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Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

By CameronW31-03-2014
Grawne (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

The Defence

Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment
Action, Role Playing
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz
AMD Athlon 64 X2 2.8 GHz
Nvidia GeForce 260
AMD Radeon HD 4870
4 GB
12 GB

The Case

Diablo 3 launched in May of 2012 to almost immediate controversy. While Diablo 3 was mechanically a well-made game, it was plagued by a lot of serious problems, some of which still haunt the game to this day. Diablo 3’s Reaper of Souls expansion, as well as the 2.0 patch that was released just ahead of the expansion, fixed many, maybe even the majority of the problems that with Diablo 3.

The Trial

Just because most of the major issues have been resolved doesn't make Diablo 3 the game that Diablo 2 was. The two games are still fundamentally different on many levels, such as the fact that you have to remain connected to Blizzard’s servers to even play D3. Diablo 3,at its core, is still that game you played in May of 2012, but with a better loot system, less lag, and a less-ridiculous progression system.

Excluding patch 2.0’s the main additions in the Reaper of Souls expansion are as follows: Act V, the Crusader class, Adventure Mode, Enchanting and Transmogrification, a level cap of 70, the ability to raise your followers to level 12 (and access to the items that come with that), and the various new monsters and quests of Act V.

Act 5 has a lot more random events like this.

Act 5 has a lot more random events like this.

For many, the main attraction of Reaper of Souls is the new act centered on the “Lord of Death,” Malthael. It’s the best act in the game. Of all of the acts, Act V has the best atmosphere, the most interesting enemies to fight, the most challenging boss mechanics, and the best flow.

You begin the new act in Westmarch in the midst of a siege by Malthael’s forces. Westmarch is a very gothic looking city filled with gruesome environments and encounters. You’ll frequently walk paths littered with dismembered human corpses as you fight back the demons and undead that are in the process of  brutally massacring the local populace. It really does feel like Diablo is Blizzard’s way of getting their fix of gratuitous gore, violence and themes which aren’t appropriate for Warcraft’s more kid-friendly franchise.

Act V’s other locales are not quite as interesting, but never quite reach the drudgery of the slower parts of Act II and III of the core game. The new environments look gorgeous, with a massively overhauled lighting system and awesome new models. The whole act has the same depth of atmosphere that made the first segment of Act I my favorite part of the game (until now).

The Crusader has many abilities that help him tank.

The Crusader has many abilities that help him tank.

While I didn’t find the story of any part of Diablo 3 particularly impressive, Reaper of Souls doesn’t suffer from the same problem of introducing high-potential characters like Belial and Azmodan and not doing anything with them. Instead, Malthael and his minions are fairly mundane, but at least there’s less room for disappointment. Act V’s story is just okay. It could be better, but it could also be a lot worse.

I mentioned that the parts of Act V beyond Westmarch aren’t as interesting, but they’re not quite bad. The problemwith the new “Battlefield” and “Pandemonium Fortress” areas is that, while Westmarch is full of story-driven dungeons, interesting characters, creative battles, and lots of little things that break up the monotony of grinding, the rest of the act lacks the same level of care and complexity. The dungeons become less about telling stories and return to the usual crutch of acting as little pockets full of things to kill.

But what good is a new act without a new class to play it with? The Crusader serves to balance out the class roster, and more concretely defines a formerly muddy role in the game: the tank. Sure, Barbarians have always had a rune for taunting enemies, but Crusaders are the first class that truly feels designed with tanking in mind. You have an ability dedicated to provoking enemies, and receive all kinds of bonuses for using a shield.

Don't like one of the stats on your new gloves? Change it.

Don't like one of the stats on your new gloves? Change it.

While the ability to tank was certainly a major goal in designing the Crusader, that’s not all they’re good for. The ability to wield 2-handed weapons in one hand and a shield in the other makes the Crusader a force to be feared. Also returning are fan-favorite abilities such as Blessed Hammer from Diablo 2’s Paladin class.

My only gripe with the Crusader is that, especially towards the higher levels, ability-rune unlocks start to get a little lazy. Instead of functionally changing abilities (as in the Witch doctor), the Crusader’s runes tend to only modify damage types and add debuffs.

Anyone that’s put a lot of time into Diablo 3 knows how much of a grind it can be to push through Act 2 for the 6th time. Before the expansion, progression was a linear track of the same quests and locations over and over, just with tougher monsters. This tends to be more tedious than fun. With Reaper of Souls, however Blizzard has made a couple of significant changes that make the grind a little more exciting, the biggest being that there are no longer four preset difficulty levels, but rather the game’s challenges now scale to match your level. You can also bump up the difficult at any time for greater challenges, and rewards such as bonus magic-find, gold-find, and experience. If you set the game to the new “Torment” difficulty you’ll be able to level four times faster than you would on normal, and that really makes a difference.

Transmogrification lets you change how you look.

Transmogrification lets you change how you look.

To shake things up a little more, once you finish Act V, you unlock “Adventure Mode.” Adventure mode unlocks all Waypoints and gates allowing you to travel wherever you please in pursuit of “bounties” which are marked on the map. These bounties are essentially mini-quests which usually take the form of a boss fight, or clearing a specific dungeon or event. In addition to being rewarded with experience, you’re also rewarded a new currency called “Blood Shards” which you can spend at a new merchant in who sells randomly generated items.

Basically, Adventure mode really just provides an incentive to replay game content while skipping the cutscenes, and without being forced down the same linear path. It’s hardly a groundbreaking experience, but it breaks up the monotony of grinding through the same content until you can recite all the dialogue from memory.

Reaper of Souls and the 2.0 patch bring many changes to Diablo 3’s loot system. “Loot 2.0” replaces the constant torrent of trash drops from days of old with loot that is designed to be at least potentially useful to your character. Most items that you find now are at least slightly useful, and both rare and legendary items are much more common. You may be thinking, “doesn’t this ruin the in-game economy?” It would, except that there is no more economy. The Auction House has been entirely eliminated, and with the exception of crafting components (which are untradeable), you can only trade items to players that were in the same party when the item was dropped. Crafting in Reaper of Souls is now account-bound, which means your friends will have to level their own followers to get a hold of crafted items.

This is a screen you'll become very familiar with in Adventure Mode.

This is a screen you'll become very familiar with in Adventure Mode.

PvP content, something Diablo 3 players have been begging for since launch, was partially implemented a while back in the form of “arenas,” but it wasn’t quite what players were hoping for. Reaper of Souls offers no meaningful enhancements to PvP systems, but it does add a new dueling arena.

The Verdict

I can’t stress enough, while Reaper of Souls won’t be exactly what everyone is looking for, it’s still a fantastic chunk of content which enhances the game’s replayability. With the addition of a fun new class, arguably the best act in the game, and some new spells to spice up gameplay for the existing classes on your way to level 70, Reaper of Souls offered exactly what I wanted in an expansion pack, and I recommend it to anyone that even slightly enjoyed Diablo 3. I’d say it’s simply the best way to experience the game.

Case Review

  • Act 5: Act 5 is a blast, with its high points being the best in the game, and it’s lows still being pretty good.
  • Crusader: The Crusader fits right in with the existing class roster and brings plenty to the table without copying other classes.
  • Transmogrification: Finally you don’t have to look ridiculous with your mis-matched gear.
  • Enchanting: Enchanting helps you take nearly-perfect gear to perfection by changing attributes.
  • Adventure Mode: Adventure mode achieves its goal of giving you an alternative to repeating the game over and over, it’s also better for boss farming.
  • Story: While no surprise to Diablo 3 veterans, Reaper of Souls’ story takes a backseat to the gameplay.
  • Can’t Trade Items: When Blizzard killed the auction house, they also killed any sort of economy Diablo 3 may have had.
Score: 5/5
Reaper of Souls does what an expansion should do: improves upon everything the core game tried to achieve.


Comments (2)
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Posts: 28

Good review man. I love this game to bits since loot 2.0 and the expansion just made it 100 times better with adventure mode.

Posts: 1548

As long as it's online only - no buy for me.