Utter the phrase "Diablo for consoles" to anyone that has some familiarity with gaming history and you're bound to hear some Sideshow Bob-style shudders in response. Blizzard's skeleton-clicking series didn't have the most graceful entry into the world of console gaming, and after a disastrous 1998 PlayStation port Diablo hasn't dared to leave its PC home.
This year, however, Blizzard revealed Diablo 3 would make the transition with versions coming to Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One and PS4, finally giving console players a taste of the magic they've been missing out on for well over a decade.
Thankfully, Blizzard has been much more thoughtful this time about transitioning a mouse-and-keyboard-driven experience to console controls.%Gallery-191164%
The console port of Diablo 3 doesn't simply graft responsive gamepad controls onto an unchanged PC version; and while the minor tweaks and changes may alarm PC purists, the small slice of Diablo I witnessed and played didn't feel like a PC game removed from its native habitat. Since your typical gaming controller lacks the precision of mouse-clicking, characters can now perform an evasive roll with just a flick of the right analog stick – though this isn't the only feature Blizzard added to make Diablo feel more natural on consoles.
Since players won't have the pinpoint focus of a mouse cursor, enemies attack in "waves," so to speak, instead of the chaotic clusters seen in the original version. Blizzard has even tackled the difficulties of adapting Diablo's mouse-friendly inventory management with a change that may alarm purists: enemies now drop fewer items, though they're markedly better than the standard drops seen in the original Diablo 3. And the game's console port now offers a new type of drop in the form of "nephilim glory globes," orbs that provides various buffs that can be prolonged if you pick up more.
Again, it's easy to see why these changes could strike Diablo veterans as sacrilegious, but the few minutes I played provided an experience that felt remarkably natural. Blizzard wants this to be an approachable experience for console players, and this intent can definitely be seen in Diablo 3's multiplayer modes, which provides up to four slots for any mixture of online and couch-bound friends; and should anyone go idle, they'll continually teleport to keep up, even while suffering the slings and arrows of enemies.
Above all, Blizzard wants to make Diablo as friendly to console gamers as possible, while still offering the challenge and metric tons of loot that makes this series so damned popular. And if Diablo 3 still feels too removed from its PC trappings, its console ports also offer the infamous hardcore mode, where death is permanent and regrets are magnified. With any luck, Blizzard's good intentions will have a whole new audience participating in what PC gamers plowed their way through last May.