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Review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – With Death comes Redemption

Diablo III, in its vanilla form, was a massive disappointment to me and countless other fans of the series. The Auction House (AH) and horrible loot drops combined to create a system where you were forced to use the AH in order to gain enough power, as character progression was linked to your bank account or the amount of gold you could farm slowly but surely.

Reaper of Souls (RoS) brings with it the closure of the AH, a new loot system, a new and improved Paragon system, a powerful Crusader class, item enchanting and Adventure Mode. All these changes turns Diablo III into what it was suppose to be all along, a hack and slash game that fans of the series can be proud of, bringing tears to my eyes as Death truly brought redemption to the world of Sanctuary.

Warning: This review contains some story spoilers and a lot of demon slaying.

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I am the Nephalem, a powerful Barbarian that has slain countless enemies, including the Prime Evils throughout my journeys in the world of Sanctuary. Yet a new foe has arisen, one that dwarfs all others in comparison.

His name is Malthael, the Angel of Death, an entity of immense power. To end the eternal conflict between angels and demons, Malthael seeks to rid the world of demons by absorbing all of the demonic essence found in every living creature. A noble cause which I could have agreed was, if not for the fact that humanity would be destroyed in the process, as a small part of each human’s soul is demonic in itself.

From the moment the opening cinematic starts, it is clear that Diablo has returned to its dark, gloomy roots and that feeling persists throughout the game. Everything about RoS screams Death, from the devastation in Westmarch where I walked over thousands of corpses, hearing every crunch and squish beneath my feet to the aptly named Blood Marsh, my journey was full of wonderful dread at every turn, never disappointing and sticking to the theme of RoS perfectly.  

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In my quest to destroy Death himself, I ventured into the devastated zone of Westmarch, a war-torn land under siege by reapers, skeletons, corrupted angels and many more otherworldly foes. From there, the Blood Marsh impressed with some otherworldly foes and kept the theme of Death coming to the world of Sanctuary.

The enemies are varied, from the almost playful Boggets to large monstrosities hell-bent on my destruction; I never became tired of slaying them, watching brilliant death animations and corpses flying off screen as Bul’Kathos guided my hands in glorious battle.

Not long into my rampage, I met Myriam the Mystic, an old lady that I rescued beneath a pile of corpses. She knew more about me and the events of Diablo III than I could ever have imagined, having the resemblance of a fortune teller with exceptional voice acting as every other character I encountered throughout the game.            

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The mystic has a much greater purpose than just fortune telling. Myriam can transform a singular stat of my choosing on an item to something more useful. This service did cost a pretty penny and is randomized, so I had to pony up some of my hard earned gold and materials a few times before finding that stat I was looking for.

 She can also transform items into different looks as well, so my Barbarian never again had to look as if he mixed and matched his outfits after a rough night at the ‘Slaughtered Calf Inn’.

One of the most satisfying moments in RoS and indeed any game came when I finally slew Adria, the witch which managed to escape my blade in Diablo III. With her satisfying, painful demise I ventured to the eternal battlefield, where I fought alongside Imperious, an angel who has fought for countless millennia to ensure the safety of heaven.

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I was instrumental in the siege on Pandemonium Fortress, where Death himself resided, taunting me throughout the process. As I finally breached the fortress gates, one of the most beautifully chaotic zones I have ever seen opened up before my eyes.

Pandemonium Fortress is truly unique, wonderfully dark and just fits in perfectly with the mind of a mad angel that has become Death itself. My task was clear, defeat Malthael at all costs. After another hour of slaying countless mobs, elites and mini-bosses, I finally entered the heart of Pandemonium to vanquish Death.

The fight is mechanically complex and delivers a challenge unlike any I have faced in the world of Sanctuary. It is the most fun boss fight I have ever had the pleasure of doing and is extremely hard on higher difficulty settings, of which there are five, with the top difficulty aptly called “Torment”  having a slider that goes all the way up to “Torment (6)”, providing each player with a difficulty best suited for their current skill and gear level.  

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RoS also adds the new Crusader class, a mid-range caster / melee hybrid with an utterly imposing set of skills. The class is intelligently woven into the existing mythology, with new dialog peppered throughout the main campaign to reveal the Crusader's history.

The new mix of combat offered by the Crusader is particularly enjoyable, for example the ability to dash at a thunderous pace toward enemies and perform a devastating shield bash. As a Crusader, you are capable of dealing massive amounts of damage and taking even more.

Having the ability to deal and receive high amounts of damage while bashing creatures into oblivion with powerful shield attacks is astoundingly satisfying, while unlocking all the new skills and runes available to the Crusader class is a joy.

Every class gets great additions to their arsenal, with an increased level cap at 70 and new active and passive abilities. There's a consistent theme in these new abilities, almost all of which are focused on damage, and lots of it.

Adventure mode and Loot – A Life after Death

After finishing Act V and defeating Death, the game is not done. Not even close. Adventure mode brings with it an unending amount of fun, demon slaying and epic loot to go with it. The importance of Adventure mode can not be overstated, as it delivers a true endgame aspect to the world of Sanctuary.

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When joining an Adventure mode game, you are given a wide variety of bounties to completely throughout the world and all five Acts. These bounties come in the form of kill quests, clearing an area or protecting for example a sacred urn in the Defiled Crypts.

After completing bounties, you gain rift keystones, which can be used to open up a Nephalem Rift, which are the greatest, most rewarding areas in RoS. The randomized rifts are dungeons made up of tile sets from familiar Diablo III locations. The randomized nature of the rifts’ geography and enemies offer an additional layer of excitement each time one begins.The areas are chock-full of elite mobs and bosses that offer a new, challenging end-game experience for hardcore players.

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Diablo, at its core, is all about epic loot. The new loot system aptly called ‘Loot 2.0’ is arguably the best aspect new aspect of the game. Even though it is available after a free patch to everyone, the loot system really shines in RoS and Adventure mode.

Enemies do not drop as much stuff now, though the drops are more valuable and of higher quality. Previously, I could farm for days on end without getting a single legendary item drop, yet now I receive one around every 2 hours on average. This type of excitement for a legendary drop and upgrades that might come with rare items makes for a carrot-on-a-stick system that is so addictive I just could not stop playing.

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The new Paragon system, which lets maximum level characters increase in power slowly also keeps one playing and makes leveling new characters even more of a joy, as the Paragon upgrades are now applied account wide. These small increases in power, from +5 resist all per level to +75 life on hit gives way to further customization options.

Even though the increase in power is very small, after about 100 Paragon levels you can really start to feel the difference, while for new low level characters the power increase is immense, making RoS an endless hack and slash experience that is simply put, addictive as hell.

Closing Thoughts

After about 60 hours in RoS I can assure you that the game is everything Diablo III should have been from the start. The loot system, closure of the AH and Adventure mode adds so much to the game that it feels like Diablo IV instead of an expansion. If I had to nitpick, the story is a bit short, only taking around 6 hours to complete, while the public games are still littered with players that attempt difficulty settings way beyond their current capabilities.

Even so, Diablo III has found redemption in the form of RoS, it is a brilliant, addictive game that stands out for me as the best hack and slash I have ever played. With the addition of ladders and seasons coming in a later patch, the future of Diablo looks bright indeed.

For fans of Diablo II who were sorely disappointed with Diablo III, I urge you to give RoS a chance, as it truly is an apology letter from Blizzard Entertainment to all the estranged fans of the series and one hell of a great game!

Score: 9/10

Buy Reaper of Souls from kalahari.com. Find the Standard Edition here and the Collector's Edition here.

Sillicur Twitter / MWEB GameZone Twitter | Facebook

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