Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is Blizzard’s long-awaited expansion for Diablo III. It smoothes out the experience for PC gamers much like the console version did last year and adds a wealth of content and gameplay enhancements along the way. Those who view this expansion as nothing more than a new Act to play would be wrong – Reaper of Souls redefines the entire Diablo III experience.
It may not be entirely fair to attribute this redefinition solely to Reaper of Souls, as the game had already received a large amount of patches over the past two years that tweaked the core experience and just mere weeks ago Blizzard did away with the oft-discussed Auction House. The fact that the console version’s director has also moved on to supervise the entire Diablo III experience gave us a good hint into where the entire franchise was going, now culminating in the experience that is Reaper of Souls.
For people who grew up with the Diablo franchise and love its single player experience, the biggest deal here is the fifth story act, which picks up right where the original game left off. Aside from a few exceptions, the story, backdrops and enemies all feel familiar, yet with a fresh coat of paint that makes it very much worth your time. The campaign’s length is comparable to that of the already existing ones, so as a full add-on package Reaper of Souls does fall a little short of the mark for its price. However, there’s a lot more under the hood that makes the experience very much worth your money.
Aside from offering a new act, Blizzard also offers us gameplay dynamics that breathe new life into the core game experience. The recently released patch that rewrites the rules for loot acquisition is a major factor here – one that returns Diablo to its roots as a loot-gathering slash-fest. With the new update, rare and precious items have become much less rare and the opportunities to swap around with your inventory items are once again paramount. Knowing what you’re heading into and subsequently changing your weapons of choice was always a strong point for Diablo games, but Diablo III reduced this effect due to the loot system and auction house dynamics having been changed. The recent patch is a major and very welcome change to the Diablo III experience, and replaces moments of frustration with that ellusive “one more go!”-sensation when your hero bites the dust.
Besides the new act, Reaper of Souls also introduces a brand new (yet familiar feeling) character class in the Crusader. A more noble version of the Barbarian, the Crusader doesn’t just offer you the option to go head first into battle, but also provides opportunities for much more balanced gameplay styles that can switch between offensive and defensive modes. After you complete the storyline you can also go back and explore the new ‘adventure mode’, which is great for those who have fallen in love with the new loot system. Adventure modes throws you back into the acts you’ve already played, but gives you new loot for completing set tasks – usually killing a boss character or a number of other enemies – you’ll encounter new (random) dungeons and a wealth of new items, enriching the experience beyond what the main campaign offers.
Because of the additions above, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls can be considered a must-have expansion (or upgrade?) for Diablo III owners. Of course there will be those who will argue that some of the changes should have been part of the original game, but we’re not going to let that stop us from enjoying Reaper of Souls and starting out Diablo III campaign all over again.