[As Read on GIO.]
It’s no new news that Blizzard has pretty much changed just about every aspect of Diablo 3’s original gameplay in favor of updated tweaks to the experience. No surprise then that more players are most likely going to be coming back into the fold after the release of the Reaper of Souls expansion, yet more tweaks to the finicky yet fun gameplay elements and getting rid of a lot of the unnecessary grinding required by some of the more “micro-transactiony” features. There was never any question about Diablo’s gameplay and actual combat or storyline, as though worked just as well or better than in the previous titles, however the majority of what brought the base content down was the auction house and related content. Thankfully, Reaper of Souls implements some similar content without reverting to its old, satanic ways.
Now there are a good number of things to say about the added incentive to band together with your fellow demonslayers and cash in on some significant upgrades and earn rewards for completion of various challenges. The expansion definitely adds onto the appeal of the original game’s content and is much more of a reinvigorating experience than the same old-same old. These elements aren’t the only thing (along with a higher rate of replayability) that have been added to the game’s experience, as there is an entirely new class to play as (Crusader) and fifth act to run through all the way up until the challenging final boss battle. The story doesn’t contribute very much throughout, as that of Diablo 3’s did (by comparison) however it works as is needed and the action of the content speaks for itself.
As Reaper of Souls is of course in all aspects an expansion, it does not take too terribly long to complete it, although there is plenty of content still available once you have done so and completed the entirety of the fifth and so far final act. This act is packed with content- from secret caches to optional hidden locations with plenty of customary loot. The final boss battle itself was actually a lot more challenging than I was expecting, and certainly not a pushover fight in the least- easily more difficult to master than facing Diablo himself. All of these points however are barely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the content that Reaper of Souls brings along with it. Adventure mode alone brings more replayability to the title than ever before, and coupled with both the rifts added in- which I will soon explain, and the bounties collected, with the only prerequisite being completion of Act Five.
The coolest thing about the new Adventure mode is that it simply re-uses the content of the main title but doesn’t feel old or re-used in the slightest. Sure, things seem familiar as they rightly should, however they are presented in a new light and with new, better incentives to complete specific tasks and reach your goals. You unlock chests and caches upon completion of tasks which in turn eventually lead players to the areas known as rifts- literally tears into the underworld of sorts, rife with randomly spawned enemies and generated dungeons. For once, Diablo 3 caters to those of us who don’t always have hours upon hours to play it- allowing instead for players to hop in and take down bounties and rift related challenges for a few minutes or even a couple of hours. Reaper of Souls is a smart and calculating addition to the game and certainly a more worthwhile experience than the whole of the original campaign without it.
Now, if you’re thinking about venturing into rift areas on your own, you’ll want to be careful as they can quickly become more time-consuming than the rest of the expansion. With a decently leveled group of players, you can take down the giant mobs of enemies and the boss inside each of these spontaneously generated zones. Even better? This is Diablo, so you get plenty of gold, experience, and overall loot items from these bosses as well. While playing with groups, players can also swap around items they pick up- so if you get some duplication, fear not it can be traded for something you’ve got your eye on but weren’t able to pick up yourself. Even better than that, you can use one of the collected rift-opening items found in the expansion to get your entire group of warriors inside, so you don’t each need one for one run- cutting down the hassle of grinding.
Reaper of Souls isn’t the only reason that this expansion is pulled off as well- no, the rest of the success can easily be attributed to the changes in the loot system, paragons, and general refinement of class and ability skillsets. The best thing about the additional insight added by the paragon system is that even if you’ve met the cap for leveling with certain characters they can still evolve beyond that, similar almost to Skyrim’s legendary skills and perks system which resets things and adjusts them with the points you’ve earned as you wish. This does also really help as far as spotting legendary items and other rarities go- whereas you’d barely ever encounter them in the original game, in the expansion you’re more “lucky” and able to completely avoid former auction house woes and quick, impulsive cash-ins as well. Thank goodness for that.
Several other core elements of the gameplay have been changed or redone as well. Crafting and cooking up special recipes- legendary or otherwise, have really been revamped as well. All in all, Reaper of Souls is the expansion we all didn’t know that we wanted, or needed, to get the game back and kicking again. Now, once everything is out on consoles, we’ll have a chance to see how it transcribes to there.
Concept: New gameplay modes, new battles, and new, new ways to enjoy yourself in a demon and monster slaying romp through Hell and it’s outer corridors.
Graphics: The overall looks remain the same but most areas looks fresh and even the recycled ones aren’t too much of a killer thing to look at.
Sounds: All of the best, interesting soundwork from the core game makes a return here- whether you’re banging monstrous heads together or picking up a plethora of gold and loot lying around. It sounds good. It feels good. It is good.
Playability: The controls are fairly easy to grasp and the menus easy to glean information from in order to scatter attribute points and assign upgrades as necessary.
Entertainment: Oh yeah- it’s more good stuff. Enjoy it. Embrace it.
Replay Value: High.
Overall Score: 9.25