The review for Diablo III around two years ago had the game rated quite highly, although many would think that it doesn’t deserve it even with the recent patches and updates that has somehow improved its gameplay as time passed. Blizzard listened and addressed the community’s gripes and have come up with this first expansion for the game with the clear objective of making it as good as it can ever be. How good that is though merits close scrutiny.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls takes the story past the defeat of Diablo, who had become the Prime Evil upon absorption of all the essences within the Black Soulstone that contained all 7 of the Great Evils. Tyrael, the former Archangel of Justice turned mortal, is now the Aspect of Wisdom. Not being able to destroy the Black Soulstone, he decides to hide it away with the assistance of the Horadrim. But as they were about to lock it away, Malthael, the entity who once was Wisdom has come back from oblivion after the destruction of the Worldstone as the Angel of Death.
The fallen angel came back to take the Black Soulstone’s power as his own to end the Great Conflict by himself. Malthael and his Reapers soon invaded the City of Westmarch and initiated his plan to eradicate humanity, which he saw to be corrupted with taint. As the Nephalem, you are now tasked by Tyrael to defeat this formidable adversary and take back the Black Soulstone. Upon arrival at Westmarch, the city already lays in ruins and Malthael’s work is almost complete. Time runs short, and you must tear through his minions to prove Malthael wrong and show that you can stop death.
Most of the improvements to the game had been implemented just before release of the expansion through Patch 2.0.1, which has overhauled the loot and endgame systems for a more rewarding experience. With the addition of Reaper of Souls though, more new stuff gets thrown in. For instance, a higher level cap of 70 lets players continue building up their characters in Act V, as well as some additional skills for each class and a whole new character class in the Crusader for more breadth in gameplay.
The Error 37 controversy during Diablo III’s disastrous launch may have been a pill too bitter to swallow for many who felt that their expectations were thrown to the ground and kicked into dust. Then what the launch woes didn’t kill, the gameplay design gaffes finished off, especially the Auction House that ruined the game’s main premise, which is about picking up better and better loot to strengthen your character. But with Patch 2.0.1 and Reaper of Souls combined, it’s now a more straight-up Skinner box that is more about the acquisition of power through effort amidst adversity, which is what action role-playing games are all about in the first place.
However, that’s where the remaining problems with the game comes in. Most of the fundamentals have been fixed in the game, and there could be a good amount of fun to be had for at least a week or two. But the thing is that while there are endgame options available, they are still not sufficient to hold players over in the long run. It works on an infinity paradigm of players continually seeking improvement in their characters, but they’re going to stop one time or another when there’s no other goals in sight. Adventure Mode and the Bounty system does remedy that a bit, but Blizzard better figure something out again to keep the ball rolling, especially since they dropped said ball back in 2012.
The review on the base game touched upon the potential that it had, but it has been two years now and there is still a lack of major innovation to bring new life to it. Most of the improvements had been composed of restructuring some compotents and the removal of the most problematic one. There is still no PvP ladder and other competitive elements that could get hardcore players to keep playing the game, and most Diablo fans have become pessimistic due to what they had seen. Many people who had bought Diablo III have opted to skip this expansion due to this.
There are also other games now that have more innovative gameplay features, with Path of Exile being a prime example and the Torchlight series (by former Blizzard employees) introducing most of the features that this game has now, so Diablo is no longer alone at the top of the ARPG food chain. Perhaps the reason for this disillusionment is that most of those who fondly remember the old Diablo games had played them as kids, then played Diablo III as adults. The sense of wonderment wouldn’t be as present in this case, so much of the narrative and gameplay wouldn’t go over as well as the older games did.
Reaper of Souls still is a good addition to Diablo III, although it could have done even more. But it’s good to see that the folks at Blizzard are willing to own up to their mistakes and work hard to rectify them, as seen on the changes implemented in Patch 2.0.1 and this expansion. While pessimism is abound, here’s to hoping that Diablo III can be further improved and take back the ARPG throne.
(Implementing offline play should do the trick.)
Tested in PC. Final Score: 7.5/10