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Reaper of Souls: Hands on with the Crusader

by - 6 years ago

One of the big draws for Reaper of Souls is the addition of the new class: the Crusader.  A knight in battle-scarred armor, a righteous juggernaut, wrath incarnate, a war machine in human form.  All of these labels are assigned to the Crusader and rightfully so.  Most of my play time in the RoS demo at Blizzcon was spent playing the Crusader and I can say the class fits these descriptions, but enough with the hype lets get into the details.

Skills

There were a total of twelves skills to play around with during the demo and a handful of passives.  There was no way of turning on elective mode so you had to use the skills as they were laid out and every skill slot had two options to choose from.  Despite there only being a few choices, it still gave a very wide option of gameplay styles and utilities.  You could change your setup to lean towards tanky or damage dealer.  Melee or ranged. Utility or speed.  It was wondrous and made each play through feel a lot different.

Check out the full list below:

Crusader ideas

Primary

Punish: Generates 5 Wrath.  Smashes your enemies and increases your chance to block for a short duration.  Melee attack.  Rune caused you to deal additional damage after blocking.

Justice: Generates 5 Wrath.  Hurl a hammer of justice at your enemies.  Mid-range attack.  Rune caused the hammer to split and hit two additional enemies for less damage after hitting the initial target.

Thoughts: With your primary skills you set the tone of your Crusader.  Do you want to be a melee brawler or a ranged fighter?  Both are viable.  I found the ability to engage at range far more useful and that lead me to choose justice for most of my playthroughs, even though it hit for a little bit less the split attack made up for it.

Secondary

Shield Bash: Cost 30 Wrath.  Melee ranged attack that hits your enemies for a ton of damage.  Had a charge component that would speed you towards your foes if used from ranged.  Rune increased the size of the AoE into a cone shape.

Fist of the Heavens: Cost 30 wrath.  Mid-range attack that would drop an AoE lightning bolt on the targeted area and spawn other tiny bolts that would deal additional damage to nearby enemies.  Rune caused the area struck by the skill to continue to pulse for lightning damage for a few seconds afterwards.

Thoughts: Each of the secondary skill choices enforced your primary choice.  Shield bash was devastating and had a dash component that took you straight into the fray or allowed you to chase down fleeing mobs.  Fist of the Heavens really stole the show though, this skill destroyed regular mobs in a single blast and continued to one shot smaller mobs for a few seconds afterwards thanks to it’s rune effect.  FotH did comparable damage, had a longer range and a greater AoE then Shield Bash did.  This skill alone made the Crusader really feel more like a range class then a melee one.

Defensive

Consecration:  Cost 20 Wrath, 20 sec CD.  Places a rather large AoE healing aura on the ground that increases the Party’s life per sec.  Rune caused the aura to also damage enemies within the radius.

Shield Glare: Cost ?? Wrath, ?? sec CD.  Blinds enemies in front of you for a few seconds. Rune refunded Wrath for each enemy hit by the effect.

Thoughts: In the demo you weren’t given a weapon with life on hit so some packs of enemies and bosses could be rather unforgiving, but consecration gave you the staying power needed to make it through some of the tougher spots you may find yourself.  I couldn’t find a use for shield glare in the demo, nothing lived long enough for it to be useful and for bosses consecration was just flat out better.

Laws

Law of Valor: No cost, 30 sec CD.  Passive: Increases Party’s attack speed slightly.  Active: Larger increase in attack speed for 10 sec.  Rune effect gave party members additional life on hit when the ability was activated.

Law of Hope: No cost, 30 sec CD.  Passive: Increases Party’s life per sec.  Active: Larger increase in life per sec.  Rune effect increased Party’s movement speed by a decent amount and removed monster collision while the active component was in effect.

Thoughts: Laws function a lot like the Monk’s current mantras, they have a passive effect and an on-use effect.  To differentiate them though the passive effects are weaker then those of the mantras but their active effects are all incredibly powerful, on par with MoC: Overawe.  The laws all have no cost and a 30 sec CD, preventing them from being spammed, Monk’s mantras were like this in the early beta but quickly changed so we’ll see if they’ve figured out a good comprise with the CD system.  I generally stuck with law of valor for the damage boost, but law of hope’s movement speed boost made hunting down Bounties in Adventure Mode a lot quicker.

Utility

Steed Charge: No cost, 20 sec CD.  Mounts a spectral steed that greatly increases movement speed for 3 sec.  Rune effect left a fire trail that burned all enemies in your path.

Provoke: No cost, ?? sec CD.  Taunts all nearby enemies forcing them to attack for you for a few seconds.  Rune caused you to explode for decent damage at the end of the duration.

Thoughts: Steed charge had to be my second favorite skill in the demo, behind only Heaven’s Fury.  This skill gave a massive boost to your movement speed and has to be the best movement skill in the game across all classes.  It had a relatively long CD compared to other classes but it traverses more ground then even Teleport: Wormhole and that’s before you get a Speed or Fleeting Shrine.  The rune’s damage was negligible so I’ll be more interested to see what other effects they add to it.  Provoke could see a lot use in group play since it was amazing at keeping enemies grouped up, it didn’t have the range of Cyclone Strike but the fact that it holds them to you for a few seconds makes up for this.  The damage of the rune effect was enough to one shot most of the weaker mobs in the game.

Conviction

Falling Sword: Cost 50 wrath, 25 sec CD.  Launches yourself into the air and lands a second or two at the targeted location dealing a very large amount of damage to all enemies in range.  Rune caused the landing area to continue to pulse for damage to any enemies nearby for a few seconds afterwards.

Heaven’s Fury: Cost 50 wrath, 20 sec CD.  Calls down a divine ray of pure destruction at the target location dealing 1500% weapon damage over 3 sec.  Rune caused the area to continue to pulse for damage for a few more seconds.

Thoughts: Now we get to the big guns.  Falling sword was the default skill assigned in the demo and this was probably the only way they’d get anyone to use it.  Falling Sword was big, flashy and did a ton of damage but despite this it was still overshadowed by Heaven’s Fury.  HF was a targeted nuke that would literally one shot everything in it’s path.  High HP mobs, elite packs, bosses nothing stood up against this skill.  It is the definition of overpowered and will undoubtedly never see the light of day in it’s current form, but it was fun to use while we had the chance.

Passives

Heavenly Strength: Allows you to equip a 2-Handed weapon in one hand but also reduces your movement speed by 10%.

Wrecking Ball: Gain additional thorn damage.

Indestructible: Gain 1% armor for each 5% life lost.

Others: Sadly I forgot to write down the rest of the passives and I’m can’t exactly remember what all the others did.  There was one that increased your block % when there were a certain number of enemies around and another that increased your life per sec.  As cool as Heavenly Strength sounds it was painful to use in the demo.  With no items to increase your base movement speed and spectral steed on a long CD I just couldn’t stand using this.  As of now the devs are undecided whether they’ll allow you compensate for the movespeed penalty by overcapping your speed but it is a much larger drawback then I originally thought.

Crusader Armor Set

Playstyle

Overall my impression of the Crusader was that it played best as a range class.  Even though the melee abilities could hold their own and I did mess around with them quite a bit the ranged attacks just allowed you a greater level of control of the battlefield.  I really can’t wait to try out the other datamined skills that have been found to see what other skill combinations play like since the melee skills selected for the demo didn’t do the class justice.  With how well it played as a ranged class in the demo and  thesheer amount of sustainability it had through skills alone I can understand why they aren’t giving the Crusader the passive 30% damage reduction that the Monk and Barbarian have, he just doesn’t need it.  This decision isn’t final yet as they are still testing the class out at higher levels and gear combinations but as of right now you couldn’t notice the difference when compared to the other melee classes.

The resource system for the Crusader is called Wrath and it passively refills at 2.5 Wrath per sec and is generated by your primary skill with a cap of 100.  It felt like a combination of the Wizard’s Arcane Power and the Monk’s Spirit.  It would regenerate relatively quickly as you travel in between packs and the abilities hit very hard, but are offset by high casting costs.  You could burst down mobs and elite packs quickly but it’d leave you empty on Wrath so you’d find yourself spending the next pack or two rebuilding your Wrath.  I eventually got into the grove of dropping one or two big attacks and then  finishing off the leftovers with my primary so that I always had some Wrath leftover to deal with any elite packs or events that came up next.

I had a ton of fun playing the Crusader during Blizzcon and you can see around the web that the class is almost universally loved.  It’s hard to compare it to other classes objectively right now since so many of the skills felt overtuned (especially Heaven’s Fury) and that was probably done on purpose for the sake of the demo.  Once we get to play around with the Crusader in a more real world scenario I’ll be able to compare it better, but despite how overpowered or underpowered the class might end up being I thoroughly enjoy the ability to switch up play styles between  ranged and melee.  It feels like there will always be something new to try out as the Crusader and this is even before the game changing legendary items we’ve been promised.  When all is said and done, you just don’t want to be on this guy’s bad side.

Crusader Concept


Whitney Fairchild

Whitney "Neinball" Fairchild has been involved in the Diablo podcasting community since 2011. He focuses on the analyzing game development and the lore & story of the Diablo franchise.


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