Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls was surprisingly announced at Gamescom yesterday. Usually, Blizzard likes to debut games at its own event, BlizzCon, but it decided to do something different this time around. It's almost as if it knew the expansion wasn't cool enough for BlizzCon 2013.
Reaper of Souls adds a variety of content to the original Diablo 3 experience, there's no doubt about it. We're getting an increased level cap to grind to, a new class to play, and a lot of other new stuff to enjoy. It even remedies some of the game's shortcomings by making gear more interesting and adding two new game modes to change up the loot grind.
What Diablo 3 needs, and has needed, are social features. In Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction the ladder system offered competitive play for the hardcore, and built a sense of community. Battle.net game lobbies gave players a sense of freedom when engaging socially, whether it be making a lobby with certain rules, or specifying who should join. Matchmaking simply can't offer that. The face-to-face trading, gambling, and other interactions made Diablo 2 a game that made time investment feel worth it, and because of that there were thousands of gamers who played it for years.
After over a year of patches, Diablo 3 still feels like an anti-social experience. The chat rooms are full of spam and don't feel functional in the way that Diablo 2's did. The Auction House jeopardizes the thrill of finding loot, the very thing that the genre is based around. Every item is viewed for its value on the AH, and in most cases it's more important to find a rare item than it is to find one that's an upgrade for your character. Made even worse, if you want to progress you need to spend an inordinate amount of time staring at the AH menu sorting through hundreds of thousands of items. It's time consuming and feels like a job rather than a game.
The only thing I'm really excited about is the improvement of loot. Diablo 3's loot has been a huge disappointment since release. I've found three legendary items, all equally awful. I ended up selling them to a
trash can vendor.
As someone who loves PC gaming, it pains me to say I'm more excited for Diablo 3 to release on consoles than the game's first expansion. It won't require an internet connection, encourages us to play with friends and socialize, and makes loot farming meaningful. I was hoping I wouldn't be able to say that once an expansion was coming around, but it looks like my worst fear has come true.