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Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls review

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AT A GLANCE
  • Crusader class is spectacular in both gameplay and character
  • Adventure Mode breathes new life into old environments
  • Loot overhaul makes killing monsters so much more gratifying
  • Act 5 is more a brief interlude than an epic conclusion
  • Raw amount of new content may not justify the expansion's price tag

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls feels less like the series finale of your favorite TV show and more like an exciting one-off episode. And as far as expansions go, that's totally fine. If you've been playing D3 again in anticipation of all the new content, you might be left wanting. But for those who've lost touch with Diablo 3, Reaper of Souls polishes the gameplay to addictive kill-and-loot perfection, making this the most fun the game's ever been.

Since you killed Diablo (yet again) at the end of Diablo 3, Reaper of Souls pits you against a new villain: Malthael, a fallen archangel who sees humanity as a scourge upon creation. As the Nephalem, aka the people's champ, you've got to fight back against Malthael's army of reapers and their raised minions in the added Act 5, starting with the burning city of Westmarch. While hacking and slashing your way through creepy cemeteries, overgrown swamplands, mystic ruins, and otherworldly battlefields, you'll appreciate all the grisly little details (like alleyways overflowing with dead bodies) and the abnormal color palette of browns, purples, and deep blues. Act 5 may only have a handful of new environment types, but the majority of them feel markedly different from the Diablo 3 vistas you've no doubt played to death at this point.

If you're looking for an epic tale concluding the war between angels and demons, Reaper of Souls' plot will be a bit of a let-down. By chatting with your followers from the preceding game, you'll gain access to nifty, Loyalty-style missions that further their subplots. Unfortunately, these feel annoyingly unresolved, even if they do offer a welcome bit of backstory. The overarching plot about Malthael feels similarly serialized: you get some interesting insight into the Angel of Death's mentality, but Act 5's ending comes off as abrupt and inconclusive. With all the cliffhangers, it feels like no attempts were made to hide the fact that--if everything goes according to plan--this expansion is just one of many. Hey, at least there's a boss fight against a bazooka-wielding fallen angel along the way.

While the additional Act is entertaining enough, the new Crusader class is easily Reaper of Soul's biggest strength. This platemail-clad knight engages hellspawn from melee or mid-range--but whichever you choose, the Crusader's focus is always on fighting huge groups of enemies at once, soaking up damage with your shield before using sweeping AoE abilities to annihilate your foes. Smiting demons with the Fist of the Heavens or clearing out a room with Blessed Hammers made from holy energy looks and feels righteous, and the Crusader's combination of tanky fortitude, utility spells, and ally-saving abilities make it a nice addition to Diablo 3's roster.

New toys

Reaper of Souls ups the level cap from 60 to 70, meaning all the pre-existing classes have access to new abilities. In this case, "new abilities" means one new active (with the obligatory five rune types) and three new passives (with an additional slot for max-level heroes). These open up a world of possibility in terms of character builds, but some skills are far more exciting than others. For instance: the Wizard's Black Hole spell is incredibly useful and powerful, while the Monk's Epiphany ability feels a little bit lame by comparison.

On top of the Crusader's emboldening playstyle, they're also some of the most well-written characters in the game. Both the female and male Crusader voice actors are superb, portraying warriors with a deep-set loyalty to a religious faith without being overzealous or fanatical. They're empathetic without feeling soft, and have a penchant for making witty observations that genuinely made me laugh. Listening to the Crusader's dialogue across all the Acts (yes, it's more than just Act 5) is a treat, and their savvy remarks sound decidedly more self-aware and relatable than the borderline-ridiculous seething of the Demon Hunter or the Wizard's haughty quips.

Once you've conquered Act 5's six hours of story content, the newfangled Adventure Mode is there to prolong your enjoyment of Diablo 3's incredibly fun core gameplay. Instead of sending you down a linear, plot-driven path, Adventure Mode cuts out nearly every story aspect and assigns you with Den of Evil-esque quests, encouraging you to jump around the environments and kill monsters however you so choose. To spice things up, you'll encounter Cursed Chests, timed mini-challenges that provide a nice spike in difficulty apart from all the elite monster packs. Between the reworked difficulty system (a game-changing improvement that we discussed in our updated Diablo 3 review) and high density of enemies in Adventure Mode, there's never a dull moment.

Topping off Adventure Mode are the Nephalem Rifts, randomized gauntlets that crank the chaos meter all the way up (in a good way). These dungeons provide a kind of exhilarating, unpredictable fun, where daunting challenge (an assortment of crazy hard bosses and elite packs) mixes with thrilling empowerment (new Pylon shrines that provide absurd temporary buffs like max movespeed or 400 percent damage). As a whole, Adventure Mode feels like the perfect facilitator of Diablo's addictive brand of action: getting loot so you can kill monsters quicker so you can get more cool loot.

And there's cool loot aplenty. The Loot 2.0 system (which affects both Diablo 3 and Reaper of Souls) is worlds better than the previous arrangement. Every drop feels worthwhile, from the formerly crappy grey and white weapons that now serve as basic crafting materials to the exhilarating new Legendary items, which come packed with some build-changing buffs. Upgrades come along at a much better cadence; you're given just enough time to get attached to your best items before finding even better loot, so you won't suffer from new gear fatigue. It's astounding how much this relatively small change enhances Diablo 3, so that playing at any level always feels rewarding and engaging. Less game-changing--but still appreciated--is Myriam, the new Mystic crafter who ensures you can enjoy your gear to the fullest, letting you tweak some stats or alter its appearance to something that fits with whatever outfit ensemble you've got going on.

Attributing a score to Reaper of Souls is tricky. It's a game that I'd highly recommend to anyone, but from a cost analysis perspective, it feels like some of the expansion's standout aspects (Loot 2.0, rejiggered difficulty, and the axing of the auction house) are already available to those that own the base game. That said, I put around 30 hours into the game on Blizzard's test servers, knowing full well all my progress would be wiped--and I'm still psyched to level a Crusader all over again when the expansion goes live. No, Reaper of Souls doesn't deliver the finality that Diablo 2: Lords of Destruction did--but when Diablo 3 is this fun to play, more content automatically becomes a good thing.

More Info

Release date: Mar 25 2014 - Mac, PC (US)
Available Platforms: Mac, PS4, PC
Genre: Action RPG
Franchise: Diablo
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Violence

Though Reaper of Souls' story additions feel too open-ended, the new Crusader class and Adventure Mode go a long way towards revitalizing Diablo's inherently fun and addictive core gameplay.

We Recommend

21 comments

  • styx1969 - March 29, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    After buying diablo3 and not liking the game due to AH (worse thing ever in a diablo game) and some other little things that made me regret buying it, i wasn t considering buying this expansion, BUT i saw my brother play and bought it because of that. Why? Cause crusaders are incredibly fun to play, to me the most fun class in game, adventure mode makes grinding for gear enjoyable and loot 2.0 plus market going off is awesome. Diablo is now where it should have been at launch and oh god it would have made it straight in best games ever to have been made. If i m happy with the price? Well should have been cheaper but tell me the name of a really good game that was released in the last couple of years, mmo rpg wise that is. Yes i recommend buying Diablo reapers of soul
  • Makie8d - March 28, 2014 6:17 p.m.

    I see the tinfoil hats have already plagued the comments of this review. The Crusader is a lot of fun, playing him as I write this (level 23 so far). I can use Adventure Mode to level him from 1-70, no restrictions. My other characters are thoroughly enjoying Adventure Mode and rifts as well. The problem with peoples negativity is that they were either too young, or too forgetful to remember that Diablo 2 was this same way. Diablo 2, while great, was nothing spectacular without the expansion. This is very similar, and should be without surprise. If you are still on the fence about whether or not this redeems Diablo 3, don't base it on people who either haven't even given it a chance, or played for an hour and still hold a grudge. The game is far better with this expansion, hands down. This is where it needs to be, and to continue forward. (incoming accusations by crazy asses of being paid, employee, etc.)
  • jerm1974 - March 28, 2014 6:17 a.m.

    This expansion is boring and too short. It is obvious that some of those praising comments came from blizzard employees themselves disguising as satisfied players.
  • Makie8d - March 28, 2014 6:19 p.m.

    It's so damn hard for you to believe that someone out there is actually satisfied with how they turned things around, isn't it? So what if it costed an extra $40 to get to that point? At least it's there finally.
  • voododoll - March 26, 2014 6:44 a.m.

    Just to add something. Malthael doesn't see the humanity as scourge upon creation! He sees the Nephelim (the children of Ithrael and Lilith) as taint, which always ends in death. So he takes this as a chance to stop the war between heaven and hell. But he gets power dazed and slips the line between good and Evil. This is possibly why he spared Tyrael. El'ddruin's blade passes through him, cause it can't hurt those with pure intents. Oooor because he is death itself. The expansion is great. It took me 6+ hours for full single clear on hard difficulty.
  • lvl1201 - March 25, 2014 12:01 p.m.

    The asking price is laughable. I bought a broken game 2 years ago out of the box the installer didnt work. Many features werent delivered and so on and on. It took almost 2 years to fix the loot system, drop rate and get ridd of the cash grab (RMAH). And then they come with a stright face and ask THAT kind of money for that tiny new content? Lucas Sullivan i hope you buy nice stuff with that blizzard check.
  • ObliqueZombie - March 25, 2014 1:25 p.m.

    It's a tad steep, yes, but typical. But Diablo games are about replay and randomization, so one chapter should be enough for fans. Also, Blizzard wouldn't pay someone for an 8. This isn't IGN.
  • chriszewski - March 25, 2014 4:24 p.m.

    Lord of Destruction was $39.99 way back when it released in mid 2001 and this seems to be similar in content , minus a playable class. <i>release</i> LoD mind, not post patch(es). The price is fine.
  • Effinae - March 25, 2014 7:03 p.m.

    So you're saying the game is now fixed but you're still heartbroken? Got it.
  • SirNinja - March 25, 2014 11:56 a.m.

    It's worth it for Adventure Mode alone. No lousy story, no restrictions on where you can go...just endless, highly-randomized dungeon crawling. It's incredibly fun, challenging, and constantly surprising - much more than I can possibly describe here - and I will likely be enjoying it years from now. Kudos to Blizzard for not only fixing Diablo III (with the VERY-aptly-named patch 2.0), but realizing what made the series so fun and addictive in the first place.
  • sinkheadhxc - March 25, 2014 9:47 a.m.

    a short expansion that only provides one Act and replayability with multiple quests(missions)..... hmmm, sounds a lot like Ground Zeroes. but i guess Blizzard can get away selling an expansion (or DLC, depending on how you purchase it) for $40. but GZ......."THEY SOLD OUT NOT BUYING FUCK METAL GEAR!"
  • Temperance11 - March 25, 2014 9:45 a.m.

    Here's hoping the rest of the potential expansions aren't $40. I'm super excited about Reaper and I had it pre-ordered, but that price tag hurt a little.
  • hoofhearted4 - March 25, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    i have it on my PS3. me and my gf play it all the time. i started with a Monk because it was as close to a paladin type that they have. now they have one and im dieing to play that class. except theres no mention of it even coming to PS3. they might skip it all together, which will really really suck. ill get a PS4 eventually. but i dont want to have to rebuy the game (unless my characters save over, then it wont be so bad). still even if it comes out on PS3 it isnt going to be any time soon. by then me and my gf will probably be bored of the game. we are on our second play through with new characters already.
  • ObliqueZombie - March 25, 2014 1:24 p.m.

    I should carry over, most games do. ... I think? Anyway, it would be silly not to. And you probably (hopefully) would only have to pay the $10 for the upgrade.
  • Longnuts - March 25, 2014 6:41 a.m.

    All I want to know is when it is coming to consoles. Somebody at blizzard needs to spill the beans already dammit.
  • universaltofu - March 25, 2014 9:56 a.m.

    Yeah, I just started up the 360 version, and I'm down for more.
  • Effinae - March 25, 2014 7:05 p.m.

    As soon as PC gets GTA5 ;)
  • ObliqueZombie - March 25, 2014 6:03 a.m.

    That damn class alone makes me want it--and I don't own Diablo III, not yet. Blizz's art style is top notch. This is good news for Diablo fans and "fans" alike.
  • GamesRadarCollanderCooper - March 24, 2014 4:47 p.m.

    Are you guys gonna review the new BlazBlue game?
  • wadesmit - March 30, 2014 10:28 a.m.

    There's a new BlazBlue game?!

Showing 1-20 of 21 comments

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