A clunky user interface. Server lag. Questionable auction houses with real money. Multiple patches and server downtime. “Error 3007.”
Players of Blizzard’s 2012 PC release of Diablo 3 had these complaints and more about the long awaited – and oft-delayed – sequel to 2000’s iconic PC release, Diablo 2. The weeks after the initial launch of the newest game in the Diablo franchise were a painful slog through server and interface issues that all seemed to be getting in the way of a game consumers wanted to hold in high regard. Each new day during the first month of launch seemed to bring new complaints, along with accusations by fans that Blizzard was not doing enough to fix problems such as extensive server downtime, loot balancing issues and a lack of intuitive game menus.
Jump ahead a year to the console release of Diablo 3 and all of these problems have gone away. Seemingly, Blizzard was using the PC release as a beta test for a console release that has become the optimal Diablo 3 gaming experience, and one of the best console multiplayer experiences of the year.
Many questioned whether or not the endgame goal was a PC only release when job postings for assistance with a potential console project were placed online by Blizzard in 2010. Diablo 3 was delayed and pushed back time and again between the initial announcement in 2008 and the actual release in June 2012. Most jumped to the conclusion that this delay was based on a push by Activision to get the action-RPG to the living room. This conclusion would be solidified with the overwhelming amount of software issues and server problems in the initial launch period.
Issues ranged from unstable lag and frame rates due to an “always online” requirement, to an imbalance in loot drop rates and limitations on how many skills could be used at once. The most grievous errors for many were the inclusion of an auction house that allowed the use of real currency to sell or purchase in-game equipment, as well as the often-appearing “Error 3007”, which kept players from logging in and playing, even in single player.
PC adopters felt neglected and abandoned. Rightfully so, as the release of a long awaited game could be considered a beta test for the console version. Adding to the console release conspiracy theory was the fact that the game menus were cumbersome to navigate with a mouse and keyboard. Clearly, Blizzard was paying attention to these complaints as the console release corrects every single wrong of the PC version, and then some.
Players will immediately notice that the “always online” requirement has vanished. The game can be played offline, which means the choppiness and lag found in the PC version is gone. The trade-off is a reduction in high-resolution textures, as jagged frames and low-resolution formatting pops up every so often. This is a fair trade in the long run, as the game runs and loads without much of a hiccup, even in multiplayer. One can also assume that the PS4 release of Diablo 3 will fix many of these low resolution issues.
Loot drops (including the types of loot that are available) have changed considerably from the PC release. Players of the PC often hounded Blizzard for “more useful” varieties in what loot would drop throughout the course of the game. A large amount of the gear and items that spawned in the original Diablo 3 would have the wrong focus on stats needed to improve a higher level character. The loot for the console release received an increase in overall stats given, as well as a higher frequency of rare loot drops. Many forum discussions on character builds for the game currently theorize that console-made characters are potentially stronger than their PC counterparts due to this overall statistic increase.
The menus for equipping these stronger items and arranging skills lend themselves well to console controller, allowing players to quickly equip and get back to the action. Though Diablo veterans may struggle with the control change from mouse and keyboard to controller, the new console controls feel responsive and precise. Tying the dodge button to the right analog stick keeps players mobile and is reminiscent of the dodge mechanic in the God of War series.
Diablo 3‘s biggest selling point on console has to be the up-to-4-player, same-screen co-op play. The game is pure hack-and-slash fun in a group, while maintaining a need for team coordination and group tactics to survive the more hectic fights in the game. The game itself runs smoothly with four players all navigating menus on the same screen, even when mass amounts of loot begins to clog the battleground. Best of all, Diablo 3 is friendly to novices of the series, allowing just about anyone to jump into the game and grasp the mechanics with relative ease . Hands down, Diablo 3 may prove to be one of the best multiplayer experiences found on consoles in 2013.
PC gamers’ anger at Blizzard for the handling of Diablo 3 is ever present, even a year after the initial release. This anger is understandable, considering that the PC version is a shallow shell of a game when compared to the console version. Whether this is due to a PC gamer superiority complex, or the fact that Blizzard planned on releasing a superior version of the game on console all long, the anger is in vain. Players should pick up a controller and realize that skipping Diablo 3 on console would mean missing out on the definitive version of the game. After all, when you are with friends and there are still demons to slaughter, who has time to be angry?