// Diablo III: reaper of souls

HANDS–ON WITH THE DIABLO III: REAPER OF SOULS BETA

HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS CHONG JINN WEI

We took a dive into the closed beta to find out how the world of Sanc­tu­ary has changed.

Reaper of Souls takes place shortly af­ter the con­clu­sion of Diablo III’s main cam­paign. With Diablo, the Prime Evil, de­feated by the Nephalem and im­pris­oned within the in­de­struc­tible Black Soul­stone; Tyrael and the an­gels of the High Heav­ens sur­mised that the best way to pre­vent the stone’s cor­rup­tion from tak­ing root again was to hide it away for­ever, never to be found.

How­ever, Malthael, for­merly known as the An­gel of Wis­dom, now the An­gel of Death, has stolen the stone, and com­manded those loyal to him to de­stroy hu­man­ity. Un­like pre­vi­ous Acts, play­ers will need to fight against both the cor­rupted an­gels, un­der Malthael, and the rem­nant de­mons of the Burn­ing Hells.

Be­gin­ning in West­march, the once proud city has been re­duced to a char­nel house. Malthael’s forces con­tinue to har­vest the

SINCE THE RE­LEASE OF DIABLO III IN 2012, BLIZ­ZARD HAS CON­SIS­TENTLY LIS­TENED TO FAN FEED­BACK OF ITS POP­U­LAR AC­TION RPG, AND HAS RE­LEASED COUNT­LESS PATCHES TO IM­PROVE THE GAME. LAST YEAR AT GAMESCOM, BLIZ­ZARD AN­NOUNCED A MA­JOR souls of its cit­i­zens, leav­ing their dead bod­ies free for venge­ful spir­its to pos­sess. The as­saulted city was a grim place, with bod­ies of the dead strewn at ev­ery cor­ner of the city, only to be re­an­i­mated as mind­less ghouls.

Like the rich en­vi­ron­ments in Diablo III, the ghostly streets of West­march are fill with ran­dom­ized events too. To re­flect the grim sit­u­a­tion of the city, many of the events usu­ally re­quire play­ers to save cit­i­zens and sol­diers from turn­ing into ghouls.

Other lo­ca­tions in Act 5 were sim­i­larly grim. The Blood­marsh is a swamp filled with deadly crea­tures that feed on fes­ter­ing bloated bod­ies, but buried be­neath is a long, for­got­ten an­cient civ­i­liza­tion, whose hal­low halls are filled with blood de­mons and swarms of scarabs. Another lo­ca­tion that play­ers EX­PAN­SION TO DIABLO III, NAMED ‘REAPER OF SOULS’. SET TO BE RE­LEASED ON MARCH 25, 2014, WE TOOK A DIVE INTO THE CLOSED BETA TO FIND OUT HOW THE WORLD OF SANC­TU­ARY HAS CHANGED, WHILE SMIT­ING THE UN­DEAD BACK TO THEIR GRAVES.

THE SOULS OF THE DEAD WILL FIND NO REST

will visit is the re­al­ity-bend­ing Pan­de­mo­nium Fortress, Diablo II play­ers may re­mem­ber their brief visit to the lo­ca­tion, but now have the chance to fully ex­plore the twisted realm, which are filled with de­mons and other ter­rors.

SMITE WITH HOLY ZEAL

Reaper of Souls in­tro­duces a brand new char­ac­ter class, known as the Cru­sader, essen­tially a walk­ing im­pen­e­tra­ble fortress who doesn’t hes­i­tate to put en­e­mies to the sword. At first glance, the Cru­sader class may draw com­par­isons with the cur­rent Bar­bar­ian class, es­pe­cially on how they are able to tank dam­age. While the Bar­bar­ian con­cen­trates on dom­i­nat­ing in melee and sup­ple­ment them­selves with stat-boost­ing shouts; the Cru­sader prefers to drop holy light­ning or even throw their ar­mor at the en­e­mies. To sup­port their al­lies, Cru­saders can con­se­crate the very ground they are on to heal them­selves and al­lies.

That is not to say that Cru­saders are slouches in com­bat; tell that to one who wields two-handed weapons with one hand. This al­lows Cru­saders to lay the pain on en­e­mies with­out sac­ri­fic­ing de­fense be­cause of their shield and heavy ar­mor. The only

“THE CRU­SADER PREFERS TO DROP HOLY LIGHT­NING OR EVEN THROW THEIR AR­MOR AT THE EN­E­MIES. TO SUP­PORT THEIR AL­LIES, CRU­SADERS CAN CON­SE­CRATE THE VERY GROUND THEY ARE ON TO HEAL THEM­SELVES AND AL­LIES.”

down­side to this abil­ity is a slightly slower at­tack speed.

Like other classes, play­ers can choose to build their char­ac­ters dif­fer­ently. Some may pre­fer to play the Cru­sader as a mid-range at­tacker who lobs ham­mers at their foes. Oth­ers may pre­fer rush­ing head­long to un­leash his zeal upon their en­e­mies. We, on the hand, pre­fer play­ing like Cap­tain Amer­ica, throw­ing our shield at en­e­mies. It just looks cooler.

THE AD­VEN­TURE CON­TIN­UES

Another sig­nif­i­cant change that play­ers will come across in Reaper of Souls, be­sides the main cam­paign, is the new Ad­ven­ture Mode. Be­ing a di­rect an­swer to the game’s lack of endgame con­tent, Ad­ven­ture Mode lets play­ers freely choose where they want to ex­plore, as all way­points are un­locked even be­tween dif­fer­ent Acts. With the ma­jor­ity of the story el­e­ment re­moved, play­ers can con­cen­trate on what is most im­por­tant, killing mon­sters and find­ing bet­ter loot.

Ad­ven­ture mode also has two new op­tional fea­tures: Boun­ties and Nephalem Rifts.

Boun­ties pro­vide play­ers with op­tional and ran­dom­ized ob­jec­tives to com­plete. Some Boun­ties task play­ers to slay a unique mon­ster or boss, clear a dun­geon, or even com­plete spe­cific events. Each Act will have their own set of ran­dom­ized boun­ties, let­ting play­ers ex­plore and con­quer whichever Bounty that strikes their fancy.

Nephalem Rifts (pre­vi­ously known as Loot Runs) are com­pletely ran­dom­ized dun­geons that are de­signed for play­ers to com­plete within 10-15 min­utes. If play­ers are look­ing for ex­tremely un­ex­pected chal­lenges, this is the mode for them. To ac­cess th­ese Nephalem Rifts, play­ers will need to bring a Rift Key­stone to any town hub and click on the near­est Nephalem Obelisk.

Ev­ery­thing from the lay­out of dun­geons to the type of en­coun­ters are com­pletely un­known. It is pos­si­ble for mon­sters from dif­fer­ent Acts to ap­pear in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent maps. Of course, when play­ers com­plete th­ese Nephalem Rifts, they will be hand­somely re­warded with gold, ex­pe­ri­ence and loot. For play­ers who want an un­hinged ex­pe­ri­ence of Reaper of Souls, they will surely find a chal­lenge within the Nephalem Rifts.

“NEPHALEM RIFTS (PRE­VI­OUSLY KNOWN AS LOOT RUNS) ARE COM­PLETELY RAN­DOM­IZED DUN­GEONS THAT ARE DE­SIGNED FOR PLAY­ERS TO COM­PLETE WITHIN 1015 MIN­UTES. IF PLAY­ERS ARE LOOK­ING FOR EX­TREMELY UN­EX­PECTED CHAL­LENGES, THIS IS THE MODE FOR THEM.”

The City of West­march is un­der­siege by the forces of Malthael, the An­gel of Death.

Cru­saders are tough mid-range melee class char­ac­ters that use both sword and magic to un­leash their zeal upon their en­e­mies.

Fu­eled by Wrath, Cru­sader skills heighten their bat­tle senses and im­bue their weapons with Holy prop­er­ties to deal more dam­age.

The Mys­tic Ar­ti­san al­lows play­ers to reroll spe­cific item at­tributes and even change the look of your equip­ment. For a price.

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