Aug 27, 2014

[Games] Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (PS3)

So I totally fell in love with the PS3 port of Diablo III when it came out given what a delightful console experience it is. And for a guy who has played most of the games in the Dynasty Warriors series because of a love of games with local co-op options, the entry of Diablo III into the market turned out to be a most welcome one.

And now Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is finally out for consoles, typically packaged in what they're calling the Ultimate Evil Edition that comes bundled with the original game. Even before the release of the PS3 version, I was pretty curious as to how they'd release this expansion. The easy route would have been to just focus on some sort of massive DLC update that would bring the game up to speed. But I'm kind of glad how they implemented the physical version of the game.

The decision to bundle the expansion with the original game though just shows that the added content wasn't exactly all that significant in terms of disc usage and such. But it's still a heck of a lot of fun and what it seems to lack in terms of added story it makes up for in added gameplay.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is the expansion for Diablo III, continuing the story right after you defeat Diablo at the end of the main game. This segment of the Blizzard Entertainment game has been released for both the PS3 and the PS4 along with the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One.

The game adds a fifth Act to the whole adventure and you can continue the game using your previous characters from the main game. The story takes place after the defeat of Diablo and Tyrael recovers the Black Soulstone and tries to hide it away from all with the help of the Horadrim. They attempt to seal it away in the tomb of Rakkis, first king of Westmarch, but are attacked by Malthael, former Archangel of Wisdom. Mathael had disappeared after the destruction of the Worldstone in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction and is  now a self-proclaimed Angel of Death. The game has the Nephalem (this being the player character) try and stop Malthael before he can accomplish whatever dark designs he has on the world of Sanctuary.

As is the case with Diablo expansions, this segment of the game offers a new Act in the story and a new character to play through things. The Diablo II expansion gave us the Assassin and the Druid. In this case, Reaper of Souls gives us the Crusader. On the surface the Crusader seems like a bit of a rehash of the Paladin from the second game. But in truth, he's a pretty intimidating character that really shows he's primarily strength-based in design more than anything else. And while many aspects of his design are defensive in nature, he makes for quite the tank given his high block rating.

The game also adds a new Adventure Mode that players can explore after the main Campaign. This pretty much lets you travel around the world as you see fit and fighting random monsters or taking on particular Bounties as sort of mini-missions. The game also adds the Mystic to the various shops in town where the Mystic can change a property of a piece of equipment or change its appearance. And crafting for both items and jewels were made a lot easier with the removal of all those books and pages that were severely limiting crafting progress.

More than those changes, there were a lot of tweaks to the overall system that rather dramatically change the game. Apart from tweaks to skills and available runes (including a 4th Passive Skill slot), the game also raises the level cap from 60 to 70 and completely removes the old Normal-Nightmare-Hell-Inferno difficulty levels. Now monsters dynamically adapt to the levels of the players and a 10-tier difficult system allows you to increase the level of challenge in exchange for better items or higher experience point earnings. They also changed the Paragon level system to be Account-wide versus the original character-specific design of the original game. This means that bonuses earned by a higher character can indirectly help lower tier characters later on.

Needless to say, all these changes radically alter the game in a great way and make for a pretty different game experience that I'm pretty happy about. I think the only quirk that weirds me out is the dynamic item sorting mechanism added to local co-op (same screen) multiplayer where items automatically jump to the character more likely to benefit. Combined with item drops that have a higher chance of benefiting the players specific classes, that means you'll a sort of swiping animation zipping back and forth across the screen as you play as the game tries to match items with the player who can most benefit.

I wish they had added more depth of story to the game - Act V feels painfully short and it isn't before long before you'll find yourself back at the character selection screen wondering what the heck happened. It was a decent enough addition to things, but it certainly didn't feel quite as polished as the rest of the game. But on the whole, it's still a brilliant play experience that makes for a lot of fun.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is a great expansion for the franchise mainly for the gameplay changes. Depending on your console, I'm pretty sure that this is still a great purchase and probably more valuable if you don't own the main game. This expansion gets a good 4.5 fallen angels out of a possible 5.

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