Reaper of Souls is the butter that Diablo 3's bread was missing and damn is it great butter. Diablo 3 was a bit of a disappointment when compared to its predecessor game. But even vanilla Diablo 2 wasn't as well received until after the expansion for it (Lord of Destruction) was released. I guess you can say the same thing about Reaper of Souls but does it truly fix the problems that plagued vanilla Diablo 3? I shall dish out my 2 cents about it now.
Reaper of Souls continues the story after Diablo 3. Diablo is defeated but the essence of all the 7 Lords of Hell linger in the Black Soulstone and to prevent it from falling into the hands of either Heaven or Hell, Tyrael decides to hide it in the deepest part of Westmarch. However, he didn't expect the Angel of Death is after it for some purpose and thus Tyrael tracks down the hero (your character) to stop Maltheal.
To be honest, the story was really good but not great. Blizzard really did a great job on the mood of Reaper of Souls; trying to return Diablo to its former "dark and gothic" setting and it fit well with the story but it was a bit too cliched. The ending had a nice twist to it and I guess I was satisfied with it but it wasn't strong enough to leave a big impact on me.
Like vanilla D3, Reaper of Souls plays exactly like the game it is expanding. You have a bird's eye view of your character and you left click to perform various commands. While killing demons and other forms of evil is a part of the game, what really makes Reaper of Souls much better than D3 are the many changes that Blizzard has implemented.
There is the new Loot 2.0 system that changes loot around to make items suitable for the class you are playing instead of getting some random loot that has, let's say, 5 perfect stats but 1 stat (usually the wrong primary stat) that kills the item and not worth keeping. Instead of having an item that rolls a useless primary stat, it rolls a primary stat that matches the class you are playing at the time.
Paragon 2.0 is another changed system that Blizzard nailed on the head. Paragon 2.0 is basically a way to customize your character's stats by putting points into 5 branches (Core, Offense, Defense, and Utility). Each branch then has 4 stats that you can put 1 point into for each Paragon level you get. This helps you beef up your character or put points into areas that you think your character is lacking. Don't like running slow? You can put points into movement speed to make them move across the land faster. Need more pep into your attacking speed? Boost up your attack speed with your Paragon points. This system truly helps fill in gaps that you think your character has and then some.
I suppose if you asked me what truly made Reaper of Souls unique, it would be the new game mode: Adventure Mode. Basically, in the Diablo games, in order for players to get much better loot, we'd have to play acts and certain areas over and over (grind) and that got tedious really fast and the game lost its replay value. Adventure Mode fixes that and is made for those that want to truly experience what the Diablo series is/was about. Instead of having to grind a certain act or area, you are given the entire game without any hint of lore. This gives you the freedom to go wherever you want and complete what are known as Bounties. Bounties are objectives within certain areas of the 5 acts. Once you complete all the bounties in an act, you are then given what is known as a Horadric Cache. This little bag of loot contains randomized items and can even contain what players describe as Legendary and Set items. Another feature that Blizzard added to Adventure Mode is the ability to summon what is known as a Nephelim Rift. These rifts are randomized dungeons of ongoing floors. Within these dungeons, you'll also have randomized monsters. Basically, you'll most likely encounter monsters that you saw in Act 5 in an Act 2 environment. You are also given a progress bar that fills up whenever you kills demons and the harder the demons, the more you add to your progress. Once it reaches 100%, a Nephelim Guardian (boss) appears and gives you a much higher chance of obtaining Legendary and Set loot. However, the problem I encountered with these Bounties and Rifts is that they can get a bit boring and unless Blizzard adds more content to these, the game will lose its replay value pretty fast.
Reaper of Souls wouldn't be a Diablo game if it didn't have its fair share of new loot and does it add a lot! Blizzard listened to the community about how boring Legendaries and Set Items were and tweaked the old ones while creating a lot of new ones with interesting powers. An example of an interesting new Legendary would be the Wizard's orb, Mirror Ball. This little items makes the Wizard shoot 3 missiles instead of 1 missile with the Magic Missile primary skill. There are many more and Blizzard intends to go further and add more of these types of items in the future with a new content patch.
Lastly, Blizzard "added" a new class for the expansion called the Crusader. If you're wondering why I put "added" in quotes, it is because the Crusader is basically what the Paladin in Diablo 2 was except with a little bit more range to give it some difference. Now, I haven't fully mastered a Crusader but from what Ace has told me, they aren't really that great to play. As for myself, I find it boring to play a melee class and find it more interesting to play a Wizard most of the time.
I guess that for me, Reaper of Souls was definitely worth the asking price of 40 dollars. That might seem a little steep for just an expansion but you get most (if not all) of the fixes that the Diablo community asked for, a new class to play, a new act to explore, and a huge new game mode that is perfect for loot hunting. Overall, it's a great expansion that has a few misses but those misses aren't big or truly detrimental to the overall game. If you have Diablo 3 and are wondering if you should get Reaper of Souls or not, then do buy it. It's the fix that Diablo 3 truly needed.
Here's some gameplay of me playing through a Rift (with a hilarious conversation.)
"People say that time flies but you keep breaking its wings..."