Editorial: Blizzard Reaps Our Souls

That's how he keeps his youthful looks.

Malthael can steal the souls of those around him.

This past week at Gamescom Blizzard announced an upcoming expansion for Diablo 3 titled Reaper of Souls. This long awaited expansion adds additional story and a host of new features to keep players entertained for many more hours. Here is what fans can expect from Blizzard:

Story
Diablo 3 had a couple of plot points left unresolved at the conclusion of the game. This expansion focuses on what happened to the black soul stone that still contained the essence of Diablo, and the reappearance of the angle Malthael. Malthael was formerly the Aspect of Wisdom (a position now held by Tyrael), but disappeared with the destruction of the worldstone in the Lord of Destruction expansion for Diablo 2. While attempting to hide the black soul stone from human and angel alike, Tyrael is found by Malthael (now the Aspect of Death), who then proceeds to steal the stone despite the best efforts of Tyrael. It is once again up to the player to set things right, forming the basis for the fifth act of the game.

New class and level cap
Reaper of Souls introduces one new class to the game, the Crusader. This is a reworking of the Paladin from Diablo 2, and shares some feature with class, such as passive abilities that affect the party. While Blizzard have not yet announced how the class is built, it is likely to be a strength user who focuses on melee attacks. A new level cap of 70 will prevent players who have already attained max level from blasting through the new content. These extra ten levels will be filled with extra goodies, as Blizzard have promised new skills, runes, and passive abilities for each class.

Increasing the level cap made some question what would happen to paragon levels that had already been earned. Blizzard was quick to address this by showing off their new paragon system. For each paragon level achieved, a point is awarded to the player which can be spent improving abilities. These are either core stats (such as intelligence), offensive, defensive or utility. What exactly can be improved in the latter three categories is unknown at this point, but as the core abilities can only be improved so far, players will need to put points somewhere else eventually. Blizzard have also removed the ceiling from the paragon levels, so as long as players continue to play, they will never stop improving their characters. The final improvement to the paragon system is that the feature is now account wide. As long as a player has one character at max level, all their characters will benefit from the bonuses.

Expect it to change at least three times before launch.

A preview of the new paragon system was shown during the Blizzard panel at Gamescom.

Loot 2.0
Blizzard have tweaked the loot system to give better drops to the player. While less items overall will be found, the likelihood of a legendary dropping has increased. Rare items and better now have smart drops. This gives a chance that the item will have stats that suit the character it dropped for. Legendary items will change the way a player builds their character,an example of this would be a Wizard’s wand that could allow the player to summon extra hydras. Transmogrification, a successful feature from World of Warcraft, has been brought over to Diablo 3 as well. This allows the player change the appearance of their gear, without sacrificing its stats. This task is performed by an new artisan – the Mystic – who also also has the enchanting skill, allowing players to change an affix on a piece of gear.

Loot runs are being introduced that will give the player short dungeons that last fifteen to twenty minutes. These multi-tiered dungeons can be set in almost any of the environments in the game, and make full use the random room generation. The enemies will also be randomly chosen, as will a boss at the end of the dungeon that the player will need to defeat should they want to escape with all their new loot.

Conclusion
Not only have blizzard given players more content to experience, they have gone some ways to addressing the problems that come with the addition of the auction house. Smart drops will not stop players from posting gear, but hopefully most will choose to wear it especially if they get good rolls from the Mystic. Transmogrification has proved to be a successful feature in World of Warcraft and should continue to be so here. My favourite feature is that the paragon system is now account wide, so when I start a new crusader it will be easier to play though the game with him. We do not yet know when the expansion will launch, but hopefully we will know more at Blizzcon. Who knows, maybe they will even offer it for free to Warcraft subscribers like they did with Diablo 3 two years ago?

Do you own Diablo 3? Would the expansion make you buy the game? What is you favourite feature? Let me know in the comments!

9 comments on “Editorial: Blizzard Reaps Our Souls”

  1. Interesting article, Imitanis.

    I’m pretty excited to be getting back into D3. I found little wrong with the things like the Auction House, especially considering the horrible drops. It was all more the fault of the way items themselves work, as well as how characters level and gain skills. Getting through the pre-patch Inferno difficulty without some help from the Auction House (I’m not talking about the real money auction house, that thing is essentially a non-entity for me and anyone I know) meant you were probably some kind of sadist.

    Paragon levels being made account based is interesting, but I wonder how this will stack with the Hellfire Ring (an account bound ring that has no level requirement and a huge buff to exp earned, among other stats). Because that thing will let you power through the first three difficulties alone, if it rolls well enough. And each paragon level earned can get turned into a point in your core stats? What about gains already earned from those levels? Every paragon level raised your core stats by one, I think, and MF as well.

    And I’m pleased they’re still keeping a close eye on how the loot drops. They’ve begun adding more account bound craftables, and now they’re addressing item relevancy as well as the general shittiness of most legendaries.

    And those loot run dungeons sound AMAZING. I’ve been wanting something like that for a while. Hopefully the rooms in these dungeons are ACTUALLY random, and not mostly preset from a list of, like, 10 potential layouts.

  2. As it stands now, each paragon level increases a characters Magic find and Gold Find by 3%, increases the main stat of the character by three, vitality by two, and all other stats by one.

    The new system will throw that out in favour of increasing the stats that you want. Yes, this will make new characters feel overpowered, but this is the one game that Blizzard doesn’t need to balance everything.

    From the way it sounds, the loot dungeons will be totally random. Story locations had some random elements, but overall needed to follow some kind of structure.

  3. I’m way in on this. I was lukewarm on Diablo 3 at launch, but I’m impressed with the continual tweaking Blizzard has done to the game. I’ll probably just start over with the new class on day one.

  4. I appreciate the tweaking they did, and the game is better for it. But it also just served to show how unfinished the game was upon release. If you just wanted to casually run through a couple difficulties on one or two characters, the game was probably fine. But if you wanted to play with any real dedication there were tons of problems in the end-game.

  5. Spot on assessment. Lord knows they had plenty of time to get Diablo 3 right before it shipped.

  6. They restarted the project a few times, and it was once going to be the next MMO to replace WoW before they realized that was wholly unnecessary. Much of the original team that worked on the early stuff for D3 moved on to make Torchlight and then Torchlight 2.

  7. Is it wrong of me that I want to get this game, but no news of an offline mode, save for that being on the PS3/4, is the only reason why I am not considering getting this game at all?

  8. I’d say that’s fair, imo. I pushed pretty hard against it early on, and I still think it’s a bit silly. But Blizz did a pretty good job justifying the requirement. Though some of this justification smacks of working backwards from wanting to stop piracy, as well as wanting to get a cut of the “black market” item farming that was quite prevalent in previous games, rather than from delivering a better Diablo experience.

  9. I’m interested in playing this when it comes out on PS4. It ought to be its prime version by then. Then, the only thing I will have to worry about is whether or not they’ll be able to make it work well with a controller. Blizzard is a good company, though. I have faith it will control beautifully.

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