I can’t recall a gaming villain who looks as imposing as Reaper of Souls’ Malthael but leaves so weak an impression. He pops in and out as the narrative unfolds, spouting a few threatening lines before evaporating in a mist of gloom, and thus he recalls Blizzard's similar treatment of Arthas Menethil during World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion. But at least Arthas had the benefit of years of accumulated lore to support his cameos. The star of but one act, Malthael is never around long enough to make us care about his grumbles.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
As the lead content designer on Diablo III, Kevin Martens has learned a lot over the past two years. He’s learned about disastrous online launches and failed real-money auction houses and what gamers really love about Diablo. He admits that the team made more than a few miscalculations leading up to the 2012 launch. Upcoming expansion Reaper of Souls, releasing on March 25, takes big steps to fix those miscalculations. I talked to Martens and senior level designer Larra Paolilli for their thoughts on the auction house, the internet connection requirement, and PvP, as well as the Loot 2.0 patch and Reaper of Souls’ new Adventure Mode.
In the dark depths of Blizzard's forums, the Senior Technical Game Designer of Diablo III, Wyatt Cheng, suspended his soul-reaping rampage to answer few questions players had regarding Diablo III's soon-to-be slower combat. His main point: A combat system emphasizing shallow health pools and high DPS is toxic to strategy.
Diablo III's controversial in-game gold and real-money auction house has been such a point of contention that even the game's former lead designer admitted that it "really hurt the game". While it will remain for upcoming expansion Reaper of Souls, an updated loot system - which will go live for all players via a free patch just before the expansion launches - has been created specifically to draw players away from the trading post, and back towards the streets and corridors of gib-prone monsters.
Even if you're not planning to peer inside Malthael mysteriously masked face-hole with Diablo III's Reaper of Souls expansion, the fallen angel's appearance will still have an effect on the base game. Much like World of Warcraft expansions, Reaper of Souls will be pre-empted by a huge "2.0" patch that will overhaul Diablo III in preparation for new items, abilities and areas.