Saturday, 5 April 2014

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

The Diablo series has always been an important cornerstone in gaming. The series, which began in 1996 and received widespread critical acclaim, released its most recent main entry in 2013 with Diablo III. However, despite the series being praised over the passed 18 years, Diablo III was met with some heavy criticism, and ultimately led to many devout Diablo fans feeling extremely underwhelmed. But with the arrival of Diablo III's first expansion pack, Reaper of Souls, Blizzard Entertainment are hoping to not only bring back the fans who turned away from Diablo III, but also take the series back to its ground breaking roots.

Developed by Blizzard Entertainment and out now on PC, (soon on Xbox One and PS4) comes Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, and is existing proof that at least some videogame developers/publishers actually listen to their fans. Like all Diablo expansions, this isn't an extra piece of throwaway storytelling in the Diablo universe, but rather a direct continuation of Diablo 3, and in turn vital to the series. With the defeat of Diablo (again!) behind your hero character, a fallen archangel named Malthael has emerged with the aim to wipe out all of humanity. It's a simple concept, sure, but in the wake of the defeated Diablo, Blizzard Entertainment does a good job at making Malthael the latest big bad of the series, mainly due to how menacing he looks. However, despite Malthael certainly looking the part, his character does just sort of appear out of nowhere, without even a brief mention in previous instalments in the series. While it's a perfectly serviceable bad dude, anyone looking for this expansion to wrap up the Diablo III story best look elsewhere. If anything, Reaper of Souls feels more like Reaper of Souls: Part One, as opposed to its own standalone experience.

The new locations you'll find yourself in Reaper of Souls are awesome. Many fans complained about the locations in Diablo III, mostly because of how bland, bright and almost inviting they were. That isn't Diablo, and thankfully Reaper of Souls takes a different approach. From the excellently dark and dreary City of Westmarch to the many ruins you'll find yourself exploring at a terrified snails pace, Reaper of Souls, above all else, visually and atmospherically corrects where Diablo III messed up. This looks and feels like a real Diablo experience through and through. 

The biggest addition to Reaper of Souls is Adventure Mode, a mode that lets the player explore the entire world, all 5 previous acts, and take on various bounties. It not only gives you extra content, but it also gives you a good reason to re-explore the countless locations you discovered in Diablo 3 and Reaper of Souls. This ultimately leads to it breathing fresh life into the disappointment that was Diablo III. In completing enough bounties you'll be able to enter a Nephalem Rift, which are essentially randomly generated dungeons that are teeming with powerful foes. These dungeons effectively give the player the ability for endless adventures, which on its own makes Reaper of Souls a must-buy. Simple as that.

Also added is the new Crusader class. While adding classes to expansions is nothing new for a Diablo title, this new class is a even mixture of defensive and offensive abilities, and puts a wildly new take on gameplay. The Crusader class addition also comes hand in hand with a new artisan in the form of the Mystic. The Mystic improves your characters equipment both visually and in ability, which lets the player customize their character even further.

Overall Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is for both the player who loved Diablo III, and the long time fan of the series that felt it was a letdown. It's a vast improvement of what came before it in many ways, even if Blizzard Entertainment may have scared off some of their original fanbase already. But if you're willing to try it out you'll find a Diablo game that is more in line with the series' 1996 debut than Diablo III itself. 

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls slays the competition and gets a 4/5, [★★★★☆]

Denis Murphy

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls at CeX

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