Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: (PS4), PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: August 19, 2014
When I was approached about reviewing the new Diablo III expansion Reaper of Souls, I was a little hesitant. I had played Diablo III and was surprisingly underwhelmed. However, I read through the notes detailing the changes the new expansion was bringing to the table and I decided to give it a go. I’m very glad I did. Reaper of Souls was a breath of fresh (well, rancid) air.
Reaper of Souls was fantastic from the first second to the last. The cinematic for Act V was among the best of the series, instantly grabbing my attention and making me want more. One big thing Diablo III had going for it before RoS were the visuals, and Blizzard continued the trend here with excellence. RoS looks truly amazing. The landscapes, animations, and new enemies fit the theme perfectly. Act V gives us some of the most visually appealing and difficult content in the entire franchise. There is a point near the end of Act V that will almost certainly become an iconic moment in gaming history – SPOILER ALERT- you jump on the back of a giant battering ram, fight off hordes of demons, and face a boss, all while the battering ram is knocking down the gates of hell. I couldn’t believe how well done that section of the game was.
Blizzard had a lot of issues to tackle with Diablo III, and they handled all of them with Reaper of Souls. First of all, lets take care of the giant elephant in the room. The auction house. The auction house destroyed Diablo III’s economy even before the economy existed. People were playing the game as a job, exploiting the differences between the RMAH (Real Money Auction House) and the Gold auction house, and giving players far too easy access to the best items in the game. Rather than let the economy (and eventually the entire game) die, Blizzard made the best move they could have made by shutting down the Auction House completely.
Loot 2.0 was introduced right along with the launch of RoS, and drastically improved the game experience. Loot 2.0 reduced pointless drops, and improved the logic behind drops, meaning when you are playing a character that relies on Dexterity, more often than not your drops will have Dexterity. This was a vast improvement over finding nothing but Intelligence gear while playing a Barbarian. And then there is the Legendary drop rate. Pre RoS, I had played 3 characters to level 60, paragon 15, and had not ever found a legendary. After RoS, I found 3 legendaries between levels 60 and 70. At first I thought this was a bit excessive, but legendaries are subject to the same randomized rolls as any other gear, so you aren’t getting ridiculous gear all the time. This improved Legendary drop rate also makes crafting actually worth pursuing, as it offers a middle ground between rares and legendary drops.
Blizzard also introduced a new class – the Crusader. For fans of the series, Crusaders are very similar to D2’s paladin, featuring a charge, smite, and a number of hammer oriented abilities. The most notable feature of the Crusader to me is a passive ability he gains fairly early on that grants the ability to wield both a shield and a two handed weapon simultaneously. While I have not geared my Crusader to this point, I have seen Crusaders built to do critical hits in excess of 30 million damage. I don’t personally enjoy the Crusader over the other classes in the game, but I have to admit he is a good and necessary addition to the D3 hero pool. I am hoping Blizzard eventually releases a shapeshifting class, but am happy with the current roster.
Even though RoS only released with one additional act, it really rebooted the entire game by way of adventure mode. Once you defeat the final boss, Adventure mode becomes available, which gives you bounties and events to complete for extra experience and rewards. Rather than resort to endless Act 3 farming runs, players can continue to enjoy varied content endgame.
At the end of the day, Reaper of Souls blew my expectations out of the water. Blizzard fixed every issue I ever had with Diablo III, and added new things that fixed issues I didn’t even know I had with the game. I would absolutely recommend snagging RoS as soon as possible if you haven’t already. It is well worth a play through (or ten).
Review code provided by Publisher