Posted Wed, Mar 27, 2013 by Sardu
It’s a strange world we live in when Diablo III plays better on the PS3 than it does in its native PC incarnation. That was racing through my mind the entire time I played it during my brief hands-on session during PAX East, and continues to do so even as I sit squashed on an airplane 10,000 feet above some random part of the planet.
Coincidentally, perspective and camera distance are the first things that struck me about the experience. Since D3 for consoles has been built for the lazyass couch potato gamer, the camera has been brought down and in slightly compared to the standard view on PC. So if you think about the normal PC camera placement as being similar to looking out an airplane window at the landscape far below, on the PS3 it’s a bit more like the same view, only after your flight has begun its final decent.
Ok, maybe it’s not that drastic of a difference, but you get the point.
The other – and perhaps more meaningful – difference that struck me straight out of the gate is just how awesome it felt to move my demon hunter around using the left thumb stick rather than clicking myself into a blissful (?) carpel tunnel oblivion.
This one change makes a world of difference to me. Combined with the ability to quickly dodge using the right stick and what feels like an aging concept on PC suddenly feels fresh and new on console. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the sentiment is genuine all the same.
Some of the other things I particularly enjoyed are ways in which the UI has been altered to make sense on the platform. The main bar has been condensed quite a bit and shifted to the corner of the screen so that it takes up a bit less real estate. This is partly to help with the camera adjustment thing, and partly so that co-op would integrate a bit more seamlessly. So each player joining the game will appear in one of the corners, and you’ll have the option to display basic, or full info for each.
My other favorite thing? Loot management.
As you scamper around kicking the snot out of anything and everything standing in your way, you’ll be able to collect piles of loot as per usual. Since you can’t add to your growing carpel tunnel issues using a mouse, you’ll snatch up items with a quick tap of the X key instead. That’s not the cool part though. The cool part is that you’ll be shown a quick overview of each item you pick up just above your hotbar on the bottom left corner of the screen. You can see at-a-glance if something is an upgrade, and quickly equip it without ever having to dig into the inventory screen.
The rest of the UI has been reworked a fair amount as well, but the demo timer was relatively short so I didn’t really get to dig around nearly as much as I’d have liked. From what I did see, the same methodology of condensing elements and making sure the UI doesn’t swallow the entire screen applies throughout.
On the PC it is only with great reluctance that I’d ever refer to Diablo III as an action game. While much prettier and far more complex than the original, at the end of the day it’s still just adventure gaming’s hyperactive cousin that drank a bit too much Kook Aid for breakfast.
The leap onto the Playstation 3 helps usher in the most meaningful departure from the franchise basics we’ve seen so far. Keep in mind that this is all based on roughly 15 minutes of a cherry picked demo level being shown on the floor at an industry event. In other words, it may be a totally different thing to play the game from start to finish in the comfort of my secret underground laboratory.