When Blizzard first launched Diablo III it was somewhat of a mixed bag. While it got slated by its fans it was still one of the best selling games of 2012, so an expansion was inevitable.
Enter Diablo III:Reaper of Souls, and only one question remains. Has Blizzard done enough to the bring back the fans and appease for the mistakes of the first release?
Where we will start though is before the release of the expansion with the patch 2.0.1 and the release of what they called “Loot 2.0”. What this means is that these changes are available even if you don’t buy the expansion.
This patch fixed on of the biggest complaints levelled at the game, that there was no reason to keep playing after hitting the level cap. The Paragon system, while an interesting idea, lacked finesse so received a heavy redesign. Gone are the caps and the lock to individual characters, the system is now limitless and account-wide.
But on a personal level it was the changes to the loot generation system that stood out more to me more. To strip it back to the basic change, Items will now drop less often, but when they do they do they will be of a higher quality.
This means it will be more common to find upgrades that interest you again. One other thing they are trying to do is add more ‘build-changing’ elements to legendaries and sets. These include removing costs from certain skills or causing skills to auto-trigger on key events.This returns even more fun to the set building process.
Bringing this back to the expansion then, the story picks up after your defeat of the Prime Evil. Diablo and all the other great evils are all trapped within the black soul-stone, making it a dangerous artefact indeed. So dangerous in fact that Archangel Tyrael, Aspect of Justice has decided it seal it away where it can never be found again.
That plan goes about as well as you might have expected in the world of Sanctuary. While completing the task he gets ambushed by the former Archangel of Wisdom Malthael. Unfortunately he is now referring to himself as the Angel of Death.
It seems that in his twisted way, Malthael has a plan to once and for all end the war between Heaven & Hell. His plan involves using the soul-stone to wipe out all Demons, the problem is that as descendants of Angels & Demons we are also for the chop.
So aside from the continuation of the story and the patch to the broken game-play elements what did they add? Well in that regard they have stuck pretty close to the generic expansion play-book.
So there are all the usual elements you would expect, such as a level cap increase, new top level skills and skill slots, a new artisan to customise your gear and a whole mountain of new items to discover.
There is also a new class to enjoy in the form of the Crusader. A strong defence based class that makes a use of both giant shields and heavy weapons. On top of being able to give them a solid whack on the noggin, they also have a set of holy based spells. The result is a well designed new class that fits into the theme of this expansion.
They have also learnt well from their mistakes in the last release, trying to add more for players to do after the story is complete. To this end they have added ‘Adventure Mode’ which will allow you to complete a series of mini-quests or bounties. Clear this dungeon, hunt down this elite, complete this event, kill this retuned boss – sure you get all of that in the main game but these are more challenging and frantic feeling.
These are set in the 5 main chapters of the game allowing you to re-explore those areas without having to restart the story to do so. They will also allow you access to Nephalem Rifts, which are completely randomised dungeons. These can use graphical styling from multiple zones, making them interesting to explore. Obviously they are also meant to be challenges, which they can be, and have appropriate rewards.
So to wrap this up then and answer the primary question, have they made up for the mistakes of the original game? Well, Yes and No.
Yes, in so much as they did learn a lot of the lessons that they needed to learn. Many of the rough edges have been smoothed over and fine tuned. There has also been a decent amount of new stuff added to give you a reason to keep playing the game.
No, in that the changes, while needed, are incremental fixes and as good as the new content is its nothing new. What also puts the downer on that is the fact that they are charging a full £35 (plus another £20 for the original) rate for it.
To sum it up its not going to completely appease all of the fans that were frustrated by the original but overall this is a competent expansion and Blizzard do earn some points for proving they will still listen and respond to complaints. If you can find a bundle at a decent price it is worth picking up.