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Will Reaper of Souls Be Enough to Revitalize Diablo 3?

Diablo 3 was met with a somewhat mixed reception on its original release. Could a new expansion be what the game needs?

News by Pete Davison, .

Update: Don't miss our full review of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls on PC here.

I enjoyed Diablo 3, but it didn't change my life, and there were more than a few problems that prevented the experience being what it could have been.

This isn't going to turn into a lengthy rant about "always-on" DRM, however. I was one of the people who actually quite liked Diablo 3's quasi-MMO nature, through which you could chat with other friends playing the game even if you weren't actually in the same play session. The system had its flaws, of course -- lack of offline play was a dealbreaker for those who travel a lot and like to play on the go, while for me the segregation between my native European servers and the American servers where most (though, frustratingly, not all) of my friends were made playing with others more frustrating than it really needed to be.

For me, though, the problem with Diablo 3 was not so much with its online infrastructure, but with the fact it got quite dull quite quickly. Once I'd finished the storyline once with one character, I felt no real urge to charge through it again with another, and no compulsion to play through again on a harder difficulty level. I had a bit of fun playing with the permadeath "Hardcore" mode, but even that lost its appeal somewhat by not getting even a little bit challenging until your second loop through the game content.

Obviously my experience doesn't represent everyone, but I noted a lot of other people in my friendship group tailing off similarly quickly. A lot of players from the community complained of the lack of a satisfying "endgame," while others retorted that the game wasn't really an MMO and consequently didn't need an endgame. Both had a point; from the perspective of accurately positioning what Diablo 3 both was and wasn't, the game was a disaster, with seemingly no-one able to agree on exactly what sort of experience players should expect from it. Doubtless there are still some people playing today, but I certainly haven't touched it for a very long time now, and wasn't anticipating going back any time soon.

That said, this morning's announcement at Gamescom of a new expansion pack was worthy of note. While it doesn't address some of the player base's more serious concerns -- there's seemingly still no option for offline play, for example -- it does at least sound as if it will give the game a certain degree more longevity than it had at launch, particularly for high-level players. Specifically, it addresses the "endgame" complaints directly.

Let's talk specifics, then. Reaper of Souls, as the new expansion is called, raises the game's level cap to 70; introduces a whole new Act in which you battle against Malthael, the Angel of Death; and, perhaps most notably, brings in a new character class. The Crusader is described as a "mid-range melee character" comparable to Diablo 2's Paladin class. His skills include the ever-reliable Shield Bash, along with holy spells that rain damage from above.

The increased level cap means that all classes have new skills and runes to acquire, and even once you get there and/or are done with the story, a revamped endgame system provides plenty of things for high-level characters to do. For example, the Paragon level system, whereby you'd continue to earn stat bonuses and enhanced Gold and Magic Find skills even after hitting the level cap, has been tweaked -- now Paragon levels are global to your account rather than individual characters, and there's no cap. The most notable addition to endgame content is the Loot Run system, whereby a completely randomized 15-20 minute dungeon is generated, allowing players to battle their way through a variety of different enemies in the hope of scoring some better gear.

Talking of loot, the item drop system has been revamped, too. On the whole, the new system means that loot drops less frequently, but is more likely to be directly helpful to your character. A new mechanic called Smart Drops apparently tweaks stats according to the character you're playing -- a change seemingly brought over from the upcoming rebalanced console version. To put the changes in perspective, vanilla Diablo 3's Act 3 would previously drop, on average, 256 common items, 399 blue, 275 yellow and one legendary. In Reaper of Souls it could be 73 commons, 266 blues and 83 yellow items, but with a greater chance of them being Smart Drops that will more directly benefit your character. Not only that, but there'll be more legendary items on offer, with each providing the potential to shake up your character build significantly.

Blizzard did not, however, mention anything about the game's auction house system, which many have accused of unbalancing the game significantly -- after all, why should you rely on random loot drops when you can simply purchase super-effective items with minimal effort? It sounds as if the new "Loot 2.0" system, as it's called, is designed to make in-game drops a lot more meaningful, but this will have little meaning if the auction house is still flooded. This particular aspect is something we won't be able to see the effect of until after the expansion launches -- but given that this is what drove a lot of people away from the game in the first place, how likely is it that those players will come back?

On the whole, Reaper of Souls sounds like it will be a substantial expansion to the base Diablo 3 experience, and it certainly looks like Blizzard has made an effort to address a lot of the most common complaints about the game. However, I find myself wondering if this is too little, too late; even with these changes, I honestly don't see myself going back any time soon due to the simple fact that too many other games that I like more have come out since then. I might feel differently if I had been playing Diablo 3 constantly for this whole period, but as a "lapsed" player who tired of the experience before I'd finished my second playthrough, I'm not sure there's enough here to tempt me.

How about you lot? Any hardcore Diablo 3 players among you? Do the changes in the expansion satisfy you, or have you already moved on?

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Comments 17

  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #1 renatocosta90 3 years ago
    Short answer, no. I guess the opening paragraph summarises very well my experience with the game: I enjoyed Diablo 3 (playing with a group of friends over a call on skype was fine and dandy up till inferno), but it didn't change my life. I guess the joke was on me, because I was seriously expecting it to trumph the atemporal Diablo 2.
    The issues with balancing, story, constant hotfixes murking more things than correcting it, always-online requirement (and internet in my country is usually iffy at best), and the worst part, the lack of actual randomization in every aspect/act/dungeon of the game. Slogging with a char once was clearly enough.
    To sum it up, it was fun while it lasted, especially with a tight-knit group of friends. But, unless you are a diehard blizzard fan, there's little reason to go back to it.

    Also, what about the PvP?
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  • Avatar for YaMoBeThere #2 YaMoBeThere 3 years ago
    Blizzard can give me a free copy as reparations and I might consider playing it, but they aren't going to fool me out of my money twice.
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  • Avatar for CkRtech #3 CkRtech 3 years ago
    I played Diablo 3 from May to June 2012 and then dropped it until January 2013.

    I checked in for 5 minutes with the release of 1.0.4 and 1.0.5, but it didn't hold my attention.

    I started playing again in January after my brother-in-law showed me uber bosses and the ability to craft a Hellfire ring with the drops. It was something "to do" in D3.

    I've been playing almost daily ever since. Paragon leveling, loot farming, ring crafting, etc has kept it interesting. In addition, I know quite a few people that still play it on a regular basis. This also makes a difference.

    I look forward to the expansion. If you haven't played it in awhile, give it another try - you already own it, and patching it is free.
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  • Avatar for RoninChaos #4 RoninChaos 3 years ago
    Kinda feels like these fixes for current Diablo III players may be too little too late, but I'd like to point out that D2 wasn't nearly as good as it was until it's expansion came out. I hope Blizzard can "right the ship" so-to-speak, because the core of Diablo III is fun. The new people they have in charge seem to be really listening to the problems people have had and hopefully this,combined with the paragon levels and things like that will make the game much more compelling.
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  • Avatar for TurboPlace #5 TurboPlace 3 years ago
    i have been reading some reviews and the expension looks quite good http://reaperofsoulsguide.com/news/reaper-souls-preview-part-1/ don't know if you guys share the same enthusiasm.. but i think i'm going to enjoy the game.
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  • Avatar for cerbul13 #6 cerbul13 3 years ago
    The AH is the main reason I gave up on the game. The simple existence of a form for buying items, implies that the loot that comes from drops will FORCE you to a grind fest, or will give you the alternative to go buy from AH. In other words, unless you are really lucky you will have to go buy stuff from AH.
    I am not going to pay for progress items, and the alternative is just as dark as it was before: grinding an act for weeks until I get lucky enough to get a nicer drop to improve my gear.

    If you enjoy grinding mindlessly for weeks on the same act in order to become strong enough to financially sustain yourself in the next act, then you are just fueling the AH existence. And you won't see me there, trust me...
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  • Avatar for jeffhill32 #7 jeffhill32 2 years ago
    @renatocosta90 From my perspective the best game yet was Diablo 1. I still go back to it and play it from time to time. It had the best treasure system of them all and the the best random game experience. I would love it if Diablo 1 were put back out with upgraded graphics and multi player fixed with the same game play. Diablo 2 and 3 became more of a story adventure and less of an awesome game to play. When you died in Diablo 1 and had to go back to get your loot that was epic.

    Just saying.
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  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #8 renatocosta90 2 years ago
    @jeffhill32 wow, hi jeff. I was a bit confused to see the timestamp on this post a bit, haha.

    Man, I tried to play Diablo 1 again sometime after playing D3, and it was still as great as I remembered. I just don't seem to have enough time for it anymore though. It would be nice to see a re-release, someday or another.

    Also, the Souls series might be your cup of tea, if you haven't played them. The games are really great.
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