Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Review – Fun, But Not That Different

Diablo 3’s Reaper of Souls expansion adds a lot to the game, but it actually changes very little.

Despite its troubled launch, Diablo 3 was still one of the best selling games of 2012, with more than 10 million copies sold in its first three months on the market. Since then, it’s undergone ups and downs, from its director stepping down to the removal of the in-game auction house. With all of its problems, many have given up on Diablo 3 altogether. Now with the Reaper of Souls expansion, Blizzard is hoping to bring those players back to the game with the promise of new content, but is it enough to get the job done?

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls
Platform: PC (Reviewed), Mac
Developer: Blizzard
Publisher: Blizzard
Release Date: March 25, 2014
MSRP: $39.99
Available: Battle.net

Death comes for us all

As we’ve all heard in the trailers, “No one can escape death.” Uttered by Malthael, the expansion’s titular big bad guy, it becomes almost a mantra by the time you’ve finished Reaper of Souls’ campaign. I won’t spoil the story here, but suffice to say that you’ll have no doubts about how Malthael feels about death by the time you’re through. Much like all the evil lords of hell in the core game, he can’t help but pop up every now and then to remind you that he’s evil, and you’re doomed. It gets rather tiresome.

In fact, that’s the case for all of the Reaper of Souls campaign. Just like in Diablo 3, the story isn’t well-delivered. Instead, it’s told mostly in cutscenes that vary little from character to character, and ignored in most of the actual gameplay, unless you count the flashing yellow arrow on the minimap. While Blizzard’s cinematics are as wonderful as ever, their quality can’t distract from the generic nature of the story, or from the painfully obvious twist at the end.

But let’s face it — no one is playing Diablo for its grand story and overarching plots. They’re playing it for one thing: the epic loot.

Loot 2.0

Any discussion of loot in Reaper of Souls should really begin with the patch that preceded its launch, and the removal of the much-maligned Real Money Auction House (RMAH). In its place came a new system, dubbed, “Loot 2.0.” Basically, this new system adjusted the drop rate of items so that items drop less frequently, but those that do drop are of higher quality. They are also more likely to have higher bonuses and more useful properties attached to them.

But the patch was about more than just loot. It also included a major reworking of the Paragon level system, removing the previous cap and making Paragon levels account-wide. The game’s difficulty system was revamped to adjust all monsters to the player’s level, and then difficulty settings ramp up the challenge from that point.

Additionally, this patch also introduced events centered around cursed shrines and chests. When you encounter one of these in the world, it kicks off an event that requires you to survive numerous waves of enemies. If you do so, you’re rewarded with gold and experience, as well as the ability to open the chest or use the shrine normally. Beat the event before the timer expires, and you’ll get a bonus chest as well.

What all these changes boil down to is a revamping of the loot system in the wake of the removal of the RMAH. Weapons are more likely to line up with your character’s needs, and your chances of getting the occasional amazing item are much higher now. That’s a must since gearing up through the auction house is no longer possible.

Another addition that makes gear much easier to deal with is the Mystic. This NPC pops up during the campaign, and eventually sets up shop in town. While the blacksmith a and the jeweler are still there for you to craft with, the Mystic allows you to remove and reassign one stat on a rare or higher quality piece of gear.

This isn’t a process that you’ll use on every piece of gear, but it’s nice to be able to swap out the one bonus you don’t need for something you really do. The reassigned stat is always random, allowing you to pick between three random choices. While this was probably necessary, it can be downright frustrating at times, especially if you’re trying to get a specific stat for your class.

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4 Comments on Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Review – Fun, But Not That Different

jerm1974

On March 28, 2014 at 6:00 am

ROS is boring and shallow.

It feels like it was intended to become short, so that if you want to play with a little more content or features, then you will have to pay (or purchase) another of blizzard product again. A subscription style of playability just like WOW.

Dan Miller

On March 28, 2014 at 8:42 am

Diablo 2 being one of my favorite games of all time, I could write a 12 page essay on it and it’s sequel. But I’ll go with the short version: Diablo 3 could never be, and shouldn’t (from a game design perspective) ever have tried to be Diablo 2. Diablo 2 was a 7.5 when it started and it didn’t get to a 10 until probably a year after the expansion came out, 4 years or so into the game’s life. I played 100 hours back when D3 came out, got frustrated by the end game loot grind wall, and left. I’m back and 4 hours in to the crusader, yet to even touch the new act, and it feels completely refreshed. Loot is unbelievably changed, the rote difficulty progression structure is gone, and I can cast blessed hammer again. These are very promising signs of progress in primarily a philosophical way – the developers no longer believe D3 must be D2. It can be its own game. No more grinding through 3 difficulty levels to reach end game content, no more grinding through runs to find items to put on an exchange to indirectly improve your character, vestiges of D3′s unnecessary homage to D2. I see infinitely more potential in this version of the game.

Bartus

On April 1, 2014 at 12:21 pm

My all friends tell me Diablo RoS is great so maybe I will start to play on. Looks good.

Ricardo

On May 12, 2014 at 5:14 am

Its not all about epic loot the game world matters. no immersion. nothing like the church themed suspense in the original. nothing creepy no foes too difficult. adding a x1000% hp buff isnt hard its stupid. What do you do when you have all the gear in the game? Quit? a cartoon game.