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Feature Article

Diablo 3 vs Sacred 3: The Couch Co-op Crusade

Cushioning blows.

You only have to read our reviews of Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition and Sacred 3 to find out which game is the better action-RPG. Still, both games have been significantly streamlined when compared to the previous entries in their respective series', with much of this design refresh made to better support couch co-op gameplay. With such a thing becoming increasingly rare, let's look at both games to determine not which is the better action-RPG overall, but if one facilitates local, same-screen play better than the other.

Couch co-op games bring different logistical requirements to those that are played online with each player at a separate console or PC. Because of this, we'll be looking at these games through the lens of the following three criteria: how well they support drop-in/drop-out play, how many people can play at once, and how well each game manages the screen space each player needs.

DROP IN, DROP OUT, GET DOWN

With a couch co-op game, all you want to do is flop down on a cushion, boot the game up and get everyone in and playing as quickly as possible. Things like multiple accounts, login screens, connection issues and whether everyone knows what button does what get in the way. In Diablo III, each player on the one console can login with their own PSN or XBLA character, even if they don't own the game--they just need a free PSN or Xbox Live account. If someone doesn't own the game themselves, they can create a new character that is stored locally and boosted to the level of the other players. The important distinction here is that local character only has its stats scaled--it still actually starts at level one. This means it won't die at the slightest touch, and can still dish out some decent damage while waiting for some better gear to drop.

Unfortunately, that gear is still locked behind level requirements. Though this local character will quickly find better weapons and armour, they won't be able to actually wear it for a while. What results is a character that feels underpowered for about an hour, but this passes after they are quickly power-levelled by the other party members.

Sacred 3 does a better job of this. However, this is due to the fact that its own loot system, and class customisation, has been streamlined even further than that of Diablo III's. Sacred 3 only rewards new loot at the end of each quest, and because that loot is rewarded at a fixed time in a character's progression, there's no need for it to have a level requirement. Similarly, skills in Sacred 3 are unlocked in a fixed order. Because of this, Sacred 3 doesn't require its second player to ever save their character; when dropping in, they select their class to create a brand new character each time and are immediately scaled up to the party leader, without any adverse side effects like those suffered in Diablo III. For couch co-op, this works far better.

FRIENDS 4 LIFE

It bears mentioning that Diablo III supports four players in couch co-op, while Sacred 3 only supports two. In order to reach Sacred 3's maximum player count of four, you need to be playing online. However, you can still use the second player's locally-created character in online play, thereby allowing two people per-console or per-PC to play in a single game.

Diablo 3's support for mixing local characters with online play is less straightforward. On current-gen consoles, at least one player needs to have an Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus subscription to let locally-created characters play in online games. On PS3, PlayStation Plus is not required at all, and local characters can play online without any issues. On Xbox 360, every player needs their own Xbox Live Gold subscription to play online, otherwise the game will be forced into LAN mode, which means you can't play against other people. Depending on your setup, these restrictions could be limiting if you and a buddy want to play against two other distant friends. But, given that we're looking at how well each game supports couch co-op specifically, the ability to have four players on the one console puts Diablo III in the lead.

VIRTUAL REAL ESTATE

Inventory management plays a major part in Diablo III. For the console versions, only one player is able to view their full inventory screen at a time, thereby making other players wait their turn until they're done fiddling with weapons and magical runes. This completely interrupts gameplay and quickly becomes tedious. To compensate for this, a barebones list of new items is available to cycle through on the directional pad without bringing up a full-screen window. However, not enough information is displayed about the exact stat bonuses each item provides, and it's difficult to get a sense of what each new rune does from this menu alone. It's inevitable that each player will eventually have to stop everything and sort through their full inventory at regular intervals. This routine rapidly becomes tiresome.

Sacred 3's streamlining makes its own inventory management far less of a headache for other players. Because new items and skill modifiers are only unlocked at the end of each quest--never during combat--the game provides a set moment for you to manage your inventory, at the only time you'll ever need to manage it. Further to this, both players in couch co-op mode can see and sort through their own inventories on the screen at the same time as each other, with no need to stop and take turns. This is a far less painful experience than that of Diablo III, but it's one that's likely made possible because of its streamlined approach to loot and skill selection.

While Sacred 3 makes headway in the inventory management space, Diablo III does a far better job of managing each character's physical location during combat and exploration. The game will smartly teleport any player who wanders too far to the edge of the screen back toward the rest of the party. Because all players need to be kept on screen, this means that one player can walk away to get a snack, and the others can continue exploring because the absent player will be teleported along with the group. Sacred 3 includes no such system, so if one player stands idle at the edge of the screen, the other player will be completely unable to move forward until they return.

ENDING THE CRUSADE

Though Diablo III is a superior action-RPG to Sacred 3, whether it’s a better couch co-op game isn’t as immediately apparent. Having four players take on the Prime Evil on the same console makes for a great time, but it’s time beset by constant inventory management interruptions and the need for all players to have their own characters for the smoothest result. Sacred 3’s lack of four-player support on a single system is annoying, but if you’re only planning on playing with a single friend, then Sacred 3’s streamlining makes for a more painless couch co-op experience.

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dhindes

Daniel Hindes

Daniel Hindes is GameSpot's Australian editor. He really likes stealth games. And he's also right behind you.
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73 comments
jpk256
jpk256

diabloboss.com for sale at go daddy.com!

grin89
grin89

a remake of diablo 2 with todays graphics would get a sell out of me, diablo 3 was one of the few games ive ever thought of a waste of money. no skill tree no runes and the ability to switch skills on the fly turning pvp into a rock paper scissors game is no fun.

Zerabp
Zerabp

@grin89 Uh there's a skill tree and runes in D3... 

chapelzero
chapelzero

I absolutely love this renaissance in couch co-op...hopefully other developers take note that this kind of play is still viable and we get more triple-A coop titles to complement the raft of indies

Rakou
Rakou

I like GS, but this is a really stupid and unfair comparison. You're comparing D3 that's rated 9/10 with Sacred 3 that's sitting at 4/10. Also, you can make anything look good if you compare it to something thats far worse than itself.

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

...but sacred 3 isnt even an rpg. why is this comparison even happening?

LtReviews
LtReviews

Even if Sacred 3 is trash, and Diablo 3 took  a year to get an actual playable, not-horrible, decent version out (pre-RoS was TERRIBLE): I am still glad that regardless of quality, games are remembering the importance of couch co-op.


An even greator victory considering Diablo 3 had seemingly been ready to shun this in favor of forcing us on their servers rather than just allowing LAN.


Being able to play with my friends in the same room has always made a HUGE difference for me and many others. The Gauntlet series, for example, has been extremely sub-par for a long time. But there will always be people to buy it, just because it remembers the importance of being able to play couch-coop with friends.

Mega_Skrull
Mega_Skrull

There's no contest. Diablo 3, at least now the good edition, is a great game, while Sacred 3 is a butchered little piece of disappointment

kalarro
kalarro

The reviwer is confused. Maybe he wanted to say sacred 2 vs Diablo. Because Sacred 3 has nothing to do with those 2 games. Or maybe he wanted to say Sacred 3 vs God of war. But sacred 3 vs Diablo 3 is like saying Call of Duty vs Day of the tentacle

Scarshi
Scarshi

Sacred 3 was reviewed and found dead on arrival. Why is this even being compared to anything at all?


I, ugh, bought Sacred 3 for PC. Learned my final lesson about pre-ordering from that one.


forevernaught
forevernaught

Diablo 3 beats sacred 3 in almost every regard except i prefer the open world of sacred 3. Although it was cool you could have your own inv window, sacreds battles against duping made it a pain to trade with others. I still remember being pissed when i transfered my char to a new ps3 to find his items locked forever to that char

forevernaught
forevernaught

I just realized i confused sacred 2 with sacred 3. :(

bishop60
bishop60

Bringing up the inventory while playing couch co-op isnt that bad. Iv had more fun playing D3 with friends then any other game out today.

johnlewis107
johnlewis107

Why is there only female characters is every screenshot?

AK1015
AK1015

@johnlewis107 For some strange reason, guys like to play as women in games... I don't get it personally. And I say "guys" because I'm assuming that the one responsible for the screenshots is the same person that wrote the article.

LtReviews
LtReviews

@AK1015 @johnlewis107 

Wait, so it's wierd if guys play as a woman in games that let you choose gender?

Because I always play as a Lizard person in Skyrim- and in reality, I am not a Lizard... I don't see why my character needs to be a reflection of my gender any more than it needs to be a reflection of my species.

AK1015
AK1015

Yes. It's weird for a guy to pick to play as a chick most every time. Guys I know that pick to play as females often all have what seems like a complex. And that's why it's weird. Is that what you wanted me to say? Step on a couple toes? Well there you go. And I don't give two shits. Also, for a lot of people that pick to play as non-humans most of the time also have a strange hate and or dislike for their own race. Thus, they pick to exist in a fantasy world and depict themselves as something they can never be so as to deal with that insecurity. Loljk loljk Seriously though. That first part, yeah. That's why it's weird. Good day!

Ereheru
Ereheru

@johnlewis107 If you look at the first Diablo III screenshot, the one of the main menu, you'll see that one player is named Zorine, and another is named Jessica, so that explains why at least two of the characters are female.

Kiyosuyo
Kiyosuyo

It's not a HUGE deal to do the inventory on diablo 3. Once you learn to press up on the dpad and cycle through items more intelligently and very quickly. The only thing you have to check it legendaries and sets at 70, and you'd be doing that with Diablo 3 PC anyway.

depman1972
depman1972

I'm looking to buy diablo 3, is it like baldurs gate?

I dont want to buy it if its just set up for multiplayer, I like single player only.

bunchr
bunchr

You can play single player but you're always online

depman1972
depman1972

@bunchr thanks, ahh thats ok being online. looks good, think I will give it a go.

KENNYKENNEDY
KENNYKENNEDY

It is not in the slightest bit like baldurs gate heavy action and gear focus, great fun though, I have it on pc and ps4. Divinity original sin ( on steam)is apparently a lot like baldurs gate.

forevernaught
forevernaught

Hes talkin about baldurs gate dark alliance, i think, which is actually very similar to diablo 3. Diablo 3 has a much bigger focus on gear though compared to dark alliance or the also similar everquest arpg.

jasongm
jasongm

The only competition Diablo 3 has, is the game Torch Light 2... If that game was ported to consoles then it would be a different story.

Gankstar_VX84
Gankstar_VX84

@jasongm path of exile blows everything out of the water in the top down arpg genre atleast imo. sure it's punishing, but it removes the repition from the genre atleast for me, i got bored of d3 fairly quick on pc, didn't give it much of a chance admittedly but it was due to poe just being better.

darkprince2
darkprince2

The only publicity Sacred 3 deserves is embarrassment. Period.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

I recommend dungeon siege 3 and LOTR war in the north as some other good couch multiplayer. especially if you hook them up via LAN when able - D3 is far and away better on console then PC, Sacred 3 is a good game but its pretty silly and juvenile at times. D3 is a great game and fun always, on pc being the victim of constant lags, drops, and maintenance ruins the experience too much to enjoy. 

kozzy1234
kozzy1234

@jenovaschilld As someoen who owns d3 on both console and pc I must say you are full of it. While the console versions are good they are not as good as the pc version atm. I have not had any lag or drops, maybe it is you're computer that needs some fixing. The only time the pc version had issues was when it first came out and there Blizzard was having server troubles.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@kozzy1234 Well, Kozzy here is my little story, take for what you will if your willing to listen. ME and 3 friends who have played D&D, and games for more then 25yrs now were counting down the day for D3. Big party at my house, with 4pcs and 4X 24"-27" monitors hooked upto my 24mb cable connection hardlined, 28-40 ping avg. . We prefer to play LAN mode via hub since the old days well before many games were online. We all took that weekend off, wives and kids sent away, coffee and subs enough to last a few days. 

The game had been out for a few days but we knew nothing of the problems D3 was having, so well all installed logged in and nothing. And nothing is all we got for 2 1/2 straight days, occasionally some of us could get on but the four of us could not group for a play through the campaign mode. The next few weeks we all tried again here and there but all of us could not connect together, sick of it we gave up and played torchlight 2. Over the next several months we tried the game, all of sick and tired of server lag spikes and freezes or maintenance, the chat a joke, and game balance very poor. 

10 months later we tried again 3 of us this time as one swore off D3 forever, game changed a lot and difficulty amped up helped a ton, still by 7-10pm we would get server spikes, we knew we were not alone because community chat lit up with "did anyone else just get lagged out?' queries. The delays were bearable, but then I put up a lvl 9 rare with +exp and it got 1.9 million on the AH, we all started laughing as it was farming crap if that, the AH, FArming, gems, and drops were so goofy it was sad, not even d2 in worst days was that bad. I had to quit but the other two finished it. I had finished the campaign earlier but without a good LAN it was hard to like. 

Then November of last year, Charlie our druid, bought us all 4 copies of ps3 D3 and an extra ps3 - so we had 4xps3's on 4 monitors hooked into a gaming router. We were up and playing in less then an hour, in LAN mode - no drops, no lags, no server drops or downs, no stutter across the game, EAsy for one us to take a break without risk of getting logged out. We could all sit in the living room and yell out insults and grats. Yes by then the game was balanced and loot better. We upped the difficulty and the game played perfect like days of old, everyone working together with no problems from an always online connection. The graphics were not as good as on the PC but very minor details, controller worked fine, and  even though less mobs on the screen, then PC we didn't notice or care as the bosses still had great AI at higher difficulty. 

LAter in October or November when two of us get time off from the printing plant we all 4 will meet up again and try out the ps4 version and expansion to D3 with new characters. 

So again, if a stranger came and ask me which version to get- I would say the console - and any future installments like say D4 my advice would still be wait for reviews and avoid any game that requires always online just to play through the single player campaign. 

ahpuck
ahpuck

The video cuts off before the end.

JRD1912
JRD1912

Scared 3 is trash.  Was there really nothing else to write about?


sammoth
sammoth

No contest. Diablo 3 hands down.

zakaweb
zakaweb

Diablo 3 is so much better than Sacred 3 in everyway to me, but that's just my wise opinion.

feleas
feleas

I think it's pretty easy to see the difference between the 2 games.

Sacred 3 doesn't bring a story even when co-op is being played when Diablo 3 does. Okay that's the end of today's discussion, see you all next class.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

I enjoyed sacred 3 co op over D3 mostly D3 experience with a other player was too easy I had more fun on my own then with a friend.

pnova
pnova

both looks the same, one is just more popular both is worth playing if you like dota and league of legend looking games, none of them is worth playing if you don't.

Pelezinho777
Pelezinho777

Can't say which one is bigger crap. Probably Sacred 3...

Natusai
Natusai

@margaretwmiller  Wow Gamespot. You delete my comment, but you don't delete a spammer? I've used your website for over 10 years and I'm extremely disappointed.

xophaser
xophaser

Played all 3 diablos on the pc.  Played diablo 1 with my little brother on the original ps1 couch co-op.  It took like 10 years or more between d2 &d3 so i picked up sacred 2 on the ps3.  Tried to play s2 couch co-op but my friend didn't care for gaming.  Either way had no real issues couch co-op on consoles.


As or the game s2 was actually good, the storyline/characters are a little weird with robo dogman shooting laser next to a Seraphim.  Some rock star concert quest you get a guitar as weapon?  Diablo is more refinefor sure, but I like the weirdness of s2 and the map was different.  Diablo map auto-generate, but it is the same even between games (d3 heaven was a little different). S2 did seem harder to start with also.

ambition_def
ambition_def

Both can be equally terrible as a gaming experience. Put it this way. Making a coop experience requires many fundamental changes that it is always a terrible idea to modify what was otherwise a single player experience.


See the Dead Space franchise for a good example.

phatsanta
phatsanta

@ambition_def Me and my bud loved DS 3 and we were fans of the previous ones. It's just a matter of opinion.

scottw84
scottw84

Had this comparison been at Diabo 3's initial launch i'd have said Sacred 3 beats it hands down. Since Jay Wilson was removed... sorry "Asked to step down" from power Diablo 3 has slowly started to get better, the latest Diablo 3 patch seen Seasons pop up (which are heaps of fun I might add), so to answer the article! Diablo 3 destroys Sacred 3. Diablo 3 still has a bit of work to do before it starts to really stick in our memories like Diablo 2 did... but its getting there slowly, let's not forget that Diablo 2 wasn't made great immediately either, true greatest didn't really appear until LoD came out.