Review: Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls Is The Game We Initially Deserved
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls transforms Diablo III into the game it should have been when it launched two years ago.
- Worth The Time?Now, with all of these changes, incredibly so.
- Things LovedThe new act is dark and brooding. Malthael is easily the best Diablo villain to date. Lengthy addition to the story. Adventure Mode gives you a reason to never stop playing. New difficulties make the game more rewarding and challenging. New Loot 2.0 system makes looting more fun and less frustrating. The Crusader is fun to play and an interesting defensive addition. Rekindled my love for Diablo.
- Things HatedYou have to pay for it. The game is still plagued by online issues. What the hell was that ending exactly?
- RecommendationFor fans looking for a way to make Diablo III the game it should have been two years ago, Reaper of Souls is the answer. Granted, it's an expensive method of making an initially expensive game worth playing again, but the amount of content justifies the price of admission.
- Name: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
- Genre: Action RPG
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Online
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: R379.00
- Reviewed On: PC
Diablo III was a massive let-down. I personally sat eagerly at my desk on the night of launch, faced with the inevitable Error 37 screen for the remaining nights of the week. After getting on, Diablo III was a watered down, stale experience that did little to reward those who chose to invest hundreds of hours into it’s dungeon crawling gameplay. It was too easy, the story was too predictable, and there was no reason to stay for the long run. The good news is that Reaper of Souls takes all of these gripes and literally hands them to the master of death. A darker, more brooding tale, more reasons to stay behind after the credits have rolled and an extremely exciting new class, Reaper of Souls transforms Diablo III into the game fans originally deserved, making the entire experience fresh and engrossing once again.
As you’d expect with an expansion, Reaper of Souls adds an entirely new chapter to the tale of Diablo III, taking place after Diablo had once again been trapped within the Black Soulstone. Tyrael and the rest of the Angels are attempting to hide the stone once and for all (because that will ever happen) only to be stopped in their tracks by the embodiment of Death itself, Malthael. The former Angel turned walking specter is the main villain of Act V, and in Malthael Blizzard have finally crafted a villain that the Diablo series can be proud of. He’s intimidating, tragic and imposing throughout the entirety of Act V, making you fear for the very first time that things will simply not end well. He plunges the city of Westmarch into utter chaos in his quest to end the Eternal Conflict, and the final encounter will leave you in awe of his physical dominance. In other words, you’ll die. A lot.
Act V manages to rectify most of what fans disliked about the entire Diablo III campaign. Gone are the colourful palettes and near rainbows aesthetics, replaced with a thick atmosphere filled with hopelessness and dread. Civilians run away down burning streets, in fear of being turned into deathless reapers. Westmarch is plunged into civil unrest during the attack, leading to a not too interesting but otherwise appropriate revolution tale that takes place underneath. Watching the politics at work while one person is attempting to end all life as Sanctuary knows it is interesting to see unfold, and the dark, brooding atmosphere just adds to it perfectly. Streets are dark, filled to the brim with piles of corpses. You’ll feel like the world is sick, and that exactly what a Diablo title should feel like.
The really good news is that Act V only acts as a prequel to the real meat that Reaper of Souls brings to the table. When you’re done with the five hour campaign, Diablo III really opens up with Adventure Mode. Gone are the difficulty levels of old which required you to storm through the story in order to unlock the next tier. Instead, monsters scale to your level and you have the option to make the game more challenging in exchange for faster experience gain, gold and something called demonic shards. These elements come into play during Adventure Mode, which basically gives Diablo III the endgame it well and truly deserved nearly two years ago.
In Adventure Mode you take on bounties, which are spread across all the regions you have already visited during the main campaign. Each area has a specific task for you to complete, such as defeating a boss again or clearing an entire level of a dungeon of creatures. Completing these tasks rewards you with two very important items. Demonic Shards are used to purchase random equipment from a new merchant, which also scales to your level and could even produce a Legendary. The second is a Nephalem Rift Keys, which open up something that Diablo III was sorely lacking: loot runs. Collecting enough Keys will allow you to open up a Nephalem Rift in town, transporting you to a randomised dungeon that will keep you coming back for more.
These Rifts, or Loot Runs as they will probably be better recognised as, combine enemies and environments from all five Acts, creating more dynamics for players to adjust and adapt to. These long dungeons could take anything within the region of 30 minutes to complete, always ending with a massive creature fight at the end, which almost always results in the drop of a Legendary item. In these Rifts lies the endgame that Diablo III so desperately needed. The Paragon system worked, but Nephalem Rifts are essentially an extension of that idea. Players who have a capped character want to log on, hit up a dungeon, run through it and get rewarded with some kick ass loot all within the space of an hour. This is what Adventure mode offers. Again and again and again.
Reaper of Souls also introduces a brand new Artisan into the mix, which changes things up for those looking to mess around with their high level gear. The Mystic essentially has two different functions. Firstly she can change a piece of equipment’s appearance to something else, allowing you to customise the look of your character without compromising on damage and toughness stats. It’s a neat little addition that helps you connect with your character more, for a small fee of course. However the real draw of the Mystic is her ability to take one special attribute of a weapon and change it forever. Should you pick up a Rare or Legendary that suits all your needs bar one attribute, the Mystic should be your first stop. Those savvier with the maths of Diablo could even choose to re-roll an attribute they actually need in the hopes of something better, but once you choose to change a specific attribute the others are locked in forever. A bit of a risk for greater reward system that could keep the looting madness engrossing for a little while longer.
Also new to Diablo thanks to this expansion is a brand new class for players to engage with. The Crusader may look the Barbarian part, but his offensive and heavy emphasis on defensive abilities set him apart immediately. The Crusader brings with him a host of holistic attacks, and once again reminds you of the importance of a shield in battle. A lot of his abilities require either a shield, or sometimes a two-handed weapon, and while playing as a Crusader I found myself holding on top a few primary weapons in case I desperately needed to change abilities for any particular fight. The Crusader’s defensive abilities are more effective when playing with a party, but make no mistake that he/she can definitely pack a punch while playing alone. The Crusaders style of gameplay was immediately different, and made the experience of starting a new character extremely fun. If you couple that with the new difficulty modes, the Crusader makes a strong case for you to jump into the campaign again, just so that you can tackle Adventure Mode with him later.
Of course, Diablo III has seen various changes as well that don’t require Reaper of Souls over the last few months that definitely add to the entire experience. Loot 2.0 revamps the entire looting system within Diablo, letting you discover loot that is more suitable for the class you’re playing, and increasing the chance of Legendary drops. For instance, my entire first story run of Diablo III produced not a single Legendary piece of loot. Within the first ten minutes of Reaper of Souls, I already had two. That’s not to say they continuously spawn to the point where finding a Legendary is no longer an exciting event, but rather now I know I’ll get one in every two or so hours of play. The downside is that Diablo III now overloads you with loot, forcing me to travel back to town far too often. But hey, it’s far better than the system Blizzard had going when the Auction House was still up.
Another extremely welcome change, as mentioned above, is the inclusion of difficulties that can now be changed at anytime. Enemies scale according to your level, but you can make the game more challenging for yourself by ramping up the difficulty. In exchange, you’ll gain experience at a faster rate, pick up more gold and find better loot, enticing you to take on the armies of hell with a little bit of a handicap against you. Sadly though, a lot of the same issues persist as well. Diablo III still requires a constant online connection, and there were a few nights where the game was literally unplayable due to server errors. This also meant that when my internet was messing around just slightly, the game became a nightmare to play, as we already have a pretty high ping to start off with. It would have been amazing for Blizzard to finally take the game completely offline, and I still hope that day comes.
But ultimately, Reaper of Souls is definitely something Diablo fans should look into. Granted, we’re being forced to pay for more content, as well as content that should have been in Diablo in the first place, but with Blizzard promising that Adventure Mode would eventually make its way into regular Diablo III there really is no reason to get upset. However, you’d be missing out on a really good new Act if you choose not to pick Reaper of Souls anytime soon, as well as the chance to replay once again as a new, very interesting class. Adventure Mode really is the biggest draw, so it will really be up to you to decide whether that demands a purchase now or whether you’ll play the waiting game. As it stands, Reaper of Souls is pricey, but it rekindled my love for Diablo III completely. That alone is worth the price of admission.