Diablo 3 on consoles? Why the game may work better with a controller

Diablo 3 on consoles? Why the game may work better with a controllerDiablo 3 is big news in the world of gaming, with gamers eagerly checking their Battle.net accounts to see if they've been granted access to the closed beta. The title is just as addictive as the previous entries in the series, although the skill system has been reworked to allow for more flexibility in combat and crafting, and is set to become a more attractive option for old gear. One aspect of the game that hasn't changed is the controls: you still click your mouse to lead your character around the screen, and click on specific enemies to attack them.

This may be the control method we're used to, but Blizzard has been testing the game on console-style controllers, and now the game's director says the game may be improved by taking direct control of your character.

"We don't see ourselves as a PC developer—we see ourselves as a game developer. It's just that the games that we wanted to make suit the PC platform," game director Jay Wilson told PC Gamer. He claimed that it would be possible to make a real-time strategy game for consoles, but not a Starcraft-style RTS that's up to Blizzard's standards. Making a console version of Diablo 3 is another story however, and the team has been exploring using a controller on the upcoming hack-and-slash title.

"One of the reasons why we're exploring the idea of a console version of Diablo 3 is because we feel that the controls and the style of the game lend itself to a console," Wilson stated. "With some of our early experiments in putting a direct control scheme into the game via a 360-like analogue controller, I've [thought] 'Oh this feels even better, with direct control...'"

It seems counter-intuitive, but Torchlight did this very effectively on the Xbox 360. Instead of clicking on enemies you want to attack, you simply use the controller's analog stick to control your character directly, and hit a button to attack. I can see the advantage; when you're being swarmed with a dozen small, quick enemies in the beta it can be hard to click on a single target to attack. Having a button that simply causes you to attack without specifying a target would make it easier to clear crowds.

Using skills and items by mapping them to a controller's face buttons or d-pad may also be easier than using numerical keys on a keyboard. Diablo 3 has simple controls; there is nothing that would be lost in terms of precision or speed by using a controller, and in many ways the game would feel more immediate and intense. Wilson noted that we shouldn't expect this option at the game's launch on PC, but he did say that console-style controls could be added to the PC version of the game in the future if and when a console version is announced.

This is an old idea

This is an option Blizzard has been open about for a very long time. "We're exploring a Diablo-related concept for consoles and are currently looking to fill a few senior console-related positions on the Diablo III team," the company wrote on the game's community page ten months ago. "As we've said in the past, with proper care the gameplay could suit the console platform, and we're interested in seeing what talent out there might be interested in such a project—Please note that this is not an announcement of a console title. We are first and foremost developing Diablo III for Windows and Mac PCs and don't intend to allow any possibility of a console interpretation to delay or affect the release of the game."

There is a strong financial incentive for Blizzard to bring one of its flagship properties to consoles, and others have proven that this sort of hack-and-slash game can work exceedingly well with a controller. Now that we have people involved in the design of Diablo 3 expressing enthusiasm for playing the game on a controller after testing the idea internally, we may be closer than ever to playing the game on our Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Blizzard, computer games, Diablo III

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