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?).

What makes video games memorable?

A few days ago, I started wondering, what made all those games I remember from my childhood and teenage years so good and memorable! And taking into the consideration that I have the attention span of  a gold fish, something REALLY impressive must have made a big impression on me back then for me to still remember exactly where the NPC positions were in the first Diablo, how Griswold’s shop was next to Ogden the tavern owner’s, right in front of Cain which was in turn in front of Peppin the Healer’s hut, or how that one extremely frustrating Terran campaign mission made me quit playing Starcraft altogether (it was one with a 30 minute count down timer where you had to defend your base against hordes of Zerg), then I realized, it was all about the music, it’s always been all about the music! And when I gave it some more thought I came to the conclusion that video games have some of the best musical scores you’ll ever listen to, and I’m going to list some of my favourites, and some which some friends recommended.

To the Moon is a game that has not been released for so long, yet is probably one of the most incredible games in terms of story telling and soundtrack, one of the few games that actually made me tear up.

Diablo has always been known for it’s dark, grim music, and here are three fine examples from the three Diablo games spanning a development duration of 16 years! And it’s all still dark now, that’s why I love these games.

Torchlight II may be a Diablo clone, it may have taken an idea here, and idea there, maybe even waited long enough to be released just so Runic wouldn’t make the same mistakes Blizzard did, but that definitely does not make it a lesser game, or have a lesser soundtrack, by all means, this is a fine example of how Torchlight II is reminiscent of Diablo II while keeping it’s own identity.

Bayonetta was one of the fastest, most intense, weird hack n’ slash I’ve had the pleasure of playing, ever. EVER. Ever. Ever. Now that we have that out of the way, let me show you exactly why I loved this game so much.

Assassin’s Creed II was hands down the best of the Assassin’s Creed series so far, ask anyone and I doubt they’ll argue, the story was engaging throughout, the cliffhanger was as irritating as it could get, and it wouldn’t have been that good without the good guys at Ubisoft making an epic soundtrack for it.

Another Ubisoft marvel was Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within, it was my favourite of the trilogy (Yes, I don’t consider the last one part of the franchise, it was THAT awful), and for good reason, it had an amazing score behind it! Being a bassist myself, I especially loved that one track.

Now who in their right mind would make a blog article like this and not post The Elder Scrolls in it? At least Skyrim, I mean, it had one of the most epic soundtracks in a video game!

If you own a Playstation 3, you must have at least played one of the three Uncharted games, if not all of them, and you might have also noticed how the menu theme is persistent in all three games, and for good reason, it’s freaking awesome!

What sets a certain game apart from the pack though is how the development or distributors decide to go about the soundtrack, and thankfully, Valve are saints, proving time and again how Portal 2 might very well be the greatest puzzle based game to be ever made. (P.S.: Science IS fun.)

MAG has taken quite some time from my life, this game has 3 separate soundtracks for each faction, I personally have played both Valor and SVER, never Raven, so I don’t know much about their music, but here you go.

Now for a game that had me practically in awe for how amazing its music was, I would honestly just start Dark Souls, and leave it in the load screen, and listen to the music for hours on end, the load screen music, Gwyn’s music, and Dark Sun Gwyndolin’s music.

I haven’t yet played Killzone 3, for OCD-ish reasons (I absolutely need to play the first two before this one), and I’ve heard all sorts of rants on how bad the story is, but this, this here, more than makes up for it.

Without mentioning how purchasing Gravity Rush justified my Vita purchase (No sarcasm there, it actually did, game is fantastic), or how hot Kat is, the game has one of the jazziest tracks you can here in any video game out there!

Rayman Origins on the other hand, takes another route from anything you’ve ever heard before, the music is actually extremely funny that you find yourself hysterically laughing over it, or just have a wide smile on your face, which made this game an amazing platformer! (Also better played on the Vita than console or PC!)

Continuing on the Blizzard glory, we have Starcraft! That irritating son of a bitch game that kicked my ass so many times over the years, yet I always remembered that Terran theme and how it made me just want to go slaughter more Zerg.

Now for something truly old, the first Mortal Kombat’s soundtrack, who didn’t love that? Seriously?

Duke Nukem. Megadeth. I don’t think I need to say more.

Back in my Playstation 1 years, I loved Megaman X5, absolutely adored this game and it’s main menu music, I loved it so much I actually recorded it on my old (yet extremely cool at the time) Nokia 3650.

My cousin owned a Dreamcast, and Sonic Adventure on it, and before he forsake gaming, he actually had the potential to be a hardcore gamer, anyway, him and I would play Sonic Adventure all day long, and sing along to this track, it was awesome back then, it still is now!

Bastion is one game that took the Diablo formula, and twisted it in its own, marvellously addictive way, it does not have dark gritty music, instead it has some very memorable fight music that will make you really wanting to go back and play it some more.

Last in my recommendations is a game that I have mastered, and wasted SO many years of my life playing, Red Alert 2, I loved that game so much! And it was mostly because of the Hell March track!

Last but definitely not least, some recommendations by my Facebook pals.

ATV Offroad Fury:

Trine 2:

Zone of the Enders 2:

Shadow of the Colossus:

Metal Gear Solid:

Let me know what your favourites over the years were, or if I’ve missed an absolute essential 😉

Diablo III open beta impressions

You guys must have seen that Blizzard were kind enough to test their servers on us, right? Of course you have! It’s fucking Blizzard! Well, a couple of days ago, I saw on IGN an article saying that the Diablo III open beta will begin on Thursday (the couple of days ago) and end on Sunday, and I was so excited about it that I stuck a soul stone to my forehead and called upon the dark lord of terror in celebration. (read: ordered a pizza).

Now that we’ve established the amount of excitement I had for this beta, let’s venture on to the review!

First of all, I should mention that I was running it on my 2009 Macbook Pro (2.6GHz core 2 duo CPU, 4GB DDR3 1333MHz, 9400M + 9600M GT Nvidia GPUs) and based on these specs most of you can already tell that it wasn’t running as Blizzard have intended, but it was playable. I had all the visuals on low, no anti-aliasing, the only thing I had set to high was the resolution (1440×900) but there were frequent frame drops, sometimes even complete freezes, but I think the freezing was from the servers, not a fault of my hardware.

Anyway, I’ll start with the bad stuff about the beta since they’re very few. You have to be always connected to the internet, I don’t know if that’s only for the beta, or if it will carry over to the actual game come the 15th of May, but if it did, it would suck. I personally love to game when I’m in the bus going to college, or if I’m in a plane, or hell when I don’t have my laptop charger and don’t want to open the WiFi. What you see is a login screen, very similar to that of World of Warcraft’s, you sign in with your battle.net ID and password, and you’re in after a couple hundred tries

Another thing is the new leveling system, while I’m okay with the new skill system, I used to love assigning stat points after each level, it made leveling up all that much sweeter, now all you get is some unlockable skills/runes. It’s not a big issue, certainly not experience breaking, but it used to be nicer.

The last bad thing is the potion delay, gone are the days were you put a belt full of potions and just spam those numbers like there’s no tomorrow, they added a delay to the use of each consecutive potion, and a big delay at that.

Now for the good stuff, the beta gave us access to 5 classes, the Barbarian, the Witch Doctor, the Demon Hunter, the Monk, and the Wizard, out of those five I played the Monk, the Demon Hunter, and the Witch Doctor, I’ll start with the Monk since that was my initial solo play through. The Monk class, while I hadn’t unlocked any “auras” at level 9, is supposedly very much like the Paladin class from Diablo II, he’s more of a melee type of guy, attacking with his fists and feet, not so Paladin-like, if you ask me, but it’s not the same character after all! His skills were neat, the couple of ones I unlocked were lightning shooting out of punches, a piercing type of punch, a flame kick, a healing skill and a blinding skill, his healing skill was actually the most beneficial because of the potion delay, it basically gives you an extra potion to use without the delay, and that came in handy a LOT during the last part of my solo run. The Monk’s reserve of move power is called Spirit, unlike Diablo I and Diablo II, not all characters have mana, spirit regenerates slowly by itself, or faster when hitting monsters with non spirit consuming attacks.

The Demon Hunter is a crossbow/bow wielder who can place traps, with some other neat skills, a piercing arrow shot, throwing knives, a machine gun like stance where the demon hunter holds his/her ground and just go nuts on the bow, the demon hunter had two different power reserves for the skills, one was called Hatred, that was for the offensive skills, the other I can’t really remember the name of, was for the tactical skills, such as the traps and what not.

The last character I tried was the Witch Doctor who was a lot like the Necromancer from Diablo II minus the skeletons and the ravens, instead, his first skill was a poison dart, the one unlocked after that was called Jar of spiders, it looked pretty cool for those with no arachnophobia, the Witch Doctor throws a jar, and out comes three spiders to attack your target, he also summons three hounds to fight for him, and he can summon some hands from under the ground to slow and damage your enemies.

That’s about it for the characters I tried, I used the Monk for my solo run, the other two characters, co-op, and the co-op was really fun in the game, no body rushes over loot since every person has his/her own set of visible loot that no one else but you can take, which was a very nice move, also the co-op has some of its own achievements to unlock along with the campaign achievements.

Onto some of the details I forgot to mention up there, skills are modifiable, instead of having a big skill tree, you get some skills, for each skill you get 6 or 7 runes I think, and these runes change the effect of said skills, for example, the lightning punch of the Monk’s, with the first unlockable rune becomes a teleporting punch, the piercing shot of the Demon Hunter can slow two enemies, and the hands from the ground of the Witch Doctor becomes some cracks in the ground and it slows enemies even more.

Also, in the beta there was a smithing skill that you upgrade, not for yourself though, but for the smith himself, each upgrade gives you more weapons/armors to create, and everything comes with some magical attributes attached to them. You can also destroy some of the magical equipment you found along your travels that you have no use for, you destroy those for materials used in creating new gear.

There is no identification scrolls now as well, all items are identified except for rares and the other higher value items, you simply identify those by right clicking on them. And speaking of scrolls, there are no scrolls of Town Portal, it’s a skill to all classes now.

For those of you wanting to know what the beta actually had, story-wise, you basically started your characters along the gates of New Tristram, which is being attacked by zombies, and you (being so heroic), decide to fend them off, the captain guarding the gates lets you in, you wander around a bit and meet Leah, Deckard Cain’s niece, and surprisingly enough, Leah’s mother, is Adria the witch from the first Diablo! Well, you go to tristram, find Adria’s hut, and you find a trap door that you open, kill some dude, go back up, kill some more dudes, and go get Cain, once you get Cain he tells you about the Skeleton King (yep, from Diablo I as well) and how you must kill him and how he was awakened by “the falling star”, so you go back to the cathedral in which you fought in the first Diablo, after a couple of quests, you find the Skeleton King, kill him, and you’re done with the beta.

Last but definitely not least, the music, New Tristram has some nice guitar music to it, you’ll feel right at home listening to the music, the rest of the beta had some nice audio as well, which is really not surprising since Blizzard make great soundtracks.

Anyway, that’s it for my blabbing for one day, if you tried the beta, let me know what you thought of it down there.

Spam Tuesday (4)

Hello, people! To those of you who celebrated easter yesterday, happy easter and stuff, to those of you who will celebrate it next week, well, happy easter and stuff.

I’ll be starting things off with a song I got introduced to through this (awesome) website, sadly though, it only works in the US, anyway, here’s the song:

Fucking awesome song, ey? Makes me laugh every single time! Funny as balls, I tell ya! Too far? Yeah, thought so, well, onto the next track!

This track right here, I’ve been told, is nothing all that special, and that I’ve been hyping it way too much, but I don’t give a shit, it’s awesome, it’s way primal, and it’s just so, brutal in a very deep/primal way.

Another musician I got introduced to very recently, has, actually, nothing to do with metal, she’s a violinist that is frankly quite hot, anyway, enjoy.

Last, but definitely not least, for all you Starcraft fans, here’s a little nice treat.

As usual, support FanatiK, and Michael Maurice.

If you guys have any music to suggest, please do, and leave your impressions of what has been posted up here, down there. Take it easy, folks!

Blizzard experimenting with consoles

Blizzard have always been  (at least to me), a PC/Mac only game development company, though they have released numerous of their older titles for consoles, such as Diablo 1, Warcraft 2, and Starcraft. But is a Diablo III console port a good move on Blizzard’s part?

Blizzard have recently been contemplating a Diablo III console release, which will really broaden their consumer base, though most people seem to always think that Blizzard would never make a console version of a game of theirs, however a bit overshadowed, the first Diablo game was a success as a PlayStation 1 title, and Diablo is (as a friend pointed out to me earlier) like Dragon Age 2, could do very well on consoles, since I for one enjoyed the console version of Dragon Age 2 more than the PC version.

How this would work? I think one of the problems they could face in the interaction of the game, is with the belt system, in Diablo II, we all used to spam buttons 1 through 4 when fighting Hardcore Duriel in hopes that our brave hero can actually drop the beast’s health by even 1%, but how will that be replaced on a controller? It could be like pressing R2 on the PlayStation 3 controller, or the right trigger on the Xbox 360 one, and a wheel would pop out that lets you circle through your belt, but that doesn’t sound so practical, does it?

Another thing is that Diablo has always been a “click fest” of a game, especially when you’re trying so hard to re-arrange your inventory so that you can fit in this one large Charm that you desperately need, yet can’t find the small version of, anywhere, unless Diablo III would have PlayStation Move functionality, for point and click (which is still very tedious, compared to our normal trusty mouse), the console release won’t be very, fluid. Unless the game, would feature mouse and keyboard play even for consoles, just like how Valve have announced Counter Strike: Global Offensive would be.

For now though, Diablo III will release for both PC and Mac, no release date has been confirmed yet, but playing along Blizzard’s teasing, we can say that Diablo III will be released somewhere over the next 5 years.

Next up in here, is a gameplay video of the released Diablo III beta, the guys over at IGN were kind enough to make:

The Blizzard effect

Now that Blizzard has bought merged with Activision, and is now called (wittingly enough) Activision Blizzard (no shit, Batman!), Blizzard starts to add some of its glare to Activision products, mainly, the world favorite shooter (for some reason that I can not personally grasp):

Balls of booty?

Call Of Duty!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I abhor don’t like the Call of Duty series, it’s just that (as personal preference) I like shooters with a bit more strategy to them, The Battlefield series for instance, or MAG (God, I love MAG, some might say it’s an unusual form of love, it doesn’t shame me.) but back to the point, Activision has introduced a new ripping off method payed system for their newest iteration of the world renowned shooter, Modern Warfare 3, the new service is called: Call of Duty Elite (in other words, you’re a total noob if you don’t sign up for it!), this system allows you to check your stats online, join clans, level up clans, and most importantly, allow access to DLCs/map packs/new modes/a complimentary conscience from Oz, for free! Well, not really, it’s only free if you pay $49.99 a year, collectively, the DLCs will set you back $60 so you’ll be saving $10 (and trading your soul to the devil.) off of them pesky DLCs (weren’t Call of Duty DLCs “map packs”? or is it just me?).

Why I called this the Blizzard Effect (as suggested by a dear friend of mine) is very simple, Blizzard had revolutionized the world of Strategy and RPG gaming long before anyone else, by Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo (anyone else remember Blackthorne and The Lost Vikings? Damn I used to love these two games!), which all started as regular games, you pay once for the game, and get to play it, without extra charges, then came 2004, and with 2004 came World of Warcraft with its monthly payments and leveling ups and the sucking of your very social life, but it was fun! Still is, to some extent, now Blizzard (after the merge) decided to apply the same ideology to MW3, now I’m glad they didn’t make it a Pay-to-Play title, but it’s just a stepping stone, for now.

I hope you don’t get me wrong, Blizzard is absolutely my favorite games development company! I’m a huge fan of the entire Diablo series, as well as Warcrafts II, III, and the frozen throne, it’s just that I feel them taking advantage of gamers, and that’s never nice, in my opinion at least.

And now I shall leave you with the reason why we all loved Warcraft III: