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How bringing Diablo 3 to consoles made it better on all platforms

Diablo 3 is already available on PC and the last-generation consoles, and it's coming along with its expansion to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One this August in the Ultimate Evil Edition. According to Blizzard Entertainment, the console version was developed somewhat separately from the PC version, and that has allowed the studio to make important improvements to both sets of platforms.

Blizzard launched Diablo 3 on Mac and Windows PC in May 2012 to a mixed reception from longtime Diablo players. Some fans were immediately skeptical of Blizzard's plans to port the game to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but that version of the dungeon crawler was well-received upon its release last September. The studio proved that it put a lot of thought into adapting the title specifically for the consoles, with controls that were well-suited to a controller and notable changes to the way the game played.

The different development cycles proved key for the continued growth of Diablo 3.

"Out of necessity, we started staggering our development," said Julia Humphreys, senior producer on the Ultimate Evil Edition, in an interview with Polygon during E3 2014. She explained that the revamped loot system in Diablo 3's expansion, Reaper of Souls, actually received a partial implementation in the console port of Diablo 3 last fall; the studio referred to it as "Loot 1.5." Blizzard then launched the full upgrade, Loot 2.0, in Reaper of Souls this past March on PC and Mac.

According to Humphreys, Blizzard's staggered development cycle for Diablo — original game, console port, Reaper of Souls PC and then the full package on all consoles — made it possible for the studio to incorporate feedback from players into each new release.

The Ultimate Evil Edition will include some features that don't exist in any previous version of Diablo 3, such as asynchronous multiplayer in the form of giftable Legendary items and Avenger Kills. Asked if elements like them might eventually be patched into the PC version, senior level designer Matthew Berger said it's possible, but Blizzard would have to carefully examine them before doing so, since they may only be a good fit for consoles. Both Humphreys and Berger stopped short of saying the Ultimate Evil Edition will be the best way to play Diablo 3, but they said it'll certainly offer the best experience on consoles.

Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is set for release Aug. 19 on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

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