Diablo 3 on PS4: Blizzard Invades Next-Gen
Once again, the best version of Diablo 3 is about to appear on a console – this time, it’s the PlayStation 4.
It’s not like Diablo 3 is a new game. It’s already been around long enough to have an expansion out. It also generated some ire from PC gamers who felt that the console version was a far better game than the one released on PC. Those folks may be heard from again soon, because the upcoming PS4 version is bristling with new features that aren’t in the PC release.
First and foremost, there are some new ways to get and trade loot in the PS4 version. You’ll be able to mail items to your friends, so if you find the perfect item for a character you don’t play, at least someone can get some use out of it.
Blizzard is also implementing a new gift system. Whenever you get a legendary drop, there’s a chance that someone on your friends list will receive one as well. It will even tailor its stats to the character your friend decides to open the gift with, courtesy of the Loot 2.0 system.
One other major change to the loot system is a revamp of how looting works in co-op play. Instead of items falling and everyone rushing in to grab them, each drop is tagged for a specific player in the group. No matter who loots the item, it will appear in the tagged player’s inventory. This is a nice change, as it means no more searching through inventories to figure out who accidentally picked up that Witch Doctor item you saw drop.
In fact, there are multiple changes to Diablo 3 on PS4 that are focused around playing the game with your friends. In addition to the co-op loot update, Blizzard is also adding Apprentice Mode. If you’ve ever been playing alongside a friend and one of you has to take a few days off, you can appreciate the benefit of this change. If you join a game with a higher-level friend, your stats will automatically be buffed to allow you to contribute meaningfully, and your experience gain will be buffed slightly to help you catch up. Most importantly, the loot that drops for you will be of your level, so you won’t have to wait to use it.
Another friends list-focused change is the new Nemesis system. This one sounds like it could a lot of fun. You see, when a monster kills you, it doesn’t just wander off for you to kill later. Instead, it levels up, becoming more powerful, and then it saunters off to invade the game of someone on your friends list. Once your friend happens across it, he’ll see a little fanfare informing him that this creature killed you. If your friend manages to defeat it, he’ll receive some extra loot, and as a bonus, you’ll receive a gift in the mail.
However, if your friend fails to kill him, the monster levels up again, and goes in search of a new friend to terrorize. This will continue until someone kills the beast (which becomes increasingly unlikely as it continues to level), or until the monster is so powerful that it simply gives up and retires. If you’re like me, and you’re thinking of all the monsters you could let kill you so as to terrorize your friends, you’re going to enjoy this feature.
The last big addition to Diablo 3 on PS4 is what Blizzard is calling “Action Combat.” Essentially a rework of the bonus system that already exists in the game, this change will allow players to see when the killstreak or destruction bonus they are running up will end, allowing them to continue to chain kills (or smash barrels) to keep the streak going. It also adds a speed boost that triggers whenever you receive a destruction bonus for smashing five or more items.
Aside from these changes, the game that’s coming to PS4 is essentially the same game that’s available on PS3 right now, albeit with some graphical tweaks and upgrades. It plays very much the same, although Blizzard has made some great control additions using the touchpad to speed up accessing frequently used screens like skills and inventory. Also, on-screen player colors will match the color of that player’s light bar on their Dualshock 4. Like the PS3 version, the game will not require a persistent internet connection.
The PS4 version of Diablo 3 still doesn’t have a release date, but I’d expect to see it sometime in 2014, judging by what I was shown at PAX East. It will include all of the Reaper of Souls content as well, and will be marketed as the “Ultimate Evil Edition.”
The disappointing part of all of this Diablo 3 news is that Blizzard wouldn’t comment on whether or not any of these changes will be making their way to the PC version of the game, saying only that they were focused on, “Making a great PS4 version of Diablo 3.” Still, it’s a good bet that we’ll see at least some of these improvements make their way to PC at some point, but honestly, Blizzard can’t afford much of a delay in that. Regardless, it looks like PS4 owners will be getting the best version of Diablo 3 yet.