Thoughts on Reaper of Souls

Note: I only touch briefly on the changes in Patch 2.0 (e.g., the new Paragon system, etc.). Read my other post about that stuff.

Up until the last month, (as KYT likes to point out) I was a pretty big detractor of Diablo 3. I actually enjoyed the game at launch, even up to Inferno. I enjoyed the auction house game. But at a certain point, after hours of farming and grinding, I just got sick and tired of it all. The barrier to progressing your character was far too high, when gear upgrades cost millions of gold more than I was able (or willing) to farm in a reasonable amount of time. With the taste of aluminum and ash in my mouth, I swore off D3. Even after they introduced the first Paragon system, Monster Power and other attempts to right the capsizing ship that was the D3 endgame, I still refused to go back. Once bitten and all that.

I am happy to say that Reaper of Souls and Loot 2.0 have changed my outlook on Diablo 3. No, the game isn’t perfect now, and it doesn’t offer everything you wished for in an ARPG, but so much has changed that it’s difficult not to respect the effort.

Act V Review (Spoiler-free!):

Everyone knows that the story of Diablo 3 is generally pretty atrocious. Act I is a reasonable, plausible effort in telling a decent story, and Act II still tries to hold on despite the onset of Cliched Villain syndrome. Acts III and IV, however, are where the story just crumbles under its own inanity. Azmodan and Diablo sound like they were reading off the exact same script, and even though the set pieces looked great, the story generally failed to convey the epic-ness that was intended for you.

Act V succeeds in providing that epic feeling that was missing in the original game. Traveling through the locales in Act V shows how dire the threat of Malthael actually is. The side quests are all, in some way, connected to the events of the story. There is one set piece fight before the final area of the game that was an absolute joy for me to behold. Let’s just say it’s not who you’re fighting, but where. It is clearly evident that someone new was in charge of creating Act V, as it immerses the player in a way the game hasn’t done since Act I.

One of the best decisions they made was getting their villains to shut the fuck up. I was more pumped for fighting Malthael than any other boss because everything about Act V pointed to how much of a badass he was. The ambience of Act V demonstrates that yeah, he’s a big deal. He doesn’t need to talk when his actions speak for themselves.

Also about the bosses: the fights are awesome. The first boss you fight was the most fun I’ve had since fighting Belial on pre-nerf Inferno (where you would get one-shotted by any single attack). The second boss is impressively creepy in design. And you already know how awesome Malthael’s character design is, so it’s no surprise it’s a treat to take him on.

I went through all the dialogue options for all the NPCs, and I enjoyed them thoroughly. Some NPCs will offer side quests to further their storylines, and I HIGHLY SUGGEST you do this. It only adds more gameplay, and you finally get to reach the conclusions of their stories (Shen’s is especially well done).

Advice: Keep an eye out for easter eggs. There are a few unique bosses that have pretty clever names, and there are definitely throwbacks to earlier Diablo games.

End Game review:

The new difficulty scaling system adds some welcome flexibility to the leveling experience. Being a reasonably geared Demon Hunter from Loot 2.0, I found 61-63 to be a cakewalk on Torment I. Things changed quite quickly from 64-67, where I had to scale down to Master, and then down to Expert for the final levels. For anyone who hasn’t played Act V, I would suggest not underestimating the difficulty.

The new and improved end game begins once you hit 70 and start Adventure Mode. I personally feel it’s only worth it to start no earlier than 70 as any Legendary items you get won’t become obsolete due to level.

One of the biggest problems with the original endgame was that to farm and grind, you just ran one area over and over again. Adventure Mode solves this issue by having you jump from area to area in search of bounty quests. The new map system makes this seamless and quick, and each bounty run – five quests in any given act – takes about half an hour. The Horadric Cache they dangle in front of you for each completed run is a great incentive and always exciting to open.

Speaking of exciting: I have been behaviourally conditioned to GO NUTS whenever a Legendary drops. That distinct “CHANK” sound, that GLORIOUS! beam of orange light – oh my goodness. That experience sums up why I enjoy farming for new gear in RoS. They drop often enough to keep you playing, but are not so common that they de-value the “Legendary” experience. And let’s face it, you will get shitty Legendaries, but you can always salvage them for the Mystic’s item property re-rolls (more on that later).

Things I’d Change:

Ease up the money sinks:

The merchant costs are incredibly steep right now. Removing gems from items, enchanting new properties and crafting new gems require a ton of gold. Unless you’re farming on Torment 1+, I can’t see anyone sustaining their bank account when it costs 100k to empty the gems from one of your items, especially now that gold is untradeable. Make these costs slightly cheaper, and we’ll be in the right place.

Make Smart Loot slightly smarter:

As a Demon Hunter, I’ve gotten Legendary drops that were 2-handed melee weapons. I get that I have a Barbarian on my account, but a 2-handed axe with dexterity, while technically a useable item, isn’t really helping most people. Don’t get me wrong: more often than not I get very usable items for my characters. It just sucks that every so often you get an item that none of your characters can use. Cry me a river, I know.

Revise sockets in weapons:

Socketed weapons are the king of itemization. The bonus of slamming an emerald (crit damage bonus) in your main hander impacts your DPS more than any other single upgrade. We are basically at the point where you’ll likely never consider a main hander without a socket. And when the enchanting costs of gambling for a socket are so expensive and the odds so low, it leaves a lot of people between a rock and hard place when it comes to getting a truly powerful weapon.

Either make sockets easier to acquire, or lower the crit damage bonus from emeralds, since I can’t really see anyone using any other gem in that slot.

I mean, that’s pretty much it. RoS is still Diablo 3 at its core, so there’s a good chance you won’t like RoS if you didn’t like the original game. But after about a week in, I haven’t gotten bored of it yet – and I still have two other characters to upgrade to 70.

Advice: Make new characters! You’ll get more fun out of the game as a whole that way.

That’s it. Reaper of Souls is fun. It fixes a lot of problems I had, which I respect.  Is it $40 fun? it just might surprise you.

P.S. My character profile for the brags: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/profile/Derfington-1876/hero/36746265

 

 

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