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There are two things you must know and understand going into this Diablo III: Reaper of Souls review. Number one is that I am not a hardcore player. I don’t take Diablo too seriously. I really enjoy it and I probably spend a little bit too much time playing it. Number 2: I don’t play Hardcore. Meaning I don’t actually make characters with the Hardcore setting. (I think the highest Hardcore character I have is a level 10 I made for a bit of fun.) So, if you want the perspective of a Hardcore player, use your imagination and pretend I’m constantly afraid of dying with my shiny character. That being said, I have tried to dissect and evaluate every aspect of play I could think of, and bring you as many sides to the equation as possible.

I have been on hiatus from the game for a long time, and much has changed since I came back a few days before the release of Reaper of Souls. So, many things will be covered in this that may have been prior updates. I am going to cover these in the hopes that it helps players such as myself who are peeking their heads back in to test the water get a better idea of the state of the game.

Now getting started, I won’t talk about the story in any measure of detail. I will say that I enjoyed it and it was worth the playthrough. If you want to learn more about the story before you purchase, or before you play, check out this official trailer.

As a writer myself, I would rather not chance letting loose a spoiler giving you a basic rundown of the plot. That is something I take rather seriously. Everyone should be able to choose whether or not or how much or little they experience the story for themselves.

The difficulty level is much better than I remember it. Gone are the days of Normal, Nightmare, Hell and Inferno, and gone are the days of Monster Power Level. No more farming Inferno MP1 through 10. Monsters now scale to your level or the level of the player that made the game and you choose a difficulty from Normal, Hard, Expert, Master and Torment. Torment in turn has six levels of difficulty, rounding out to ten total levels available. The difficulty difference between MP10 inferno and Torment Six seems to be substantial. This is great because a more difficult Diablo is a better Diablo.

Diablo was missing something for a long time, and besides the BattleNet friends list, there hasn’t been much in the way of social interaction and organization. The first implementation would be Clans. They are limited to 150 people and have very little incentives outside of being a glorified friends list set in its own category above Recent Players. Perhaps Blizzard is working toward other mechanics. Personally I would like to see clan storage or perhaps a clan goal. For instance: close 200 rifts to earn an epic clan rift, enterable only by members of the clan. Maybe a leaderboard? Something? Anything. Having a way to organize a social group is fantastic, and that is something the game was lacking for a long time, but it still feels like a very basic system that should be iterated on in the future.

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Communities have also been introduced and as far as I can tell, they don’t have a maximum member count, and have their own chat room.

One of the bigger and better improvements to the game has been the loot system. While this was introduced in an update before the Reaper of Souls content was made available, I feel compelled to give an update on it anyway. No more picking up Witchdoctor helmets with Dexterity on your Barbarian. Nearly everything that drops either has your main stat (Dex, Str, Int.) or simply didn’t roll it in the first place. Though I still tend to get a lot of mighty belts on my Wizard. Perhaps the game has a bug in the numbers? Or perhaps I should be playing a Barb. Who the hell knows. The loot system is pretty extensive and the rest of this review will talk about it here and there, since it is relevant throughout.

Let’s talk about Bind on Account for just a moment before we get into the new crafting stuff. Any Legendary item that drops in a group of players is tradeable within that group for two hours. However plans and legendary crafting materials are not tradeable at all. The new gem recipes are also bound in this way. Everything you craft is bound to your account and any item you enchant or transmogrify will also be bound to you. This is both good and bad. Trading has become irrelevant outside of exceptional rare drops. Yet, it makes Legendaries a little more relevant. It means you have to actually go and find these powerful items for yourself instead of finding someone who has one they aren’t using.

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Crafting has taken an interesting turn, though it’s basically the same as it ever was. To craft legendary items you must find the plan, which is also bound to you when you pick it up, and then a special material which only drops from certain specific enemies, or randomly depending on the material. Legendaries also consume two Forgotten Souls, the legendary level material. Every legendary (level 61 or higher) you salvage will give you one of these. The crafted products are also salvageable, so one soul is consumed when you’re all said and done if you don’t keep it. If you do keep it, two souls is a small price to pay for an upgrade.

Speaking of crafting, The Mystic is quite fun and makes gear slightly less frustrating. Especially now, with less emphasis on trading and non-legacy legendaries being automatically bound items, this gives you a chance to redeem something that was close, but not quite. Spend some resources and some gold (the gold cost will increase every time you enchant the same item) and replace one stat and one stat only. Once you have chosen a stat, that is the one that will be replaced, and you cannot restore it without either choosing not to change it, or rolling the same stat again. You cannot revert to choose another stat to re-roll.. It’s a gamble, but invest enough resources and you may wind up with something you can be happy with. Just make sure you’re going to keep the thing for a while or you may end up regretting spending so much effort and resources to simply replace it in a few hours of play.

The Auction House is gone, and with it trading gold. I don’t mind that they disabled gold trading, things need to stabilize and people need to focus on items and enjoying the game rather than currency. I’d like to see it turned back on again, however I’m not sure if they will, even if only a certain amount per day (For example, a daily cap of 5 million.). However one thing is clear, Blizzard saw that their AH was not functioning like it should and they took it down to save the game. (Good on you Blizzard, you go Blizzard.)

The new map is interesting. Instead of picking from a list of checkpoints to port to, you open the map and can port to anywhere, from anywhere. This makes things a lot easier to track, and it also displays which portal to go to next if you’re tracking a quest.

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Adventure Time! No seriously, Adventure mode is a blast. It starts with bounties and there are 5 for each act. Finish a bounty, and have a chance at getting blood shards and rift keystones. Finish the 5 bounties for the act and you get a Horadric Cache, which is quite a decent amount of goodies including keystones. Then there are things called rifts that are like dungeons, you go in, kill enough of the enemies and a boss shows up, kill the boss, get the loot. These rifts yield a high amount of Blood Shards which can be redeemed for gear. They also have a chance at dropping a Forgotten Soul, which can be scarce at times. Kadala, the blood shard vendor, is yet another gamble. However even if you don’t get what you want, you can either salvage them for mats or vendor them for gold, so it’s a win-win no matter what. You can only have up to 500 shards at a time, so it’s better to use them before you max out so you’re not wasting resources or chances at legendary gear (No class specific set legendaries though.)

The Crusader is fairly cool. It’s the first class I’ve found that favors defensiveness. At level 62 or so, I had 3.5 million toughness. Which if you don’t know, it’s quite a bit at that level for most classes. I’m sure someone else’s crusader got higher sooner. Cooldowns seem to be a big thing with Crusaders. Most of their better abilities don’t cost very much Wrath (their resource) but will be on cooldown for quite a while. They have many good passives and have a pretty good kit overall. They’re still new, so many people are fiddling around and trying to find the best way to play them.

Paragon is now account wide and instead of a flat stat bonus, you get points to spend for 4 different categories, each with 4 increases to different aspects of that category. The categories are: Core, Defense, Offense and Utility. It’s not a talent tree, but it’s pretty good for what it is, and when you have enough points it can make a substantial difference. The points are also non-transferrable. If you have 20 points in Core and Defense, you cannot take points out of Defense to invest into Core. I suppose that’s one way to keep it balanced.

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I’m not going to go over the new class specific changes and abilities, as there are too many and I play too few of the classes to give everyone an update.

When Diablo first came out, I was really enjoying playing the game. After a while it became tedious, boring and unbalanced. Blizzard seems to have righted a lot of the wrongs in patch 2.0 and have brought the game back to a semblance of what Diablo 2 was and still is. I have to say, even if you didn’t like vanilla Diablo III and couldn’t stand the game as it was, wait a few months, pick the expansion up on sale and give it a try. You might be surprised with what they have done.

Here’s the Rundown
+ More logical loot system.
+ More social organization tools (Clans, Communities.)
+ Higher difficulties.
+ Removal of the Auction House.
+ Rifts and Bounties! Lots of fun, slightly less grindy.
+ The Crusader – an interesting new class to change things up a bit.
+ Account wide Paragon and Paragon points
- Still repetitive, but not unexpectedly so.
- Clans have no objective system at the moment and might as well be lumped in with communities.
- Trading is a shell of its former self, and Gold trading is disabled. (This is something that was historically an important part of Diablo.)
ripten-rating-8.5

8 and 8.5 represent a game that is a good experience overall. While there may be some issues that prevent it from being fantastic, these scores are for games that you feel would easily be worth a purchase.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls was developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It was released on March 25th, 2014 at the MSRP of $39.99 for the standard edition. Approximately 80 hours were put into the Reaper of Souls expansion itself. A copy was provided by the publisher to RipTen for the purposes of review.