“That was a worthy foe. Glorious” –Kormac
In a sense your follower shows innate aptitude, commenting not only on the defeat of a rare champion mob, but the relationship Diablo 3 has with its newest expansion- the Reaper of Souls. Diablo 3 has undergone monstrous changes in the past year, and is right up there with the likes of the reinvented Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn. Blizzard has taken to heart what the community has asked for, and has delivered.
Immediately upon starting my adventures in Westmarch, the first location visited in ACT V, I felt like I was playing a different Diablo 3. Westmarch is dark in tone, with steeping castles, brightly lit torches leading you down alleyways and courtyards. The environmental artists seemed to have taken what was good about D1 and D2, and implemented it here. The result is a city that feels alive with citizens, burning building, and all of the destruction a demonic invading force brings with it. Maltheal, the Angel of Death, has laid siege upon the town, looking to increase his army of undead to eradicate humanity as he sees them unfit to rule themselves. He has also stolen the black soulstone, and wishes to use it against the earth’s inhabitants. The story serves the gameplay well. A more cohesive quest line, along with many side quests to flesh out and make the story come alive, make this the strongest act yet. Comparable, in my opinion, to ACT I, the story flows with the proper amount of pace and longevity. There are three distinct locales, illusively rendering a three-act campaign, making for a much more diverse, and enthralling experience. Boss battles, without spoilers, are executed well here as each provide an adequate amount of challenge. The antagonist, Mathael, is what Diablo should have been. He is menacing and intermittently throughout your travels, mocks and taunts you, providing the sense of dread that was misplaced in the original game. The additional character, the Crusader, also provides a full new reason to play, and leveling him/her will take some time, as the community buff of experience gain has been removed. The Crusader is a more defensive character, aiding party members well. I am extremely excited to see what skills and gear I can acquire for “KormacJr”.
So what, No one plays Diablo for the story?! Well, some do-and for those that do-this act is sufficient and will impress. Whether purchasing for plot progression, or to plug hundreds of hours in adventure mode, the asking price of $39.99 is worth it. The amount of content regardless of player intention, is vast, and will provide all with an excellent value.
Loot. Loot. Loot!! Essentially the mechanics of Diablo are to kill mobs of stuff and take the stuff they leave behind and match it with the stuff you already have to see if upgrades and play styles can be enhanced or changed. My 60 paragon (51) wizard was sitting at roughly 215k damage unbuffed before my first step was taken in Westmarch. At 63, I found a wand, a pair of pants, and a helm that boosted all my stats. At 70, I am sitting at 500k damage unbuffed. Player progression does not stop there, as once you complete the story content you are free to use Adventure Mode to stack up some serious amounts of loot. All mobs have a chance to drop some amazing loot, and since Loot 2.0 was introduced, the loot you collect is usually some type of upgrade, or play-style changer. The new passive and active abilities are well orchestrated, and provided a good sense of progression. My wizard could conjure a black hole that pulled enemies in, and while it damaged them I could toss arcane orbs into their faces. It was not uncommon for me to annihilate 20-30 enemies in one hit.
The environments and locations help the gameplay. I know I am not the only one that was not a fan of the locations in the original, aside from Act I. Here the locations feel very diablo-esque, and this enhances the gameplay and makes you feel a part of the world.
Visually, the game still looks great. The new monsters and environments are rendered nicely, keeping the painter’s theme intact. If you were not a fan of the visuals before, you will still dislike them, but if you did like them, then the added attention here will be well-regarded.
Like the new environments, the new soundtrack is an absolute success. Dreadful tones, violins, and harmonic medieval chantries, accompany you on your journey. There is more dialogue here as well, and is well choreographed. I love listening to what people have to say about the town, events, and misfortunes they have encountered. A few chuckles were had at listening to the descriptions of the new enemy types, providing essential comic relief.
Encapsulating everything listed above, we arrive at thoughts overall. Story is stronger than before, but who really cares right? Gameplay is done right with better loot drops, and no auction house to deter you from finding these items on your own, and essentially, playing the game. Visuals are roughly the same as before, just better environments and monster design give them a little boost. Audio is some of the best I have heard in the series.
New game modes, better loot, and a new class make this a recommended play.