I received a key for the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (RoS) beta shortly after the “Friends and Family” beta was over. Those that got into this (slightly later) beta had to start from the very beginning. By the time I got in, a change had been made. Players in the beta would not start out with access to Adventure Mode. I’m going to have to work my way to it.

This is the start of a series of blogs about my progress through Diablo III: RoS. I realize that the beta will disappear shortly before the RoS expansion is released. That’s a good enough reason to blog about it. Let’s see how far I get!

The screenshots you see in this blog are from December 18, 2013.

Here is some of the new stuff that is part of RoS (that wasn’t in Diablo III). There is a brand new character class – the Crusader. Act V has been added to the game. There is an Adventure Mode that you can, eventually, unlock. At some point, you will find the Mystic artisan.

The default character is the male Wizard. The first thing I noticed was that this Wizard didn’t start in the “underwear” that the player characters (or, heroes) in the original Diablo III game did. Was this just to make them look cooler at the selection screen? Or, would the RoS heroes be spared the embarrassment of starting off their existence in Sanctuary nearly naked?

The difficult levels have changed. In Diablo III, the difficult levels were: Normal, Nightmare, Hell, Inferno. In RoS, they are: Normal, Hard, Expert, Master, Torment.

I decided to start with Normal. Honestly, I’m not sure if there was any other choice. My best guess is that the harder difficulty levels “unlock” after you get through all the Acts in the previous difficultly level. That’s how it worked in Diablo III. Anyway, I started the RoS beta in Normal.

I attended Blizzcon 2013, and had the opportunity to try out the demo version of RoS. The male Crusader was available, but the female one hadn’t been added to the demo.

Now was my opportunity to play the female Crusader. I attend the Diablo III Voice Actor Panels at Blizzcon 2013, so I already knew what the female Crusader would sound like. Her voice is as pleasant as the male Crusader’s voice is. Someone at the Voice Actor Panels mentioned that they were intentionally trying to make sure the voices of the heroes were not annoying since you are “stuck” with him or her once you start playing.

My female Crusader was given the name of Joan, after Joan of Arc, the only female Crusader I could think of. This will do for the beta. Time to play! I quickly learned that the heroes in RoS don’t start out looking like they are doing the “walk of shame”. They are fully clothed!

There, in the screenshot above, is Joan the Crusader, arriving in New Tristram for the first time. As you can see, she appears to be fully clothed. This is quite different from the original Diablo III where all characters start out nearly naked. I’ve always wondered what, exactly, happened to them and just how they managed to lose the majority of their clothing. I’d like to think that whatever occurred was something they found enjoyable!

Anyway, Joan starts off with clothes on. But, they aren’t, technically, equipped. Look at the character sheet. The only things she has equipped at Level 1 are a shield and flail.

I also picked Normal difficulty because I figured it would take the least time to get through. Here are my thoughts about the beta as I progressed from levels 1 through 5.

Joan hit Level 2 in the Slaughtered Calf Inn shortly after completing the quest called “Kill the Risen”. So far, the storyline, the type of quests, and the order of the quests, is exactly the same as in the original Diablo III. This much, I expected. Keeping this part of the game the same would allow new players to easily “jump in” and be able to understand what was going on.

I suspect that players who are sick and tired of having to go through the same content in RoS that they already went through (many times over) in Diablo III are not going to be thrilled about this. Personally, I’m still having fun doing the same content multiple times. I guess I’m easily amused.

The new element was the Crusader class. I hadn’t been playing long, but already, the Crusader felt powerful. It is a melee class, yet it feels very different from the Barbarian. When I first heard that the new class in the Reaper of Souls beta would be a Crusader, I was somewhat disappointed. My concern was that it would be exactly like playing the Barbarian. I love playing a Barbarian, so I didn’t see the need for Barbarian 2.0.

The Crusader’s flail moves like no other weapon in the game (or, at least, like none I’ve encountered). I was having fun. It felt like this new class had a lot of potential.

Hey look! Pants! All of the characters I’ve played in Diablo III had to wait until they hit Level 3 before they managed to find a pair of pants to wear. It appears that this little quirk will carry over into the RoS beta.

My reaction to finding pants at Level 3 is different now. Joan started out modestly covered, so my reaction was like “Cool! What stats are on those pants?” My reaction to hitting Level 3, and finding a pair of pants, in the original Diablo III was more like “OMG, finally!” as I equipped my nearly naked character as fast as possible.

I’m not offended by the “Diablo 3 underwear” that the characters started with. But, in the back of my mind, I was thinking “You’re out fighting zombies with almost no barrier between them and your skin. How did you end up as a Hero?”

Joan hit Level 4 on Old Tristram Road shortly after killing off a third Wretched Mother and completing the quest that called for that. I was having fun, but it kind of felt like the Crusader was leveling too quickly. I mean, it’s great to fly through levels right now. But, later, as she progresses, it should slow down a bit. Would that slow down feel horrible now that I had this super fast leveling experience to compare it to?

If I remember correctly, Joan didn’t run into her first “Monster with a Purple Name” until after she hit Level 5. This is exactly like the original Diablo 3 game. Sarkoth is still hanging out in the Dank Cellar. The Wretched Queen, who you need to kill in order to complete the “Kill the Wretched Queen in the Old Ruins” quest is, as you might expect, in the Old Ruins.

There was something brand new in RoS that I really liked. Step on a Waypoint in the original Diablo III game, and a menu pops up that showed you which Waypoints you had already opened up. You could choose any of the opened ones that were for a specific Act. In the RoS beta, if you step on a Waypoint, you get an awesome looking map!

I love it! If you look closely, you can find a glowing arrow that points down. It indicates where Joan is currently at. The blue dot is the Waypoint in New Tristram, which I’ve already opened. The style of the art on the Waypoint map resembles the drawings in the cut scenes (and the art in The Book of Cain). I’m finding that this map is helping me to understand where things are located in Sanctuary as well as how far away they are from each other. It makes so much more sense now!

Joan found a couple of “Blues” (or, equipment that has magic stats on it) while she was Level 4.

She found a chest piece, boots and a Crusader Shield. The screenshot above shows the stats on the “Dedicated Crusader Shield” that she found. It was better than the default “Crusader Shield” that she started the game with because it had “Gain 1 Life per Wrath Spent (Crusaders Only)” on it. Not too bad, so far.

The Crusaders are the only class that can use Crusader Shields”, as you might expect. So, this was something new that I hadn’t seen in the original Diablo III. I had not yet found any Rare or Legendary items, but I really didn’t expect to see either of those so early in the game. I was guessing I would start seeing Rare items after I hit Level 5.

The first Achievement that I earned with Joan was “A Nice Place To Visit”. (All of the previous Achievements were Feats of Strength that popped up as soon as I started playing the Diablo III RoS beta.) She earned this one immediately after arriving in the area around Adria’s Hut, and while accompanied by Leah.

A Nice Place to Visit: Explore all of the following areas of New Tristram.

 Overlook Road, The Slaughtered Calf Inn, Cain’s House, The Old Ruins, New Tristram, Leah’s Room, Old Tristram Road, and Adria’s Hut.

Crusader Joan hit Level 5 in The Hidden Cellar right after she completed the “Talk to Leah in the Hidden Cellar” quest. Leah has a blue asterisk over her head, which indicates that she has more to say to Joan now.  Joan hit Level 5 at 1:59 in the morning on December 18, 2013.

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