Loot of All Evil
Evil never seems to be satisfied in the world of Sanctuary. You would think with Diablo gone (for all intents and purposes) things could finally calm down, but there’s always going to be that one guy who wants to stir things up. In Reaper of Souls, Blizzards first expansion for Diablo III, that one guy turns out to be Death himself, Malthael. Reaper of Souls offers up a sizable chunk of content for Diablo III players who are looking to line their loot pouches with new stuff. A new story act, increased level cap, a brand new class, and the new adventure mode are all included, and after spending some time with the expansion, it would be hard not to recommend it.
Before getting into the expansion content, players who haven’t touched Diablo III since launch should know that Blizzard has made some pretty substantial changes just in patches. Probably the biggest change is the revamped loot system dubbed Loot 2.0. This new system drastically alters the loot drops to favor rarer drops that just make your character feel ten times more powerful than before. Drops are now geared more toward the class you are currently playing. Playing the wizard class will produce more drops with intelligence affixations, while playing a demon hunter will net you more dexterity based gear. Difficulties have also been reworked into the following: Normal, Hard, Expert, Master, and Torment, with Torment having its own difficulty slider going from one to six. Going from Normal to higher difficulties will net players more experience and gold, and jumping to Torment will increase the legendary item drop rate. Other minor changes have been applied such as skill rebalancing, Paragon reworking, and new discoverables in the world such as cursed chests and experience pools. All this content can be accessed without Reaper of Souls.
Players looking for high level end-game content will want to look to either Act V or Adventure mode. Act V picks up right where the story of Diablo III leaves off. The souls of Diablo and the other evils are locked away in the Black Soulstone which is in the process of being locked away when it is stolen by Malthael, the game’s version of the Grim Reaper. Why he wants this prison of souls isn’t known, so it’s up to you to retrieve the Soulstone and defeat Malthael. Players will venture through the gothic streets of Westmarch, the bogginess of the Blood Marsh, the labyrinthine corridors of the Tomb of Rakkis, and the wastes of the Realm of Pandemonium. The new act is about as long as other acts in the game, maybe longer. The story is competent enough I suppose, but it’s nothing special, just like the rest of the Diablo storyline in my opinion. The new act does open up with a fantastic cinematic possessing the quality that you come to expect from Blizzard. Along the way players will meet the Mystic, the new “crafter” introduced in Reaper of Souls. She serves two purposes: transmogrification and enchanting. World of Warcraft veterans should already be familiar with transmogrifying items. It involves changing the look of a particular item to look like another item. Enchanting involves rerolling stats on a given item. So if you have an item that you would love to use on your wizard, but it has a strength buff instead of an intelligence buff, you can enchant the item to hopefully get the stat you want. It’s sort of a gamble as you may not want to get the stat you want (and it costs hefty amounts of materials) but if it pays off it can produce crazy powerful items.
But what’s an adventurer to do once Act V is complete? Why go adventuring of course! Reaper of Souls introduces Adventure mode, a new way for players to team up and slay evil and gather loot. Adventure mode unlocks for all characters whenever you finish Act V with any one character on your account. The main draw of this mode is that it doesn’t tie you down to the story mode’s limitations. No set quest line you have to follow, no cutscenes you have to skip, and the entire map of the game is open to you letting you warp wherever you want. Players can choose to participate in Bounties, quest-like objectives that that show up five in an area. Complete all five bounties in an area and you’re rewarded with a cache of items and experience. Then there are the Nephelem Rifts. These are a series of randomly generated maps strewn together that challenge you with enemy after enemy. Defeat enough enemies and the Rift Guardian, the boss of the rift, shows up. Defeat him and you’re rewarded with, you guessed it, loot.
Of course with a Diablo expansion, you expect a new playable class. Reaper of Souls offers up the Crusader, a shield and flail wielding tank who channels holy powers to smite foes. If the barbarian is the offensive “unstoppable force” then the Crusader is the defensive “immovable object”, focusing on maximum armor and blocking. Fans of Diablo II will recognize some of the Crusader’s skills such as the Paladin’s blessed hammer and wielding a two-hander in one hand, a la the D2 Barbarian. Having leveled the Crusader up to level 70, innovative ways to approach combat opened up before me. I found myself thinking of how much damage I could withstand rather than how much damage I could deal out. It was pretty exciting at times seeing my Crusader tank 30 to 40 enemies at once.
It might not seem like a lot of additions at first, but dig deep enough and Reaper of Souls does not disappoint. I would have liked to have seen at least one more character class though, to liven up the variety just a bit, and perhaps just a little bit more content in Act V. If you’re a fan of Diablo and have a lust for loot, then you probably already own this expansion. If not, then do yourself a favor and buy it. The new skills, class, modes, and locations will have you comparing numbers on your gear all night if you’re not careful.