As far as action-packed role-playing games go, it is pretty safe to say that the Diablo series has got the genre sewn up at the seams. Barely a loose threat can be pointed out in the series, particularly with each successive title and resulting improvement to the action. It has been a long time since the release of the first Diablo in 1996, a whopping 18 years ago now, and in this time the series has gone from strength to strength. The most recent addition to the series is Diablo 3 but the topic of this piece is focused quite heavily on the expansion pack known as Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls. Even more specifically than that however, of burning interest to most people is the addition of the new Crusader class. Far from overwhelmingly positive reception, this new class has received mixed reviews from long-term fans of the series; below is a short exploration of the Crusader's features, merits, and drawbacks.
Overview: A Dark Twist on the Familiar
Firstly, any true veteran of Diablo will either already know or quickly discover that the Crusader class is based quite heavy on the Paladin character that has previously featured in Diablo 3 and Diablo 2. However, while the Paladin is portrayed as a holy and honourable figure fighting for what they believe is good and right, the Crusader class is a significantly more ominous breed. Crusaders are veterans of their craft, having been involved in their crusade - which involves anything from epic battles to two-person brawls - for many years.
Because they are so heavily armoured, carrying around a shield as well as heavy body armour, this class is excellent in terms of defense. They also carry around flails as well as other two-handed weapons, even possessing the ability to be able to utilise two-handed weapons whilst also using their shield.
The passion of the Crusaders can be likened to that of religious extremism of the modern day: unshakable faith in a cause that they believe in, single-mindedness, and the willingness to drop any other quest if it comes into conflict with their faith. The Crusader class enters into battle with heavy armour and the power of holy magic summoned from divine beings (much like the Paladin class of Diablo 2).
The Impressive Modelling of the Crusader Class
"Do not hesitate to strike down your enemies. Death is their salvation from evil."
This quote pretty much typifies the rationale and general character of the Crusader, but their performance in the gameplay of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls is probably of more concern to players than their general mindset. Because of the Crusader's likeness to the Paladin class of Diablo 2, they share features such as being a sort of mid-range attacking class that is suited to casting various spells and also engaging in some pretty serious melee action. Since they are heavily armoured, Crusaders can engage melee attacks and the passive ability of Heavenly Strength lets them use two-handed weapons whilst also being protected by their shield, which they hold in one of their hands in addition to their weapons.
Wrath is the resource that the Crusader class uses, with magic being one of the main pillars of attack against the enemy, making them focus their efforts on the heavily-armoured Crusader and taking minimal damage whilst their magic and also their allies chip away at the enemy until they are defeated.
It would be unwise to attempt to utilise the Crusader class as a primary offensive body since they are more suited for taking the brunt of enemy attacks in a passive manner due to their heavily armoured nature. Veterans of Diablo quickly realised that the Crusader is best used as a tank element in battle, deployed to soak up the brunt of attacks from enemies and bosses whilst other characters deliver the more devastating blows.
Pros and Cons
The obvious advantage of the Crusader class is the defensive might that it adds to your efforts. You can use the Crusader to take the majority of damage in most battles, though their holy magic allows you to deal a little damage to your enemies whilst they are attacking the Crusader. This class is also has an advantage over the Barbarian class since they are able to perform mid-range attacks whilst the latter class is restricted to melee range.
It isn't all good news for the new Crusader class however. The main drawback of this class is its inability to regenerate its primary resource, Wrath, at a rate that is useful. The Crusader simply doesn't have any moves that allow you to regenerate Wrath either (this is where the Barbarian class, which has fury-replenishing moves like threatening shout and leap, has the advantage over the Crusader). Of course as you level up and experiment with different Crusader builds, you may discover that you can circumvent your initial frustration at slow wrath regeneration, particularly when you approach level 70 and above.