As you may have heard from the PlayStation press conference on Monday, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition on PlayStation 3 and 4 is getting a rather unexpected crossover with 2013’s hit The Last of Us. Every time you enter a Nephalem Rift in Adventure Mode, you’ll have a chance to be transported to the post-apocalyptic environments from The Last of Us, complete with the game’s three main types of infected; Clickers, Bloaters, and Stalkers.
The Diablo team worked closely with Naughty Dog to get everything just right, and from the looks of it, these teams work well together. From the terrifying sound of the Clickers to the animations of the grotesque Bloaters, this special Rift is shaping up to be spectacular – at least for PlayStation owners. Of course, Blizzard didn’t stop there. In another recent announcement we learned that they’ve developed an armor set based on Shadow of the Colossus, with Transmogs being available exclusively to PS3 and PS4 players. Check out the video for one of the six class-specific Transmogs.
I got to check out the PS4 version of Reaper of Souls, with the Blizzard team highlighting some of the important – if minor – gameplay updates. Each individual change is relatively small, but when you add them all together, it makes for a fantastic experience. The core gameplay is still exactly what you’d expect, but things like Massacre and Destruction Bonuses have been improved for the console release.
Instead of getting a notification only after your Massacre Bonus, you now get a running tally on screen showing you your current kill count. Kiting groups of mobs together to boost your Massacres now offers some very real benefits. Each Massacre Bonus now gives you a short term damage buff. Likewise, Destruction Bonuses now offer a short term move speed buff. Not only that, but they’ve boosted the bonus experience to levels just shy of ridiculous to really motivate players.
The Loot system has been improved once again. When playing local co-op, each item that drops is tagged for P1, P2, etc. Any player can pick it up, but it goes directly to its owner’s inventory. If you’ve played a ranged class alongside a melee class in local co-op, you know how annoying it can be for the melee to pick up everything, and then have to redistribute the items. This change is bound to alleviate a lot of inventory management time in co-op, which is certainly welcome.
There’s a Mail system now as well, allowing you to send items – most of which will not be account bound, like they are on PC – like gems, legendary crafting materials, even gold to your friends in game. This isn’t the only social improvement, either, as they’ve introduced the Gift and Nemesis systems as well.
With the Gift system, every time a Legendary drops, there’s a chance a Gift for one of your friends that plays will drop alongside it. When you pick it up, it mails it directly to that player. Your friend can open it on any character for a high-value Rare, and a chance at a Legendary. It’s a great way to help your friends gear up lower level characters, where Legendaries often seem few and far between.
The Nemesis system is basically the exact opposite of Gifts. Whenever you die to a normal, non-elite/unique monster in game, there’s a chance it will level up into a Unique monster, open a portal, and hop into your friend’s game. If your friend manages to take it down, you’ll both get a small reward, but if it takes your friend down, it levels up again, getting more powerful, and hopping to another friend’s game. This can create something of a cycle of slaughter as it gets more and more powerful, so there’s a safeguard in place to prevent it from spiraling out of control. After five players, the Unique monster will retire, and you and all your friends will have to live with the shame of letting it get away.
The port to next-gen console is almost one-to-one with the PC experience, so Adventure Mode will play practically identically. On 360 and PS3, however, all players in the game must stay in the same act, so hardcore Rift Fragment farming is a little less efficient than you might be used to on PC. On last-gen, you’ll also have Rifts themed from the Act you opened them from, rather than being completely random.
Additionally, the team let me know that if you’ve upgraded to a next-gen console and want to play your last-gen character, you’ll be able to export your Xbox 360 character save to Xbox One, as well as transferring your PS3 character to PS4. Cross-platform save transfers are, sadly, not in the cards.
The most pressing question I had was regarding the new and improved Legendary drop rate on PC. Blizzard confirmed that the Console drop rate would be the same as the now-permanent Anniversary drop rate on PC, which should be exciting news for literally anybody planning to play the console release.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls hits consoles on August 19.