The First Few Hours (Again): Diablo 3 on PS4

Author’s Note:  What I really want to do is talk about #GamerGate and the attendant bullshit that surrounds it, but for reasons you’ll see below I hadn’t written anything in a week (until yesterday, when I decided to dip my toes into Twitter).  Basically, I’m super-rusty with words right now, and I’d rather talk about that stuff when I’ve regained some balance in my writing legs.  I mean, I’ve started and restarted this post about a dozen times since yesterday, and if you’re reading this at all it’s probably because of a coin flip.

I should also say that it’s also super-weird to be back in full-on internet mode.  It was kinda nice to be away from the constant distraction of social media, even if I was feeling like total shit.

Regarding #GamerGate, though:  I think it’s kind of amazing that I used the hashtag literally once and immediately got flooded with Twitter mentions and one person even telling me that I “was part of the problem.”  To be fair, I was curious to see if they’d come after me, and they did not disappoint.  Interestingly, I then went on a bit of a mini-rant and ended up writing what has turned out to be my most popular tweet:

So, then, what follows are some ramblings that I’ve pieced together over the last week (before getting sick, and after) on the PS4 version of Diablo 3.


OK, so:  I was going to put up a First Few Hours post about Diablo 3 last Monday.  For a number of reasons, that didn’t end up happening.  I was also feeling a bit under the weather, and took off Tuesday from work.  I went to the doctor on Wednesday, where I was diagnosed with pneumonia, and so I’ve been stuck at home ever since.  [Author’s note:  until today, that is.]

As it turns out, being home alone and feeling miserable is a perfect way to play Diablo 3; and so this will not be a First Few Hours post, because I ended up beating the game AND hitting the level cap and getting up to (at least) Paragon level 25 by the time this post goes up.

Considering that it took me at least a month or two to hit level 60 on the PC version – and that it took me less than a week to hit level 70 on the PS4 version (while starting from scratch), the short version of what I’m about to write boils down to this:  the PS4 version is so vastly superior that I might as well uninstall the PC version, as the PS4 version is the only version of Diablo 3 that I’ll play from this point forward, and I may very well end up continuing to play it a lot.  It will certainly be holding my attention until Destiny arrives, that’s for sure.

Let me back up, though.

I did not ever expect to be writing about Diablo 3 again.  Actually, let me rephrase that:  I did not expect that I’d want to write about Diablo 3 again.  I’d already played it to death on the PC, and only considered renting the PS4 version if the summer release calendar was slow enough; and even then, considering that I couldn’t transfer my PC characters over to the console, I wasn’t exactly excited to start over from scratch.  But my buddy Greg was about to start playing it for the first time, and the reviews started coming out saying that the PS4 version was, in fact, the best version of the game, and my curiosity got the better of me, and before I knew it I’d bought the digital version.

And now here I am, a week later, having blasted through the campaign, smashing through the level cap and still feeling compelled to come back.

level70

I’m hard-pressed to determine why my console experience has been so much better than my time with the PC version, though my time spent with the Reaper of Souls DLC earlier this year (on PC) was indicative that the game had changed significantly for the better since the last time I’d touched it, and the PS4 version incorporates those changes.  I debated changing classes for my PS4 campaign, but at the end of the day I really liked playing as a Monk; this time, though, I knew how to properly build and develop her, and I ended up finishing the game on Hard without really dying much at all.  Hell, I’m doing all the bounties now on Master difficulty, and I’m running into very little resistance.  Which is kind of awesome, I think; it means I built my PS4 Monk the right way, whereas during my PC campaign I had no idea what I was doing.

Maybe it’s just that playing with a controller feels better than mouse clicking, though.  Sure, I’m still pressing the attack button an awful lot, but it feels more visceral.  Pulling the R2 trigger and unleashing an electric column of pain on swarms of enemies feels infinitely more satisfying than hitting the 6 key.

Maybe it’s also that the endgame is better designed (or, really, designed at all).  When I beat the game on PC, my only real option was to play it again on a higher difficulty, and so on and so forth.  My keep/sell ratio of loot saw only marginal improvements during each playthrough, and most of my best gear was acquired through the Auction House.  On PS4, though, I’ve acquired great loot pretty much from the get-go, and it keeps getting better and better.

Maybe it’s simply that I was able to keep playing during that DDoS attack on Sony’s servers last weekend.  Considering that I could barely maintain a stable connection when the PC game launched (and for a few weeks afterward), this felt like a minor miracle.

The larger point of this post, though, is that the Diablo 3 “action RPG hack-and-slash” experience makes a tremendous amount of sense in a console context, and I’m at somewhat of a loss to figure out why there haven’t been more Diablo-esque console games.  Off the top of my head, I can think of only three that I’ve played and enjoyed:  Baldur’s Gate: Dark AllianceMarvel Ultimate Alliance (only the first one, b/c the second one was garbage), and Torchlight on XBLA.  In any event, the game feels a lot less monotonous when played on a controller as opposed to mouse/keyboard; Diablo 3’s controller layout is intelligent, thoughtfully designed, and (most importantly) feels more viscerally connected to the action on screen than the artless and endless left- and right-clicking.

Anyway, as noted above, I’m going to keep playing until Destiny is released, and I’ve yet to try any co-op.  If you’re online and on a PS4, hit me up:  JervoNYC.

 

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