Platform: Xbox One (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Genre: Action RPG
Price: 59.99, Available Here
It should come as no surprise that a game named after the devil himself would have a few concerns to warrant.
First and foremost from a christian perspective is the vast pantheon that all Diablo games dig into. There are foul beasts running amok everywhere, but even more concerning are the “prime evils,” head demons bent on total destruction for their own glory. The angels are no better here, existing only to chide humanity and fight the demons (often even for their own glory.)
The game features quite a bit of blood and gore. Let me emphasize that. There is a lot of blood and gore here. Many of the places you visit have been terrorized by the demons, leaving piles of mutilated corpses and people in torture devices.
Diablo III has been around in some form since 2012, with the series spanning as far back as 1996. I’ve personally bought three copies of this game (PC, Xbox 360, and now Xbox One). What is it that makes the isometric action-RPG so addictive? Do the latest changes warrant picking up the game on console? Let’s dig in.
Though the entirety of Diablo III is delivered in this package, I’ll only cover the beats from the Reaper of Souls expansion. After the Nephalem (players) beat Diablo, the Black Soulstone (which has the Great Evils trapped within) is taken by a secret society called the Horadrim. As they are trying to hide it deep within the bowels of the earth, never to be disturbed, Malthael, the Angel of Death, comes in, slaughtering the Horadrim and taking the Soulstone to further his own means. Now, the Nephalem must stop Malthael before he wipes the earth of human life.
If the story sounds a bit nebulous and hard to follow, you’re not alone. Ultimately, the story serves as nothing more than a means to keep you in the fray, moving from mission to mission and conquering bosses.
The base mechanics remain largely unchanged from Diablo III proper. You’re still running around, killing monsters, getting new abilities and gear to help you rinse and repeat. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, and with Reaper of Souls they’ve added a few mechanics to streamline the experience while adding a slew of new content.
The most obvious addition is an entire new act where you’ll ultimately have to stop Malthael and his dark angel army. I love that it extends the gameplay, adding new missions while rounding out stories with many of the NPCs you know and love (mostly companions and artisans). The scenery is dark, murky, and largely feels all too repetitive. The new enemies and bosses are a welcome addition, though.
In addition to the new act, the shield-wielding Crusader joins our other heroes to battle the dark forces. Specializing in heavy defense, the new skills he brings to the fray are a blast to unlock and explore. You can heal your friends, blind and daze enemies, call down lightning from above, and much, much more. The Crusader is versatile and quite survivable, making him an apt addition to the team.
After you’ve beaten all five acts of the standard game, you’ll unlock Adventure mode, an addition that promises plenty of replayability. You’ll jump into the world, visiting different landmarks and completing bounties – randomly generated tasks – to further earn experience and money. Within Adventure Mode, you can also gain access to new “Nephalem Rifts” – random missions that drop players into a zone, giving them randomly assigned tasks. It adds a great sense of depth, giving players enough to keep them busy for months.
Upgraders beware! I did run into one snag moving over to the new current generation of consoles. My Xbox 360 character, which was on Xbox Live servers, was unable to be retrieved for my Xbox One account. I’ve not owned an Xbox 360 for months and, as it turns out, you have to link your Xbox Live account to Battle.net on the old console – something I don’t even recall being possible back then. Blizzard’s tech support was apologetic but unable to help me out either, so I had to start totally from scratch to experience the new content.
The jump to current generation consoles is beneficial for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players. Gamers will now get the game in 1080p and Blizzard has streamlined a few things. While killstreaks and the like have been around, there’s now a visual indicator – a lit fuse – to let you know how long you have to continue your killstreak. Additions like this are minor but add to the overall experience quite nicely.
The radial menu system remains unchanged from previous console entries. It works, but having multiple players be unable to access their skills and inventory in local co-op is still a pain in the neck.
Overall, Blizzard has delivered a top-notch product. Anyone with a penchant for loot grinding and mowing down hordes of villains now have the definitive package to make that happen. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls takes one of the best games of the last few years and expands on it, giving gamers everywhere a definitive long-lasting, satisfying action-RPG.
The Bottom Line
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls features some dark themes and extreme gore and violence. However, folks who venture into Sanctuary will enjoy one of the most well-polished action-RPGs on consoles to date.