Breathing Life Back Into Diablo 3 With Reaper of Souls

Hoping to roll a percentage boost to fun.

With the upcoming release of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls and patch 2.0.1, Blizzard is aiming both to introduce a ton of great new content to Diablo III, and to significantly improve the game's existing content and gameplay systems. As lead designer Kevin Martens told me at a recent preview event, everything they're introducing shares one thing in common, "expanding replayability and sanding off the rough edges of the randomness of the game." In outlining for me the ways in which Blizzard hopes to do this, he started off by focusing on the content of Reaper of Souls.

"Reaper of Souls is cool for us because--and this is always true for expansions--we can take everything we've learned from the main launch of the game, we've had 15 million people play it and we've seen crazy things happen, and we can build on that base. We're not stopped by tools and technology anymore; it's more about doubling down on what made it fun. So at the high level, we've got three major things: we've got our new class, we've got act five, the continuation of the story, and we have Adventure mode."

The Crusader

As he demoed the crusader for me, Martens shed some light on Blizzard's philosophy when approaching class design, and on what the studio specifically hopes the new class will offer players. "Tactically, his role is a midrange melee character, to make him stand out from the existing barbarian and monk classes. We've given him midrange holy abilities. We always ask ourselves, this is true for anything at Blizzard that we do, 'What's the fantasy?' When a player plays this, what are we trying to engage in them? In this case, it was a war machine made human. If we took a modern battle tank and turned it into a medieval warrior, how would that work? An important part of that is that the armor is part of the weaponry. His shield is a core part of many of his abilities." To demonstrate this, he performed the blessed shield attack, which had the crusader hurling his shield at surrounding enemies.

Random city environments

Moving on from the new class of Reaper of Souls to the expansion's environments, Martens said, "Something we wanted to do but were unable to do in Diablo III was making the city as a randomized environment. We've made Westmarch into a super-random zone that still feels like a real city, which goes to the point of replayability over all. All the zones in act five are randomized, both inside and out, and that's unlike the zones in Diablo III, where the exterior zones had set exteriors and the big pieces of content that switched out within them. At the same time, we didn't want people feeling like they had to play the same story over and over again, and while you still can do that, that's where Adventure mode comes in."

"The metaphor I tend to use is cars. Everyone gets to drive a Lamborghini. It may not be the top-level Lamborghini, you might have to play a long time to find that one, but everybody gets to try out the wacky, crazy, powerful stuff. Guaranteed."

Adventure mode

For Martens, Adventure mode is about making the existing content as enjoyable and rewarding to players as possible. "We have all these random systems, we have all these pieces of content, and we wanted to find a way for a varied experience to be the best way to play. It's already the most fun way to play, but people tend to go where the power is, they tend to go where the items are. We wanted to make sure that the best way to get gear was also the most varied way to play."

Senior level designer Larra Paolilli took over to explain Blizzard's intentions with Adventure mode in more detail. Describing the mode as Diablo III's go-anywhere, slay-anything sandbox mode, Paolilli called up the world map from which you access the mode's content. "You're free to play however you want, by yourself or with friends, and you can kind of design how you want to play and the amount of time you want to play. So you can just go and farm if you want to play that way, but if you want to play for 15, 20 minutes or so, you can do bounties." These were indicated by exclamation points in specific locations on the map. "Those are randomized content from throughout the entire game, and each time you come in, they'll be different. So where they are within the act, and what they are, will be different each time." Bounties can involve killing bosses, clearing out dungeons, or completing other goals, and they reward you with experience, gold, and rift keystone fragments. Collect five of those and you can access a rift. Rifts, Paolilli explained, "are multilevel dungeons that take a mix of tilesets, lighting and monsters and put them together in a combination you haven't seen before. So each floor can be something different. And they all culminate in a unique boss fight. And these are the best way to get loot."

Ah yes, loot

New to Diablo III in the expansion are randomized city environments like Westmarch.

Patch 2.0.1 introduces a significant overhaul to Diablo III's loot system, an overhaul which Blizzard refers to as Loot 2.0. Explaining what this overhaul would bring to the game, Martens said, "First and foremost is the smart drop system, which is that items have a high-percentage chance of rolling stats that are good for the character that finds them. So if you're a witch doctor and you find a great witch doctor dagger and because of the random number generator, you get a bunch of strength on it that you totally don't need, what a waste. OK, well, first we've made it so that it's much more likely to be intelligence or armor or vitality or something that you're going to want. We also have class-specific affixes, a bunch of new ones." He highlighted a specific piece of gear that carried with it a 14 percent increase to damage done by the witch doctor's fetish army.

Martens hopes that by increasing the quality and variety of drops for classes, Blizzard can also increase the variety of ways in which people play Diablo III. Previously, he said that players tended to pick certain abilities and stick with them for the duration. One aim of the new loot system is to encourage players to try new things. Using the witch doctor as an example, he said, "If you don't use fetish army and you start to get improvements to the damage, you might want to try it out. Maybe not with 14 percent, but you find two or three items that have plus fetish army damage and you kinda can't resist."

Correcting past mistakes

Martens also talked about how Loot 2.0 is designed to fix what many saw as a flaw in the loot system. "Legendaries were always supposed to be the best items in the game. Mathematically, we did not make that the case. You could get a yellow item that was more powerful even though the legendary had a cool power, and that became a difficult choice that wasn't as fun as we wanted it to be. " Now, he says, "The best items in the game have gotten a lot better."

Martens is confident that the new system will lead to a better experience for everyone. "We're being way more generous with our drops. So we're actually dropping fewer items overall, you don't have to go back to town and clear your bags as often. But between the smart drop system and the generosity on our set and legendary items just being exponentially higher, you're much more likely to get awesome items. The metaphor I tend to use is cars. Everyone gets to drive a Lamborghini. It may not be the top-level Lamborghini, you might have to play a long time to find that one, but everybody gets to try out the wacky, crazy, powerful stuff. Guaranteed."

Written By

Want the latest news about Diablo III?

Diablo III

Diablo III

Discussion

75 comments
galeta
galeta

farming loots to farm more loots... what a stupid idea... what a waste of time... blizzard still misses the point. without more content and more game modes (like last stand, arena, dota) there is no point of chasing loots.

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

Borderlands... not those games have the loot down far better because they have far more "colors" of rarity then D3.

Reuwsaat
Reuwsaat

A new class and two loot drop fixes. A-mazing. Also, map area randomization never made a game feel new to me, just because you turned a door that was supposed to be on the right, to the left, it doesn't make it a whole new exciting scenario, unless you have alzheimer or an IQ of a dog. I was already bored of Diablo 3 on the beta when there was a single act.

Fistan87
Fistan87

Still most of first 4 acts are not random and except act 1 game has very little dark atmosphere, not to mention exponential item scaling made gears u find non-max level irrelevenat. You never keep them because why bother u'll see a better drop in few more levels. I remember in d2 when u see a good unique drop u'd be very excited because that thing that dropped in normal would carry you into hell easily. No such occurances here. No items worth keeping beyond their levels. NOt to mention extremely limited character progression if we can call it that.

nigelholden
nigelholden

Diablo 3 has been one of the biggest examples of tone deaf developers I can remember. They had a huge fan base install that they refused to listen to in any way from the beginning. A lot of fans knew something was wrong when the first screenshots emerged. Instead of the dark gothic world we had grown to love, we got top down WoW. 


Then came the auction house. Everything that the fans said would go wrong with it did. The game became a pay to win mess where one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game, loot, had been ruined. Then there was the weak story and constant nerfing. Then of course the Jay Wilson affair. When he said, "F*ck that loser", it felt like he wasn't just saying it to Brevik, but also the installed fan base. 


I'm not sure these changes can fix what mess that Blizzard created. Hopefully they learned something about humility and listening to their fans a bit more as they move forward. 

Grey_Eyed_Elf
Grey_Eyed_Elf

I have been playing it since the patch went up and have logged in 15 hours with a new Barbarian character who is now level 34 and on act 3.


I am pretty happy with where its at right now... and will probably get the expansion to play as the Crusader..

Vexov
Vexov

If D3 is so great, why does it need so many changes?. Basicly trying to bring D3 more into what the series actually delivered, its very much Blizzard and all current supporters for D3 and its expansion saying "yep, we were wrong". Maybe another 2 expansions and D3 will be enjoyable.

Vexov
Vexov

AH wasn't really a problem, its the itemization and scaling of gear and the crafting system is just... terrible. 


It needed to be: Whites(used in crafting) < Blues < Rares < Sets < Uniques < Rares with a VERY low chance to be equal or better then a unique < crafted Legendaries(rares with more slots). And good balancing between rarities. Just as an example.


But D3's problems run further then just itemization, of course. 


I find it funny to hear the so called "majority" say its the "minority" that isn't happy with the game, when everyone I know(aside from my sister whom plays it on PS3, she doesn't count!) stopped playing after 1-2 weeks. 

skorner64
skorner64

I've played a bit of the new loot system.....it's a lot better. Now we can actually expect to get upgrades from drops instead of having to endlessly grind up gold to scourer the soon to be removed (woooot) auction house. I will be playing again.

davehammer69
davehammer69

Sorry Blizzard, not gonna fall for it. 

Fooled me once already with Diablo 3, gotta be pretty damn retarded to fall for it again

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

I woulda been more hyped if 'Reaper of Souls' was the new playable class introduced instead of the forgettable crusader class....

horosavinXX
horosavinXX

boring, over-hyped, overpriced sorry excuse for diablo. filled with cliches, childish visual style and uninspiring voice acting; stripped of all the fun, randomness and cool, dark atmosphere of its predecessors. it isn't worthy of the name of the franchise and it is beyond redemption.

Zonelezz
Zonelezz

once you remove the auction house. ill be back to game on D3. thats all that want to be remove and caused me to stop playing this game.

hopefully the expansion wil be good. 

Slagar
Slagar

I enjoyed Diablo 2 as an action RPG, but it mutated the charm and atmosphere of Diablo into a massive loot-based addictionfest. 

Diablo had the game mechanics balanced "just right" - which was what made it a kind of gaming masterpiece.

Diablo 3... hm :\

grin89
grin89

all i need to be able to go back to diablo 3 is a talent tree similar to path of exile, skill trees rock.

TheLeftHandDoom
TheLeftHandDoom

yeah, but is Reaper of Souls inclusive of homosexuals?  That's the real question.  Can you identify your character's sexuality?  Can you play as a homosexual character?  This is what matters!!!!


oh, and how come you can't chose, omnisexed or transgendered?  Why is it that you can only pick male or female?  Blizzard is obviously a homophobic company.  Let's boycott them.

AtheistPreacher
AtheistPreacher

I've never quite understood the vitriol directed at D3.  It was a perfectly good game.  Yeah, it had problems, but so did D2 (and if you don't think it did, then yes, you are officially a fanboy).  I have no problem with people making legitimate criticisms of the game mechanics, but the whole "LOL ur stupid D3 sux D2 is BEST GAME EVAR because... because... REASONS!" just makes me roll my eyes.  Oh, and while these fanboys are annoying, people who take pleasure in mocking other for enjoying a game are even worse.

All of this is to say: can we keep it classy?  Can people dislike the game without taking sadistic glee in doing so, please?

Ondoval
Ondoval

The Crusader:  "Tactically, his role is a midrange melee character, to make him stand out from the existing barbarian and monk classes. We've given him midrange holy abilities."


   Welp, a midrange mele tank which entirely lacks the 30% damage reduction present in Barbarians and Monks and which has the worst resource generators in the game -your Wrath is  depleted after throwing a couple of skills, and takes ages to refill again-. Also, compared against the DII Paladin the Crusader team support is laughlable at best.


   Sorry but I feel a huge dissapoint about this class after some contact with it. Is way worse than Monk at mele and miles behind the Wizzard in ranged combat.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

D3 was an average game, but the problem was D2 might be the best game in this genre ever so in that aspect it failed. After playing it I just felt it fell short of D2 and I did not like the major graphical changes it really felt like some kind of warcraft to me and not diablo because it was missing the sinister evil aspects and turned into a more comical light hearted game.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

Well some of the stuff in diablo 3 was silly like diablo going from an evil gender neutral monster to a woman monster? What game has perfect systems when you look back after 20 years of playing it? Of course D2 had problems, but I can easily name problems with D3 too. Almost every game has them especially after decades of play.

Poidad
Poidad

I dont see why we should have to pay for all this extra stuff and fixes. All of this should have been done from the start, diablo 3 was flawed from the get go and now they want extra money so we can play the game we should have gotten in the first place.

radcrab123
radcrab123

Bought Diablo 3 For PS3.


Been playing Battlefield 4 and GTA V Instead while waiting For Dark Souls 2.

MAL1C3_Inc
MAL1C3_Inc

Yeah that's all great. When's the ps4 release date dammit?

Lamesy
Lamesy

Randomized maps, haha. Path of Exile envy much?

Honsu
Honsu

Taking away auction house was great but it shouldn't of ever been there from the get go. Game still needs and deserves an offline mode. I'm happy for those of you who did or still do enjoy D3 enough to want this Expansion cause your getting what you want. I however will gladly pass. Remember how fun D2 was before it got an Expansion? It was still a great game. Ya it needed patches just like all games involving online do but with how fun it was it didn't need to 'breath life' back into the game it just enhanced it. Now with D3 idk what changes have been made I'm sure some of them are good I'm sure this Expansion could be fun. But when you've already done some damage is done. It's as if this was an abusive relationship and your trying to give me chocolates and roses promising me you've changed when really at the core of it all your still the same.

To me this is all just a case of you can polish a turd and make it shine but it is still a turd.

blackothh
blackothh

Now the problem is that to finally get to experience diablo 3 as a non-broken game and you held off after the bad reviews. you have to pay $80

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Fool me once with Diablo 3, shame on you.


I don't get fooled again.

blackothh
blackothh

Unless the auction house is removed, I will never even think about playing this disastrous piece of shit again. (I remember reading that it is supposed to get axed)


"Q. When will the gold and real-money auction houses be removed from the game?
The gold and real-money auction houses will be shut down on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. "


So I will be happy to try this game again fresh as long as it is still getting shut down.

boogie25
boogie25

So will it finally be a game instead of Auction House simulator? Lets hope that they didnt fck it up this time around, but i doubt it.

syn_nyx
syn_nyx

*spoilers*

You turn Diablo into a girl, you kill off Deckard Cain randomly with a freaking butterfly woman.  You make the summoning character a toothless crack head that has a fetish for fetishes.  You destroy customization and itemization, you piss on your core Diablo fan base to cater to the casual market, you toss realism out the window with a terrible color pallet built for arcade like console ports...No no no, you do not "Breath Life" back into this, you bury it deep in the woods hoping that no one will ever come across or associate this steaming pile of $h!t with its predecessor, then you start over.

0wb
0wb

Want to truly breath life back into Diablo? Just make a damn offline patch already.

zeca04
zeca04

Sorry, Diablo. Vaal is coming.

Vexov
Vexov

@Slagar  D2 went overboard with the runewords power, the charms were .. nice but shouldn't have been put in.

Kolo32
Kolo32

@Lamesy  You know that PoE isn't even close to the first Hack n Slash to do randomized maps?

blackothh
blackothh

on second thought....im not paying 80 to play it. ive waited years already, after plowing through the game at my buddies house. Ill wait till it gets a bundle edition for $40........

Slagar
Slagar

@syn_nyx Let's be honest, Deckard Cain should never have survived the first Act of Diablo-the-Second.

Slagar
Slagar

@zeca04
Diablo:
Awwww cute puddy tat! Would kitty like a cracker?


Dominus:
AAWGGHGHHSHGSHKGAHSFHSKHF GAAWDD AGHSHGHHH NOO NOT HGSHKGHHSG MY - <transmission ends there>

Lamesy
Lamesy

@Kolo32 @Lamesy Yes. You know that every PoE review on the planet was praised as being "what Diablo III should have been?" That's what I'm talking about.