The Diablo franchise from Blizzard has probably been one of my longest love affairs in gaming, having played Diablo 1 and Diablo 2 for a large majority of my youth. That being said, a little part of me died two years ago when Diablo 3 was originally launched, as it was (and still is in my eyes) one of the worst game launches of all time.
Terrible loot, a pretty awful story line and an almost impossible “Inferno” difficulty was what greeted the players as well as the properly despised “real-money auctionhouse”, which let players sell items for real money. This cess pool of fail soon became too much for fans of the franchise around the world, many of whom like me quickly lost interest and left the game to rot in a cupboard.
It is two years down the line however, and Blizzard have actually been the better man and admitted that they know they released a terrible game, and have tried their very best to fix it. Thus Diablo 3 2.0 was born a few weeks before the release of Reaper of Souls, and things got changed considerably for the better.
Not only was the difficulty system completely reworked, but a brand new loot system, “Loot v2.0”, made sure that you were getting items that were useful to your character, as well as legendary items on a much more frequent basis than the past.
The new difficulty system now lets you decide how difficult you want the game to be, and goes all the way from “easy” to the hardest difficulty, “torment”, which has six levels of difficulty in itself. Playing on the harder difficulties has its own rewards such as bonus experience and a better chance to get better gear, but can also get incredibly challenging as you enter the utter echelons.
I recently put together a small video showing off what they changed in Diablo 3 v2.0 before Reaper of Souls, which you can watch here:
All the recent changes and new systems put in place for Diablo 3 made me incredibly hopefully for Reaper of Souls, as I am an RPG junkie at heart, and the game finally felt like it was in the right place.
The expansion for Diablo 3 introduces an all new class, the Crusader, who feels much like the Paladin in Diablo 2, and even has some of the Paladin’s spells from that game. You also have a new level cap of 70 instead of 60, which can be accomplished by playing through Reaper of Souls campaign once over.
The first problem I have with the Reaper of Souls is the price tag. Diablo 3 v2.0 and all the benefits come without the need to have the expansion, so all in all you’re paying between R400 to R450 for an extra Act, the Crusader class and Adventure mode, which is a heavy price tag, considering the amount of content you actually get.
As for the story itself, Reaper of Souls is the first expansion in the history of Diablo that takes place in a proper city, and is by far the most citizens we have seen in a starting town. As for the story itself there were almost no surprises along the way, but it does well to tie up some loose ends left from the original game.
The best part of Reaper of Souls for me in terms of story-line were actually the companion quests, as they at the very least invoked some emotional response from their stories, whether it is laugher, mystery or sadness.
The boss fights were pretty forgettable for the most part, and felt like World of Warcraft raid bosses every time. Once you have figured out the limited phases of each boss your life soon becomes easy, and you should have no problem bringing down Malthael in no time at all.
Where a single Act won’t provide much in the terms of replayability, the new adventure mode does well to make up for that fact, and is a large portion of why I think Reaper of Souls will be such a success. Adventure mode allows you to either do certain parts of the story-line or a randomised dungeon for loot, each with its own little quests and events which provide experience and gear.
This lets you and your friends adventure for hours on end for no “real purpose” as such other than that of murdering demons and pillaging treasures, which is what the essence of Diablo has always been.
Reaper of Souls has a full orchestral soundtrack, but I do feel that the power of the orchestra was not used at all in the orchestration. Multiple times during Reaper of Souls the soundtrack was just a single augmented or diminished chord held for extreme periods of time while slowly getting louder, in what could only be called a lazy attempt to build suspense (for a good example, see Ravel’s Bolero, which uses the same idea effectively), and as a musician, nearly drove me to distraction while playing the game.
The rest of the soundtrack however is often filled with melodies and hints of themes past (eventually when visiting places we have seen before), and can be hauntingly beautiful at times.
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls will ultimately be a success, but not on the back of its story. Luckily for the game there are multiple redeeming factors such as Adventure Mode, which help keep the franchise from stooping into darkness once more.
Score: 7 / 10
If you would like to see my playthrough of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, feel free to watch below and subscribe to my YouTube channel: