March 25th has been a long-awaited date because of two game releases: Blazblue Chrono Phantasma US version, and the Diablo 3 expansion, Reaper of Souls. Since I’ve been playing BBCP all the way from October, with the JP release, I’ll write some things about RoS, especially because I didn’t even buy the other game yet. 😦
For one thing, if you’re one of the “returned” (who came back to playing D3 thanks to the novelty of the 2.0 loot) and started playing recently, did you realize that you’ve actually been playing the expansion this whole time? Indeed, this was a sly, but quite clever strategy from Blizzard. All the systems were already in place for the expansion, with the expansion-exclusive content locked, of course. So Adventure mode, the Crusader class, and even level 61 skills and new passive ones were all grayed-out, but viewable in game. The loot and everything else functioned the same. This was harmless for the most part, except for a few notes: wizards like me noted that sometimes level 61 items dropped (wizard sources in particular), meaning, you couldn’t even hope to equip them. Another thing, rather just in my case, was the “Adventurer’s Journal” item, which is a legendary crafting material that dropped for me a whooping five times. The annoying thing? It’s used to craft a level 70 legendary gloves, for which you also need to find the recipe.
Blizzard is triumphing though in their presumptuousness, because fans finally get what they were asking for. They amend the sins of D3 in numerous ways, from the mentioned loot, to a tighter, more fun Act V, down to the dismally-pleasing dark atmosphere. Everything in Westmarch is coated in a blue-dim glow, now associated with the pervasive “Reapers” – a new type of enemy spawned from the doings of the death Angel, Malthael. This atmosphere is what everyone was asking for (there were petitions to Blizzard, asking them to make D3 several tones darker), with corpses piled in the cities, panicking bystanders promptly turning into death’s soldiers, and haunting journals describing what makes each creature tick. The city is flooded with bones of its previously-living inhabitants.
As for the gameplay, there’s a good difficulty spike that props up. With my confident Wizard, at around 120k+ DPS, I went on Torment 2, then 1. It’s kind of reminiscent of Inferno, the old difficulty, but the difficulty here is good for a few reasons: obviously, you need newer gear first, and I managed to find an incredible rare wand with a socket, that boosted me up to over 200k. Still, the developers took an effort to create more interesting cannon-fodder, requiring slightly more brain-power than just numbers to beat. Big Punishers have a leap attack that’s best dodged, because the stun is really long. Enraged Phantoms circle around and then go in with a deadly attack, similarly to the new Exorcists, who shoot Jedi-like lightning from their fingertips. The Exorcists can teleport right to you, so some form of crowd control is actually needed! And the monsters that summon other monsters do so much better, so going for them is a requirement now. The monsters just seem to require more strategy than before, but, admittedly, an insane DPS will still make short work of them. But by increasing the difficulty, the strategic parts will remain.
One other thing, is that events seem to have a slightly new format, in which the players are in an enclosed area with monster waves. Funnily enough, I wasn’t close enough for one of them, so that placed me outside. Blizzard predicted that, and placed “Return Portals” outside. However, if you die inside, you can revive in a checkpoint or in town, come by the happening event, not use the return portal, and slay all the inside monsters from outside. Surely they’ll fix this, but it’s strange that this has been overlooked. I also somehow failed to get a checkpoint at the entrance of a level 2 dungeon, so “Revive at the Last Checkpoint” meant running all they way from town, the first zone, and then 2 level dungeons to the ongoing event.
Later on, I actually decreased the difficulty to Master!
Westmarch is surprisingly “rich” for a starting zone (well, ok, technically, it’s not, it’s endgame rather, Act V) with a variety of little stores and buildings with random events. There’s usually 4-5 of them, and each one almost always has a Unique monster and one or more treasure chests. They’re quick and fun, giving closely-spaced bursts of the event mechanic that’s sought out by thirsty players. It’s a strong start, and getting the Mystic is fairly fast. She’s very useful, and will shine incredibly in the end-game for any character, for sure.
Dark atmosphere and more fun, coupled with good loot, means that the game is finally getting close to a glorious status it was supposed to have at the original launch, May 15, 2012. Those with, erm, far-reaching memory, will remember that the original Diablo 2 was also ridden with problems, and it only got to be the legendary game it is thanks to years of patching and a solid expansion.