Reality is as long as you can remember what number control you are using or alternatively the colour of your circle, you will never lose your place or mistake yourself for a friends character. Unless they happen to choose the same class as you. Then by all means a fight to the death is warranted.  With the inclusion of an In-Game battle arena, you can fight in the safe knowledge that no clean-up will be required afterwards. Save for the tears of the losing opponent.

As always IGN put on another fantastic event, and the Blizzard crew were wonderful enough to withstand our prying question and occasional scrutiny. The upgraded mechanics and well-rounded co-op functions have piqued a new interest in this game for those already familiar with the Diablo games and those new to the series alike. As a long-time lover of the Diablo universe, Diablo 3 on console will definitely be on my list of release date purchases. Luring friends to the confines of my home will have never been easier.

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