In 2012, Diablo III was released to great fanfare. Amid all the rah-rah, was a title that seemed out of place in the modern video gaming. Reviews of the first title was mostly positive, which was largely because most professional game reviewers didn’t put in the effort to actually play the title into the end game extensively. After many hours plugged in, it was apparent that Diablo III was not the game that many gamers were looking for.
There were simply too many issues to address at launch and persisted to some extent till the release of Reaper of Souls. Once again, nostalgia has shown that it can be a cruel bitch.
In typical Blizzard fashion, the company has had the time and resources to fix what the first game lacked at their own leisurely pace across the next 2 years. In that time, we’ve seen the release of other similar Diablo clones such as the terrific Torchlight 2, Path of Exile and The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot, with each title bringing it’s own flavour to the genre. The Diablo brand did not seem that appealing anymore amongst all the alternatives. Fans were no longer keen to stay awhile and listen to Blizzard frequent communicae though the forums. I too left for greener gaming pastures.
Quest for Redemption
In the lead up to the release of Reaper of Souls, Blizzard announced that they were wiping the slate clean – Enter Loot 2.0. Everything that you wanted skill wise and loot wise would be granted to players and more! For a title that was 2 years old, you would rarely see a broken product receive such a huge makeover to the point that Diablo III is now an entirely new game. Starting from scratch with a new character and leveling my Barbarian to 60 gave me the feeling that this was the title and version of Diablo that every fanboy/girl had been waiting all these years. Skills were to dream to swap around with none of that min/max ideal build nonsense, loot was fantastic and it rained down from the Heavens like it was Christmas with every playthrough.
Diablo III, after 2 years, is finally fun.
This was a shrewd move by Blizzard for at this point the only thing I wanted was more and with three weeks of solid grinding and farming at max level, there was only so many Paragon levels that one could earn before it all went stale again. Though equipment upgrades plateaued, the constant urge to seek the next shiny upgrade remained constantly on my mind. Nothing trains positive reinforcement better than hearing the familiar ‘ding’ sound when a Legendary item falls from a seemingly innocuous chest only to reveal that is exactly the item slot your character absolutely needed.
It seemed that with all the flak that Blizzard was given for Diablo III, they were dead serious in setting it right.
The world is in peril…again
Our Nephalem can’t seem to catch a break and instead of facing off with a traditional villain in the form of a demon, the hero crosses swords with an Angel from Heaven. If story is what you had bought Reaper of Souls for, be prepared to be disappointed once again. The expansion has perhaps the weakest of story-telling of all; while it is not rock bottom like Call of Duty, it comes pretty close. The predictable narration feels tacked while punctuated with stellar Blizzard cinematics, which would be the only saving grace.
But, my friends, this is not the reason why you bought Diablo in the first place.
After steamrolling through the campaign, be prepared to experience Diablo without the tedium of resetting quest runs. Adventure mode is a dream come through for all Diablo players. The new mode does not bring anything groundbreaking to the game but it helps provide a platform what we desire from the game – loot and more loot.
Apart from the regular drops by pummeling mobs into submission, completing a quest or bounty within a map rewards you with blood shards that can be used to trade-in for a random item piece for your desired item slot. Complete 5 quests and bounties within a map and players would be rewarded with a Horadric Cache which contains plenty of useful rewards. In addition to clearing a map, players would pick up Rift Keystone Fragments to open portals to grind even more mobs. Sounds even more complicated that it actually is. I’ve spent level 70 grouped up entirely with random players online clearing map after map of bounties and quests. With adventure mode, be prepared to watch the hours melt away. Every single moment of Adventure mode is spent clearing packs of mobs, picking up loot, salvaging the excess, rinse and repeat at an insane breakneck speed.
In addition to the stellar adventure mode, Reaper of Souls includes a brand new Crusader class to give completionists yet another class to hit the max level. Reminiscent of the Paladin class of old, the Crusader does not feel all that original if anything he feels very much like the existing Monk class. I have not been able to dedicate that much attention to the Crusader so I’ll just take it easy with the critique at this juncture. Options to play the class you love is the real beauty of Diablo, there is always a class that will suit your preferred playstyle.
The new active skill (singular) afforded my Barbarian a much needed ability to help out with resource management and has found a dedicated slot on my hotbar. However, conversations with a few other individuals on different classes seem to offer mixed results. The new ability for each class does not really lend much depth to existing gameplay which is a pity considering that would be the next biggest appeal for upgrading from the base game. If you still have yet to upgrade to Reaper of Souls, your existing class mileage may vary.
Keeping the world safe
I wouldn’t consider Diablo III and the Reaper of Souls expansion to be the best attempt by Blizzard but despite my strong criticisms Reaper of Souls is well worthy of plunking money for. Cheaper alternatives might exist out there but they aren’t guaranteed the continued polish that Blizzard will afford to all their titles. While it might have taken two years for Diablo III to reach this stage, I foresee that there will be plenty of value to be derived from this title in the years to come.
Please excuse me once again, I have more demons to slay.