Reaper of Souls is the first expansion of Diablo 3, carrying on the tradition of beating monsters with sharp objects until loot comes out – something the Diablo franchise has been quite good at.

Reaper of Souls continues the story where the original Diablo 3 leaves off – the Prime Evil has been defeated and stuffed back into the black soulstone, and life is generally good with flowers and rainbows everywhere. Enter Malthael, the former archangel of wisdom who left the Angiris Council for places unknown. Malthael, like any proper good-turned-evil character, seeks to do some horrible acts under the guise of making the world(s) a better place. Since Malthael’s idea of “better” begins with the complete annihilation of mankind, our heroes are once again called to action.

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The expansion adds several new features to the core game. First and foremost is, of course, another storyline act wherein our intrepid heroes chase Malthael and the black soulstone all over creation. From Westmarch to the Blood Marshes to Pandemonium itself, the journey continues. The new zones are quite huge and full of the usual hidden random events and randomized dungeons, mostly new kinds of enemies and all the usual bells and whistles we’ve come to know and love.

A second addition to the game is the Crusader class. A “tank” as described by Blizzard, the class is another melee striker capable of delivering as well as withstanding enormous amounts of punishment, thanks to the class’ many abilities including being able to wield a shield together with a two-handed weapon and a 30% damage reduction (on-par with the Barbarian and Monk classes of the vanilla game). The Crusader plays a lot like the Paladin from the previous Diablo installments, even sharing some abilities, but is still different and varied enough to not feel like exactly the same thing but rather a spin-off. Honestly, what you should know about the Crusader is that you can equip yourself with a giant two-handed flail and an even bigger shield and go smashing everything in sight. What more could you want?

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Last (and some would say, most important) is the addition of “Adventure Mode”. In a nutshell, it’s Diablo 3: The Sandbox Edition. In Adventure Mode, all waypoints/merchants/companions/etc are available from the very start. The gameplay revolves around claiming “Bounties” – special assignments ranging from killing a specific named monster to clearing out a dungeon – and receiving rewards in the form of “Blood Shards” and “Rift Fragments” for your trouble.

Blood Shards are a new type of currency (which, like gold, is shared between all characters on an account) that can be spent on the new revision of gambling: a new NPC merchant will trade these for unidentified items of ranging quality; similar to Gheed in Diablo 2 (in fact, the new NPC is Gheed’s daughter). Rift Fragments can be used five at a time to open a “Rift Portal” – a completely random dungeon that uses a tile set and enemy sets picked at random. Killing enough enemies within this dungeon will summon a boss-level encounter which drops boss-level loot.

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Despite the many tweaks, adjustments and new content available in Reaper of Souls, there is one major flaw: it brings nothing new to the table. Everything added by the expansion has either been done before in Diablo or in other games within the genre. Nothing really feels new or unique or refreshing in any way and it all boils down to more of the same. I will not say it is inevitably a bad thing; a franchise like Diablo with its long history and many fans is expected to stay within certain parameters, but I believe that a bit of freshening up would do the series, and the entire genre, some good.

If you liked Diablo and just want a bigger variety of freaky monsters to beat with a sharp implement of your choosing – play Reaper of Souls. The expansion will deliver more of the same demon-smashing goodness and if you like exploring every nook and cranny, clearing out every instance and getting every achievement you will find many an hour of fun to be had. Otherwise, there really is no reason to bother. You are not missing out on any grand gaming masterpiece and with it being priced the way a full game should be, I heartily recommend you either skip Reaper of Souls entirely or await the inevitable price drop.


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