Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Hands-On Preview

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At BlizzCon 2013, we got a chance to play the PlayStation 4 version of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (it was also the first time some of us got to try the PS4!). This expansion to Diablo III will move the story forward from its dark ending into something even darker. And we must first start this preview by saying the following: Reaper of Souls on the PlayStation 4 is the best looking game Blizzard has ever made.

We must chime in and let our readers first know that Reaper of Souls is an expansion not a sequel to Diablo III. So those hoping for Diablo IV are going to have to wait quite a while for it to happen. Instead, Reaper of Souls adds in a fifth act to the existing story after (spoilers!) your fight with Diablo. The Black Soulstone contains all of the Great Evils of Diablo lore, and Malthael, the former Archangel of Wisdom, has returned, acting as the Angel of Death. Malthael stole the Black Soulstone hoping to end the Eternal Conflict between Heaven and Hell by eradicating the human race (which has both angelic and demonic ancestry in Diablo lore).

We had some worries about playing Diablo III on home consoles without a mouse and keyboard handy, but luckily, Blizzard made a perfect transition. Moving the Nephalem around and performing his/her various attacks is quite smooth with a PS4 controller in your hand. And its running at a beautiful 1080p and 60 FPS. The PS4's touchpad was incorporated as a way of switching through menus and helping you pick skills, building atop the preexisting radial-method of menus and selection. The light bar on the DualShock 4 would glow depending on your circumstances, gleaming a bright red whenever you are on the verge of dying.

Reaper of Souls introduces a new playable character class, the Crusader. The Crusader is Blizzard's answer to the hordes (get it? horde?) of fans asking for a Paladin character in Diablo III. Most of the Paladin's abilities from Diablo II were changed over to the Monk class (such as auras and light-based attacks/heals), so the Crusader maintains the look and aesthetics of the Paladin while establishing itself as its own force to be reckoned with. The Crusader plays more like a steadier version of the Barbarian class, with tons of hard-hitting melee attacks but with buffs and heals similar to what the Paladin would have had. Even though the Crusader we got to try out was only level 35, it was an absolute blast, blending together much of Barbarians ferocity and the Monk's resourcefulness with an array of mid-range attacks.

Adventurers who played Diablo III on the PlayStation 3 will be able to move their characters from Diablo III on the PS3 to Reaper of Souls on the PS4 via a one-time, permanent transfer. Once your character is moved onto Reaper of Souls on the PS4, it can never return back to the original version of Diablo III on the PS3. While there is no news of Reaper of Souls coming out for the PS3, if it does, we can assume that the good folks at Blizzard would try to remedy the finality of this transfer.

There is also a new artisan class added in for Reaper of Souls, the Mystic. Much like the Blacksmith and Jeweler, the Mystic can upgrade your items via World of Warcraft-like forms of enchant and transmogrification . Enchanting allows you to upgrade and alter the specific statistics on your gear (please note these changes are random). Transmogrifying your items can change their visible look to a previous form of equipment you just couldn't bear to get rid of due to how awesome it looks. Collected that awesome looking, high-end Demon Hunter set but sad that its no longer viable? Transmogrification is for you.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls will be available sometime in 2014. Blizzard representatives at the Reaper of Souls booth said they are aiming for simultaneous release on PC, Mac and PS4, but the computer versions of Reaper of Souls might hit store shelves prior to its console counterpart.

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