It’s safe to say that Blizzard has endured a real devil of a time with Diablo III. The latest entry in the long running action-RPG series suffered no end of setbacks and delays before finally debuting on PCs last May, only to then find itself at the center of a hellacious server storm. Despite receiving an altogether warm reception from critics, longtime fans of the series were quick to pour scorn on the satanic sequel, criticizing the title’s in-game economy and apparent stinginess with item drops.
Now, one year removed from that Hellish experience and enjoying record-breaking sales numbers, Blizzard is eager to celebrate. With an anniversary-themed XP buff currently doing the rounds online and a spate of promising ports on the horizon, Diablo’s developers appear keener than ever before to acknowledge and expand upon the series’ fanatical fan base.
In their latest development diary, entitled ‘Conversations with Creators’, the studio discusses the game’s upcoming PlayStation 3 & 4 debuts, as well as some of the latter’s unique potentialities. In bringing the experience to consoles, lead console designer Josh Mosqueira, states “What we didn’t want to do was simplify the experience.” Instead the game’s developers have attempted to emulate the PC version’s heady mixture of visual flair, dizzying depth and crunching combat to a tee.
The only changes involved are those that have been made to bring about a more immediate and console friendly sheen to proceedings. One example of which is the game’s new 1:1 fighting system, replacing the original version’s click-and-wait mechanics with a top-down take on the God of War style Slash-Em-Up. This so-called “pick-up-and-slay” usability extends to the use of entirely new moves, including a dodge mechanic designed for console gamers unaccustomed to queuing up attacks and so forth.
Radial dial menus also appear in place of the desktop’s myriad hotkey selections, allowing Blizzard to make full use of the PS4’s built-in touchpad functionality. With an all-new user interface in place, Mosqueira wants players to “decide when and how they want [a] level of information,” stowing away more complex menus behind an up-front layer of simple accessibility. Features such as the new ‘quick-equip’ reflect this desire to “streamline but not simplify the experience”, allowing players to run through recent item acquisitions quickly and with a minimum of effort.
Further improvements arrive in the form of simultaneous local and online co-operative play, giving gamers the opportunity to buddy up with friends at home and abroad, at the same time. Social integration even goes so far as to include the PS4’s new ‘share’ button, allowing users to compile show-off show reels, tutorial vids and more.
Unfortunately for those committed to the current-gen of consoles, the video makes very little allusion to the game’s PS3 makeover. With all the talk of ‘share’ functionality and touchpad accessibility going on, Sony’s third home console comes across as more of an afterthought than anything else.
Look for the game to make a rough and ready translation to the PS3 and a rather more resounding impact on the PS4, when Diablo III releases later this year.