https://i.imgur.com/IokLnIr.jpg
My mouse is dead, long live my mouse!

Diablo III broke my mouse. Logitech is awesome, though-- my G500 gaming mouse is gone, and I now have a G502 in its place thanks to Logitech's legendary support. I swear I'm not a Logitech shill, I just love them.

This all started because my left click stopped working reliably, and if I had to guess I would say Diablo III wore it out. I bought the mouse when I started playing Diablo III two years ago, and I've had a few periods over those two years when I obsessed for a few months. But over the past month since Diablo III: Reaper of Souls came out, the poor mouse couldn't cope.

Diablo III (1.x) is dead, long live Diablo III (2.x)!

It's hard to review Reaper of Souls without also reviewing patch 2.0 that came out for Diablo III a few weeks before the expansion launched. This patch changed so many core systems that it truly felt like a new game, even before the new content.

The biggest changes were with loot. The Auction House, once the only reliable way to gear your character, is gone. The game was once a matter of finding things you could vendor for gold, or things that could work for other classes you could sell on the Auction House, and if you managed to find an upgrade for yourself that was just icing on the cake. Nearly all your endgame gear would be gear you bought, not gear you found. With patch 2.0, the SmartLoot system was introduced, and the legendary drop chance was increased dramatically. This is now a loot-grinding game instead of a gold-grinding game, and we're better off. Now your loot actually means something.

Patch 2.0 also changed the way difficulty works. Before, when you beat Normal you started Nightmare, when you beat Nightmare you started Hell, and so on. Now there's just one campaign playthrough that you can still replay any time you want, but you don't have to play it four times. All enemies scale to your level. The old monster power system has been changed to Difficulty, where you can tune your experience as you like. This makes for a less confusing system, and speeds up leveling quite a bit-- I had two level 60 characters prior to the patch, but now I have about 10 levels before all 6 are at level 70.

The Paragon system was changed dramatically. Once you hit level 60 in the old game your character started gaining Paragon levels that would give you minor attribute buffs and increase your chances of finding loot/gold. Now, however, all your Paragon levels give you points that go into a pool that all your characters can use, and you can assign those points however you like to really fine tune your character beyond the gear you choose.

This patch really changed the game, entirely for the better. The new team is doing a hell of a job.

Death is dead, long live death! (yeah I admit that one doesn't work very well)

While patch 2.0 changes things for the better dramatically, the Reaper of Souls expansion brings a lot to the table that you'll be seriously missing out on if you're just playing the base game.

For starters, your level cap gets bumped from 60 to 70. This brings a new active skill to each class, as well as a few passive skills, and the loot you get even by level 62 or 63 starts to make your level 60 loot look like it was made out of cardboard. But that's probably the smallest addition. To help you fill out those extra ten levels, Blizzard has added a ton of content:

Act V
The biggest addition is Act V, which takes place in a new area called Westmarch and has you going after the Angel of Death himself, Malthael. The Act V level design is fantastic for the most part, and goes a long way to address some issues people had with the main game not looking dark and evil enough. A few of the new areas are some of the best in the game for causing massive damage to an onslaught of enemies. The Malthael boss fight is a welcome challenge. It took me a few tries to take him down, but you get better at it as you learn his patterns. For me, the new act is the real star of the show.

The music in Act V is amazing. On the whole, it's probably better than the music in the base game. Derek Duke really outdid himself with the composition. You really get a sense of foreboding when it's required, and being a badass when you're about to do something awesome.

I think the best thing in Act V is all the random events. One thing I noticed in acts I-IV is that there isn't much going on in the world beyond the major events you're involved in. With Act V, you run through many areas where events are occurring that you can take part in. Early on in the town of Westmarch, you can go into many houses to help people, and there's a small storyline that progresses through some of these events. It makes the world seem far more alive.

The Crusader
RoS adds a new playable class, the Crusader. The main game only had one class that used Strength as a main stat (the Barbarian), so this adds some variety. The Crusader is a tanky class so it plays slower, but can deal out a ton of damage and can take a beating too. It isn't perfect, but it's only had one balancing patch, whereas the other 5 classes have had two years of balancing. It should only get better from here. The Crusader is also a lovable smartass. I loved going back through all the acts with the Crusader to hear his dialogue and how he reacts to things differently, because it was pretty consistently amusing.

The Mystic
The Mystic is a new artisan you pick up in Act V which can enchant your gear to change a stat you don't like to something more desirable. She can also make your gear look like other pieces of gear if you have a look you're trying to go for. In addition to the loot changes in 2.0, this extra level of customization lets you make your gear even better, or tune it to specific goals you have.

Adventure Mode
After you complete Act V the first time, you unlock Adventure Mode, which is where you'll be spending most of your endgame. You can take bounties in each act which will give you extra experience, gold, loot, blood shards and rift keystone fragments (we'll get to those shortly). Basically, every time you start the game, there are 5 bounties in each act, so you never run out of goals to shoot for or things to do. There are some bounty-exclusive legendary items that can be real game-changers.

You can use those keystone fragments to open rifts. Rifts are randomly generated areas where your objective is to kill a ton of enemies to get the Rift Guardian to show up. This is a beefier version of minibosses from the main game. The Rift Guardian drops a ton of loot and blood shards. As an added bonus, Rifts have double the legendary drop chance, so you can gear up faster there.

And those blood shards you've been getting can be gambled at a new merchant, Kadala. She sells any kind of gear in the game, but it's random. So you'll spend 5 blood shards for a pair of pants, for example, but you have no idea what it's going to be until you get it. This is yet another way that Blizzard has improved the flow of loot-- if your pants suck, you can gamble on better ones.

Conclusion

Diablo III is very different now. If you've never played before, now is a great time to jump in, and if you stopped playing months or years ago because you were frustrated with how things were, now is a great time to revisit the game. I put a couple hundred hours into the game before any of these changes, and probably a hundred since, and while I liked where it was before, I can't say enough good things about it now. Your next upgrade always seems obtainable, even if it takes a while to get there, the rifts and bounties add a ton of replay, the balance tweaks make more builds viable, and it's just more *fun*, which is what we're here for after all.

I don't generally like the number ratings, but if I had to give one it would at least be a 9. This is a game that shouldn't be missed. If you're on the fence you can pick up the starter edition and see what you think.

Bonus quality-of-life tips
In addition to the review, I thought I'd share some tips I picked up.

By default, Shift is the key for "force stand still." Don't ignore this key. This forces your character to stop moving so you don't accidentally move when you intend to attack.

On the same token, you should map a key to "force move." I use the spacebar for this. Especially if you're a ranged character, sometimes you need to just get out of the way and you don't want to accidentally attack. This also lets you move toward your mouse cursor just by pressing the spacebar. It's a little easier on the hands. Fight back against carpal tunnel!

I have also mapped "close all windows" to mousewheel-down. So if there's a bunch of dialogue that you've heard a hundred times before, or a "bounty complete" window you want to quickly get out of the way, just scroll down. In the case of dialogue, just keep scrolling to get through it quickly. Mousewheel-up is mapped to "open inventory" so I can check some new loot quickly. These won't help you play better, but they can get you where you're going much faster.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/04/2014 at 10:32pm

Wow, what a review! Good timing, too, since I bought the game last night. I've been on the fence about the game. The Starter Edition was cool, but I was still hesitant. Then, while playing Starbound, I realized I like being a bad ass and smashing stuff, so of course I'd like Diablo 3. That is, I created a Barbarian, "Hulk Smash!" My Barbarian almost never loses health points and/or it regenerates quickly.

Anyway, I was on the fence about the game, but wanted to play something else. The fact that you and the rest of Cheerful Ghost seem to love the game made me think that I should get into it. I like it, it's cool. I was really impressed by the cinematics. Even though I had a character I played through the Starter Edition with, I decided to delete him and create a new character with a new name, but still a badass Barbarian.

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 05/04/2014 at 11:23pm

Nice review, Travis! I might actually get off my ass and get Reaper now. That, or a Logitech mouse...

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/05/2014 at 12:17am
Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/05/2014 at 02:11am

I edited the review to add in something major I had left out about the random events in Act V. I'm surprised I forgot it, since that's my favorite part.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/05/2014 at 03:07am

Also, Greg-- you're in for quite a treat! I see from your B.net status that you're in Act II now. Be glad they toned down the bees. Those things were horrible back in the early days.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/05/2014 at 03:41am
GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/05/2014 at 05:30am

Hahaha, funny pictures. Yes, I've made it to Act II (not available in the Starter Edition). It's cool. I don't know about bees, but there were some locusts, I think, that I ran into and probably killed me once. I've died a few times, but not many, I'm always surprised when I do though. There is still much for me to learn about the game other than the plot. I hardly make use of my skills.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/06/2014 at 12:26am

I just picked up the Diablo II Battle Chest at KMart for $2.07. I couldn't pass that up.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/06/2014 at 12:43am

Ha, that's a great deal.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/06/2014 at 01:17am

$2.07? Damn, I would have bought all of them to hand out to people.

D2 is hard to play these days though. I used to love it but it feels kinda clunky now.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/06/2014 at 01:43am

@Travis: Whereas some would slit your throat when they heard that, I can't entirely disagree with that. The resolution alone is pretty hard to deal with.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/06/2014 at 02:17am

Well, I know it's dated, but I never played it. My super computer probably wouldn't even blink to run it. Hahaha. Some how I've had a copy of it or its expansion and never played it. I'm thinking I won't have any major compatibility issues (with Win8.1), but if I do, I know ways around that (like running a Virtual PC or changing compatibility settings).

The World of Warcraft had a small Battle Chest as well for the same price, but I didn't pick it up.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/06/2014 at 02:41am

Back to Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.....I'm enjoying it. I hate that I felt so good about being a bad ass that didn't need health replenished and then I started dying. Hahahahaha. It surprises me when I take that much damage, but I just respawn and finished off whatever defeated me. Yes, there's a 10% loss in item durability, but that's a very nice death penalty in my mind. I can easily repair items and never seem to lack the money necessary to do so. I like how easily it is to repair items through the blacksmith either via options in that menu or just a right-click. You can train him to level up and what he can produce gets better. I found some things that are used that way which require him to be at a higher level, so I'm working on that.

I love how many items in the environment are destructible, like vases, pots, rock piles, etc. It would be strategic to hit these things before attacking enemies as doing raises the Fury gauge. I usually hit them for what they might drop or spawn (like a skeleton) or just to "mark my territory" of where I've been in case I get lost. It's not a habit limited to Diablo III.

I think I'm grateful for the Auction House's removal, even though I haven't experienced it for myself, I feel like I'm not missing out on a great thing. I prefer the way the game is working now in which you get items as drops. I usually sell a bunch of items because my inventory gets full, but I should probably make use of the blacksmith's Salvage ability to get more crafting materials.

I've kept the Templar follower, but have gained a couple of others along the way. I haven't chosen them, but I am interested in seeing how they work sometime in the future. I look forward to playing other character types when I'm done with my Barbarian, although for right now that's the perfect one for me.

Still, I wonder if or how the story some how changes for each character type. I believe the dialog is different, but I don't know how all that works out and I look forward to testing that out later on a new character. Are the cut-scenes the same for each character type? I've only seen a few cut-scenes so far, but have thoroughly enjoyed them. I assume the character's voice changes depending on gender, but does it also depend on character type, I wonder.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/06/2014 at 03:31am

RE THE STORY: Basically the dialog changes based on class and gender. The story isn't radically different BUT how your character responds to the characters and your follower is. It really changes the tone of things from one play through to another.

The Witch Doctor is a really cool class and I love how it's acted and scripted. The Crusader is really different and took away a ton of the regal/elder nature the Witch Doctor acting brought to the table.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/06/2014 at 05:18am

Sounds cool!

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/06/2014 at 07:18pm

Yeah, the Crusader you would expect to be all uptight, but he really isn't. He's very frequently a smartass, and I love him for that.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/07/2014 at 05:04pm

Hm, Campaign with Crusader or continue in Adventure with Barbarian....great game, really. I could go for more!

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/10/2014 at 12:21am

So, I often have gear that I've kept because I can't decide what to equip. I recently found two awesome maces. As I was trying to decide which to equip, I realized I could equip both! Being a Barbarian is so fun! I'm still playing Adventure Mode. I've at least done all the bounties in Act I and ran through a nephalem portal twice. Bounties seem to reappear when you get back into the game. My Barbarian is finally at or above level 50. When I'm done with Adventure Mode, I plan to go through the campaign as a Crusader.

I do love this game, although I wish the campaign lasted longer. On normal difficulty, I didn't find the game very challenging, but I found it to be very fun, which is what I prefer anyway. I wonder if we'll see any more expansions.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/10/2014 at 12:47am

If you are not finding Normal to be challenging then up the difficulty. It's really fun playing at a higher difficulty plus you get sweeter drops and XP.

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/game/guide/gameplay/game-difficulty

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/10/2014 at 01:57am

Well, like I said, I like it. I might try a higher difficulty level some time. Yeah, I died a few times on Normal and the only time I really used a potion was at the final battle of Act V.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/10/2014 at 04:23am

There's actually not much point in doing higher difficulty until you can do torment, which I still struggle with, in terms of rewards.

You don't really get an experience boost for time spent unless you can one-shot standard enemies in the difficulty level you're playing. You may get a boost per monster, but if it takes you twice as long to kill them, you are leveling slower.

And the drop rates don't start ticking up until Torment.

But that doesn't mean it isn't more fun on higher difficulty. I don't really enjoy one-shotting enemies, killing rare packs in 3 seconds, killing bosses in 5 seconds. It just isn't fun.

That's one thing I hope Blizzard tweaks a bit, so that it is actually more rewarding to play Hard, Expert, and Master. As it is now, it's barely worth it, and the most expedient way to get more drops and more exp is to be bored because you're unstoppable.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/10/2014 at 11:15am

Interesting, thanks for the insight, Travis. As I said, I'm not complaining about how easy it is, it's really fun and to me that's what's important. I saw you had a Witch Doctor, level 80 was it?

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/10/2014 at 12:26pm

Level 70 is still the max, but my Witch Doctor is almost there. That's the last class I have to get to 70!

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/10/2014 at 01:49pm

Wow! So what's your favorite class?

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/10/2014 at 07:45pm

You may as well ask me to pick a favorite child. :)

Maybe Wizard. Wizard is so badass.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/10/2014 at 09:45pm

Ha ha! Well my Barbarian is above level 60 now and I've gone through each act and did the bounties and Nephalem Rifts.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/13/2014 at 09:24pm

In new patch notes: "Tyrael will now chat about his poor eating habits with less frequently." Aw, man, I thought that was a funny conversation and don't mind hearing it. "Being a mortal is so complicated."

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/13/2014 at 09:25pm

Sorry, should have included a URL in last comment: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/14138344/patch-205-now-live-5-13-2014

jdodson   Admin wrote on 05/13/2014 at 11:31pm

Oh sweet, thanks Greg, I totally didn't see this in my feed!

"Crusaders should be the toughest class in the game and currently they are not. We've increased the 15% damage reduction to 30% to match that of the Monk and Barbarian. In addition we are removing the movement speed penalty on Heavenly Strength while also changing Fervor to be a very strong passive for Crusaders who want to play with a 1-handed weapon. Together these changes should solidify the Crusader fantasy of a powerful tank wielding a giant shield."

Whoa, that should be awesome. I'll have to check this out tonight. Overall the Crusader got totally tanked up, which makes sense I never felt he was the "beef machine" Blizzard said he was. Now, it seems he may be on his way. Or her, depending on how you play the class.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 05/14/2014 at 03:30am

Yeah I'm still thinking the Monk didn't get enough love. But I'm liking what they've done with the new patch. Especially removing the requirement for white items from legendary crafts at level 70. That was so annoying.

GregoPeck   Super Member wrote on 05/14/2014 at 03:52am

You're welcome, Jon! What you've posted is relevant to me now as I've started a Crusader. I imagine I'll eventually make a Monk and maybe the others.

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