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?).

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.

Merging game genres

For so long, gaming has been bound by specific genres, that limit, and sometimes even cripple, the games’ improvements. But as gamers began to explore different genres thoroughly and started wondering, what would it be like, if *insert game name* was played from a different perspective? And thus game companies started exploring the possibilities of developing games in other ways; the first I personally can relate to, on the matter, was Command and Conquer’s Renegade.

Command & Conquer: Renegade, came out early 2002, which was basically a first person version of the original Real Time Strategy game Command & Conquer, and it was very exciting when this game came out, it’s like, we always wanted to know what was going on in the ground level of this base we’re building! And Renegade came to the rescue, a few years later, came out Red Alert: A Path Beyond, which was particularly exciting for me, as Red Alert & Red Alert 2 are my all time favorite games, and a company actually makes a first person version of them? Yes please!

Blizzard then made the same move with World Of Warcraft, Warcraft has always been a real time strategy game, until 2004 when they decided that they can instead, make a massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) off of it! Which was a brilliant success for Blizzard, and helped in keeping the legacy and story of the Warcraft series alive.

Later on though, and this is the main point of this post, came Borderlands!

And with Borderlands came the true merging of game genres, developers 2k Interactive decided to merge the role playing game (RPG) elements that make us addicted to RPG games, such as leveling up and looting, to first person shooter (FPS) elements, which made the game even more addictive!

Borderlands was such a breakthrough since no one else had done what it had achieved so perfectly, the insane amount of weaponry you can find throughout the game world, with infinite customizations made Borderlands every step as exciting as when you start the game!

And with Borderlands 2 coming soon, there’s no telling what kinds of new games will spawn off of it! Who knows what genres will merge soon, we might see a sports game turn into an all out fighting game, we can only speculate so much, and in the end, we’re usually left jaw dropped from what we’re seeing!