“It’s a bigger issue than just allowing players to use the controller on the PC,” Blizzard’s senior level designer on the Playstation version of Diablo 3, Matthew Berger, told Eurogamer.
If you’ve played Diablo 3 on the Playstation you’ll find quite a different game to the PC release. Tim even goes so far as to say that it’s better on console. The game is a great deal more fluid, you’re always repositioning yourself on the battlefield to address the swarms of enemies coming your way.
This is no accident. Blizzard redesigned some of the game’s key systems for console and that’s why they can’t translate the controller to the PC.
“The rhythm on PC is tactactactactactac – you’re clicking the mouse, you’re telling your character where to go,” Berger explained. “On console, the rhythm is very different. It flows more, because you’re constantly repositioning your character with the thumbstick; you’re really never stationary on console, whereas on PC you’re a lot more stationary… When you’re playing on the PC, you’re not really looking at your character as much, you’re kind of focusing on the cursor. Whereas on console it’s the exact opposite, you’re drawn in.”
Blizzard developed new movement abilities for console players that fit this more fluid playstyle. The right thumbstick on the gamepad rolls your character, letting you evade incoming enemies and their attacks. “The evade was kind of a levelling off factor with the fact that when you’re on PC, you can click somewhere when you’re surrounded by enemies, and the game will find out how to get to that location,” Berger tells Eurogamer. “On console, you have to find that path yourself. So the evade gives you that brief window of opportunity to distance yourself from the enemy and reposition yourself a little bit faster, and that helped out a lot.”
All these changes have separated the two games. They’re similar but not exactly the same, making it “a bigger issue than just allowing players to use the controller on the PC.”
“If I let you use the controller on the PC, then I have to let you use the user interface that goes with it, and if I give you the roll and I haven’t throttled the number of enemies attacking you because the mouse-and-keyboard players can handle all those enemies, but with a controller you have too many guys… The games have really been structured to take advantage of their environment and their ecosystem, so in the same way it would not be a good fit to put a mouse and keyboard on the console. It wouldn’t work.”
I’ve been playing both the PC and Playstation version of Diablo recently and, when you switch between the two, what Berger’s saying becomes clear. Diablo 3 on the PC is a much more considered game. I’m queuing up my abilities and provided with a larger overview of the scenery. Essentially I can plan my attacks. On the console I’m always on the backfoot, responding to what the enemy is doing. Despite the similarities of content, they play like they’re two different games.
Also, for all the plusses of the Playstation version, that inventory is nowhere near as easy to navigate as the PC version. Mouse and keyboard are built for layered menus in a way that consoles currently can’t compete with.