The launch of Diablo IV may be imminent, but there’s still life in the old dog yet. Diablo III debuted on PC back in 2012, and has made it’s way to a plethora of formats since. Returning to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 editions – playable on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, respectively – nearly a decade after launch we found them to be just as compelling as they ever were.
Diablo III made it’s way to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 a year after its PC debut. With more than 12 million sales already under its belt and enough acclaim to make even the biggest entertainment properties blush, Diablo III had already done more than enough to be considered an overwhelming success. PlayStation 4, Xbox One and even Nintendo Switch editions then followed, securing Diablo III as the go-to ARPG for console gamers.
Diablo III on Consoles
As an ARPG, Diablo III has little competition on modern consoles. Perhaps only the short-lived Marvel Alliance series offered any real challenge to the throne. Or a little touch of Path of Exile or Titan Quest, perhaps. Even Sacred 3 failed to garner the attention it deserved. And so Diablo III entered into a landscape that it is free to mould in its own fashion. Very unlike the audience on PC then, but still Blizzard Entertainment managed to rock the boat there. It comes as no surprise that the same can be said of the console version.
The most important thing to note is just how well the experience has translated to console. The control scheme is simply amazing, with three face buttons and a trigger providing a home for different moves while the left shoulder button (L1 on PlayStation consoles) houses your preferred potion or buff skill. Blows are delivered by holding the desired attack button rather than repeatedly pressing it, and when outnumbered you are able to break any animation and dodge in any direction with a simple flick of the right analog stick. It’s a very accessible system that most players will have mastered before the end of the first dungeon. However, just because it’s simple it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s nothing more to it.
Diablo III: Refining the ARPG, not Redefining
Diablo III is a fairly traditional ARPG, and with that comes certain expectations. With co-operative gameplay being the predominant intention the class system is of great importance. Diablo III makes every effort to justify having variety in your team. There is some unbalance – for example an educated ARPG player could easily equip a Barbarian with the right kind of armour and weaponry so that his health points are practically irrelevant as the length of the meter recharges fast than any enemy can drain them – but on the whole the instantly recognisable differences between spell caster and rogue make for interesting variation between characters.
Those who are not lucky enough to find themselves with a full cast of friends can instead choose to take artificial intelligence (AI) characters into battle with them. While the experience is not at all comparable the AI does have a good stab at it. Never are they intelligent enough to split from the party for a greater good, but they will readily attack the correct foe in most given tactical encounters. The player can equip weapons and armour to those associates and even decide what skills they learn upon levelling-up, which does present a great sense of connection (or perhaps ownership).
Diablo Blows You Away
Diablo III is a slick product, crossing addictive design with production values that grab you from the very start. It’s lengthy missions are complimented by some fantastic characters. All of whom are aided significantly by high quality voice acting. The variation of it’s environments proves that not every videogame has to strive for photorealism in order to achieve suspension of disbelief. That being said, the cutscenes featured in Diablo III have aged poorly. While they pushed the envelope on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, we’ve come a long way since then.
A fantastic and wholly enjoyable action-RPG experience, Diablo III still leads the pack on console. Perhaps until Diablo IV arrives – but that verdict’s still to be decided. Diablo III is a deep and addictive videogame which never cheapens the experience with unnecessary frustration or poor design. It parallels the PC version while removing its foibles and delivering a solid experience at the top of its game. Diablo III stands as one of the best console releases of 2013. Despite arriving so long after the PC debut, it was most certainly been worth the wait.