Reaper of Souls is the first expansion pack for the controversial Diablo 3. Is the 39.99 purchase price worth your time and money? Lets take a look at what Blizzard's new package has to offer.
Reaper of Souls updates the level cap of Diablo 3 from level 60 to 70. It took me around 8 hours of casual play through Act V to move from level 60 to 70. As you move from level 60 to 70, each class receives one new main skill, new skill options for older skills, and new passive abilities.
The expansion adds the new Crusader class to the mix. The Crusader is like a hybrid between the warrior and a monk classes. There is really nothing ground breaking about the Crusader, I was hoping for something more unique, but it is an acceptable addition to the game.
Act V, the new act provided in Reaper of Souls, is easily the best act of the game. The maps are huge with lots to explore, there are plenty of side quests and new monsters to kill. The boss fights in Act V are by far the best in the campaign. Unfortunately, the story still pretty much sucks, but the atmosphere of the new areas in the act are excellent, and overall, the new act is a quality expansion to the base game.
Reaper of Souls adds a new vendor called the mystic. The mystic allows you to modify one trait of a piece of equipment in exchange for your gold and regents. For example, if you got a great piece of gear, but it gives a bonus to a skill you don't like, the mystic will allow you to change that bonus to a random trait. The mystic also lets you change the look of your items, as you collect legendary equipment, you earn the ability to change other items to look like legendary equipment. Therefore if you need to upgrade your equipment, but like the way your old helmet looked, well now you can take the new helmet to the mystic and change it to look like your old helmet!
The big ticket item of the expansion is adventure mode. Adventure mode lets you jump around the regular campaign maps to complete bounties. These bounties will ask you to complete objectives, such as, defeating one of the campaign bosses, clearing out dungeons, or completing side quests. Upon completing the bounty, you will be rewarded with gold, experience and a token. The goal of adventure mode is to complete enough bounties to obtain enough tokens to open up a rift.
Rifts are randomized maps which you need to defeat a quota of enemies before the rift boss appears. Within rifts, your chances for find rare loot increases, and upon defeating the rift's boss you will be rewarded nice big loot pile, plenty of gold, and a nice experience bonus.
The Rifts are a nice feature, but to create them, it looks like Blizzard has just reused the old maps of the campaign, and jumbled them together to create unique maps for rifts. For the majority of the time, the rift creation seems to work pretty well to create unique environments. Unfortunately, sometimes you can tell your basically just running a campaign map with different background/foreground effects. Rifts add a lot to the game as you do not need to run through the same content over and over, and it breathes much needed life into the playability of Diablo 3.
Reaper of Souls adds a new item called blood shards to the game. You will find and earn blood shards as you play through the new adventure mode. These shards can be cashed in at a vendor for randomized specific equipment. If you are in need for an upgrade for one piece of equipment, you can gamble your shards to get it. That way you don't need to wait forever for it to drop randomly during regular play.
One of my biggest pet peeves is the all too common lag spikes during gameplay. While the lag is not that big of a deal for regular mode characters, I've come close to shitting myself a couple of times due to major lag spikes while playing hardcore mode. I know lag spikes are impossible to remove, but they seem to happen way too often, I don't know if the problem is my internet connection or Blizzard's servers, but I don't seem to have the connection issues I have with Diablo with other games.
Unlike Path of Exile, there isn't much of a competitive edge in Diablo 3. I love how Path of Exile has accessible leader boards and different leagues. It would be nice to see similar functionality added to Diablo 3. Keep an eye on upcoming patches as I think Blizzard is working on this.
Trading is severely limited since the auction house shutdown, but the removal of the action house has greatly improved balance in the loot. The new and interesting loot is a much improved boost to Diablo 3, but I would like to still be able to trade with other players. I guess Blizzard is probably working on game economy issues, and things needed a good hard reset after the closing of the action house. It will be interesting to see if trading is gone forever or if Blizzard will attempt to add it back slowly.
While the new adventure mode is a much needed improvement, I still have to say Torch Light 2 offers a better random map solution then Diablo 3. Torchlight gives you many options on the type of random map you want to play, and allows you to select advantages and disadvantages that allow you to customize challenge and the rewards of the map. Diablo's custom maps are completely random and you are at the mercy of what the game chooses for you, you have no options around the type of map you get at all.
Diablo 3 lacks some key features against the competition, but with its new expansion, and the recent patch 2.0, it is now currently my favourite ARPG. Diablo's graphics, mood, sound, and gameplay hold it above the rest of the pack. Please keep in mind that Diablo 3, plus the Reaper of Souls expansion, is an 80 dollar package. Its main competition, Torchlight 2 can be purchased very cheaply during its frequent sales, and Path of Exile is a free to play game.
Blizzard delivered better loot with their 2.0 patch and Reaper of Souls continues where the patch left off. Dropped equipment is actually unique now, instead of the old basic incremental stat upgrades. For example, there are weapons that can spawn monsters that will temporary fight for you and items that will reward you with rare items for every ten normal items you pick up. These unique items make finding new loot a more rewarding experience. You will need to carefully consider your equipment now instead of just looking at the basic stat values. Since the 2.0 patch, the vast majority of the items that drop will be customized for the class you are playing as, so it is a rare occurrence that loot will drop that is completely useless for your character.
With the patch 2.0 changes, you have full control over the difficulty so you don't have to do brainless slogs through the campaign to unlock each difficulty level. You can pick any difficultly you like at any time. No matter the difficulty, you are always working towards something for your account, so feel free to set it where it is enjoyable and don't sweat it.
With the new adventure mode, patch 2.0 loot and increased paragon levels, there is a lot of content to chew through. I hope the future the addition of latters and leagues will add even more reasons to keep playing.
If you already own Diablo 3, and haven't played since the new patch, give the game another chance. If you like the changes patch 2.0 has made, pick up Reaper of Souls, it is well worth the price of admission.
If you still don't like Diablo 3 after the 2.0 patch, skip it. Reaper of Souls builds off of the 2.0 patch with some new content, but in my opinion, the changes won't win you over if you don't like the game play with the new patch.
If you have not purchased Diablo 3, I would wait for a complete package that includes Reaper of Souls with the base game. Play some Path of Exile or Torchlight 2 and wait for a combination package at a more affordable price. If your comfortable with paying the 80 bucks now, feel free to go nuts, you won't be disappointed!
Diablo 3 has had a bumpy road, but with patch 2.0 and Reaper of Souls, it has smoothed out into an enjoyable game that is deserving of the Diablo name.