Gareth Harmer reports from Gamescom on D3 expac announcement
The rumours have been confirmed: Blizzard is releasing an expansion for Diablo III. With a new class, increased level cap to 70 and brand new Act, Reaper of Souls picks up from the end of the original game. But more than that, the expansion also addresses fan concerns in a significant and meaningful way.
Reaper of Souls is based around ther story of Malthael, a former Angel of Wisdom and someone who led all angels on occasion. After disappearing for many years, he has returned as the Angel of Death. His goal is simple: destroy all demonic life in Sanctuary. And, as Humans are born of both Angel and Demon, they’re included in the reaping.
As part of the move to a darker, more sinister Diablo, the art style has also changed. Malthael’s wings are ethereal and skeletal, while his armour is imbued with skulls and sickles. The Angel himself has a gaunt, dark and foreboding presence, able to drain the very souls from his victims.
A new evil needs a new type of hero, and the Crusader is just that. Described as a a paladin mixed with the Spartan ethos, he is intended to be an armored tank in human form. The Crusader mixes melee range attacks with mid-range spells to keep combat flowing, working solidly when surrounded by groups of mobs.
To keep that action flowing, Reaper of Souls also includes seamless transitions between internal and external environments. In the gameplay preview, we moved from the outside battlements through to underground sewers and then narrow streets, all without a loading screen.
Killing monsters is one thing, but Diablo is all about the loot. Named internally as ‘Loot 2.0’, this involves a complete revamp of loot distribution. Common items will be less frequent, but can also be used as crafting reagents. Rares can be used for transmogrification with the new Mystic artisan.
But the real change is with Epic and Legendary loot. Find one of these and there’s a chance that the stats will be skewed to benefit the class you’re playing. Legendaries are also becoming build changers, in that they’ll be more focused around particular abilities.
The final change ushered in with Reaper of Souls is in endgame play. Loot runs are quick 20 minute random dungeons, with a random boss at the end. The Paragon system has also had a bump, with the level cap completely removed and the system now working account-wide.
With all these positive steps and the dark new vibe, I can’t wait to dive into Sanctuary all over again.
Gareth "Gazimoff" Harmer
Follow Gareth on Twitter @Gazimoff