Can Reaper of Souls Save Diablo 3?

Diablo 3 wasn’t the success Blizzard — or its fans — hoped for. But Diablo 2 didn’t hit its stride until its expansion, Lord of Destruction. Could the same be true for Diablo 3? The first of two planned expansions, Reaper of Souls, was revealed at Gamescom last week. While many former fans of the series have written the third installment off long ago, those who stuck with it over the past year know that Blizzard has been actively working to improve the game. The Diablo 3 of today is a better game than on release day, but if it is to have the longevity of Diablo 2, a lot more work needs to be done.

New Game Director Josh Mosqueira, taking over the role from Jay Wilson, seems to have a keen eye for what’s wrong with Diablo 3. The game has a few critical issues that still plague it; here’s how Reaper of Souls may resolve them.

End-game? What end-game?

In today’s age of MMORPGs, end-game content is key to longevity. While Blizzard has added some content since Diablo 3′s release in an attempt to stop the ship from sinking, it was but a temporary fix. Paragon levels, Hellfire rings… they kept players busy for a time, but ultimately, they were just distractions from the fact that Diablo 3 has no solid end-game.

The fix?

Coming to Diablo 3 is a new “Loot Run” game mode which sets players on a 15-20 minute crawl through a completely randomized, multi-tiered dungeon, featuring random enemies and a random boss or two.

Other new end-game content includes “Nephalem Trials,” which can be accessed through portals located around the world. Increasingly difficult waves of enemies will spawn — perhaps reminiscent of Diablo 2′s Baal runs — and the reward for surviving the trials will be Resplendent Chests.

Furthermore, the Paragon system is receiving a complete overhaul. Rather than a per-character leveling system, Paragon will become account-wide. Each level will give players the choice of how to allocate Paragon bonuses across their characters, allowing for a degree of stat customization that otherwise doesn’t exist.

The new Paragon system will offer a more meaningful grind, and the Loot Run and Nephalem Trials add a greater variety of end-game activities, which Diablo 3 desperately needs.

Oh, great. Another dumb Legendary drop.

Loot drops in Diablo 3 simply aren’t rewarding. After filling your stash with items on a typical loot run, you return to town, identify them…and end up selling them all to a vendor as junk, or breaking them down into crafting materials. There is hardly any thrill in finding a Legendary or Set item, because in the back of your mind, you know that the odds of it rolling stats that make it worth anything are so remote that you have a greater chance of someone joining your game and giving you a free item upgrade. When the first thing that comes to mind when the most unique and interesting items in a game drop is, “great, more crafting materials,” something is wrong.

The fix?

Reaper of Soul’s “Loot 2.0″ system promises fewer overall drops, but more Legendary drops. This means sifting through less garbage, which is appreciated, but doesn’t solve the problem in and of itself.

Included in Loot 2.0 is a “smart drop” system which gives each dropped item a chance to roll affixes that are keyed to the class currently being played. This will increase the likelihood of actually finding an upgrade outside of the Auction House.

The expansion will also re-introduce The Mystic, an artisan who was cut from Diablo 3 before release. She will allow players to re-roll their choice of affix on a given Rare or Legendary item, a process that binds the item to the player’s account.

While these changes will make players less dependent on the Auction House, they may not be drastic enough to shake things up. Observing how these changes play out in beta will be telling.

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9 Comments on Can Reaper of Souls Save Diablo 3?

Row

On August 29, 2013 at 9:43 pm

The itemization changes, and especially the new legendaries, sound promising. It’s not clear that they will work as intended, though. The new legendaries are actually “3.0″, since there has already been a massive overhaul in one of the earlier patches, with the result of making them either 1) useless as before or 2) best-in-slot gear…

Derek

On August 29, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I wouldn’t come back to that disappointment of a game unless one of two things happened. They release real PvP, like the 4v4 arena they were showing off back in 2010. Or Blizzard reverses their asinine decision to not offer the console version changes to PC players. I would like to play from my couch with an xbox controller please. When are game companies going to realize that many PC gamers prefer using gamepads for some games?

Psh, F D3. I honestly have had more fun playing Path of Exile, Marvel Heroes, and even Van Helsing.

quicktooth

On August 30, 2013 at 12:33 am

The changes they should make are ones of plot, character, and charm. Make the game charming but gothic, and you’ll have many of us back in droves. No matter how well rendered, the floaty, half-hearted and dream-like style Diablo 3 has taken just has no impact. Warcraft 2 did weight and satisfaction (to attacks, to character designs, etc) much much better than Diablo 3. Diablo 2 did it better too. No prizes as to guessing what Diablo 1 achieved. Polish your characters more Blizzard. Polish your moves; both in effectiveness (as you seem to say you are now doing), and in animation and sound. Make us CARE that we used a move. Remember Doom had guns that *felt* fantastic, and still do, all these years later. Doom had only about eight “moves” a character could perform *ever*- and it was enough. So do that. If you can make more moves than that for each character (or powers/skills if you want those labels), great. Just make us CARE again.

The teaser video you showed was a nice return to form; though filled with plot holes. Brit, betrayal, archangels, horadrim, desperate actions at the last minute. Excellent! Just for God’s sake fix your plot- don’t just throw elements that we cared about before into a soup and hope it works. And the plot holes! There’s simply no reason that the Prime Evil could not have it’s soul stone stored safely in heaven- and the whole trailer showed our favourite Archangel making THE SAME MISTAKE he did before (sealing it on Sanctuary with Horadrim as support)- and he only did it the last time because he was ATTACKED by a fallen angel into doing so. Guys. An archangel isn’t stupid. Then you actually show the (same) plan fail *instantly*, in *exactly the same way* as before. And how is it exactly another angel can fall, after we basically killed everything from hell (no one is left to corrupt anyone)? And how has Cain managed to find apprentices for the first time in all these years (ones instantly powerful enough to contain a Prime Evil no less), when Tyrael (not sure if I spelled that right) clearly hasen’t aged at all since Diablo 3, so no time has passed (no apprentices and no training time)? Urgh. And your broken promise of fun multiplayer STILL rankles after all these years. Not to mention the RMAH debacle (pay to win in the most literal sense).

Don’t attempt to make a thing that APPEARS to be “a Diablo game”. Sit down, take time, and actually MAKE a REAL GAME. Make us care about the characters, their actions (and skills), and the world. Take it seriously- for how else can you expect anyone to spend ninety plus hours on one activity? Make each location new, different and above all *interesting*. Make the game *Gothic* again. Gritty. Solid. Real. Just like Diablo 1 and 2. You supposedly already know how to do this. Even a fan put off immediately like me is still willing to come back. Make it worth our while!

Patches

On August 30, 2013 at 7:16 am

And sell the expansion cheap…

We already spend full price for a disappointing game… Don’t think we’ll dish another 40-60$ just to see if Diablo 3 finally lives up to expectations, or is actually just close to the fun game we’d hope for…

Diablo 3 interest is long past, as new games are now filling (with better results) the genre… It’ll take more than a few trailers and promises to return to the now ‘old’ Diablo 3…

And for crying out loud, put the axe on the AH/RMAH for PCs… Now!…
That would remove one less factor messing with the already poor loot system you’re trying desperately to fix…

kato

On October 10, 2013 at 7:31 am

Just one thing that amazes me still, you mention that playes have a lot of the same gear and runes for end game but how is that any different from D2? Chains of Honor, Enigma, Gore Riders, any of this ringing a bell for people? Exactly the same as D2 im not sure what ppl are complaining about. You look at truly end game characters and you’ll see to solo hell you put stat points in only to use your gear the rest go into health. People can mess up 5 stat points and you will not be able to use end game gear. Tell me how this is any different than D2?

CJ Miozzi

On October 10, 2013 at 9:27 am

@kato:

That’s a great point, however Diablo 3 is worse. And I say this as an active D3 player, not a D3 hater. In D2, there were different builds for every class. Hammerdin, Smitadin, etc. Yes, there were certain optimal builds and skills, but there was more diversity than in D3.

GamerReview

On December 10, 2013 at 5:24 am

@Derek:When are game companies going to realize that many PC gamers prefer using gamepads for some games?
-No not all of them.
@D:They release real PvP, like the 4v4 arena they were showing off back in 2010.
-This will never happen. Bli$$ won’t do anything for players. Only advertises unfinished products. Promises fixes. Then fails again to deliver. Again promises fixes. Story goes on – the only content update of D3
@Patches: We already spend full price for a disappointing game… Don’t think we’ll dish another 40-60$ just to see if Diablo 3 finally lives up to expectations, or is actually just close to the fun game we’d hope for…
-I agree 100%, but again – Bli$$ only thinks with wallet. As beta streams show, there is no real change in game longevity.

To sum up – NOONE in Bli$$ thinks about game longevity, or players and their needs – reading about RoS (watching news related to tests) saved me from spending money on this unfinished thing. It’s a shame people call it a good game, because its a scam. Another way to get your money.
They promised many things in advertisements and now are counting money earned on false advertising.

They have no imagination, ideas. They pee on gamer feedback all day long … still counting money this very moment.

Nope

On December 17, 2013 at 1:21 am

Except they are planning on killing trade all together by making legends BoA, striking yet another blow to their Diablo loyal fanbase.