Last week I won Diablo III
I won’t lie, was skeptical going in. I didn’t see how Diablo 3 could be improved by being ported to consoles. I was skeptical about the controls feeling anywhere near natural. I normally play Diablo on the PC and it took me a long time train myself to use the keyboard for all my skills, attacks and potions. Between a whole keyboard and a gaming mouse I got it down to a science. Now all of that has to fit on one console controller. I didn't see how that would even work. I also didn't understand how they would handle such an inventory heavy game without a mouse to quickly move things in and out of storage and into character slots. Not to mention the fact that if you're playing with friends, everyone has to wait while the rest of the party take their turns swapping our weapons and skills, comparing new loot to currently equipped items, etc. It seemed untennible.
Luckily, all my fears where assuaged. The UI department was very smart about how they handled inventory. A set of quick compare icons appear above your characters stats bars to let you quickly scroll through the loot you just picked up and see at a glance how it compares against what you've already got equipped. And with a press of one button you can swap out for your new loot without interrupting the game. If you do pause the game to jump into your character inventory, a convenient wheel allows you to scroll around all of your available equipment slots and see what appropriate items in your inventory are available to swap out. No mouse needed.
Gameplay was smooth and fast. Everyone has to work together, because one person can’t just run off on their own. If the party runs ahead without you it snaps you to them. I thought this would be annoying but it worked out great! It kept us from splitting the party (which everyone knows is a terrible idea). Of course, this is only true for co-op on the same screen. If peeps are playing coop online via PSN or XBL, they can wander apart… for better or worse (usually worse). Also, with the new UI and inventory quick-equip, there’s less focus on maintaining an inventory and that’s nice.
Diablo on the PC involves…well…a lot of clicking. You click on things. For hours. When the D3 beta first hit for the PC, I asked Mike and Jerry how it was and their answer was "We're definitely clicking things." Sadly, sometimes Diablo games can feel a lot like a big pinata. You click things until they explode and goodies come out. It can get a tad…repetitive. I think the console version does away with that completely. And I think that's why ultimately it was much more fun for me to play. The UI is just a little more complex and the action of fighting is a little less repetitive. In my opinion, It's simply more fun to play this way. And considering that you can play it from the comfort of your couch on what is likely a large flatscreen TV, it's a win-win.
You can learn more about the game here. If you’ve played Diablo III on the PC, It's worth your time to try it out on a console. It's that different of an experience. And if you’ve never played Diablo before, I would recommend you check it out on the console first. I defy you to invite some friends over, pass out the controllers and NOT have a great time.