(This review requires readers to have an understanding of Diablo III to fully appreciate it)
Diablo II was a game that I missed by a long shot. When I finally got around to playing it, most of my friends had moved on. However, I will not deny the joy I had playing the game. Always wondering what loot is going to drop next and, of course, how to spend those precious, precious skill points. My time with Diablo II was short lived as I soon moved on to other games. However, the urge to keep playing and the drive to keep collecting loot kept creeping back in my mind.
It should go without saying then, once Diablo III was announced I was incredibly excited! This time I would be ready when all my bros were, so we would be playing together, hunting loot together, and just having a good time. Then, Diablo III was out and we all hopped in ready to get that loot! Unfortunately, we were wrong, so wrong. The mechanics behind Diablo III’s loot system were so different from Diablo II’s it was unbelievable. Everything revolved around magic find and using the Auction House system; which by the way involved real money transactions as well as gold transactions. Oh how the game got boring quick. I never even hit maximum level! I tried with several different characters but it didn’t matter. It turns out it wasn’t the characters that were boring, it was the loot system.
Since everything revolved around having magic find on the gear being worn, it meant that offense, defense, or healing was being given up in order to find better gear. That being said, the new gear had to be a huge upgrade to justify losing the magic find; unless it had magic find on it as well, which seemed really rare. To add insult to injury, if grinding this out wasn’t of interest, one could simply hit the auction house and spend $20 bucks or so and be geared up and ready for the hardest difficulty (Inferno at the time). The game felt as close to broke as possible and I don’t believe I’m the only one who felt this way. My friends abandoned the game pretty quickly as well; they even hit max level and it still didn’t matter.
Blizzard knew they messed up, even apologizing at Blizzcon 2014, saying publicly that they ruined the game. They also promised to fix their game and make it what we all wanted, a bigger, better, Diablo II. I can happily say that they delivered on this promise and brought to the table a game worthy of being Diablo II’s successor. The only problem with it was we had to wait for the expansion, Reaper of Souls, before the game became what we all wanted.
The fact that I am playing Reaper of Souls as I write this review should help to describe how I feel about this game. It is a blast to play, whether you find legendary items or not, the game does a great job of always making you feel like you are progressing. To start off, let us talk about the changes that were made from Diablo III to Reaper of Souls. The best, I repeat, the best change to Reaper of Souls (referred to as RoS from now on) is the removal of the auction house. This takes brings the game back to the best part of Diablo, FINDING (not buying!) gear! The most exciting part of Diablo III is seeing the orange-yellow (or green if a set piece) light that reaches to the sky when a legendary item drops.
Figure 1: Legendary Glow
This brings us to another great change, Loot 2.0. With the Loot 2.0 update the magic find system has been completely overhauled. There is still magic find in the game. Although, it isn’t nearly as important as it used to be. This is primarily due to the drop system being completely redefined, which in turn, made the legendary items drop at a steadier rate than before. Magic find still has value, though players can now focus more on increasing their characters effectiveness and play on higher difficulties without sacrificing their ability to find better gear; which is what this game is all about! Another change is the legendary items themselves, a lot of new items have been added to the game that can drastically change how you play the game. These were the two big changes to make Diablo III actually fun to play, which was a must. Now we can move on to the new content brought about by RoS.
To begin with, the classes have all been overhauled. Commonly used and rarely used abilities were almost completely redone. This was probably to force players to try different builds and make the gameplay feel fresh. While I initially found myself discouraged to use my Barbarian after this change, I gave it a shot and started messing with the skills and passive skills I had active on him and before long I was enjoying my playtime with him. Throughout the majority of my Diablo playtime I have played as a Demon Hunter. I didn’t have a hard time finding a new build that suited my play style on that character, though that could be due to my experience with it being a lot greater. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph the gear that is worn will affect the builds of all players. This is a great way to keep the game fresh because just when someone might be getting bored with their character, they could find one piece of gear that will have them respec which can lead to drastic play-style changes. In my personal experience, since I started RoS, I have changed my Demon Hunter’s build at least 10 times since starting the expansion and expect to continue to change it.
For those familiar with the paragon leveling system from Diablo III, it has been refined in which, I believe is an upgrade to what was around before. There are now 4 categories: Offense, Defense, Core, and Utility. Each with 4 options to choose from to put a paragon point into. There is no limit to how many paragon levels a player can get but most of the options have a limited point allocation. For example, a Demon Hunter can put 50 points into Maximum Hatred which at max points will give the demon hunter 25 more Hatred (2 points per 1 Hatred). The two options that can receive unlimited points are Vitality and the primary attribute for the character class; example, Dexterity for Demon Hunter and Monk. The paragon system provides that sense of always moving forward. Along with a refined paragon system pools of reflection have been added to the game. They award bonus experience equal to a certain amount of experience needed for the next paragon level, as well as 25% increased experience per kill. The bonus experience can be stacked; however, dying will cancel this bonus. The player will not lose the experience points already obtained.
Professions received an upgrade as well. New gems are available as well as new blacksmith plans including several legendary plans. There is a new profession called Enchanting which will be incredibly important for casual and hardcore players alike. With enchanting, any item can have a single stat on it changed out for a limited option of other stats. Dexterity can be replaced with strength, intelligence, vitality, etc. Certain skill boosts can be traded out as well. It is a gambling system so expect to try multiple times for the perfect enchantment and expect to pay a lot of gold and materials (especially for legendary items). Transmogrification is a nice addition to the game. Letting players customize the appearance of their character for only the cost of gold (so far 50,000 gold is the maximum required).
The difficulty system has been tweaked and works, in my opinion, better than the original system. The difficulty can be changed on the fly now too, without the need to exit the game. Instead of Normal, Hard, Nightmare, and Inferno, the new system has Normal, Hard, Expert, Master, and six (6); that’s right six (6), Torment difficulties. Each difficulty increase offers more gold per kill and experience points. When Torment difficulty is reached, new legendary items become available and more chances at legendary drops become available. There is no requirement to beat the game before opening a new difficulty, except Torment. The game must be completed once before that option is available.
Last but certainly not least in importance is the addition of ACT V, Adventure Mode. Probably the meat of the expansion comes from these new additions. Everything else compliments and enhances the game but an expansion is about new content and ACT V and Adventure Mode IS Diablo III RoS’s new content. ACT V revolves around Malthael (the Angel of Death) stealing the Black Soulstone and using it for; I won’t spoil it so I will not say anymore. Needless to say, it is time for the Nephalem to track down and stop Malthael. Act V takes place in the new area Westmarch, which presents a gloomier tone than the other Acts from Diablo III. Despite being gloomier, the color palate used is still impressive; just used in a different manner. Act V does a great job of switching up the environment when the current one becomes stale. The enemies are varied and all have different strengths that must be learned in order to deal with them properly. Cursed Chest events have been added to all acts and Adventure Mode as well. These events involve dispatching enemies under a time limit in order to earn the rewards held within the chest. This is a nice addition and they are always worth trying to complete. Act V does leave the door open for future expansions so it will be interesting to see what comes next. I was annoyed with the fact that the amazing cinematic scenes that blizzard is known for are almost unheard of in RoS. The only one I can recall is the one at the beginning of Act V.
Adventure mode is the real star of RoS, providing endless replay value. There are two things in adventure mode, Bounties and Nephalem Rifts. Bounties range from killing bosses or rare monsters, to clearing random dungeons or completing quests from the act in which the bounties are in. Nephalem Rifts are opened after obtaining 5 rift keystone fragments which are awarded for completing bounties. Within the rifts players are required to kill a set number of enemies in order to spawn the rift boss. I have been told, yet have not read myself, that the legendary item drop rate is higher within rifts. Together bounties and rifts make up Adventure Mode entirely. I have found myself playing nothing but adventure mode since I beat Act V. While there are reasons to replay the campaign, Adventure Mode is the fastest way to rake in the legendary items, and to gear up your character the quickest.
Reaper of Souls brings Diablo III back to what makes these games so great, find better loot! I never feel like I am wasting time playing the game because there is always something beneficial coming from playing, whether it is leveling up, obtaining gold (which is more important than ever), or actually finding legendary items. The only problem I have with Reaper of Souls is that most of the improvements with the game SHOULD have been standard when Diablo III first came out. RoS is my go to PC game right now. If I am on a computer odds are I am playing Diablo III. Now if you will excuse me, I have a rift to complete.
Score 9.3 / 10
Experience with Reaper of Souls: Approximately 40 hours of playing Reaper of Souls, with most of the time spent on Adventure Mode and Torment I difficulty playing with up to as many as 4 people. The majority of my time playing was spent on a Demon Hunter or Barbarian.