Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls
Death is returning to Sanctuary. And he's coming to wipe out all life, human and demon. After the epic scale of the campaign in Diablo III Blizzard needed to do something pretty huge to top it.
But the big storyline isn't all that they are bringing to the table with the new expansion. In fact, Reaper Of Souls brings in sweeping changes to Diablo III in some of the game's most fundamentaly areas in order to make the game resonate more accurately with thr series' core philosophy.
On the face of it Reaper Of Souls adds a new chapter to the story with new areas, bosses, monsters and a whole new threat to Sanctuary in the form of Maltheal, the former Angel Of Wisdom turned Angel Of Death bent on wiping out all non-heavenly life leaving all planes of existence free for the angels to roam.
As far as Diablo storylines go this promises to be the darkest yet. It begins with the destruction of Westmarch by the forces of Maltheal and ending with a huge climactic battle with Maltheal in Pandemonium, the eternal battlefields for the war between heaven and hell.
To complement the storyline there is a new character class, the Crusader which is a mid-range melee character inspired by the knights of the Crusades and Diablo II's Paladin class, The Crusader uses a special blend of ranged and melee combat powered by Righteous Wrath delivering the fury of the heavens to any enemies that dare cross his path.
As well as the new Crusader class, there are a few tweaks and refinements to the existing classes. They will all recieve a new skill as well to complement their existing abilities.
They've already announced that they will be closing the controversial Auction House as it was distracting players away from the true joy of Diablo III which is killing monsters and collecting loot.
Loot 2.0 completely overhauls the way the loot system works so it rewards players for actually playing the game. From the top down, this means that for one Legendary items will actually be the most powerful items in the game and also feature unique effects that cannot be found elsewhere in the game.
At a more fundamental level it means that less loot will be dropped but the items are much more likely to be useful. The system will look at the class and stats of the player to increase the chance of the dropped items being useful. It will also periodically throw up items with more interesting buffs and enhancements encouraging players to try something a little different.
The new loot system works in tandem with the new Adventure gameplay mode. Adventure Mode unlocks all of the world of Sanctuary for players to explore. Budding adventurers can strike out to any waypoint in the game, even in new Chapter Five to seek out new monsters to kill and better loot to collect.
It's not completely unstructured though. Players will be directed around the world by Bounties, short quests that offer added rewards for beating randomly chosen game events, killing unique enemies and clearing dungeons.
The rewards a big. Aside from extra gold, loot and experience, the Bounties throw up Rift tokens which will allow players to dive into a completely new type of quest called a Nephalem Rift. These are completely randomised, completely self-contained quests which take full advantage of the game's ability to randomly create dungeons.
Nephalim Rifts will consist of between one and ten levels and each level could be drawn from a different tileset. This even includes exterior tilesets meaning that players coule be transported to a single region with dungeons below it or a series of crypts, caverns and dungeons.
Monsters will aslo be completely randomly chosen creating a wild variety of experiences. Even the bosses are randomised and will appear in the dungeon alonside hordes of minions providing a new challenge. These Nephalem Rifts also include unique and powerful buffs that can aide combat and can only be found inside these encounters.
Blizzard has put together a pretty comprehensive update with Reaper Of Souls. A new Chapter, a whole new character class, a new free-roaming gameplay mode and a complete reworking of the loot system are all enticing propositions. There may be no return of PvP as yet but as game director Josh Mosquiera said at Blizzcon, "Once we feel we have the fundametals right then we can start asking the really cool question about how we're going to get you fighting each other."
Oh, and there's also a new demonic dog-like monster which pees on a hero's corpse after killing him...
Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls is expected to hit PC and Mac some time in 2014. It has also been included in the PS4 version of Diablo III which is also expected next year.