Harvester of sorrow.

When Diablo III came out in 2012, we all had pretty high expectations. The game ended up being one of Blizzard’s seemingly never ending development cycles, and they assured us that it would be worth it.

And it was, kinda.

When I first launched into D3, I was as blown away by some of the best cinematics ever and some really kick ass gameplay, all worthy of the Diablo name. But the launch was marred by connectivity issues, the always-online requirement upsetting everyone, as usual. The real money auction house was accused of being a penny-pinching scam and user reviews were bombing it with zeroes.

But none of that really bothered me. I saw past the controversy and gave it a pretty good score, despite it being quite a ways from the perfection I had envisaged. What I got tired of – after several playthroughs and leveling a few different characters – was circling through the four acts over and over like a hamster on a wheel. There were updates for special bosses and loots, sure. But it all still went through the same stages; Tristram, Caldeum, Bastion’s Keep and the High Heavens for the final showdown with Diablo. Don’t get me wrong, D3 was an enormous game, but if it was going to be played for 10 years just as Diablo II and its expansion Lord of Destruction was, something big had to happen.

Adventure mode basically breaks the linear shackles of D3 and while I’m still running through familiar environments and fighting familiar bosses, it feels fresh.

Open The Gates

Thankfully, there are big changes in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (ROS). The fifth act, the story of the Angel of Death himself, Malthael, only took about three hours to loop through. Upon slaying the mighty archangel I was dreading having to drag my Monk through Tristram yet again, but instead, I was given the option to roam wherever I wanted in Adventure Mode. Why this wasn’t made possible after the initial play through in D3, or at least brought out as a patch, is beyond me. Better late than never I suppose.

So now, instead of circling the hamster wheel I can head out along its spokes, teleporting to wherever I want, whenever I want. Adventure mode basically breaks the linear shackles of D3 and while I’m still running through familiar environments and fighting familiar bosses, it feels fresh.

No more trudging through the acts

No more trudging through the acts.

The Crusader has made an entrance, picking up from the popular Paladin class of Diablo II. A short to mid-range tank, working through the first 25 levels of the Paladin has been fun as hell, though I still believe the Monk was the best character to come out of D3. The best thing is that you don’t need to be a minimum level to head out and start collecting bounties in adventure mode, so you can get straight into the thick of it.

A nifty inclusion in ROS are the Nephalem Rifts. You can only open them after completing five keystone fragments from bounties or quests and they take you through a randomised dungeon where the boss appears after you’ve killed your quota of minions. It’s nothing too different from all the other dungeons, I’ve already played but the loot from these bosses is off the charts and it’s a great way to finish off a session of ROS and call it quits for the night.

The hammer of justice shall smite thou

The shield of justice shall smite thou.

The loot system has also been revamped, with targeted “smart drops” that gel the item’s stats with the character class that you are playing. Legendary items were always seldom, but if the right one comes at the right time it, donning it does make you feel like you are unstoppable. It’s that moment that you’re always looking for when playing Diablo, seeing the demons fall under your blade as you effortlessly hew through the hordes.

Is Diablo III: Reaper of Souls the saviour of Diablo, then? It’s a little too early to tell, but this expansion has hit the ground running and is getting a lot of players dusting off their heroes and roaming the realm of Sanctuary again. If you are looking to get a bit more mileage with your Nephalem veterans, now’s the time.

A review code for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls was provided courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

Soul Eater

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