The days of sitting on a couch with three good friends and playing a co-op game seem to be mostly a thing of the past. This generation saw a big push towards online multiplayer, which isn’t a bad thing but it does feel a little less personal. In the past, during the dark days before the internet, couch co-op was the only way to play multiplayer. As such the single console co-op genre was much more prevalent. There’s something special about slouching on the couch with your friends and sharing a gaming experience together that’s been somewhat lost today. Diablo 3 for consoles seems to be a return to the days of classic co-op. The game will be a little more action oriented in the same vein as the Gauntlet series.
Blizzard has made some changes to the game to make sure it is playable with a controller rather than a mouse and keyboard. Players will aim and move their characters with the left analogue stick. Enemies will be automatically targeted rather than players having to aim directly like on the PC version. With a small adjustment of the left stick, players can change which enemy they’re targeting. The right stick will activate a small dodge roll attack meant to help players adjust out of harm’s way. This isn’t design to supersede abilities like the wizard’s teleport but instead offer an extra bit of control. In practice this may feel a little like an arcade game, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Primary and secondary abilities are activated using the left and right triggers and the remaining suite of abilities are mapped to the face buttons. These controls seem like they will work well to translate the game to consoles.
Apart from controls, there are some other major changes coming to Diablo 3 for consoles. The Auction House will be removed entirely, which may come as a shock to players who have been able to earn actual money using the Auction House on PC. However, t just doesn’t make sense for the console version since the game is being designed to be a standalone experience. Battle.Net won’t be integrated at all in the console version of the game and instead, online multiplayer will be governed by players’ already existing console-specific friends lists. This will create a more contained version of the game where players won’t have to spend so much time worrying about the minutia of item stats and can instead focus on killing monsters. In-game, when new items are picked up there will be a visual centric series of green or red arrows to tell a player whether the item is better or worse for them. This is especially useful when playing single console co-op as it reduces the need to pause the action to open a menu. Players will need to stay relatively close to one another, though the camera will adjust dynamically to accommodate those players who stray too far from the group. If a player character goes idle, the game will automatically set that character to follow the others which is useful if one player needs to step away from the TV.
Diablo 3 for consoles will integrate some of the changes that its PC counter part has added since release. This includes the paragon leveling system and various balance changes. All of the levels and easter eggs will carry over from the console version. Blizzard has even added some systems to the console version that are not yet present in the PC version. Nephalem Glory is a system that rewards players for non-stop action. Golden orbs will appear that grant buffs to player and more orbs or health orbs must be picked up to extend the duration of the effects.
Diablo 3 will be released on September 3 for the PS3 and Xbox 360 with a PS4 version to follow in 2014. Those who pre-order the game will receive a special in-game item called the Infernal Helm, which will grant an experience boost to their characters. Pre-orders for the PS3 version come with additional bonus items based on the Uncharted series and Journey. There are plenty of reasons for newcomers and those already well-versed in Diablo lore to pick up a copy. Those who miss the golden days of gathering around a TV with their friends for a co-op experience have much to look forward to later this year.