Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls (PC) Review

For those of you who know me, you probably know my love for the Diablo series and how I used to play both Diablo and Diablo II religiously when they first came out. Those games opened my eyes and heart to a whole new genre of games… That genre I will call, Loot porn. Now when Diablo III launched I was excited, hell I was awaiting it’s release ever since the first screenshot came out. And when it did launch, it seemed to me as if Blizzard took the Loot Porn genre and did everything in their power to monetize it. Then came Reaper of Souls.


Reaper of Souls is Diablo III’s first expansion set released in March of 2014, and while the “expansion” only added one act and one class – unlike Diablo II’s Lord Of Destruction which added two classes, an act, and a shit ton of items – it seemed as if the expansion was overpriced for selling at $40 when it packed barely DLC content. Or so it seemed anyway before actually playing Diablo III after a hiatus that lasted months.

The reason I had stopped playing Diablo III was because I honestly am not good at economizing stuff. So I was a level 60 monk with shit gear and barely any gold to buy anything off the auction house. And that seemed to be the first thing Blizzard addressed in their numerous – and might I add, free – game patches they released for Diablo III in preparation for Reaper of Souls. The Auction House and the Real Money Auction House were to be gone, no more can you buy your way to a staggering one million DPS, or get that fabled Horadric Hamburger that – and I shit you not – I witnessed selling for 30 euros. And that was certainly a relieve for someone like me who would count on only the loot they’d get throughout farming the many areas the game offered.

But in farming lied another issue, the loot – again, unlike in Diablo II and Diablo – was next to shit. You would need magic find anywhere between 300% and 400% to have a decent chance at getting decent loot, and some legendaries. So throughout my 120 hour journey with my monk, I accumulated exactly three legendary items through drops. None of which were even okay. And in light of that, Blizzard sought to fix the issue, by bringing forth Loot 2.0 – which is basically fancy for “now you get relevant shit” – and with Loot 2.0 the game dynamic changed 180 degrees. No longer do you need to rely on the auction house for your decent gear, the new loot system has increased legendary drops and items suited to your class. Rarely will you see a wizard only orb while playing as a monk. You’ll always get something relevant, and the drops keep getting better and better the higher the difficulty goes, bringing back how we all loved the notion of the loot porn that is Diablo.

The patches also brought a level cap increase, in both regular levels and Paragon, now you can level up to 70, with some new passive and active skills, along with having the chance to build your character a la Diablo II thanks to the revamped Paragon system. Each paragon level grants you one point to put anywhere you want within a set of 16 choices, some of which include critical chance, life on hit, and elemental resistances. Oh, and the paragon cap has been raised from 100 to 300.

Another game mode also made an appearance, that mode is Adventure mode. Basically it’s what you always did in Diablo, but now it’s acknowledged by Blizzard and you get rewarded for it. Each act within the game has some bounties to get, five to be more specific, distributed among areas Diablo players always frequent anyway to farm. Each bounty gives you an objective or two to accomplish and a boss to defeat, after which you are rewarded with gold, experience and a key fragment. Five key fragments make a rift key that you can use to travel to a weird dimension where it’s a regular Diablo area but with monsters from all over the game. Which opens up the game to a lot more of a varied gameplay, you can get those annoying desert bees that spew out poisonous smaller bees alongside fire spiders. It keeps you on your toes and forces you to keep trying to adapt, which in turn validates Diablo III’s decision in not making skill allocation permanent. In the rift you’ll have to kill every single thing you see until a bar fills up, then a rift boss shows up, after beating said boss, you get rewarded with gold, experience, items aplenty, and blood shards.

Blood Shards are basically a throwback to Diablo II’s gambler, with the blood shards you can purchase items that you don’t know what they’ll be. A one handed weapon costs 15 blood shards for instance, you can get a shit item, or you can get that one legendary that finally gives your character the boost they sorely needed.

The new class, the Crusader, is also a throwback to Diablo II’s Paladin – complete with auras and a hammerdin build -. The Crusader, as a friend described the class, is basically the fun version of the Barbarian. You can dual wield two two handed items, or one two handed item and a shield, you have skills that look so sick – think you riding a carriage chaining enemies and dragging them on the ground as your carriage runs – and you get the awesomeness of playing the character class closest to my personal Diablo II favorite class. Not that that would make much of a difference, but points still.

Before I wrap up this review I would like to point out that Blizzard did one heck of a job rebuilding Diablo III. The fifth act looks grittier than ever, definitely in tune with how Diablo III should have looked like all along. The music is sinister and melancholic to perfectly mirror the ambiance of the new act. And the story, as all Diablo stories before it – and again, personal opinion – is next to crap. Which does neither surprise me, nor turn me off from the expansion. Diablo III Reaper Of Souls was set to rebuild Diablo III and make people want to play it again, and at that it succeeded.

If you’re on the fence about this new expansion, don’t be. While at first glance it may seem like it doesn’t add much, it actually adds a ton of stuff to the game and rejuvenates it (see what I did there?).

Torchlight II (PC) Review

Runic Games have once again proven themselves in the ARPG genre, almost three years after the first Torchlight’s release, Torchlight II saw the light of the day, and has proven that it can go toe to toe with ARPG giants, and even take a few steps ahead. Also, it’s only for $20. Yep.

Let me get this out of the way first, Torchlight II’s story is mediocre at best, yes, even more so than Diablo’s, I know it doesn’t seem possible, but it is, I finished the game, started a new game +  and still couldn’t care enough for any aspect of the story. It starts out with the Alchemist from Torchlight I being corrupt and destroying everything in his wake, you have to stop him, that’s the extent of it. With that out of the way, let’s get as to how Torchlight II actually surpasses Diablo III in many aspects.

While Torchlight II’s graphical prowess isn’t that outstanding, it’s certainly forgiving and merciful to older machines, such as mine, I run a Core 2 Duo 2.6 GHz processor coupled with 4 GBs of DDR2s and a Nvidia 8500GT, which is all ancient to say the least, however I run the game at 60 fps with everything maxed out except for bloom, anti-aliasing, and shadows. It is very true to its roots, the graphics are still the colorful/cartoonish ones you loved in the first Torchlight, and that’s a really nice thing, the one complaint I have about the UI though is the map layer, not the mini map, but when you press “M”, you get a map overlay on your screen, like the one we had in Diablo II and Diablo I, the thing is, it’s too distracting, too detailed for an overlay even.

Soundtrack wise, the game succeeds on a lot of levels, it has a soundtrack reminiscent of Diablo II’s Rogue Encampment which was nothing short of awe inspiring, the voice acting however, well, that sides with the story, almost as mediocre, but has it’s shining moments here and there.

Now for the more important part of the review, the gameplay! I know you all are probably sick with the comparisons of this game to Diablo III, but it’s inevitable, so here we go. You have four classes to choose from, male or female, you have the Outlander, a gun slinger type class, the Embermage, a, well, mage, the Berserker, a fist weapon using (or any other weapons for that matter) DPS intensive character, and my personal favourite, the Engineer, a tanky behemoth using two handed weapons, a one handed weapon and a shield, or a cannon. My character is an Engineer since he was the closest to my Diablo III’s Monk, and I wanted to make as much of a fair comparison as I possibly could. You then choose  between a number of pets who only differ aesthetically, though you are able to change that later in the game through fishing! Each class has a bar above the actions bar that fills whenever you hit an enemy (at least for the Engineer that’s what it did), the Engineer’s is split into five portions, once you fill one, you can use it on your skills to augment them, for example, the Engineer’s starting skill can be augmented by adding explosions to the path of the flames spread from the weapon’s impact.

The game has four difficulties to choose from, along with a hardcore mode, in which death is permanent. The easiest being Casual, and the hardest being Veteran, or Elite, I played on Normal, and I died a few times, sometimes even being one hit by elite trolls. Speaking about Elites, the fame system is still there, up to 33 levels of fame, each one gives you an extra skill point. Elites have random affixes, mostly have just one affix, I haven’t seen any elites with more, not even NG+.

Another thing that makes this game a nice change from Diablo III is the drop rate. The drop rate in Torchlight II is ridiculous! In a good way though, you get rewarded well for the bosses and elites you kill.

Each boss has a golden chest in its room giving you even more loot! The bosses are a lot nicer than Diablo III’s, they use absolutely everything in their arsenal, and not predictably like how Belial would spam his meteorite attack in Inferno and kill you after a 5 minute fight making you redo it all over again, you have to always keep your fingers on your potion buttons and concentrate well in fights.

Potions in Torchlight II, like in Diablo III, have a delay, but only a delay of 9 seconds which is hardly noticeable, since you can learn heal spells and make due with that, you can also teach your pet four skills, I taught mine Heal All, along with three other spells, along with my healing bot, and the potions, I can be pretty invincible.

I decided to build my Engineer with two handed weapons in mind, and since the game follows the same recipe Diablo II had of skill/stat points, everything has to be thought out carefully, lest you end up with a ruined character, I poured my skill points in the starting skill, the stomp, healing bot, physical damage bot, and 1 point in the slowing bot, the rest went to passives, and passives is where the Engineer shines, the more important ones to me was one that increases your attack speed with two handed weapons and cannons, and adds a chance to stun, another is dealing a multiplier of your strength as absolute electric damage to a stunned target, the third passive adds extra armor and less damage from enemies, and the last one increases fire and electric damage by a percentage. As far as stat points are concerned, I did what everyone did in Diablo II, poured almost all of my points in Vitality, and it proved well, I did put a lot of points in Strength, though I have more strength points from my gear, and a few of dexiterity as well to increase critical chances. And this is as far as my build was concerned.

After finishing the main quest line you get a couple of choices, you can either start on New Game +, where you keep all your gear and your level and your skills, and the monsters are upgraded level wise to reach you, making it more of a challenge, you can also go to a new town called Mapworks, and this is how Torchlight II handles the endgame here, in mapworks you can go to a merchant who sells dungeon maps with random properties to both you and the enemy, making it sometimes a challenge. An example would be, for you, 200% increase in damage, with 50% decrease in attack speed, and 50% decrease in spell cast rate, and the enemy would have 10% increase in both attack speed and cast rate, it is a little challenging than it seems though.

PVP is fast and chaotic in Torchlight II, you enter a game online, or with a buddy, open up the chat and you both type “/pvp” and it’s on, anything goes.

Another thing that is absolutely awesome in this game, is how Runic Games gave you the option to use console commands, basically giving you the freedom to play the game however you want. For example, in towns, you can only respec the last three skills, through the console, you can reset all of your skill points and redistribute them however you like, which I will be doing once I hit level 100 on my Engineer to try out another build, instead of making an entire new Engineer and building from scratch.

Anyway, that’s it for my Torchlight II review, in terms of whether you should buy it or not, I would say definitely buy it! Even if you are a die hard fan of Diablo III (I am) but it’s a really nice change. Let me know what you folks thought of the game.