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by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Last week at Gamescom, Blizzard announced Diablo III’s first expansion pack, Reaper of Souls, and ever since, details have been trickling in about the expansion’s content. We can expect it to include new missions, loot, a brand-new loot and paragon system, and even a new class. However, the question still remains, will Reaper of Souls be enough to elevate Diablo III to Diablo 2’s level of success? Let’s take a deeper look at the expansion’s features to find out.
Of course, everyone wants to know more about the new class, dubbed the Crusader, which is kind of an evolution of the Diablo-style Paladin. She carries a huge shield, making her proficient in defensive abilities and usable as a tank. As such, she learns shield-based skills like Shield Bash that allows her to clear out crowds that have surrounded her. Her other weapons of choice are flails, which make her a proficient mid-range fighter, able to kite as well as tank. This mid-range fighting ability is augmented by quick-recharging magic, such as Falling Sword, which causes the Crusader to turn into a falling bolt of lightning, or Fist of the Heavens, which allows her to call down numerous fireballs from the sky. The Crusader is powered by a self-regenerating mana-like resource called Wrath, which builds as the Crusader fights, takes damage, or just as the Crusader waits around getting angry.
The player will be tasked with defeating Malthael, a fallen Angel of Wisdom now turned Angel of Death. He is leading a legion of death angels on a quest to fix heaven’s mistakes, and by that, we mean slaying all demons and humans alike. To Malthael, no demons or humans equals no evil in the world: simple as that. Malthael has managed to seize control of the Black Soulstone, the prison that houses Diablo’s soul. He is using this to siphon out the souls of the people of the world easily, and those he does not kill, he turns into his minions. Blizzard has promised that the story of Reaper of Souls will be far darker than the standard Diablo III plot.
The fight against Malthael will take the player to the gigantic city of Westmarch, one of the biggest urban environments in the Diablo world. Unfortunately, the city, too, has its secrets, hidden away in dark alleyways. Apparently, the city has a problem with something called Death Orbs, which certainly do sound problematic.
There are also a number of new enemies that the player will face. Seraphs are essentially angelic versions of Necromancers from Diablo game’s past. They can summon the dead and send them against you, so if you don’t manage to take them out first, the pile of corpses around them only makes them stronger. There are also executioners, which are huge hulking brutes that do Malthael’s dirty work, and Death Maidens, loyal fallen angels to Malthael’s cause. Needless to say, your heroes will have their work cut out for them.
Of course, what you really care about in a Diablo expansion is loot and levels, and Blizzard is giving you more of those as well, though not exactly in the expansion itself. Blizzard will be introducing new systems and features that will be available to everyone for free in a pre-expansion patch. The first of these systems is a new paragon system dubbed Paragon 2.0. Essentially, this system removes the paragon level cap and distributes paragon levels among all your characters. What does this mean? Well, now it’s your account that gains paragon levels, not your characters themselves. When you gain a paragon level, each of your characters gain one paragon point, which they can then spend on passive bonuses. It’s a lot like how Borderlands 2’s badass ranks work.
Also free is the new Loot 2.0 system, which will change the way loot drops work. Essentially, the amount of loot that drops will be scaled down from the previous drop rate, but at the same time, drops themselves will be run through a “smart drop system.” Essentially, this system gives a percentage chance for a drop to be tailored specifically to your class and build whenever an item drops. This way, players will find enemies dropping more useful gear more often, even though gear itself will drop slightly less often. Not free is Reaper of Souls’ new items, which total in at 73 white items, 266 blue items, 83 yellow items, and 6 legendary items. This new distribution means that white items will drop far less frequently, while items of increased rarity will be more commonplace.
Loot Runs, a new endgame option, will also be completely free. These instances will allow players to enter a fully randomized dungeon with fully randomized monsters, each scaled to their level. They will last 15-20 minutes and are designed specifically to allow you to get a bunch of loot quickly. It’s great if you are searching for one specific piece of gear.
Another endgame option, Nephalem Trials, will show up randomly around the game as portals. When you enter one, you will be tasked with a challenge-style mission, such as surviving wave after wave of enemies. Depending on how you do in the challenge, the trial will reward you with better and harder-to-find loot. These too will be coming to the game for free, without need for the expansion.
However, the expansion will be required to access all the new areas, dungeons, stories, enemies, the new Crusader class, and so forth. It will also be needed to access a brand-new vendor called The Mystic. The Mystic will be able to change your items in several ways. For those worried about aesthetics, The Mystic can screw with your items’ models and textures in order to create custom looks for your gear. The Mystic can also enchant items, allowing you to re-roll your “affixes” for the gear in question. Essentially, it allows you to change the special properties on an item, essentially cashing it in for a totally new item of comparable rarity.
Oh, and the level cap will be increased to 70. Can’t ignore that!
Currently, Blizzard has not yet announced a release date for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. The company has been very honest, saying that the expansion will be done when it is done. Will it make Diablo III as popular as Diablo 2? We aren’t sure. However, it certainly has introduced plenty of new endgame elements to make the game more addictive. We will bring you more information about Reaper of Souls’ release as it becomes available.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: August 28, 2013