The highly anticipated expansion to Diablo 3 is finally live. Players scrambled to enter act 5 and finally get to experience the new content that they could only experience previously through streams and youtube videos. The question on everyone's mind was whether they would be able to log in or be locked out by errors like Diablo 3's original launch fiasco. To everyone's delight the launch was flawless, players who were logged into the game prior to release weren't even forced to log out, they simply received a message explaining the expansion was live.
Reaper of Souls still aims to scratch the same itches every Diablo game satisfies; the thrill of loot and the ability to continually progress onto new and harder content. The biggest difference is that Blizzard is trying to make you earn your gear through playing the game exclusively, which throws some of the concepts players are familiar with out the window.
Trading has always been synonymous with Diablo since the original and it only intensified with Diablo 2. Diablo 3 became know by many people as a 'buy to win' game as players could simply use real money to buy in game items and become much more powerful than the average player aiming to better themselves through playing the game. Blizzard's removal of the auction house and binding legendary loot to your character eliminates any chances of buying your way to victory. The problem Blizzard faces with this change is that many players considered trading the biggest reason they had to keep playing, whether it was to amass gold, make real money, or trade their way to a perfect character.
Blizzard's answer to the void created by trading's absence was to fill the game with new content and give players satisfying loot they can enchant to eventually achieve the perfect character without the need for trading. Loot 2.0 is designed to make viable gear drop for you. This doesn't mean that every drop is going to be an upgrade but that Wizard's shouldn't be getting gear with Strength and Dexterity on them and the legendary items that drop for them should be able to be equipped by their class. It isn't perfect but it does greatly increase your chance of getting a useful drop.
Outside of better drops the perfect item is more feasible than ever with the introduction of enchanting through the Mystic. The Mystic allows you to remove one of the stats from an item and replace it with a different one. This makes that perfect weapon you found that just didn't have a socket still perfect if you can get the Mystic to roll a socket into it. To gain a primary stat like a socket, you must give up a primary stat so don't think you can give up pick up radius for a socket. You also have to pay for each re-roll with materials and gold, so making that nearly perfect item perfect might not be easy.
The Mystic also allows you to perform transmogrification on your gear, which allows the pieces you are wearing to have the appearance of other legendary items you have found. This makes those worthless but awesome looking items that drop, finally useful instead of heartbreaking.
The expansion packs an entire new act to explore and conquer. Act five takes place in a new land that helps shed light on the lore of the original game. It ties up loose ends left after Diablo 3's conclusion while pushing the player forward in the pursuit of power. The new zones are fun to explore, and have great replay-ability through their dynamic design which makes them feel significantly different with every trip through them. The zones also look great and make you excited to see where the game is going to take you next. In terms of difficulty, the act starts out gentle but can quickly make you second guess your difficulty choice.
After you have completed the entirety of the campaign, you unlock Adventure Mode which allows you to revisit parts of the game with different objectives and goals. It is a great way for Blizzard to recycle content while keeping it feeling fresh and appealing, as you may be in the same zone you played before but have a new reason to be there. One of these bounties asked the player to explore a tunnel and survive a gauntlet of flame turrets while killing monsters and an eventual boss. It was a refreshing change of pace that makes you want to see what the next bounty has to offer. For doing these bounties you are awarded with blood shards and rift shards. Blood shards are handed in for randomized loot while rift shards are handed in to open Nephalem Rifts. Nephalem Rifts are randomized dungeons that require you to fill a bar by killing monsters which will then unlock a boss that you can kill.
The Crusader is Blizzard's new hero and it fills a role that was missed in the game. The Crusader is a melee oriented caster who can be played at nearly any ranged and help other players excel at their roles. Fans of Diablo 2's Paladin will feel right at home with this character as they have similar capabilities without being as overpowered as the Paladin felt in Diablo 2. The Crusader also brings use to shields which were primarily unused as every other class had a superior item in their offhand. Despite wearing a shield and being able to absorb a good amount of damage, Crusaders will likely be more optimal running with at least one other durable character as they do not seem to have as much sustain as other classes offer and due to the synergy they bring to another person who can absorb hits.
Is it Fun?
The initial play-through of act 5 is a blast and diving into Adventure mode after is exhilarating and brings you back to old content from the original game, you thought you would never find fun again, and manages to make you enjoy it. Playing with transmogrification choices and the new crafting helps make your character feel personalized. All in all the expansion packs a lot of fun in where it matters and tries to keep you on your toes with surprising difficulty that doesn't feel as unfair as the original release of Inferno in Diablo 3.
Blizzard had lofty goals for this expansion and succeeded in most of the things they set out to do. Gear is satisfying to earn and there is something to be said about hand crafting your character with gear you found completely on your own. The new act is their best act yet and promises a large amount of replay-ability. The lack of PVP content is still disappointing as the original game had promised it and Blizzard's silence on the subject doesn't help the matter. Without PVP or trading, the end game appeal is questionable. For the foreseeable future creating a character that can kill the uber bosses of the game and down the hardest content will be enough to keep most people's interest and that is fair for a game that doesn't demand a monthly fee or have content gated with micro-transactions.
There has never been a better time to play Diablo 3 and despite a few shortcomings, it's still an incredibly fun game to play. The only question is how long it can hold your attention.
- Great new content
- Manages to make old content fun
- Much Improved replay-ability
- Vastly superior loot system
- New ways to personalize your character
- Lack of new PVP content
- Questionable sustained end game content
- Only one new ability for classic characters
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