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Diablo III was recently announced for the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 as Blizzard has already gotten a playable build available for Sony’s current generation console at PAX East last weekend. What’s even more surprising is that it works pretty well.
Instead of intense session of left-clicking, Diablo on the PS3 incorporates a more Skylanders-style control scheme. In addition to moving, the left stick doubles as your aiming of your attacks, which are mapped to the face buttons. The right stick controls a new dodging mechanic that any character can utilize, and it works pretty well even though the animation looks like the character is not moving much. The triggers were mapped with consumable items and abilities that are more suited for longer presses, such as the Demon Hunter’s Rapid Fire ability.
The PAX demo had two classes available to play: the Barbarian and the Demon Hunter. Running through the demo as both allowed a good insight on how combat and strategy would be differentiated with the Dualshock 3 controller. The Barbarian class had me mashing the X button while occasionally using other abilities, as if I was playing a Dynasty Warriors title. While that may sound like the same is really simple, the game will get more intense than what I experienced in the demo. However, the Demon Hunter was a lot more fun since she’s a ranged character that, thanks to the analog stick, made me feel like I was playing a top-down shooter like Asteroids when enemies swarmed me.
One new mechanic I liked with this version was how a particular drop’s stats compare to the one you have equipped before you even pick it up. If you want to use that gear you picked up, you can press up and down on the D-pad to cycle through your inventory and equip it without pausing the game.
Though it wasn’t shown off at PAX East, the PS3 version has a new local co-op mode. Up to four players can either start a new character or import their own via a USB stick or from the cloud and play the campaign. Local co-op will not have a split screen, so players will be huddled together a la Gauntlet or The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords. One big difference with playing locally is gathering loot is a free-for-all since everyone that is playing are on the same console in the same room. The game still has online co-op, but loot gathering is instanced like the PC version.
While it obviously controls less traditional, the console version of Diablo III does deliver. It looks and sounds like Diablo, but Blizzard took this PC experience and retailored it to be a pretty good console game without much sacrifice. In addition to a good conversion, Blizzard has reconfirmed that the console version of the game will not require a consistent online connection nor will it have either versions of the Auction House, two bits that unsettled many players of the PC version. Expect Diablo III to hit the PS3 (and perhaps the PS4) later this year.