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Better with Age: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls


Warning: fanboying ahead.

Yes, I think this rather accessible and maybe even simple ARPG's getting better with age. Not because playing it over and over will give you new insights into the story — let's face it, the story isn't all that good anyway — let's you discover new things you previously failed to stumble upon, or even give you more appreciation for the rather uninventive button mashing that makes up 95% of the gameplay. No, it's the patches that Blizzard throws at the game. For a game that requires no subscription fee, the amount of patches introducing new (set) items, and thus new ways to grind, is quite frankly, admirable.

But, yes, grind. The game's a ridiculous grind, and that's what I actually like about the game. Grinding Nephalem Rifts (an end-game feature that are basically random dungeons, filled with critters from every act) over and over, hoping that the deities of RNG will finally bless you with that one ancient legendary item you've been looking for for so long—only to end up with a worthless 303rd Aquila Cuirass.

RNG's really cruel at times. I've been playing a Natalya's Vengeance Demon Hunter (one of the six types of heroes you can choose, this one specialized in bows) for awhile now, and I'm still waiting for an ancient Natalya's Slayer (a bow) to drop. Heck, the game's been taunting me by dropping an ancient Serpent's Sparker (a wand) instead. A Wizard-exclusive item, and an awesome one at that, but for f***'s sake, I'm playing as a Demon Hunter. Luckily, I still had my good ol' Firebird build around. (Edit: guess what just dropped for me?)

Fire, fire, fire!

Oh, yeah, my Firebird Wizard. He was my main character for a while, setting everything ablaze with his ranged attacks. Such a great feeling to torch elites (monsters with extra powers and more toughness than the usual cannon fodder) for a few seconds and just moving on to the next mob, knowing they'll burn to death thanks to that ridiculous set bonus. But at some point, he just didn't have enough firepower and defensive prowess anymore. Sure, Torment VI (the highest difficulty level so far) was a cakewalk, like with any decent full-set bonus, but at Greater Rifts (a type of Nephalem Rift with a certain level, denoting its difficulty) above 35, it became a struggle to keep him afloat long enough to end up killing the Rift Guardian (the end boss of a Greater Rift) before the timer ended. After countless hours I've spent tinkering with him to make him the guy he is today, it was time to move on to something else. But what?

Blizzard answered that question for me by dropping a new patch which included a buff for the Wizard-exclusive Tal Rasha's Elements set. After acquiring all the things I needed, turbo-leveling another Wizard (thanks to a level 25 Gem of Ease that's an hour of work at most), combining them with a few Delsere's Mangum Opus set pieces, a Convention of Elements, and a Ring of Royal Grandeur, I was off to a completely new experience. No longer did I need to kite around with my glass-cannon Firebird Wizard, waiting for everything to die, I could just teleport head-on into a mob, throw up a Slow Time bubble that actually damages every monster caught inside of it, fire a bunch of Magic Missiles that temporarily freezes the monsters it hits (when I'm lucky) and powers up another spell to boot (thanks to the Arcane Dynamo passive), while everything in sight gets nuked by meteors thanks to the Tal Rasha's Elements set bonus. Critical hits doing over a few billion damage are common with this build, making Greater Rifts are much more pleasant experience than doing it with my Firebird build.

I could go on for hours, rambling about the different builds I enjoy playing. But I'd better stop here (it's pretty much felgercarb for anyone who hasn't played the game anyway) and say that the game does have some issues. While the sets the game has to offer are pretty great, you're pretty much forced to play them if you want to conquer Greater Rifts. I can't think of any build that doesn't use any set items (even partial sets) and enjoy any success in 30+ tiers. Sure, there are enough legendary items that provide a decent boost, but no combination of them even comes close to the set bonuses. Heck, some of the non-set legendaries even boost the spells usually seen in set builds. Nilfur's Boast are great boots, but their Meteor-boosting affix is used to maximum effect in Tal Rasha Wizard builds. The Crashing Rain belt? Hello, Natalya's Vengeance. The Bombardier's Rucksack quiver? Greetings from a Demon Hunter with an Embodiment of the Marauder set.

Vengeance! (Or: how you die twice in a level 39 Greater Rift by not paying attention.)

There are simply not enough viable builds outside the sets and no amount of tinkering by Blizzard is gonna fix that. People who play the game regularly know that at higher tiers, pretty much everyone plays the same builds. Sure, there are a bunch of variations for each build, but they're mostly the same idea. There's only a few item slots to tinker with if you wear a set, and apart from the "freedom" a Ring of Royal Grandeur offers, there's not much wiggle room to play around with.

The upcoming patch (2.3.0) will change that a bit, however, and that's what made me write this blog in the first place. It's not the brand new region to roam around in. The new sets don't do it either and also not the reworked way Greater Rifts will work. Nope. It's a small relic called Kanai's Cube.

One of my main problems with this game is the lack of stash space. After grinding through hundreds of Nephalem Rifts and Greater Rifts, I've amassed a whole bunch of legendaries I might want to play around with at some point. But you can't keep them all, there's just not enough space in your stash. Kanai's Cube will offer a solution: one of its uses is that it can strip the legendary affix of an item and you'll be able to use that as a passive skill. This is just awesome! While it's limited to three skills at a time (one from a weapon slot, one from an armor slot, and one from a jewelry slot), and you have to be able to use the item if it were still an item (sorry Demon Hunters, you still can't use The Furnace), it's still an interesting way to diversify builds. No longer are you limited to wearing a specific item in a specific slot for its awesome bonus, you can now just equip it as a passive skill and carry around a different item in that slot.

Torment VI is a joke.

It opens up so many possibilities. No longer will a Ring of Royal Grandeur take up that valuable slot on your finger. Just toss its legendary affix up as a passive, wear that Bastions of Will rings you couldn't use before, and mix up your set items to give your hero an even bigger boost. Still sour that you can't use Nilfur's Boast and Crown of the Primus at the same time in your Tal Rasha/Delsere build? Well, now you can.

This new patch is making me truly excited for the future of the game. Hell, finally there'll be a bunch of new difficulty levels as a bonus (Torment VII-X)! If they also fix that rather annoying surprise buttsechs by creatures that can insta-kill you while being off-screen, I'll be even more of a happy camper.

So yeah, I really think Diablo III: Reaper of Souls is getting better with age. Give me that expansion already, Blizzard!

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About extatixone of us since 2:24 AM on 06.16.2013

Casual gamer on PS2/PS3/PS4, Vita, 3DS, Wii U. Sometimes uses PC to play stuff, mainly Visual Novels.

I'll blog about a bunch of stuff: anime, Japanese games, visual novels and whatever comes to mind.

Scared of heights.