Light As A Feather
Diablo III came and went with a whimper. I’ll admit that I was largely unimpressed with Blizzard’s latest Diablo release, and for more reasons than its crappy online DRM scheme and server problems. It just felt like I had been here before was all, like it filled a niche that didn’t need filling anymore. If I wanted old-school top down loot games, there was Torchlight and Torchlight 2 , and their modding communities created enough different classes and extra dungeons to absolutely dwarf the content in Diablo III . Similarly, if I wanted a more modern day loot game there was Borderlands 2 , and if I wanted a multiplayer RPG there were any number of MMOs out there, including Blizzard’s own World of Warcraft . What I was hoping was going to be the break out RPG hit of the season ended up being nothing more than an OK game that diverted my interest for about 20 hours while simultaneously causing some financial scandal what with its real money auction houses.
Now Diablo III ’s expansion pack, Reaper of Souls , has released, and I, along with gamers around the world, am being put into the same position I was when Diablo III first came out. We are all submerged in hype, hoping that Reaper of Souls is going to revolutionize the Diablo experience. However, it once again kind of fills a niche that didn’t need filling anymore. It’s not a whole new game, which is what many of us are expecting when we think “expansion” or “DLC” these days. It’s an old-school style expansion which introduces a couple new system tweaks, classes, items and areas, while still letting the original speak for itself.
As far as story goes, the new act of Reaper of Souls is really more of a side-plot at best. You have killed Diablo (yay!) but now a fallen archangel named Malthael is trying to wipe out all of humanity (boo!) It’s up to you to stop him because… you are basically the only player controller hero I guess.
The story of Reaper of Souls feels dreadfully incomplete. Malthael kind of comes out of left-field and his motivations and actions are really just generic bad guy stuff. His greater important to the Diablo III meta-plot is really only ever glossed over. The conclusion is unsatisfying and feels like it has been intentionally left open for another expansion to come in and finish the tale. If you were looking for an epic finale to the Diablo plot, you won’t find it here.
That being said, the expansion does take you to some interesting new places. The City of Westmarch is appropriately bleak and depressing, burning at one point and crawling with the undead at the next. You’ll trek through plenty of ruins, marshes, and even otherworldly planes of existence, and none of them feel like a retread from the original Diablo III dungeons. As far as presentation goes, it does feel like the team spent a lot of time trying to make Reaper of Souls feel unique.
However, in terms of gameplay, you aren’t going to see much variation here. It’s the same sort of “go to place X, kill thing Y, talk to dude Z” quests that we saw in the original replayed for us all over again. You can speed through the new content in a couple of hours, even less if you have maxed your gear and levels on your first run-through. When you are done with the plot you can take on Adventure Mode, which basically just gives you rapid fire random objectives to keep you traveling the world and murdering to your hearts content. Separate from that, are the Nephalem Rifts, randomized dungeons with an absurd difficulty for anyone looking to truly prove that they are a master of the top down RPG format.
But note that these new additions are really just Skinner Boxes, ways to press more buttons to kill more things, to get more loot. They only hold promise if you are the type of player who enjoys the loot grind in the first place. If you have gotten bored of looking for that next piece of shiny gear which will increase your DPS by just a few more points, then you’ll probably ignore both Adventure Mode and the Nephalem Rifts.
However, the new Loot 2.0 system, which is included in both the original game and the new Reaper of Souls expansion pack, does make grinding less painful if you are into that sort of thing. It feels like worthwhile items drop more consistently now. If you play through the game from the beginning, you’ll discover that you’ll find at least one major new piece of gear for every quest you complete. It makes you feel like you are constantly improving, rather than just selling a bunch of junk for classes you aren’t even interested in playing.
But let’s face it, the real reason most of us will be purchasing Reaper of Souls is because of the game’s new class, the Crusader. An interesting spin on the traditional tank, the Crusader specializes in two things: defense, and area attacks. He wants to get mobbed by the enemy, pulling everyone into range for a blast of heavenly energy. Though I wouldn’t say it’s the most powerful class, I can say that it’s a whole lot of fun. Watching the bodies of enemies explode into pieces all at once. Seeing the battlefield become littered with gold and jewels with the use of just one attack is addicting. Playing the Crusader makes you feel invincible, able to soak up hit after hit after hit from even the most dangerous bosses. He’s a pleasure to play the game with and he does make playing the game from the beginning worthwhile again, which is good because that’s the best way to experience all of Reaper of Souls ’ new content.
We have gotten used to games like Borderlands 2 ’s introducing us to whole new areas and multiple hours of new plot in its DLC packs, or BioShock Infinite ’s DLC expanding on other games in the series and introducing us to new and old characters. Reaper of Souls isn’t like that. It’s really only giving fans of the original a few more toys to play with. Unfortunately, the $40 price of admission weighs heavy on this title, and the sparse new content doesn’t quite justify it. In short, if you weren’t a huge Diablo III fan then Reaper of Souls won’t change your mind. However, if you enjoyed the original then Reaper of Souls adds a new class, several new environments, and a bunch of replay value. Just be warned, the plot isn’t the greatest and you’ll likely have to purchase another expansion in the future to finally see some sort of satisfying conclusion.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
The graphics haven’t changed from the original, and the models of the new enemies and the Crusader are all pretty cool. 4.0 Control
The point and click interface works fine as always and Loot 2.0 makes grinding less of a chore. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice acting of the Crusader is great, but I do have to say the background music of the new areas was largely forgettable. 3.2 Play Value
The price is just a bit to high to justify the amount of content, but it was fun nonetheless. 3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best