No Diablo 3 Controllers on PC, Here's why
Many people, myself included, were a little sceptical of the idea of Blizzard's latest entry into the legendary Diablo franchise making its way to the console market. After all it was Blizzard's first console release since Starcraft hit the Nintendo 64 15 years ago. The first Diablo saw a PlayStation release back in the day, but it wasn't exactly the prime example of what Diablo's strengths were; with it lacking the ability for online play. Naturally the biggest hurdle that Blizzard would have to overcome after taking a decade and a half off from releasing console games is that they don't get the luxury of the keyboard and mouse.
Diablo is and has always been designed to be controlled by the click of a mouse dictating the precise movements of your character, so the fact that they made it work as well as they did in the console ports of Diablo 3 is nothing short of amazing. But I'd be lying if I said that they felt the same and were designed with the same gameplay styles in mind. Matthew Berger, senior level designer of the console version of Diablo 3 is well aware of this. In an interview he recently had with Eurogamer where he had this to say:
"On console, the rhythm is very different. It flows more, because you're constantly repositioning your character with the thumbstick; you're really never stationary on console, whereas on PC you're a lot more stationary... When you're playing on the PC, you're not really looking at your character as much, you're kind of focusing on the cursor. Whereas on console it's the exact opposite, you're drawn in. Adding the evade... means that you're once again, even more repositioning yourself. It's added a new dimension to the game - the game is more dynamic. And it feels in some ways it's faster - in no small part because the camera's in closer. Your character's bigger on screen, the enemies are bigger on screen, when you're surrounded by enemies the threat level feels higher. So it has translated really, really nicely to console, there's a wonderful sort of rejuvenation of the game in that environment."
So Diablo 3 works on the console using a controller, that's all fine and good, but the real question is why Blizzard isn't putting that sort of functionality into the PC version of the game. As an alternative for players who may be tired of wearing out that index finger clicking their character around. Maybe it's not quite so simple.
"It's a bigger issue than just allowing players to use the controller on the PC. Because if I let you use the controller on the PC, then I have to let you use the user interface that goes with it, and if I give you the roll and I haven't throttled the number of enemies attacking you because the mouse-and-keyboard players can handle all those enemies, but with a controller you have too many guys... The games have really been structured to take advantage of their environment and their ecosystem, so in the same way it would not be a good fit to put a mouse and keyboard on the console. It wouldn't work."
Bummer, but it makes sense. The knee-jerk reaction amongst a lot of long-time Blizzard fans is to simply blame incompetence and throw the developers under the bus, but this is a situation where it looks like they're making the most sense. Diablo 3 on the consoles isn't just the base game with a bunch of radial menus and weird camera angles, it is its own game. While it'd be cool to have the ability to pop a controller in and sit back playing some Diablo 3, that simply isn't the way the PC version works.