Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls (PC) Review
Posted by Marc Morrison on 04.04.2014
411mania’s Marc Morrison explores new lands and content in this expansion of a largely decent game. See if the added things are improvements or detriments inside.
Title: Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Genre: Action RPG
Rated: M for Mature
When it initially launched, Diablo 3 was pretty split down the middle by critics. While it was, at its core, a good game, several things like the loot system, the auction house, and the lack of end-game content drew the ire of players, including me to a limited degree. Reaper of Souls, the first expansion for Diablo 3 hopes to address these problems with a new loot system, a new playable class (The Crusader), a new act to undertake, and a whole new endless quest mode you can play to your hearts content. Still though, a few issues hold this game back from the slam dunk it is trying to be.
For the two people on the internet who don’t know, Diablo is a point and click action/RPG game where you click around the environment, use skills on enemies and collect a metric ton of loot to upgrade your character to make you more effective, and/or cool looking. You gain experience as you undertake quests and kill the various monsters that you encounter, which gives you levels and new skills or runes (which change a skill’s behavior), to make you more lethal. It’s a tried and true gameplay design that still holds up fairly well even by today’s standards.
The original Diablo 3 was hampered by a lot of issues that went on for a fairly long time. The biggest controversial one was an online auction house, where you could buy gear, gems, and crafting supplies with either in-game gold, or real life money, to outfit your character. Put simply, this broke the gameplay experience of what Diablo should be. The goal of games like this (Torchlight and Van Helsing among them), is that you should be going through the areas and trying to get new gear for yourself. Why bother spending hours killing monsters when you could get a pretty great weapon for $2 in the store? That was the mentality of a lot of auction house patrons.
Well, that system is thankfully gone, Blizzard having put the kibosh on it a few weeks ago. They’ve instead adopted a system called “Loot 2.0”, where loot for your specific character will drop more often, and be more in-tune with your characters needs as they play. You’re not going to get the best weapon in the game with 5 minutes of playing, but you will see more gear for your character drop, that is actually useful, far more often. It gives you an actual incentive to play the game now, because legendary items, or gear set items will drop around every half hour or so (on average), as opposed to the one item, that would only drop in vanilla Diablo 3, that likely wouldn’t be useful for your character.
Along with the expanded loot system though is the new act (Act V), and the Adventure Mode gameplay mode. You have to go through Act V to have it unlock, but you only need do this with one character, and once it’s unlocked, it is across the board. Adventure Mode presents with you “bounties” you have to do, five in each major area of the game. These bounties boil down to either killing a specific named enemy, killing a large number of general enemies, or defending a NPC as they try to do something. When you complete a bounty, you get a Keystone fragment, and a Bloodstone. You can combine five fragments to open a Nephalem Rift, which is a random series of levels you go through, killing enemies. Once enough enemies are slain, the Rift Guardian (an uber enemy) appears and you can kill them for a lot of loot. You use the Bloodstones at a new NPC vendor, where you can buy a piece of randomized gear. The bounties are pretty much a never-ending system for clearing levels, you can do them endlessly to grind out new fragments, and stones. Adventure Mode does eliminate the story beats, and the randomized events during the actual game, but it is a lot of fun to play, especially with multiple people.
The Crusader is the new class and is also fun to use. It’s a bit like the Barbarian, only the Crusader is more adept with one-handed weapons and using a shield. The class focuses on generating wrath during a base attack and then spending the wrath on special abilities which can clear out large numbers of enemies quite easily. It’s a good addition to the class system overall, and echoes what the Paladin was like in Diablo 2.
Overall, these new systems, including a Mystic helper (to reforge/transmog your gear) help to enhance the base game of Diablo 3 by a decent factor. You won’t be playing it endlessly, but thanks to the Adventure system, there is a reason to go back now and clear out more bounties. However, with all this being said, a few problems crop up still.
The first of which is, or the main question I asked myself while playing was “Why aren’t mods allowed in the game?” I kept thinking about Torchlight 2, and how their mod system, and Steam Workshop integration helped to vastly extend the life out of that game. Mods that added new character classes, items, dungeons, pets, etc, all helped to make Torchlight 2 essentially “The Never-Ending Game”. Why doesn’t Diablo 3 have this at all? When the Auction House was active, the argument was that allowing mods would have completely corrupted the experience of the AH, and would have made gear worthless. Well, the AH did that all on its own. But now the AH is gone, but still no mod support is here. I want to see what people could try to create in this game. Even though Act V does add some new environments, the game is predominantly dark and depressing. I’m sick of going through the first four acts of the game, specifically the locales of it all, and trudging through Act 5’s tile sets aren’t any better.
Along with the lack of mod support is still how the online DRM works. To its credit, during this release, Diablo 3 has been fairly stable, no “Error 37” (Servers are busy), or any stuff that plagued the first game. However, that does not mean it is ideal. I encountered numerous lag spikes as I played, normally having around a 100ms ping time, but suddenly jolting to 1600ms+ time, causing the game to hang. My favorite is when this happens during a critical fight, and by the time the game catches up, you’re either near-death, or already dead. This happened around 15 times or so, by my guess. This is the reason you can’t reliably play a Hardcore (permadeath) character, because for me, the second the game lags out, is when my character is gone. Why not do what EA eventually did and release an offline mode for the game? At this point, who cares if the game experience is corrupted, there is nothing really to salvage by having this online DRM system still around.
You can actually get useful loot for your characters now
The Crusader is fun to stomp around with
Adventure Mode helps to extend the banality of the endgame.
Lack of mod support is deeply frustrating
Online lag can be a pain when playing single player
New areas are drab and depressing
Reaper of Souls is a welcome addition to the Diablo 3 game. It’s helped to correct a lot of problems the core game had with better loot systems, more end-game content and a new act for you to explore. While it’s kind of sad that Blizzard “played it safe” with some of the expansions features, the game is still worth trying if you like the experience of monster killing and loot collecting. Now excuse me while I try to farm for a Puzzle Ring and Thunderfury.
The game still looks great, if a little hard to see in certain spots. New enemy designs and color transitions are pretty cool
If not for lag, it’d be higher. But as always, it’s fun to kill monsters and grab gear. With more people, it gets even better
The music is what you would expect, but the voice work remains as top notch as ever.
I really enjoyed playing as the Crusader and the new act has some good bits in it. The rea star is the Adventure Mode
Adventure Mode will keep you occupied, but you’ll eventually get sick of seeing the same areas over and over and over again