RECIPE FOR SUCCESS?
Note: This Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls review is spoiler free for both Diablo 3 & Reaper of Souls.
Playing one of Blizzard’s brand new games has become something of a vintage wine as they rarely come out. To make matters worse it could have spoiled during the ageing process. Reaper of Souls is the first expansion that greets us in just under 2 years of the immensely rocky release of Diablo 3. We can all remember error 37, strange gameplay choices and the crème de la crème an auction house that removes the entire purpose of a dungeon crawler: THE LOOT.
Since then Blizzard has been very busy with Reaper of Souls but before we get to that, we must briefly go over the pre-patch changes known as Loot 2.0. This pre-patch gave Diablo 3 players a breath of fresh air by introducing huge changes to classes, removing the auction house, and most importantly a complete reworked item drop system & stats e.g. awesome legendaries are now more than just stat sticks. Those are just some of the changes that put vanilla Diablo 3 and Loot 2.0 Diablo 3 worlds apart. So with the stage set, Reaper of Souls has gamers across the world waiting to see if the curtains close early or if it’s a huge success!
DON’T FEAR THE REAPER
Those of us who are new to Diablo 3 or never finished the original campaign will need to play through the first 4 Acts before we can access any of the new Reaper of Souls content, not including the crusader of course, you can play that straight away. Once you’ve killed Diablo you get word that angels are running amok amongst Westmarch killing everyone and anything. Good job you’re the one and only super powered Nephalem ready to strike fear in all those who would oppose good!
To be quite frank, the storyline of Act 5 is a little bland, this however isn’t too much of a problem because Diablo 3 is an action-rpg from which you spend most of your time crawling around dungeons looking for shiny pieces of loot, with little to no care of the storyline. Although, Blizzard did take the time to implement better & more varied side-quests that aren’t the same old kill, collect, defend quests present in Diablo 3.
Environments were never a strong point for Diablo 3, meaning it’s great to have seen Blizzard throw out the old aka game director Jay Wilson and promote Josh Mosqueira who was responsible for the much improved console version of Diablo 3. Instantly you will notice the differences with lush new areas that have a better palette of colors that don’t solely include gray, brown and dark blue.
No dungeon crawler is complete without plenty of monsters to explode, smash, freeze or even implode! Reaper of Souls not only presents us with shiny new environments but also with a fair amount of expansion & area themed monsters that come in all shapes and sizes. When playing on the lower difficulties you won’t notice them too much unless your character is under geared, but once you hit the hardest difficultly Torment, you may want to take note to avoid their signature abilities as they really hurt.
THE CRUSADE MARCHES ON
Ever wanted to be a warrior of the light but found the monk’s lack of shields bothersome? Well you’re in luck because Reaper of Souls introduced the crusader as its first new class to Diablo 3. Wielding 1-handers, 2-handers, shields or with the trait Heavenly Strength a 2hander and shield, you pretty much are the embodiment of the word TANK. Don’t let that fool you though, as the Crusader doesn’t merely sit still doing zero damage and never dying. He or she does in fact insane damage via the power of all things holy!
Within the grand scheme of things, the crusader doesn’t abide by typical game design rules of being something new and completely overpowered. In fact the class is very well rounded while also competing healthily with the other 5 vanilla classes, you shouldn’t get any flack from fellow players when joining a public game. There’s a lovely selection of skills that borrow ideas from all sorts of games from throwing your shield, calling down pillars of fire, boomerang type hammers and much more! For my fellow theorycrafters out there who love working out the best builds, you’ve got your work cut out for you!
Also worth noting is how aesthetically pleasing the Crusader is to the eye. Gone are the days of Blizzard’s strange obsession of holy = gold everything, everywhere. Instead we’ve got something more fierce that resembles a true crusader of the light who has seen & been through some rough times while on their travels. Ultimately Reaper of Souls has provided the Diablo 3 community with a mega fun class without falling into the same old pitfalls that the other companies experience.
The real gem of Reaper of Souls has to be Adventure Mode! Unlocked once you’ve finished Act 5 on any difficulty, Adventure Mode lets the player enter any act, any area and complete a series of 5 bounties that range from side-quests, kill a rare monster, kill a certain boss or clear an area. This may sound slightly generic but once you’ve completed 5 in a single act, you will be rewarded with some blood shards and a Horadric cache that contains a random selection of items.
The main reason bounties work so well is without Adventure Mode, Diablo 3 doesn’t have a logical end-game that allows you to grind/play without doing the same areas (CotA) or running the campaign endlessly. Instead you can do any act giving you plenty of environments to keep the eyes happy, while also keeping the monsters and quests fresh. Of course if you run bounties 24/7 you’ll get sick and tired of them but that’s why you also have Nephalem Rifts & Blood Shards to mix it up a little.
Nephalem Rifts are Diablo 3’s answer to Path of Exiles Map system. During adventure mode gameplay, bounty rewards or cache rewards you see Nephalem rift keystones drop. You only need 5 of these to open a rift and boom, you can enter an almost endless mode where you will face a series of random parts of Diablo 3 maps and monsters, for example ponies running around the core of Arreat. While inside the rift your aim is to fill up the progress bar to spawn the rift guardian. Once defeated, it will drop a nice chunk of loot & blood shards. You would then normally exit the rift, close it and either spend 5 more keystones to run another or do something else. If you combined all of the elements of Adventure Mode you almost end up with a separate expansion but instead Reaper of Souls ends up looking better and better. It’s never been easier to grind without realizing you’re grinding, quite a hard feat to achieve in game design.
I FEEL SO ENCHANTING
The last feature often overlooked inside Reaper of Souls has to be the mystic, again you must progress through some of Act 5 to permanently unlock her. The mystic’s role within the crafting system is quite simple: provide the player with the ability to transmogrify your gear just like in World of Warcraft and a few other MMO’s. While it wasn’t the most requested change/feature to Diablo 3, it really helps out when you loot something that’s 9000x better but looks completely horrendous, oh and every legendary you loot unlocks its appearance permanently.
The coolest and most impactful feature of the mystic has to be enchanting, this is a re-roll feature that can be used to make a rubbish item into a clear upgrade. Basically you can choose one property of an item to re-roll as many times as you want, after each roll you will be able to choose from 1 of 3 choices for the new stat. It’s also possible to preview beforehand what all of the variations of said property can be, since it can be quite the difficult decision as you can only make it once per item.
Some would have said Diablo 3 was beyond saving despite it selling over 14 million copies across all platforms and setting the record for the fastest selling PC title at 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours. Personally I always hoped deep down that Blizzard would man up and deliver what old & new players of the Diablo franchise really wanted. Pre loot 2.0 Diablo 3 was grindy with the temptation of the gold auction house to remove the need to even play the game. The pre-patch to Reaper of Souls known as Loot 2.0 gave everyone the Diablo 3 it should have been 2 years ago and Reaper of Souls truly is the icing on the cake and well worth the 35 Euros/40 Dollars many times over for the hours you can spend inside this beautiful dungeon crawler!
My Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Review on video!
Instead of the usual social plugs, I thought it would best if I leave some of my other work such as my video reviews. So below you can find my video review of Reaper of Souls embedded.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Diablo, Diablo 3, RPG