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Diablo 3 Console Itemization Hints at Diablo 3’s Future

Posted 12 Jun 2013 by

Every time Blizzard talks about the changes they’ve made to the console version of the game we get a burst of QQing about “PC version wuz 18 month beta test!” and the like. It’s hard to take those arguments on good faith, since you know if the console was exactly the same game then the same haters would be QQing about, “Lazy Bli$$ard maed no improvs in 18 moinths!”

That aside, it is interesting to see what sort of changes the console version is getting, and trying to interpret what that tells us about upcoming changes to the *real* version of the game. Lylirra offered a lengthy reply to a thread on that topic today:

Fixing itemization (which needs to be done on PC) is one thing. Applying console-based itemization to the pc version is quite another.
Lylirra: Interesting quote! (Also, apologies in advance for the TL;DR response.)

While the core of the console game is based on the PC game — you get all the same content, systems, classes, skills, and runes on the console as you do on PC — the console version of Diablo III is really its own thing. It’s a familiar, but ultimately unique experience. Our goal when developing Diablo III for console was to deliver that same visceral gameplay you get with a mouse and keyboard, but at the same time feel completely natural when using a controller. (Basically, whichever platform you prefer for gaming, you can pick that version and know that it was tweaked to be best suited for the platform of your choice.)

In order to achieve that, we’ve made a variety of tweaks to the the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, including a complete re-design of the UI and character controls, inventory management, as well as combat pacing and boss fights. The item game is predominantly the same, but we’ve also made some minor adjustments to itemization. Items will drop less frequently, but will typically be of higher quality. There’s a chance that when a white or gray item drops, that it will be automatically converted to gold too. These changes were made to help manage the flow of gameplay and keep players in the midst of combat (and out of their inventory screens) as much possible. Inventory management is a little more difficult on the console version than it is on the PC, where you have a mouse to quickly navigate through menus, so this was a pretty key tweak for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Many of these adjustments inspired future changes we’d like to make to PC, and many of them were inspired by plans we already had for improving itemization as a whole. Since we use staggered development (meaning, the PC and console games more or less have separate teams and development cycles), though, it’s possible that one game will receive changes before another. Over time, which game that is may switch back and forth. Even so, PC will always be the lead platform.

Regardless, here are a few interviews and hands-on reviews from PAX East you may want to check out. I’ve only highlighted ones where itemization on console gets addressed, but I figured this was kind of important, as it lets you get the information directly from the developers. :)

  • Penny Arcade Report
  • Kotaku
  • IGN (Skip to 5:25)
  • All of those media pieces linked to are from March and April, so none of the info is newly-revealed. (Like I said at the start, this same issue comes up every time we get a burst of console news.)

    There is something new today, though. I spotted it in one of the new Diablo 3 console screens released at E3. As you can see in the screen crop below, it’s a Calamity. In the PC version this is one of the best Demon Hunter weapons in the game, with blazing fast firing speed, inherent Critical hit Damage, and the highest possible DPS for a hand xbow. Naturally, it’s a level 63 item and can only be found in Inferno.

    In that console screen though, the Calamity has the same inherent properties, but the values are much lower and it’s an item level 31 item. Que?

    Well, one idea we’ve heard repeatedly from Travis Day and others is that they want to allow lower level legendaries to drop later in the game, with appropriately scaled up stats. (Which wouldn’t seem to work, unless they redid their inherent bonuses as well.) As far as I know, they haven’t publicly said anything about high level legendaries going the other direction though, with ilvl 60+ items dropping earlier in the game, with appropriate scaled down stats. And yet that’s exactly what this console Calamity seems to be doing.

    Ironically, given all the talk about improved legendaries and changes to itemization on the console… that lvl 31 Calamity sucks. I base that opinion not on the PC version (since we don’t know how precisely DPS and other stats can be translated between platforms), but on a comparison to the hand crossbow the character already has equipped. That one’s not any good, just a blue with some bonus poison damage, but it’s the same Ilvl as the Calamity, has considerably higher DPS, and it’s not even socketed! Stick any level of DiabloWikiRuby in there and it’ll be vastly better.

    That aside, what do you guys think about not only finding lower level legendaries (with bumped up stats) in Inferno, but also finding higher level legendaries (with bumped down stats) earlier in the game? I’m not a huge fan of either possibility. It’s already so hard to find any of the good legendaries that adding even more low level legendaries to dilute the pool seems treacherous. I’ve found something like 30 Andy’s hats vs. 2 Mempos ever. Given that, the prospect of having to wade through upgraded versions of Broken Crowns, Giant Skulls, Blind Faiths, and Leoric’s Crowns doesn’t exactly thrill me.

    Of course I’m thinking of the current version of those items. The real hope is that Bliz does manage to improve legendaries across the board. If they pull that off then my objection goes away, since every time you found a legendary you would get excited for the potential ID, and not just pray to find one of a few specific legendary items, then double-pray to the Malicious Lord of RNG for a great roll on top of that.