Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Hands-On Preview
I played on both the PS4 and the PC, and in both cases at least one legendary dropped during each playthrough. I suspect that the drop rates were slightly boosted for the purposes of BlizzCon, but such a pattern mirrors the better loot that currently drops on the Xbox 360 and the PS3. It was especially nice to see it on the PC, here stripped of the auction house dependence that has plagued it for so long. (To date, by means of contrast, my level 55 Demon Hunter on the PC has yet to see a legendary drop.) It handled well in both instances, too, and my surprise admiration of playing Diablo III with a gamepad prompted me to ask if we’d ever see gamepad support for the PC.
Looks like no. “Just adding controller support to the PC version wouldn’t really do the game justice because it affects so many integral game systems,” Regier said. “We tweaked things all over the place.” I also took the opportunity to ask about more possible console crossovers, such as whether we’d ever be able to connect our Battle.net accounts to console versions so items such as the BlizzCon banner mods for the PC version could appear on, say, the PS4. “I wouldn’t rule it out,” said Regier.
But regardless of whether we see ever such features, the truth is that Reaper of Souls looks to be a fun romp that shown drown out most of the criticisms of the original. Apart from the scant time I had to sample the new story, the real appeal of attending BlizzCon for Diablo III was the chance to play through the new “Adventure Mode,” a wonderful new addition that lets you play Diablo III on your own terms. Gone, for instance, is the need to suffer through the story four times to play the hardest difficulty; you can jump in at any time as you wish.
Gone, too, is the need to wait until a new playthrough to farm level-appropriate gear for your class from your favorite zones; in Adventure Mode, you click on the subzone you wish to visit from a series of beautiful new maps for the World of Sanctuary, and you’ll find that enemies have scaled to your level. You can just grind if you wish, but the true purpose of Adventure Mode is to complete a series of around four to five bounties scattered around acts for loot, XP, and gold. These features alone sound like enough to make Reaper of Souls the Diablo III many of us have always wanted.
Still, the BlizzCon announcement ceremonies made it sound as though you could access any zone of the game at any time through Adventure Mode, but the reality is more complicated. It seems likely that you could level entirely through Adventure Mode if you wanted, but Blizzard’s still trying to figure out if too much access early on risks too many spoilers. Do you need to play through each level in the campaign to unlock Adventure Mode? If so, can players join their friends in a zone they’ve yet to see in their own playthrough? “We haven’t quite worked out the degree to which we want to gate your entrance into adventure mode,” Love said. “It’s just a detail that we’ll have to announce at a later date.”
But Blizzard had a few more tricks up its sleeves as BlizzCon. Completing the bounties also occasionally rewards you with Rift Keystones, which in turn open new golden portals in town called Nephalem Rifts. Scrapping all of the traditional rules aside, these rifts push Diablo III’s randomness to its very limits. It doesn’t matter if it’s weather, enemies, lighting, or even the setting, you’ll find all utterly randomized once you’re inside and kicking ass. In my own playthrough, I found myself in a rather dull damp tunnel filled with khazra and skeletal knights, but I hear you can even wind up among the rainbows of Whimsyshire doing battle against the demons of Act IV. The dungeons can even go as deep as 10 levels before you find the boss, and they’re stuffed with shrines that provide such godly buffs as +400 damage for 30 seconds.
Such additions make Diablo III a much stronger action RPG than it was upon release, and I believe that what I’ve seen here may be enough to make this my ARPG of choice over worthy contenders like Path of Exile and Torchlight II. Reaper of Souls captures the essence of the genre with its focus on looting and the hunt for new gear, and it spices up the gameplay with a new class that’s arguably more entertaining than the current offerings. Blizzard has at least created a version of Diablo III that’s just as fun to mess around in as it is to play through the story, and as such, I can’t wait to get my hands on it again.