It’s not uncommon that I read comments that leave me wondering, “not sure if stupid or trolling.” I don’t often get that feeling from actual articles though, so I’m honestly unsure what to think of this editorial from x360 Magazine.
PC gamers are always going on about how much better the graphics are on PC, but I’ve seen Diablo III in action and it’s no great shakes. It’s quite pretty, sure, but everything’s all small and fiddly and there’s text everywhere.
Diablo III’s visuals have been held back by two things. First, Blizzard knows that while the overall PC gaming market has shrunk since Diablo II, its own share of that audience has grown dramatically thanks to the success of World Of Warcraft, so the potential target market for Diablo III is huge if Blizzard can persuade WoW players to cross over.
…On 360 though, Diablo III will be a better looking game because Blizzard will cater to an audience hungry for blockbuster visuals and put off by the excessive use of maps and icons and text and zoomed out views and ugly stuff like that. And every 360 has the same graphics power so there won’t be any old ones holding the graphics back.
Yes, Blizzard aims to make their games accessible on a technical level, and doesn’t require us to buy cutting edge systems to play their games with a decent frame rate. But everything the guy critiques in the editorial is an option or an essential feature of the game. It’s an isometric view, not an FPS. You can turn up resolution to make the characters and monsters larger. You can turn off the display text. That most players turn those displays on proves that most players want that info to be displayed.
On the larger issue of consoles, I’ll actually be surprised if Blizzard makes D3 playable on the Xbox360 or PS3. Bliz is aiming for a console version of Diablo III, but they don’t seem to be in any huge hurry, and I’m been assumed that’s because they know it won’t be real viable on the underpowered hardware of current consoles. Both the Xbox 360 and PS3 are near the end of their product runs, with next gen consoles under development, and those will be greatly more powerful and should make decent ports of PC titles quite a bit easier. Consider that the 360 was released in 2005 and the PS3 in 2006. How well would your computer from 8 years ago, which was probably a better box than the first editions of those consoles, run D3 today?
While visiting Runic Games last year to preview Torchlight 2, I talked to Travis Baldree about console ports, and he grew visibly exhausted as he remembered the process of porting TL1 to play on the Xbox. That aging machine has only 512MB RAM and from what Travis told me it was an incredible headache rewriting the game code to work on such an underpowered system. (The PS3 has just 256MB, while Diablo 3’s minimum requirements are 1-2G RAM, depending on system and OS. 2G is recommended.)
Much more than any of the issues with modifying the UI to work without a mouse, the hard part for TL1 on the Xbox was making the game playable at all. After that conversation, I’m not at all surprised that there hasn’t been a word about a TL2 console version, since Travis (who is the lead developer as well as the lead programmer) seemed very uninterested in tackling those hardware problems again. Besides, the hefty rights fees console makers demand eat up almost all the profit for a lower-priced game like Torchlight, when sold as a console title.
As Diablo III has much higher system requirements than TL1 or TL2 (I can run TL1 or TL2 beta just fine on my non-gaming laptop, while the D3 beta crushed it to an unplayable slide show FPS.) I really don’t envision it showing up on either current console. With or without “maps and icons and text and zoomed out views and ugly stuff like that.”
E3 PS3 Announcement?
On the other hand, rumors are flying today that we might see a Diablo III on the PS3 announcement very soon, as E3 is about to kick off in LA.
None of them have any substance though, and they all just refer back to that Polish retailer rumor we posted last month.