With the exception of Firaxis, there's no-one left that makes expansion packs like Blizzard. In an age of bite-sized downloadable add-ons, their premium price tags raise eyebrows, even with the generous supply of new content - but that content is usually less than half the story. In these expansions, the new ideas and hard graft that have been poured into the renewal, rebalancing and restructuring of the original game usually exceeds what goes into your average blockbuster sequel.
So Blizzard expansions are a big deal, and few have been more crucial than Reaper of Souls. Its headline additions are a new campaign act, a new character class, a raised level cap and a new gameplay mode. But it has bigger fish to fry than what's listed on the back of the box. It has an audience to win back and a reputation to save. Diablo 3 sold extremely well but left a sour taste for its community, and for once not just among the vocal minority. The always-online requirement was unpopular even before it led to a painful launch, when log-in servers crumbled under the immense demand. Soon that was just a bad memory, but another decision taken by Blizzard had a longer-term and arguably more damaging impact.
The game's auction house was pitched as a way for players to trade items in complete security. But its legacy was to angle the all-important acquisition of loot hard - far too hard - toward trading and away from gameplay. Although reviewers didn't realise it after a week's play - myself included, regretfully - the result was that Diablo 3's later stages and endgame became a dour, parsimonious grind, rarely rewarded with useful items and knocked out of shape by brutal balancing. Diablo's mantra of "kill monsters, get loot" had become "grind monsters ad infinitum, browse fantasy eBay". It didn't help that by then you would be on your umpteenth run through the overblown campaign. It was built for the long term, but in the long term, it just wasn't that much fun.