Hell... A realm of unimaginable suffering, a place of madness and despair. As was predicted in 2012, we experienced Hell on Earth. Only it had a new name and a new meaning; Error 37.
It was supposed to be a pioneer, proof that publishers could make their games Always Online, and everyone would be fine with it. That no one would really notice. Well, Diablo 3 turned out to be the fastest seller on PC ever, so - people noticed. People noticed it every time they couldn't play the game they'd just bought because the servers said no.
They noticed it every time their game lagged, or disconnected because of internet troubles at home. They noticed and they responded, with a torrent of rage and hatred directed towards the game's publisher – Blizzard. Now, as with all difficult launches, Diablo 3 eventually recovered, but the memory of these problems have haunted it ever since. It was claimed at the time that the absence of an offline mode, even for the single-player, made the experience better. If you ever doubted that, and you want to see what an off-line version of Diablo 3 looks like, you're in luck. Because Diablo 3 is now on consoles.
First things first – yes the game is still good, yes you can still play online multiplayer, yes there's local 4-player same-screen co-op and yes the Auction House is gone. Free from its biggest problems, Diablo 3 is a great game – a Gothic fantasy of angels and demons, full of action and immersive role-play. You'll explore randomised environments littered with loot which, you'll use to customise one of 5 enjoyable and balanced character types. Each person's journey is guaranteed to be a little different, even if in order to achieve this, it's also been made a bit same-y at times as well.
With many PC ports, the journey from mouse and keyboard to a joypad is awkward and clumsy, but Diablo 3 benefits from its strict focus on movement and action. To make combat more fluid, Blizzard have added a new feature – evasion. Performed with a flick of the right stick, this keeps your character out of harm’s way, while you use the face and shoulder buttons to cast and attack. A loose auto-aim keeps you focused on whatever demon you're facing, and while it's never as smooth as classic dual-stick shooters, you eventually get into it. There are fewer monsters on screen at once, and a fast equip bar will inform you what items you've just picked up and their most important attributes, so you can decide to switch to it on the fly. All-in-all, the adapted controls and combat is a success, retaining the flow of the PC version to a reasonable standard.
Diablo 3 on consoles will be a dream come true for some, an offline version of the game that consistently works, cuts out the Auction House and enables 4-player couch co-op. But for everything it gets right, this edition also highlights quite a few fundamental problems in the game's core design, such as repetitive dungeons, monotone monster battles and bags and bags of worthless loot. How much that bothers you will be a personal thing, tied to your relationship with Diablo and the isometric action RPG genre as a whole. Given how rare it is for such games to even make it to consoles, especially with this level of detail and atmosphere, we're happy to put all that to one side, and appreciate Diablo 3 for what it is; one of the best games of its kind.