I’m not really sure why I stopped playing Diablo III. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with it when I reviewed it two years ago, and never quite understood the hatred it received from the gaming community as a whole, outside of the complaints regarding its dreadful auction house. But one day, I just stopped playing. I don’t really remember why, I just walked away and didn’t pick it back up. However, Blizzard just released Diablo III‘s Reaper of Souls expansion alongside a new “Loot 2.0” patch, and while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it do feel like I’m sitting down to a new experience. I think I’m falling in love all over again.
I can’t start talking about Diablo III: Reaper of Souls without at least touching upon the Loot 2.0 patch. Loot 2.0 (or if you want to be technical, patch 2.0.1) may be enough to win back a lot of players by itself. Paragon levels no longer have a cap, and they’re account wide as opposed to being tied to one character (an absolute godsend for hardcore players). Junk drops have gone down while rare drops have been jacked up, leading to a seemingly constant flow of rare items alongside fairly regular legendary items. On top of all of that, crafting has also been simplified, and there’s even a clan system in place now so you can keep tabs on your friends as you go through.
The two biggest (and best) changes that have taken place as a result of this patch happen to be the complete removal of the auction house system and the retooling of the difficulty levels. You’ll no longer have to trudge through the entire game three times before you can play on “hard mode,” and players willing to take on more of a challenge will be rewarded with more experience and better drops. Diablo has always been a game about grabbing that sweet sweet loot first, and then dispatching demons or whatever else may be holding it as an afterthought, and with this new system there’s a constant flow of gear which reinstates that, “Just one more area” feeling.
The most obvious addition that Diablo III: Reaper of Souls introduces is unquestionably its new Crusader class. The Crusader is as close to the Paladin from Diablo II that we’re likely to get, and really plays as a fantastic tank. It feels like a middle of the road choice for players that are unable to decide between the Monk and the Barbarian. You’ll be capable of doing some great damage (including being able to one hand any two-handed weapon should you choose a specific passive ability) as well as Laws which act as passive buffs for you and your party.
The Crusader is fairly robust, and can easily fit a few different roles. At the time of writing, Crusaders are still the new thing, so I’ve been able to see a myriad of playstyles. I personally took the chance to build a damage-sucking tank, capable of keeping enemies interested in me while letting my colleagues do the heavy lifting, but I saw more than a few offensively-minded players out there doing some decent damage via swirling hammers and bashing shields.
Going forward, the other notable addition is the fifth act, which picks up the story shortly after you finish the main quest line. With Diablo safely handled, Tyrael has hidden the black soulstone deep underground in an attempt to stop all of this from happening again. Malthael, the ex-Archangel of Wisdom, has turned against the Angiris Council and has decided to use the soulstone to stop all war by simply killing everyone off. Honestly, the plot is mediocre at best, but no one really plays action RPGs for their stunning plot lines, so it’s not a real loss.
Act V plays out almost like a “best of,” taking cues from areas and enemies we’ve already seen while adding a unique twist. You’ll see the traditional swamps, towns and graveyards, but all with a slightly updated aesthetic and some unique enemies. It’s nothing that you’ll write home about, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed killing off some of the baddies.
Honestly, the biggest selling point of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is also the part that I was expecting to use the least. The new adventure mode is a glorified grind fest, but it’s done in an absolutely masterful way. Once you’ve finished the main story, you can go back to cut through any of the acts with “bounties” offered for meeting certain tasks. By and large, this pretty much amounts to killing a new boss while occasionally killing a certain amount of enemies beforehand, but you’re absolutely showered in experience and loot in the process. Should you complete all five bounties in a given act, Tyrel will give you a Horadric box that contains, you guessed it, even more loot.
On top of the new goodies, you’ll earn shards that can open up a rift to a random dungeon. This throws you in with even tougher enemies and promises even better loot. I was able to completely re-outfit my level 62 Barbarian in just a few runs, and I’m still finding pieces that I can switch out.
On the negative side, only getting one new class feels like a bit of a tease. I don’t mean to downplay the Crusader, as I think it’s an exceptionally well crafted addition, but so many players have been clamouring for another caster roll or (even better) an updated version of the Necromancer class. When Diablo II released its expansion, two classes were thrown into the mix, so I don’t think this is an unreasonable criticism.
Act V can also feel a bit rushed at times, as it’s trying to fit an entire narrative into a few quests without providing enough room for everything to breathe and really feel impactful. It’s not a major issue, but it has left me wanting as I’ve walked away. However, with that said, my biggest complaint would be the bosses, which are noticeably lacking. In fact, one stands out for just how bland it was, to the point where I wasn’t even sure if I had fought it until after it fell to the ground. It’s just a shame that more attention couldn’t have been placed there.
While the death of the auction house is to be celebrated, we now have a situation where there’s simply no trading. If I find a legendary while you’re in my game, I have an hour to offer it to you before it’s just bound to my account. It’s painful to think that the economy that thrived in Diablo II is gone, but I guess I can take solace that I won’t receive any more random messages reading, “U Sell SOJ?”
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is really what Diablo III should have been in the first place. While later is better than never, I can’t help but wonder why this wasn’t offered at the beginning. Regardless, we finally have what I can say is the finished game, so, if you’re like me and simply fell out of love with the game without really knowing why, this is your chance to come back and fall in love all over again. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls has breathed new life into a dying game, and we owe it to ourselves to enjoy it.
This review is based on the PC version of the game.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls ended up being just what I needed: A high-quality expansion that would compel me to return to (and enjoy) Diablo III again.