I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Blizzard is a tough company to nail down. On the one hand they go and make absolutely gorgeous content like Pandaria and the Reaper of Souls levels. But then they also make things like the Legendary Cloak quest (which we will be talking about soon) or the enchanting and gem requirements in Reaper of Souls. It’s the strangest abusive bipolar relationship that I’ve ever been a part of and I suppose I should be thankful that is the case. I’ll be peppering this post with a fair number of progress pictures. Prepare your proverbial booty holes, it is going to be something of a bumpy ride.
Reaper of Souls starts with one of Blizzard’s utterly amazing video scenes. I’m going to sound like a bit of a fanboy but it was some of the coolest stuff I’ve seen this year. Their animators are some of my favorite in the field. Watching Malthael kick some serious ass and suck up souls like they were soup noodles was a fantastic way to hit off this new expansion. Tyrael tries fruitlessly to subdue his brother at the very beginning of this expansion and you suddenly realize just how doomed your quest likely is. You are about to face up against death itself. Of all the anthropomorphised forces of nature, this is likely the most insurmountable. I’ll just come out and say that I think Malthael is a far better villain than Diablo. His design, his voice, his motivations, and his weapons all speak to me on many levels. I like Diablo too but I found myself much more excited to be up against and hearing about the Angel of Death.
Something I considered while starting up this quest was that I was the manifestation of everything that should bring fear to the Angel of Death. I have died dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times in Diablo 3 and the expansion collectively. Each time I die and I rise from the (many times literal) ashes of my former body. I am eternal and unstoppable waging war across all the planes above, upon, and below the world. I am part angel and part demon and a force like no other. I won’t be spoiling any of the story in this game but I will say that most games like this have the supreme villain hiding in some kind of castle, seemingly locked away from you. They try to play it off like they are testing you or that you are beneath them but in many cases I feel like the villain is doing this because they are cowards.
This is the first time that I totally understood and related to the act. There is likely no living thing on any plane of existence that Malthael fears, except for the Nephalem (you).
The sound design for this game is spectacular. I loved every bit of music, every monster sound, every new spell effect. It all helped to draw me in and really played well off of the stellar level and character designs. Some of it is rehashed skeletons from the previous game but the work on their new skins are good enough that I was happy to see them and didn’t fault the company at all. Blizzard knows how to polish things and I don’t think this was any different. I am of course speaking from personal opinion and you might not like the miniature model paint styles they use in this game. For me they really tickle my tabletop bones and I was giddy like a school girl the entire time.
One of the NPCs in the game really points out the bleakness of the scenario quite well for the mortals. If a single angel can fall from heaven and wipe out everyone in the blink of an eye is there really any time that any person can relax and feel safe? That particular mindset really set me up for the game. I realized that I was wandering through genuine despair and in many ways even as I succeeded I felt like I was failing everyone around me. That might sound bad but it really helped set the mood.
The changes from the original are really a matter of night and day. The new loot system is a thousand times better than the old one in my opinion. I was often getting gear that was either helpful or at least not insulting. Legendaries come at a consistent enough rate to keep you happy but their random traits also mean you won’t be godmode by the end of the night. But if you get a piece of gear that is just nearly perfect you can take it to the Enchantress and change the traits to something new (albeit random). This means that you won’t need to grind the same legendary a thousand times to get the relevant traits you need.
The new social stuff, albeit using that S word that I loathe, is pretty stellar. Stellar…man I’m saying that a lot. But honestly its all so lovely. The UI is clean and playing with other people is really rewarding. Your loot is better, you can easily get back to your friends by right clicking on their portrait and porting right to them, and you can share loot that drops while playing together. A protip is that if you get a unique designed legendary let your friend pick it up real quick because then you both get the transmog from it! (Just make sure it is someone you trust, as they could keep it).
The new difficulty system is pretty sweet and the new paragon system is >awesome<. It’s very similar to the badass rankings in Borderlands 2 which I also loved. Basically each time you level beyond max level you get a buff from one of 4 menus (which you control) and that buff goes to not only the current character but all future characters you make. That’s pretty cool and makes playing even at max level rewarding on multiple levels both literally and metaphorically.
Now finally I’ve just gotten into Adventure mode but from what I’ve seen so far this mode is pretty cool. Tons of content and opportunities to get lots of exp and loot. If that is your sort of thing this is certainly the mode for you. If you are only in for the story it took me a few days to finish the story completely. I can at least say that for people with a job this game will satisfy you after work for a week or so. If you are unemployed it might get knocked out in a day of grinding. Personally I purchased the CE edition and still don’t think I overpaid. The amount of fun I’ve had both alone and with friends is beyond what I tend to expect from games. I’m not even in it for the loot, just the experience of surviving hordes of evil with a glass cannon character is delight enough for me.
Basically I’ve turned Diablo 3 into a bullet hell game where one hit could mean my doom and that’s totally fine with me. I’m glad that I have the choice to do so. Reaper of Souls is a good game, and I’d be willing to say that for me it was a great game. The experience was solid and has made me consistently happy from the first minute until the last. In fact I’ll probably play it a bit more tonight after I post this up.