Crafting has also received a significant boost in importance in that players can now find set and legendary recipes. To make these, players will need to have a lot of rare crafting mats on hand but, according to Blizzard, what can be made will be the equal to, or even exceed, those legendaries that can be found out in the world.
There is one issue with this that I find troublesome, however, in that all items created by players that are above “rare” (yellow) quality are account bound. Even some rares are account bound as well as all legendaries and set items. There is no way to trade with anyone else. While it’s a good thing that the auction house has been taken out of the game, it would be nice if partied players or guild mates or Real ID friends could exchange goods with one another. I don’t see any compelling reason that this can’t be done.
In addition to amazing player crafting, the addition of the Mystic will come as a welcome part of Reaper of Souls. She can transmogrify player equipment (thank you, WoW!) and she has the ability to replace a single stat on any item, legendaries included, and can keep working a stat until a player either achieves the desired result or runs out of money.
Speaking of gold, Blizzard has made crafting a real gold sink. Unsocketing high level gems will cost in the multiple-millions of gold as will any of the higher level weapon and armor crafting attempts and stat tweaking at the Mystic. Start saving today because you’re going to need it!
Reaper of Souls also brings a new class into the game, a hybrid class in a way. The Crusader is a heavy armor wearing tank that can also wield magic and that utilizes party-enhancing auras. Most interestingly, the Crusader, unlike the other strength-based characters, has taunting capabilities to keep monsters focused with him/her rather than the rest of the party. The other thing that sets the Crusader apart from the other classes is the viability of both mid-range and melee-range attacks. It will be up to the player to decide what suits their play style the best.
I must admit that I’m a bit worried for the Barbarians and Monks out there. The Crusader, with shields and the ability to move out of the way quickly thanks to the awesome Steed Charge, and the ability to fight at both mid-range and melee-range, seems to be more durable and a better tank-ish class than the two aforementioned classes. Time will tell if this is true or not.
For the purposes of assigning a score, it can’t honestly be said that Reaper of Souls brings anything particularly innovative to the action RPG genre as a whole but it does bring a lot of innovation to Diablo III itself. From Nephalem Rifts to skills overhaul, to better loot to a new, different class, there is a lot of innovative new material in the expansion that will please a lot of players.
As with every Blizzard product, Reaper of Souls is a highly polished expansion. I ran into few, if any, bugs at all. This is classic Blizzard, its production values and care for detail shining through every little corner of the title.
All that needs to be said here is that the campaign for bigger, better, tougher, more amazing gear will keep players coming back for more for years to come. The removal of the Auction House gives players a reason to keep playing since the ability to buy one’s way to the best gear is gone.
The caveat here is, as mentioned earlier, much more randomization needs to be added to both Bounties and Nephalem Rifts. Players should have no idea what to expect in either. Grab a bounty, head out into the world not knowing what might be encountered. That’s how it should be. Given that, at least at this time it is not, player fatigue may set in fairly quickly for some.
One of the less trumpeted new features that arrived with patch 2.0.1 is the inclusion of a clan and community system. Players can form clans of up to 150 players or communities that are unlimited in number. According to Blizzard, clans and communities give players a chance to have a dedicated chat room with friends and fellow members and a place, to put it a bit crudely, to “epeen” since items found, achievements earned, etc. are displayed in the group channel.
It will remain to be seen whether or not Blizzard adds any real function to the clan/community feature. At this point, it’s much ado about nothing. When they add inner-guild item trades/transfers or the ability to “spectate” fellow members’ games, then I’ll take note.
PvP of any meaningful iteration has not been added with Reaper of Souls but my guess is that with the amount of improvement made to the core game, this will be high on the priority list for the future.
A lot of players have taken offense with the $40/$60 price tag for Reaper of Souls. There is little need for concern. Even more jaded players who will go into the game and end up leaving it shortly thereafter will get their money’s worth. There are many, many more hours of game play than dollars spent. Blizzard has provided ARPG fans with a high quality product at a reasonable price that will last for a long, long time.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is the game that should have been released two years ago. Even saying that, waiting patiently for this past couple of years, it was well worth it. The inclusion of Loot 2.0, Paragon points, Adventure Mode, and the Crusader has made Diablo III a bright and shiny new game that has finally earned that 8.5 we assigned to it two years ago.
Now that release day has arrived, we’ll be anxiously awaiting your verdicts so be sure to swing by this forum thread again and post your thoughts and impressions.
Suzie Ford is the Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom.