Friday, 18 April 2014

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

First off, let me apologise for the lack of content this month. It's been a crazy month, with my work doing it's stocktake, then some other RL stuff preventing me from gaming as hard as I usually do. Add to that the fact that nothing is happening in the games I play (at least in game, WoW is currently in chaos over the patch notes and datamining of the alpha). To add to this, some ideas that I have had to write about have been scrapped when I've read through them again and thought they were just not interesting enough, and thus the lack of content.

However when I have been playing, I've been spending a lot of time in Diablo. I bought the expansion, Reaper of Souls and have to say I've enjoyed it thoroughly. RoS has taken what was in my opinion a very lackluster game and turned it into what D3 should have been on release. Sure it still has its flaws, but overall, Blizzard have done a really solid job of addressing some of the concerns that people had with the initial release. I already spoke about how removing the Auction House allowed Blizzard to rework the loot system into something far superior to how it was previously.

Blizzard's Diablo series has always been known for its addictive loot system, and RoS is now back to that standard. Loot 2.0 as it's been called, tweaked the way drops worked with your character. Where previously it felt like a solid 80% of whatever dropped was targeted at another class, now it feels more like 10%. Granted these numbers are based on my gut feeling and no real figures (however I might actually record what drops for me in the future to see the exact percentages), but even the fact that it feels better makes a huge difference to the way it plays. 

Each class now has a higher chance to find stats that they can actually use on items. For example, as a Barbarian, I find the vast majority of my loot has Strength on it, whereas a Wizard would find more items with Intellect on them. Alongside this change, they tweaked the ranges that stats could have on items at different levels. The example used in the patch notes shows just how big this change is. Where an item before could have a range between 1 and 200 for a stat, it now would have a range of 140 to 200. This has helped to combat items that have garbage stats for their level that would have just been sold or salvaged. Now most items have a solid chance of being useful

Thanks to for the picture
I also mentioned that Blizzard added local servers in for Australia and New Zealand. While I would have loved an offline mode (seriously Blizzard, you can't say the AH is the reason anymore), it is a step in the right direction for those of us down under. Where previously in Perth I would have pings of well over 350 to the US server, with it going above 600 or flat out disconnecting at least three or four times an hour. Now I get pings of around 80, and occasional spikes to 150+. There are still disconnects, and this leads me to something that annoys me about the always online model of D3. Because the levels you play on are basically instanced, any disconnect drops you back to the start of the level. If you drop on a boss, depending on how nice the server is feeling, you might only get dropped back to the start of that boss fight. However if you aren't lucky, you can end up back at the very start of a level. The first act of RoS is especially bad for this. During one particularly bad time, I had five disconnects in the period of two hours, and each one resulted in me needing to go back to the start of the first act. There really is no excuse for always online now.

Putting all that aside however, the major draw to RoS is the Adventure mode. I'll be totally honest: I wasn't sure if I was going to like Adventure mode. The idea of doing dailies in Diablo turned my stomach, but I was totally wrong. It's a bunch of fun, and the fact that you can now play without having to actually play through the story mode again has finally given D3 the endgame it needed. Once you defeat Malthael, you unlock the mode, which involves going to areas you went to in the game to slay enemies and face a final boss. Adventure mode dilutes Diablo's gameplay to it's core form: defeating huge amounts of enemies until you get to a boss, removing the need for the things that slow down the gameplay like story. The best part is, once you unlock the mode, it becomes available to all of your characters, meaning that you can create a new one and never have to touch the main story. Brilliant!

I honestly hated D3 before. I bought it and felt cheated because I couldn't play it properly due to lag, so I had basically spent $90 for nothing. When I could play, I never felt like my character was progressing in gear because of the loot system. Reaper of Souls has changed that almost entirely now. I actually want to play it, and when I do, it's mostly stable and runs perfectly. With the recent addition of Australian servers and Loot 2.0, Blizzard has taken someone like me and turned them almost completely around on the game. I can't imagine what it's like for those who were actually playing it before now. There would be a massive hole in time for me if I was playing like I play WoW and this happened. Solid work Blizzard, and hopefully offline mode can come soon... please?

As always,


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