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AusGamers Diablo 3 Console Developer Interview with Matt Berger and Josh Mosqueira
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 12:09pm 03/09/13 | Comments
AusGamers had a chance to sit down with Diablo III game director Josh Mosqueira and Diablo III console senior level designer Matthew Berger to talk about DIII's debut on current-gen, plans for next-gen and more. Read on for what they had to say...

AusGamers: Obviously the big burning question you’ve likely been asked throughout Gamescom since announcement, but Reaper of Souls… console… ?

Matthew Berger: You’d be surprised [but] not everybody asks me that question. So, is it going to come to console? Yes. Obviously we wanna bring this expansion to console, we don’t exactly know how we’re going to do it yet (we haven’t announced that), and we’re going to treat the expansion in the same way we treated Diablo III when we moved it onto console, which means that we have to make sure that it is adapted to the console eco system in a way that is going to play the best way possible.

So that’s going to require some changes; some additions, some subtractions, just like we did with the original game, [but] it will definitely come to console.

AusGamers: Okay awesome, that’s a good one to get out of the way. To capitalise on that though, Reaper has changed a lot of things from the main game, you guys [console team] changed a lot of things -- are all the teams feeding off each other and can you talk about how that works? And what we might expect when Reaper comes to console because as you mentioned, they’re different beasts console and PC…

Matthew: So the two teams sit very closely with one another -- they’re in the same space…

Josh Mosqueira: They’re one team.

Matthew: Yeah, I mean we have sub-teams for the projects and all that, and so obviously there’s a lot of communication in between, you know, everybody and so [the console guys] play the expansion a lot and they play the console version a lot and so there’s a lot of cross pollination. And in fact some of the decisions that were made for the console game, especially with loot drops; how often they drop…

AusGamers: That was actually where I was leading with the question... [smiles]

Matthew: That predates, in a sense, Reaper of Souls because it’s something that Josh brought over to the console which is that we want to drop less loot but [have more loot] of a higher quality and so we are already doing that on console. So on console we already drop less loot than we do on the PC version of Diablo III, there’s a higher chance of you getting upgrades, if you craft there’s a better chance of you getting an upgrade -- you get more Legendaries on console than you do on PC. However, once we start working on Reaper of Souls we’re going to have to have another look at loot drops on console because, for instance one of the things we do is we drop very little White items; we convert practically all White items into gold which will function since White items are being used as crafting material.

AusGamers: Darksiders II did a very cool thing with loot, since they took a huge amount of inspiration from Diablo, where you could find anything and simply drop it in a trading post and essentially mail it to any of your friends on the respective platform you and they were playing on. Obviously there’s no Auction House on console, but my brother is also a huge fan of the game, so if I picked something up and wanted to give it to him, how would I go about that.

Matthew: He would have to join your game and you’d have to gift it to him.

AusGamers: So can we run through some of the bigger changes between DIII PC release to DIII console release, just for the record?

Matthew: So first of all, all the content updates that have been made by the PC team since launch upto patch 1.08 are integrated into the console version. So we’ve added monster power, the Infernal Machine event, brawling -- all those elements that have constantly improved over the original [game] are already inside the console version for launch.

We’ve added a new move to every character, which is evade and allows you to reposition yourself in combat and also to avoid large attacks from enemies… I’m just gonna bullet point through this: we’ve updated a lot of the boss fights; updated their introductions, updated the camera, the visuals… updated their attacks and the pacing of the boss fights. We’ve added a new buff that we call nephilim glory, and so from time to time instead of getting a health orb you get a golden health orb and if you take it you get this buff and it gives you a bit of increased movement speed, a little bit of increased damage and a little bit of health regeneration. And from that point on, any time get a health orb it’ll actually increase the potency of your nephilim glory buff -- and there are three levels: on the second level every time you hit enemies you have lightening that arcs between them and on the third level columns of light fall down on your target and cracks out, so that’s a really, really cool thing we’ve added.

AusGamers: Does all of this make the PC team jealous at all?

Josh: You know what, yes it does. We’re actually really happy that the console version is so close to release and it’ll be interesting to hear what the feedback from our PC community is with these changes and if they’d like to see them brought over to the PC version… things like evade are much harder because they require a controller.

AusGamers: Anything else [you want to brag about]?

Matthew: Yes. Every time you pick up an item it appears in an item queue and you’ll see three stats for the items: Attack, Defence and Health. And they’re represented by green arrows that go up to three or red arrows that point down and so at a glance you can go “wow, that has lots of green arrows -- this is obviously an upgrade for me”, or “this upgrades my damage, but lowers my health”, and if you press up on the D-pad you can cycle through the latest items you’ve picked up and if you press X you can equip them immediately -- you don’t need to open your inventory. This is especially for you when you’re playing with your brother and you’re in the middle of the action and you don’t want to break stride, stop your temp, however, [if] you’re playing alone or you’ve picked up an item and the stats kind of say the stats increase but my health really lowers [and] I kind of want to know why, you can go into your inventory and get detailed stats, just like on PC.

AusGamers: What if I’m not playing locally with my brother, but rather I’m playing online and I live in Australia, which is problematic at the best of times. Can you talk about the networking side of things? Is it strictly peer-to-peer? Are we only connecting to the strongest connection? How does it all work?

Both: Peer-to-peer.

Josh: On the console side of things we’ve teamed up with Demonware, and those are the guys who do all the matchmaking for Call of Duty, so they’ve been really helpful.

Matthew: And of course you can do any combination between two on one system and then two online Join In mode, so if you’re playing on a system and you’re committed to that screen, we don’t split that screen, you know, the camera pulls out as you’re moving away from one another until it eventually locks you guys in place. So if you and I are playing on one console, and then Josh joins us from his house, he’s not limited to our screen, he has his own screen.

AusGamers: Obviously we’re months away from next-gen as well, can you talk about the difference between launching now and what next-gen means for the game and team moving forward?

Matthew: So we’re not going to be a launch title, we’re releasing in 2014. And obviously next-gen is more powerful hardware so there’s going to be a little bit of a graphical overhaul, or update rather, and at this point we’re looking at the controller and social features and how we’re going to use those -- what’s important for us is anything we do with them enhances the experience and isn’t just a back of the box checklist sort of a gimmick thing, so it’s not a huge shaker that the first thing we have tried with the controller is how does it feel to interact with the inventory… that’s kind of the natural one, and it’s also the logical choice and in fact, because you don’t have a select button anymore on the new PS4 controller, you have the touchpad, so we open the inventory now by clicking on the touchpad and because your thumb’s already there you can then navigate [the inventory]. So that’s an interaction that seems to work for us and it’s one we started looking at -- it’s in prototype phase so we’re still working on it, but anything past that, it would have to be something that will enhance the experience.

AusGamers: What about players who can’t wait until next-gen launches and they buy the game now? Will their profiles carry-over if they upgrade to the next-gen release?

Matthew: So, that’s what we want to do. We haven’t done it yet but our engineers tell us that we can and since that’s what we want to [happen], that’s our plan.

AsuGamers: And so all the next-gen stuff like record, upload and share -- it’s all baked into the console, so I’d assume you guys are going to use it…

Josh: We’re going to find full ways of using it. On PC there’s this good environment built around the streaming community and when I was first hearing about the PS4 and the “Share” button, I was really excited because I think console is finally going to get a glimpse into that full streaming, shared experience you get on PC.

AusGamers: I know you guys have been predominantly pushing the PS3/PS4 side of the console release, but I just sat in on an Xbox One platform demonstration where they were talking about the evolution of Achievements and how you’d still have your thousand point system or whatever, but post-release publishers would be able to offer up timed-challenge Achievements and things like that, is that something you’re across or aware of, is it something you’d like to play with?

Matthew: It’s not so much that we’re pushing PS4, I mean we’re on 360 and PS3... and the Xbox 360 announcement was a little later than the PS3 one, but both were actually developed concurrently and there’s absolutely no difference between the two versions.

We have a lot more Achievements in our game than we’re allowed to put Gamer Points on, or Trophies, so we have the ones we’ve attached Points and Trophies to, but all the other ones are still present on the console, you just don’t get a Trophy for them, but you can still chase all the Achievements that we have on PC.

Considering any specific features to PS4... we just want to do as much there as we can.

AusGamers: Okay, so my last question is PvP… and I get it, it’s Blizzard so it’s ready when it’s ready, but I guess will the mode drop simultaneously on console once it does for PC?

Josh: I wouldn’t say simultaneously. Again we want to make sure that we get the PC version all sewn up, also we benefit from the staggered approach [so] we can take the time to make the right decisions for both [PC and console]. I at least personally don’t want to cop a lot of flak if we release on one and not the other, so I hope that whatever solution we come up with is one that really works and has a lot of potential on both sides.

AusGamers: Okay awesome guys, we’ll wrap it up there, but thanks for your time today.

Both: Thank you very much for your time.
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Latest Comments
Posted 01:28pm 04/9/13
Thanks for the interview. It's good to see Blizzard at least want to allow PS3 players to bring across characters and profiles to PS4. I'd be happy to buy the PS3 version now, get started and eventually pick it up on PS4, but not if I had to start a character all over again... Until we hear definitively, I don't think I'll buy the PS3 version.
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