Console version of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls - what's different?
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Edition is now out on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. You might think that it's a direct port to what's available on the PC version, but to our surprise the console brings a lot to veteran players and players that are not familiar with the series. A few changes to best translate the game with a controller, added mechanics only found in the console version, more multiplayer options, and we just might have the best version of the game yet.
Just to let you know - I own Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls on PC, it was a day 1 purchase. So why the move to console? Living in South East Asia, the online-only model to Diablo 3 always finds a way to frustrate me. I was unlucky enough to live in an area with unreliable internet service, so my enjoyment for the game always comes in bursts. With that said, the ability to play this game offline in the console version is mainly the reason why I coughed up money for a game I've already played countless times. Believe it or not, I still want more out if it, but I want to continue enjoying the game without the elements that make me walk away.
So yeah, there's offline in the console version.
But that's not all that was included. Blizzard has taken the extra mile to really make the game work well with a controller. The menu screen and inventory system has been changed to best suit the console version. The unique grid inventory system known by many action RPG fans was scrapped for the console version, and was replaced with a more simpler system. Items are now placed in a list, with your currently equipped weapon on the right side. Equipment on your character is also seen in a radial design making it easier to go from one piece of equipment with just the left joystick. Every aspect of the menu share the same radial designs, from lore down to skills. It may look like a step backward when looking from afar, but once you play the game with the new interface, it just feels right - easy to use, fast to navigate.
With combat, the controls was done perfectly. It was quick to grasp, and the fast-paced combat remains intact even with the different control scheme. Each button is attached to a specific skill, with L1 or LT being your way of chugging your potions. The only major change done is the addition of the dodge mechanic - Moving the right joystick in your controller makes your hero roll to avoid danger. It's just like the dodge system found in games like God of War. The addition is to give the player more mobility for the player. Not really a game changer, but it does help the arcade-y feel I get when playing this version of the game. I also noticed melee characters such the Barbarian or Monk has a dash when executing a melee skill. This dash moves you slightly forward when you attacks.
New game mechanics
The console version also has interesting social features that reward or punish players in your friend's list. The first one is the Nemesis System - When a monster kills a player in their game, that monster hops to a friend's game via portal and attempts to kill him as well. That player that was invaded by your killer, has a chance to take revenge for you. From experience, this is a tough enemy that appears in the worst possible time in your game, catching you off guard almost 90% of the time. If you are lucky enough to kill this "nemesis" monster, you are rewarded with loot as well as a gift for your fallen friend which you can send, and that gift mostly comes out as a legendary item. If you fail to take revenge, that monster hops to another friend in that player's friends list until it's killed.
The second feature is the Mailing System. It's actually cool, trust me.
To my knowledge, you can't send gold to friends in the PC version. Here, you can share the wealth and equipment with friends. The best part of the mailing system is the gift items mentioned above. There's a chance that every legendary item drop (One of the highest tier of equipment in the game) can also drop a gift exclusive to a friend in your friend's list that plays the game. I've given a few gifts to friends and all have been legendary items. No one has sent me a gift so far...just saying. The Nemesis system and the mailing system might seem unnecessary, but it adds a small interaction with friends, giving the effect that you are helping each other out, even when you're not playing together.
Cooperative play done right
Another big feature, which I believe is the big selling point for this version of the game, is the addition of local cooperative play. Call up to four friends, order some pizza, and hunt for loot together in one couch. This feature works like a charm. The camera is set on all four players in the screen. It can get chaotic since that is four characters spamming skills like crazy people surrounded by monsters. Each player will have to share the menu screen when working through their items and skills, but a shortcut feature is placed on the directional buttons for a quick swap in items and skills. It's drop in, drop out. One players start by himself and anybody can simply join the game by turning on the controller and login into their profile. If they don't want to play, head to the menu and go drop out. Simple. With the PlayStation 4 version of the game, each player can login to their own PSN account, making any character will be saved for that specific profile. With PS+, I dropped by a friend's house and was able to grab my updated character and download it to a friends PS4 and play with my character. After my session with a couple of buddies,I went home, I upload my character online, downloaded the updated file unto my PS4 , and continued playing. I find no problems with it so far.
Online? Online is the same. Which is a good thing for those looking to band with strangers.
If there's one thing that happens over and over when starting an rpg game with friends, it's that after the first sessions, the next time you gather you'll find out there's a gap between each of your characters because someone played a little while you were away. It's understandable, people have different schedules. So Blizzard introduces the apprentice system only found in local play. If a character that's a lower level joins your game, that character's stats and damage is instantly boosted to fit the highest player in the group. So don't feel discouraged if your friend is 10 levels ahead. You can still play together, catch up in levels, and also get loot fit for your current level. This is a great feature, a feature I wish will take wind to other developers creating cooperative games with a leveling system.
With patch 2.1 (New features like greater rifts, seasons, new items) already live in the PC version of the game, the big question is if console players will get patch support. Blizzard has confirmed that there will be patch support for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, also confirming that patch 2.1 will be heading to those consoles soon. Sadly, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 might not get patch support since developers find it harder to updated the game in the last gen consoles. We say "might" because anything can happen if pushed hard enough.
Those are the changes. Worth the plunge? It will set you back P2,395 for the PS4/Xbox One version, and P1,695 for PS3/Xbox 360. Aside from what's mentioned above, the content are all the same - same acts, same maps, etc.