By Sam Desatoff
Photo courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment
The PC version of Blizzard Entertainment’s newest installment of the ‘Diablo’ series is now available.
Note: As of this writing, Reaper of Souls is only available for the PC version of Diablo III, not the console versions.
Last year’s launch of “Diablo III” was very much a mixed bag. While the core action-RPG (role playing game) mechanics were solid and enjoyable, the experience was dragged down by a number of poorly implemented systems. For the first expansion, developer Blizzard addressed the vast majority of problems that plagued the game, while adding enough new content to keep players busy. The result is a game that is far more enjoyable and rewarding than it was last year.
Before the official launch of “Reaper of Souls,” Blizzard rolled out a hefty patch aimed squarely at overhauling features most complained about by players. Loot 2.0 introduced the “Smart Drop” system that tailors item drops to the class you are playing. This is a large improvement over the old system that would drop items with completely random stats. Now it is far more likely you will obtain upgrades rather than useless gear.
Blizzard has also removed the auction house from the game, stating that the focus should be on slaying monsters, not on paying gold to become stronger. This, coupled with Loot 2.0, goes a long way in improving the “Diablo III” experience.
“Reaper of Souls” brings new story content in the form of a new act. Act V is longer than the previous four acts and offers plenty of new enemy types, side quests, and inventive boss fights players can tackle on their way to the raised level cap of 70. Like the “Diablo III” story, don’t expect anything mind-blowing in terms of plot, but the new content is enjoyable nonetheless.
After finishing the campaign, a new game mode called “Adventure Mode” is unlocked. Inside, you can go after bounties across all five acts in exchange for rewards. Do enough and you can enter Nephalem Rift, a difficult dungeon with extra tough monsters. The rewards for completing a rift are more substantial than normal dungeons and offer something to do after completing the story.
One of the rewards for completing bounties is blood shards. The shards can be spent on gear of varying levels of rarity – from magic to legendary – with mystery properties. It’s a form of gambling, but the payoffs are laughably poor, making the shards hardly worth your time.
A new artisan – the Mystic – joins the Jeweler and Blacksmith. The Mystic allows you to reroll any stat on an item, which is great for customizing gear to your playstyle. She also grants the ability to change the appearance of some armor and weapons, a purely aesthetic trait, but nice to have for the save of variety.
In the months before “Reaper of Souls” launched, Blizzard spent a lot of time advertising the Crusader. The new playable class has elements of “Diablo II’s Paladin,” but is fresh enough to keep from feeling like a rehash. The Crusader has many area-of-effect skills that make tearing through large groups of enemies very satisfying.
“Diablo III” is not the same game it was when originally released, and that is completely for the better. Thanks to Loot 2.0 and the removal of the auction house, gone is the feeling that the endgame is arduous. If you haven’t played the game since its launch, now is the perfect time to return to sanctuary.
Final Score: 9 of 10