Mini D3 Console Review

  • #1
    Many of our fine community here on the Diablofans site may recall a recent mini contest, that offered a taste of D3 on console, prior to its release.

    I'm pleased to say that I was one of the lucky people selected for the event, which was held last night in Sydney at IGN's new Pyrmont headquarters.

    Though not a regular poster on Diablofans, I've been a reader for a very long time, so I'm happy to finally put something back into the community!

    A number of Australia's key Blizzard staff attended and happily helped with product queries and IGN's awesome staff likewise provided a fantasticly inviting atmosphere complete with beer and pizza.

    Awesome when combined with console gaming, on large comfy couches!

    Sadly being night time and only having an iPhone, not many photo's came out clear enough to post.
    As a a long time player of the series I thought I'd make a post to share my impressions of the console version.

    IGN setup gaming stations around 5 area's of the office with large TV's, either a PS3 or X-Box, very comfy couch / bean bag's and a helper to get each group up and running. Having some expereience in the game I was grouped with three first timers so as to act as a guide through the content.

    One of the great things about the console version is it can play ofline so It was nice avoiding game lag as a result. Shame the PC version never could (and likely never will) be playable offline.

    I joined a PS3 group for the session playing a Demon Hunter myself along with a Wizard, Monk and Barb fleshing out the rest of the party.

    Each player has a life, resource, XP and skill guage located in one of the four corners of the screen.

    Each players character has a unique ring possitioned around their feet, noving with them, the colour of which links into other mechanics used in the console version.

    Anything like items on the ground, walking up to an NPC, the zone teleporters, entrance / exit way's is all managed by the X on your controller. When approachining any of those a little blue x symbol appears above whatever your character can interact with.

    Movement for the character was controlled via the left joystick, which also controlled the facing of your player, via the direction of their movment.

    When moving in a confined area like the cemetary crypts you get a little mini map, down the bottom of the screen, showing similar info to the PC versions mini map.

    Targeting is a combination of the direction you are facing and a rather funky inverted triangle above the targeted mob you are facing. Its an automatic lock to / auto target type feature that is especially handy for ranged classes and helps you single out a target from any distance. The triangle's colour matches each persons respective player ring.

    If the on screen action gets a little intence and you're loosing track of your characters' possition then depresing the right joy stick brings up a vertical bar above your character that matches the colour of your player circle. World of Warcraft players will be familiar with the marker as it's very similar to raid markers only these move with the character.

    The console version's camera positioning has been zoomed in a little closer to provide more clear detail for players cutting down on clutter and reducing information overload when things get hectic in game.

    The camera focus moves in a neat way through the game as it is controlled by where the majority of the party goes. Straglers or people that have stepped away for a moment have their character insta warped back with the main group. This is pretty cool as the rest of the group can continue playing while one gets up for a break and their character just moves along with the group automatically.

    Something also unique (and perhaps the most amazing feature) is the dodge ability controlled via the right joystick. Sounds simple, works simple and really makes the game feel more console like. Moving the right joystic makes your character cart wheel / roll in the selected direction. While rolling in this manor you are invulnerable to all damage while dodging.

    The dodge ability really brought the Demon Hunter class to life for me as it's something that naturally ties into that class so well. We played all the way through to the Skelleton King and the dodge ability was amazing when timed right. I'd dodge just as the King warped to me via his charge move and completely avoid any damage from his massive swing.

    Movment being out of the way the skills and abilities of your character are bound to the left and right triggers at the top of your controller and the regular four button's on the right of the controller ie Triangle, Square, Cross / X and Circle.

    The four buttons on the left of the controller are assigned to the more administrative functions like pushing down opens the map, which any player can do and overrides the on screen action. I don't recal it pausing combat though when brought up.

    The up arrow lets you cycle through the gear sitting in your characters inventory ,which brings me neatly to items!

    To aid in making gameplay smoother / faster you will notice that when scrolling through inventory items (using the controllers left side up arrow) you are greeted with a quick summary of the item broken down into clusters of green and red up and down arrows. I recall there being three catagories for defence, attack, and other (trying to recall what the other was). Each catagory has a pottential of 3 arrows, which work as a meter to help you quickly determin if an item is an upgrade or not.

    To give a few examples three sets of three green up arrows would denote a massive upgrade in each catagory. Mild upgrades mght be depicted by perhaps two green attack, one red defence arrow so you know that you will do more damage with that item, but lose some defence.

    All said and done I found myself equiping upgrades and dropping anything that wasn't.

    I didn't see any grey items drop just white, blue and yellow. There seemed to be more gold dropping and less white items than the PC version. Gold is also a shared resource within the local console, but XP is shared with the group whether local or online.

    Its important to note that loot drops is unique to each console so if you are playing online then you won't see their drops unless the other player decides to drop an item from inventory, however if playing locally on ths same console then any items dropping off mobs would be free for all to grab on in your session by local players. This system relies on friends making the judjment to drop items that are not an upgrade incase any of those might be upgrades for other players.

    Any player can hit the start button on their controller, which will freeze game play and open up their characters managment screen. Its also this screen that will allow you to access your inventory for a closer look at any items you picked up.

    Sadly with the limited game time I didn't have a chance to more closely inspect each item drop to see how they compare to the PC version of D3. Being the first act of normal mode I don't think this would of been much help even if I did though.

    From the managment screen you can select skills, runes for them and assign them to your various controller buttons to customise your game play. Just like the PC version your skill slots unlock and grow in a similar fassion.

    Note that if playing with freinds locally then bringing up the skill screen will pause the game, but if playing online I recall hearing that it won't.

    During our game session we tried some PVP brawling, which was kinda fun if limited, but helped us realise that each class has inate life regen ability. Interestingly the more fragile ranged classes appear to have more life regen than others.

    Game play encounteres, events and boss fights all seemed to work much the same way as the PC version.

    Interestingly I found that when attacking with a ranged class you are auto rooted to the spot when attacking. I'm sure there is a key in the PC version that lets you do the same when held down, but I like this small attention to detail.

    Now with all that out of the way I can take a moment to ponder and compare the overall feel of the console version to the PC one.

    The transition from PC version to console is most certainly not a straight port with a few basic tweaks. The console version honestly feels like a totally different game from the control of your character / interface, loot managemt and game play. I can really see that a great deal of effort and thought went into the process that led us to the console version of D3.

    As a result of changes the console version feels more stream lined towards group play than the PC version. I really think its a brilliant game to just toss on with friends and anyone new to the series can just pick up a controller and play.

    I totally imagine friends getting together for beer, pizza and Diablo nights.

    The PC version still feels the more hardcore of the two formats. This may change over time with more exposure to the console version and this view is (more than likely) tainted with countless hours playing each installment of the series on PC over the years.

    I certainly feel the console version is a strong and possitive step forward for D3 as it will expose the game to more casual / console only gamers.

    Hope you enjoyed my mini review!
  • #2
    Thanks!

    I was invited too but at the very last moment I had to renounce. So bad. What time did you finish? I was still around cq at 21 and thought to come...
  • #3
    We wound things up at around 10:30 or so with us just chilling at the end talking old school gaming as groups slowly left and things quieted down.

    It really was a great night that gave me a chance to see what the game feels like not only delivered in a different way but also how much fun new players to the series were having for their first time. They looked kinda hooked lol.
  • #4
    Awesome, thanks for writing this up! +1
  • #5
    Nice review. Thanks for sharing.
    .
  • #6
    Nice review, thnx a lot !

    Just some little question.. When you said the console game seems more fitted for a casual crowd, did you mean the game was easier / more forgiving ?
    Or are you saying that just because the controls ?
    "In time the hissing of her sanity
    Faded out her voice and soiled her name
    And like marked pages in a diary
    Everything seemed clean that is unstained
    The incoherent talk of ordinary days
    Why would we really need to live?
    Decide what is clear and what's within a haze
    What you should take and what to give" - Opeth
  • #7
    Awesome review! Makes me wan't the console version even more! :P
    www.myspace.com/mpotatoes for all your Trans Siberian Orchestra listening pleasure
    If you want to arrange it
    This world you can change it
    If we could somehow make this
    Christmas thing last

    By helping a neighbor
    Or even a stranger
    And to know who needs help
    You need only just ask

  • #8
    Really well done write-up here on your experience with the console version. I have mine on pre-order, and even though I'm close to having put 1000 hours into the PC version, I'm absolutely stoked for the console version coming out.

    I say it over and over, and I'll keep saying it..."4-player local co-op ARPGs" is a genre that's dying out. The last good 4-player local co-op ARPG my wife and I played with two other friends of ours was Norrath/Return to Arms on PS2. Really fun, lots of quests and areas to battle in and loot and skills to unlock, but it's getting a bit dated. Diablo 3 may not be phenomenal on ALL possible fronts, but as a fun, engaging, monster-slaying loot-hunt? It's pretty solid.

    Really can't wait to get it...and see what kind of effect it has on gaming as a whole. I know most companies these days like to push the online component, the fact that you can play with friends without them needing to come over, but I remember the days when gaming was more personal, more social, more interactive and face-to-face. Trash talking didn't consist of "ha lolz newb". Your opponent or teammate was inches away from you.

    I would love for Diablo 3, of all games...a game that its hardcore fanbase has decried time and again as an absolute abomination, simply because it lacks skill trees and stat point allocation (oh wait, Paragon 2.0 will have that)...to be the game that gets people rethinking how the industry markets the multiplayer component in the games they offer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCzY6bFnPlQ
    Pre AH-shutdown Transcendence/Spirit Regen build, used only found and crafted gear and gems, could handle MP7.
  • #9
    Quote from CardinalMDM

    Really well done write-up here on your experience with the console version. I have mine on pre-order, and even though I'm close to having put 1000 hours into the PC version, I'm absolutely stoked for the console version coming out.

    I say it over and over, and I'll keep saying it..."4-player local co-op ARPGs" is a genre that's dying out. The last good 4-player local co-op ARPG my wife and I played with two other friends of ours was Norrath/Return to Arms on PS2. Really fun, lots of quests and areas to battle in and loot and skills to unlock, but it's getting a bit dated. Diablo 3 may not be phenomenal on ALL possible fronts, but as a fun, engaging, monster-slaying loot-hunt? It's pretty solid.

    Really can't wait to get it...and see what kind of effect it has on gaming as a whole. I know most companies these days like to push the online component, the fact that you can play with friends without them needing to come over, but I remember the days when gaming was more personal, more social, more interactive and face-to-face. Trash talking didn't consist of "ha lolz newb". Your opponent or teammate was inches away from you.

    I would love for Diablo 3, of all games...a game that its hardcore fanbase has decried time and again as an absolute abomination, simply because it lacks skill trees and stat point allocation (oh wait, Paragon 2.0 will have that)...to be the game that gets people rethinking how the industry markets the multiplayer component in the games they offer.

    This, so much this. I wish some people who frown to the console version would understand this point of view. It is the main reason I'm buying D3 on consoles.
  • #10
    Quote from italofoca

    Nice review, thnx a lot !

    Just some little question.. When you said the console game seems more fitted for a casual crowd, did you mean the game was easier / more forgiving ?
    Or are you saying that just because the controls ?

    As we only had the game set to medium difficulty and started from level one the game was very forgiving and easy. I did forget to mention that the game also has difficulty levels that correspond in the same way to MP in the PC version.

    That said I got the impression that the game is easier for traditional console players than for PC. People used to playing mostly console games may find the greater complexity of using the PC version confronting. Strange as it might sound there are a huge amount of people out there that (for the most part) are computer illiterate, but can happily pickup a console controller and play games.

    Kinda makes sense when you consider that more people start gaming on consoles than PC's when starting out. I think a lot of people are underestimating just how popular this easy approachability is for a game and how much of a popularity boost it will be for the series.
  • #11
    Quote from CardinalMDM

    Really well done write-up here on your experience with the console version. I have mine on pre-order, and even though I'm close to having put 1000 hours into the PC version, I'm absolutely stoked for the console version coming out.

    I say it over and over, and I'll keep saying it..."4-player local co-op ARPGs" is a genre that's dying out. The last good 4-player local co-op ARPG my wife and I played with two other friends of ours was Norrath/Return to Arms on PS2. Really fun, lots of quests and areas to battle in and loot and skills to unlock, but it's getting a bit dated. Diablo 3 may not be phenomenal on ALL possible fronts, but as a fun, engaging, monster-slaying loot-hunt? It's pretty solid.

    Really can't wait to get it...and see what kind of effect it has on gaming as a whole. I know most companies these days like to push the online component, the fact that you can play with friends without them needing to come over, but I remember the days when gaming was more personal, more social, more interactive and face-to-face. Trash talking didn't consist of "ha lolz newb". Your opponent or teammate was inches away from you.

    I would love for Diablo 3, of all games...a game that its hardcore fanbase has decried time and again as an absolute abomination, simply because it lacks skill trees and stat point allocation (oh wait, Paragon 2.0 will have that)...to be the game that gets people rethinking how the industry markets the multiplayer component in the games they offer.



    I honestly believe you won't be disappointed. As I mentioned earlier the overall impression I got was that the move to console and the brilliant, well thought out migration has made the game more approachable to the humble masses.

    There are games out there that define a generation of consoles. This would include titles like GT3 and Halo, but I honestly think that D3 easily has the potential to become the "must have" game in every ones library. D3 will become that game you have, just in case you have friends over. I see D3 being something more social to bring families together too, even with its dark and gothic content.

    In the opening presentation by Blizzard (on the taste test night) the game was compared to Gauntlet. The memory of that 4 player arcade game runs deep with many old school players who will recall the frantic and endless waves of bad guy's streaming in while your party manically tries to deal with each crazy wave, all while cackling at each others misfortune when surrounded by enemies.

    I very much got this impression playing the console version when a sudden elite group would appear right when we already had our hands full with a large bunch of regular mobs. We had people cart wheeling and dodging all over the screen. Ranged classes were running round seemingly with their hair on fire kiting mob's while the Barb and Monk were face tanking everything and laughing at our antics.
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