When Diablo III was released back in 2012, I, like six million others, purchased it during its launch week. Although I had some doubts about the game, mainly the need to always be connected to the internet, my desire to slaughter Diablo and collect some badass loot along the way won out and I picked up the game just days after release. My euphoria for Diablo III quickly eroded and I found myself playing Torchlight 2 in a matter of months. Despite my early disappointment, I picked up Reaper of Souls hoping that it could bring me the Diablo experience that I had originally expected.
Although my early time with Diablo III was a positive experience, I began to feel a bit underwhelmed with the game as I began my second playthrough. The first playthrough in the original D3 was good because players could complete it while relying on the equipment that dropped from the hordes of demons. Later playthroughs were not nearly as nice, though. As I embarked upon my second and third playthroughs, it became painfully obvious that it was expected that I would spend my hard earned gold on items in the Auction House or suffer the consequences. Loot that matched my Barbarian’s level was usually exclusive to one of the other classes, or gave bonus skill points to stats other than strength or vitality. This all added up to make the early Diablo III experience more about bargain hunting on the Auction House than feeling exhilarated when that a legendary item dropped from a boss.
This all changed in February of this year when Blizzard released the 2.0.1 patch for Diablo III. This patch was loaded with changes to prepare D3 for the Reaper of Souls expansion, but one of the biggest changes was the update to the loot system. Dubbed Loot 2.0, this new system stressed quality over quantity when it comes to loot drops. Along with loot being of better quality, Loot 2.0 also increased the chance that loot will be tailored to the player’s class. These changes rendered the Auction House largely obsolete, so Blizzard officially closed it down in March, just a week before Reaper of Souls was released. On its own, the 2.0.1 patch fixed many of the issues that plagued Diablo III since release, giving people a reason to dive back in just in time for the launch of RoS.
Reaper of Souls picks up where the 2.0.1 patch left off and focuses, as it should, on adding a bunch of content to Diablo III. Besides the Crusader class, a level cap increase, and addition skills being added, Reaper of Souls also has a fifth act for the campaign that picks up right where the story of Diablo III left off. While the story for the new act fits in with the rest of D3‘s campaign, it is much more than a story extension. The new areas are just as big as the areas in the earlier acts but what caught my attention the most was the amount of content they had. A big complaint that I had with the campaign of Diablo III was the lack of sidequests, but Blizzard has remedied that in Act V as each door to a new area is an entrance to a new sidequest.
While the additional act is nice, the real action in Reaper of Souls comes in the form of Adventure Mode. Adventure Mode, which unlocks after Act V’s completion, gives Diablo III legitimate post-game content. Adventure Mode unlocks every waypoint across the game world and strips out the story content. The focus in this mode is completing randomized quests, known as Bounties, that involve killing unique monsters, clearing dungeons, or completing an event. Gold and experience are awarded for completing a Bounty, but the real prize comes in the form of Rift Keystones. Rift Keystones unlock Nephalem Rifts, randomized dungeons that take around fifteen minutes to complete. Each Nephalem Rift is populated with unique enemies and bosses. Completing a Nephalem Rift rewards players with a satisfying pile of loot and kicks them back to adventure mode to complete more Bounties so that they can open another Rift.
The last feature that Reaper of Souls brings is a new artisan, a mystic known as Myriam Jahzia. Myriam was originally planned to be included in the initial release of Diablo III before being removed because her abilities at the time were seen as redundant. Given new life in RoS, the Mystic is responsible for enchanting and transmogrifying equipment. Transmogrifying allows players to change the look of their equipment, but not the function. Enchanting allows players, for a price, to reroll one of the properties of their gear. Only one property on each piece of equipment may be rerolled, but it can be done repeatedly with each reroll costing more than the last. The Mystic gives players the opportunity to accept the new property or to keep the old one, however, choosing to keep the gear as is still costs the same as choosing to change the property. Both of these abilities will be familiar to WoW players, and Blizzard was wise to bring them to Diablo III.
Between the 2.0.1 patch and the release of Reaper of Souls, Diablo III feels like a brand new game. This is not the same game that I ditched for Torchlight 2 a few months after its release. Adventure Mode is the stand-out component of Reaper of Souls because it makes the post-game of D3 more than just re-running the campaign on higher difficulties. It also made my experience with Act V more enjoyable because I knew that I did not have to replay it multiple times in my hunt for epic loot. Reaper of Souls is absolutely fabulous expansion to Diablo III and, along with the patch, should entice other people who were disappointed with Diablo III to give the game another shot because everything is awesome now.