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Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

April 16th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Okay, so I’m a bit behind in my reviews…what do you expect from an “army of one”?  Now I see why IGN and PC Gamer have a staff…too many games and not enough hands to play them.  Normally I don’t review games nowadays unless I’ve received a review copy (due to time constraints, etc.), but in this case I figured I’d make an exception.  My Diablo III review is a bit outdated and a lot has changed with the game as a whole since its posting.  We’re here today to take a quick look at what the first expansion (“Reaper of Souls”) has to offer and why you should seriously consider digging this game out of mothballs to give it another chance.

Diablo III

(Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Windows, Mac)

If you’re new to the “Diablo” series as a whole, let me sum it up for you in a few words: action, RPG, and PLENTY of clicking.  The original “Diablo”, released on the PC in 1996, was my first introduction to an action RPG.  It featured only one class and one town, but there were plenty of levels in the nearby dungeon to explore.  “Diablo II”, released on the PC in the year 2000, had the same look and vibe but introduced multiple character classes (among other things).  “Diablo III”, released on the PC in 2012, dared to be different.  It not only required an always online connection, but featured an auction house where folks could buy and sell loot with both virtual or real money.  The game itself was fantastic, but both of these things irked me a bit.

Unfortunately, there’s still an always online connection…I’m not sure that it will ever go away, even if EA finally came to their senses and created an offline mode for “SimCity”.  Thankfully, the auction house has been eliminated, so we’re one for two at this point.  Instead of getting loot that your character couldn’t use or didn’t need and then selling it on the AH, you’ll find that the game will drop more loot relevant to your character via “Loot 2.0”.  This new system is available to everyone, whether or not you buy the “Reaper of Souls” expansion or not.  This is a welcome change, at least from my point of view.  I hate pay-to-win games and when you’re forced to buy loot from others to keep your gear current, there’s a problem.

Another large difference with the game as a whole lies in how difficulties are handled.  Originally, there were four difficulty levels and moving on to the next required you to beat the entire game.  Not anymore.  Right from the get go, you can pick between one of five difficulties and switch them out at will.  Increasing the difficulty grants you extra XP and gold, among other things.  The torment difficulty (the hardest of the five) has its own difficulty slider, if you can imagine that.  The rewards alone for ramping it all the way up may very well justify the beating your behind is going to take on a regular basis…if you’re in to that kind of thing.

Zapping mobs with electricity on normal is still just as satisfying.

Zapping mobs with electricity on normal is still just as satisfying.

“Reaper of Souls” introduces some new, exclusive content that may interest hardcore and casual players alike.  The crux of this expansion lies in the new adventure mode, which is only available after completing the new “Act V” campaign.  Not to worry, “Act V” only takes about five hours to complete, give or take.  Speaking of which, “Act V” presents some new environments and some really nasty enemies…you’re still repeatedly killing stuff, but the ambience proved pretty nice.  Even though I was actively trying to stay alive, I couldn’t help but admire the scenery and the places the game was taking me.

The adventure mode unlocks every waypoint, allowing you and your friends to explore particular areas at your leisure and in an non-linear fashion.  The game will also create bounties for you to seek and complete…sort of like a random quest generator.  Completing these bounties will award you with Rift Keystone Fragments, which can be used in town to create Nephalem Rifts.  These lead to randomly created instances full of treasure, wonder, and of course, extreme danger.  If anything, adventure mode will give you a reason to keep playing after hitting level 70, the expansion’s new level cap.

Yes, that’s right…no longer are your characters going to be stuck at level 60.  As you probably guessed, this new level cap includes a few new ability & spells with which to experiment.  The mystic, a vendor who can reroll an attribute on an equipment piece (for a hefty fee) or transmogrifiy a piece to simply “look” like something else (for a small fee), is also a new and welcome feature.  No longer does my character have to look like he’s wearing a shield on his face…some of the hats in this game are HIDEOUS!

Diablo III

I’m not sure how he can possibly see anything, but whatever.

Now, let’s talk paragon points.  Paragon points, for those not familiar with the system, allow players to buff their character after they hit their level cap.  Toons still earn experience and fill that XP bar after hitting their level cap, but they earn a paragon point each time they would have normally “leveled up”.  These points can be then distributed across four different categories, allowing the player to buff offensive and defensive stats.  The paragon cap in “Reaper of Souls” has increased to well, infinity…allowing you to earn paragon points to your heart’s content.  Better yet, these points are earned account-wide, allowing you to buff your lower leveled toons in order to give them an edge.  Not to worry, you won’t have to share these paragon points between characters…each will earn a point every time a particular character levels up.

Finally, there’s the new Crusader class, which is essentially a paladin class with few twists.  You can place a two-handed weapon in one hand and a shield in the other, which is pretty nifty.  At heart, they are a melee class that utilizes strength as their primary attribute and wrath as their resource.  As you can expect from a “holy” class, the Crusader does have some ranged abilities at his disposal.  Besides being a tank, the Crusader sports some really nice heal and support abilities to help out in a group setting.  If you’ve played World of Warcraft and dabbled with the paladin class, then you’ll be right at home here.

I may have missed a few things, but those are the hi-lites.  It’s an overall solid expansion, one well worth picking up if you’ve got forty bucks to burn.  The game at its core (without this expansion) has come a long way since 2012, what with its rocky launch and following auction house woes.  The new loot and leveling systems, available even without the expansion, could satisfy the casual player for a good long while.  “Reaper of Souls” just adds ice cream to the already delicious cake and is a must for players that have to log on every day to get their fix.  The adventure mode will see to it that you’ll never get bored, which to some of us, can be a dangerous thing.

Final Verdict: 9/10

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