Last week Blizzard announced Reaper of Souls, the first expansion pack for their action RPG Diablo 3. They've only confirmed a PC version of Reapers so far but game director Josh Mosqueira says that the new content could come to consoles as well. The expansion won't be released simultaneously, though.
"Our philosophy has always been we work on one project at a time," said Mosqueira in an interview with Polygon.. "We've got Diablo 3 on PC, we released it and then a small team splintered off to work on Diablo for the current consoles. Now the team's really focused on Reaper of Souls for PC. So if you look at the past, you can probably infer what the future might bring. We don't have any announcements at this point."
In Reaper of Souls, players will travel to the kingdom of Westmarch. The ex-Archangel of Wisdom, Malthael, has stolen the Black Soulstone and now plans to destroy the mortal realm. Players must defeat Malthael and his undead minions. In the process, they'll level up to the new cap of 70. Players looking to start a fresh game can create a Crusader, a new knightly class.
Diablo 3 will hit the Xbox 360 and PS3 on September 3rd, and the PS4 sometime next year.. Blizzard has revamped the game for those platforms to deliver a more console-friendly experience. The controls and user interface have both been optimized for gamepads. The console versions support local multiplayer in addition to online play so you can play on the couch with friends. Unlike the PC version, the console editions won't require a persistent online connection.
While the console version sounds better on paper, there's no confusion over what Diablo 3's lead platform really is. Blizzard is first and foremost a PC developer. Sure, the Xbox 360 and PS3 won't have to deal with always-on and the game's mechanics feel more suited to a gamepad but PC gamers have had access to D3 for over a year now. It's no shock that console gamers will have to wait longer for Reaper of Souls.
Prior to Reaper's release on PC, Blizzard will release a free patch with a number of new game features. Players looking to test their skill can try out the Nephalem Trials, a series of "survival mode" challenges. Randomized dungeons known as Loot Runs will make the quest for better equipment less tedious. A revamped Paragon system provides new ways to boost characters' strength. Hopefully these features will be free on consoles as well but at this point Xbox 360 and PS3 gamers must be used to paying for content that's available for no charge on PC. It's possible Blizzard will just roll these features into the expansion itself on consoles.
Reaper of Souls is undated but the beta test could begin later this year. I suspect Blizzard will have more details to provide during BlizzCon in November.