The Reaper of Souls Has Arrived To Bring Death To All!
“No One Can Stop Death!”
Hello, I am FieRyACE18, and welcome to my hero review of Malthael. J
Malthael, the big final boss in Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, has arrived into the Nexus on 18th June 2017. He is the Aspect of Death and he comes into the Nexus as a melee assassin that will slowly but absolutely bring death to all! This hero is unique with his trait, Reaper’s Mark, which deals percentage damage based on enemy’s hit points (HP). This makes him a strong hero against high HP enemy. His trait allows him to mark enemy and gradually bring them down. He will reap your souls!
His playstyle and kit is rather unorthodox and is quite different from a typical melee assassin/bruiser hero like Thrall, Sonya or Ragnaros. More on this to be detailed in the Hero Playstyle section later.
Malthael is the former leader of the Angiris Council in the Diablo universe. Hailing as the Archangel of Wisdom, he leads his team which includes the likes of Tyrael and Auriel. So he is one of those good guys until the destruction of Worldstone. Where he started become destabilize internally and has taken a deep interest in the matter of life and death among humanity. Once the calm guiding hand of wisdom, he has struggled to come to terms after the Worldstone is gone. He departs the Angiris Council and eventually went on to become the Aspect of Death. Most prominent as the final boss in Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls. He is determined to to end the Eternal Conflict by becoming a Reaper of Souls and eliminating everything affected by demonic corruption, including humanity.
Character Hero and Visual Design
Malthael, at first glance, is the second anti tank melee hero after Leoric. But his kit, playstyle as well as strength and weaknesses is very different. Essentially, he is a powerful sustain damage over time melee hero, who must depend on his trait Reaper’s Mark. He is one of the few heroes where two of his basic ability Soul Rip (Q) and Wraith Strike (W) is useless if his trait is not activated. Upon activation of his trait however, he can have decent amount of sustain from Soul Rip as well as good ability to juke around enemies with Wraith Strike. Due to his damage over time trait, some people has called him a melee tanky Lunara. Other says his %HP damage is good for anti tank, like Tychus. All of them are maybe right, to a certain extent. But being a Tychus main myself, I don’t see too much similarity in playstyle or even role between Tychus and Malthael. Although I would say both of them are good anti tank heroes. One of the key differences is of course that, Malthael is melee hero while Tychus and Lunara is ranged hero.
Due to his somewhat non-conventional melee assassin hero design, he is a hero that requires quite a bit of patience to play and to understand. Definitely one of the more interesting hero design too for me. Given that at first glance on his kit, he looks overpowered (OP). Then when you play him, he seems so weak and underpowered (UP). Then when you look at statistics site like www.hotslogs.com, he has one of the highest winrate among all the heroes, not OP high like initial release Tracer, Liming or Ragnaros, but its high! He has about 55% winrate thereabout at the moment. Probably about top 2 or 3 highest winrate and it makes you question yourself and your skills. Is it the hero or you’re just bad? After many playthrough for me, because Malthael is really a hero I struggle to understand at first, I finally get it! Malthael is at the moment, a top tier hero. Tier S strong! When you understand him on what he can and cannot do, you will be able to produce the INCREDIBLE late game DOT pressure on the enemy team that is so strong, it can easily tide the teamfight into your team’s favour.
In short, he is a hero offering slow playstyle, that can be very strong late game when he touches you and applied his Reaper’s Mark trait. He also lacks escape and is quite an “all in” hero with little “out”. So it is important to play this hero with decent positioning sense.
I think Malthael is very well designed. Straight away you can see the theme of his looks being archangel like Tyrael and Auriel, both of which is his former teammates in Council of Angiris. Holding two sickle to signify more like a “God of Death” theme, he attacks very slowly but surely to drain his enemy to death undetected.
He has good looking skins which came along to complement his looks. His new skins transform him from an archangel look to a more modern European contemporary look. Lean and tall, he does look good and I believe, he is one of the tallest looking hero in the game.
Good thing his new skin variant is only about 150 shards each, which is really cheap for a brand new skin. In comparison, a legendary skin variant cost 1600 shards each.
Hero Abilities Overview
Reaper’s Mark (passive/combat trait)
- Basic Attacks afflict non-Structure targets with Reaper’s Mark for 4 seconds. Marked enemies are revealed and take damage equal to 2.5% of their maximum Health every second.
This is his trait which is part of what makes him so strong but also challenging to play. Basically Malthael is all about getting his trait activated either by auto attacking an enemy in melee range or landing the Death Shroud skillshot. Once activated on an enemy, then his Soul Rip and Wraith Strike ability comes online and he can do damage, mobility and sustain. The damage over time (DOT) effect of his trait last 4 seconds but each subsequent auto attack reapply the Reaper’s Mark trait and refresh the countdown to much longer duration.
Soul Rip (Q)
- Extract the souls of nearby enemies afflicted with Reaper’s Mark, dealing damage and Healing Malthael for a portion of the damage dealt to each target hit.
- Heroic targets heal Malthael for an additional 3% of the Hero’s maximum Health.
This ability makes a lot part of Malthael’s sustain. He can use it on a minion wave to heal up significantly, making him a strong solo laner. Used against enemy hero, he also heals additional 3% of the enemy maximum HP. This helps sustain him in battle against enemy, and he can heal up significantly if he can mark all of the enemy heroes and heals from that. This makes him a strong force late game during teamfight with his incredibly high DOT damage and good heals if he is not immediately focused down.
Tips: This Soul Rip ability has a 2 second cooldown. Instead of keeping track and pressing Q every 2 second while clearing a marked minion waves or mercenary camp, simply hold down the Q button while you do so. It is much easier. 🙂
Wraith Strike (W)
- Instantly teleport through an enemy afflicted by Reaper’s Mark, dealing damage and refreshing Reaper’s Mark.
Wraith Strike is Maltael’s only form of some mobility which is good, because he is a very slow hero with slow playstyle. This ability allows him to stick onto enemy who is already marked earlier from his trait. Think of it like Zeratul’s level 1 talent, Vorpal Blade, which teleports you to the last enemy hero that you have just attacked. But instead of 30s cooldown like Zeratul’s Vorpal Blade, you have it on 5 seconds cooldown. It is mostly an offensive mobility tool as it only teleport to enemy already marked. So it is not a full on teleport ability like what Zeratul or Liming would have. After teleport, Malthael will be behind the retreating enemy hero, allowing the chance to body block them and prevent escape. This also allows him to reapply his wonderful Reaper’s Mark trait for more DOT damage of course.
A good player however will also sometimes mark a minion far off somewhere before engaging into an enemy hero. This way, it can provides an escape point for Malthael to teleport to away from enemy hero for the disengage. During teamfight, this also allows Malthael to switch around position away from the full focus of the enemy team. Wraith Strike provides the mobility that defines Malthael’s playstyle which if I am honest, require a lot of juking around the enemy hero(es), not unlike the style of another hero, Murky.
Note: Juking is the art of moving around while escaping a pursuing enemy in such a way that you can evade most of their damage and subsequently escape with your life, or your teammate arrived and the enemy is killed instead.
Death Shroud (E)
- After 0.25 seconds, unleash a wave of dark mist that applies Reaper’s Mark to the enemies it hits.
Death Shroud is the only ranged ability Malthael has that can mark his enemies. It is also the only basic ability he can use before any enemy is marked because the Q and W ability is not enabled until an enemy has already been marked by his trait, Reaper’s Mark. It is very useful for marking an entire minion waves or multiple enemy heroes, which allows him to set up a combo later using his Q and W ability. It can also be used as a poke ability to deal damage from ranged. However, it is a very slow skillshot and it is quite hard to land successfully. A prediction of enemy’s movement is required as otherwise, it is easily dodged.
Tormented Souls (R1)
- Gain 20 Armor and unleash a torrent of souls, continually applying Reaper’s Mark to enemies for 4 seconds.
This would be what I will regard as the best ultimate (heroic skill). It provides Malthael with a much needed 20 armor as well as constantly apply his trait in AOE (area of effect) around him for 4 second. This allows Malthael is apply his trait to basically the entire team and also he can heal even more with his Soul Rip (Q) ability if more enemy is marked. Best used after the enemy team is soften up a little bit. Tormented Strike combines well with his talent like Level 4 Black Harvest and Level 16 Memento Mori which basically prolong the duration and increases the damage of the trait’s DOT (damage over time) effect.
Last Rites (R2)
- Apply a death sentence to an enemy Hero that, after 2 seconds, deals damage equal to 50% of their missing Health.
- (!) Repeatable Quest: Enemies killed while under the effect of Last Rites permanently reduce its cooldown by 5 seconds, to a minimum of 15 seconds.
Last Rites is an ultimate, for single target burst kills. It is the opposite of Greymane’s Cursed Bullet ultimate which is best used when the enemy is at full health. Last Rites on the other hand is better when the enemy HP is lower, with a guaranteed kill when it is used on an enemy with 33% or lower HP. This is also the game’s first repeatable quest heroic skill which shaves off the cooldown by 5 seconds for each enemy hero killed. Sounds really cool and it is. In a good team, they can coordinate to make sure Malthael got the quest for each kills. In late game when quest is completed, the cooldown can be as low as 15 seconds so it can be pretty strong. However, it requires 12 takedowns for that and it is not easy in a competitive match. And given Malthael’s squishy nature for a melee assassin, the first heroic, Tormented Souls which provides 20 armor is usually preferred.
Next, let’s delve deeper into his general playstyle in the next section below.
Malthael is a slow moving melee assassin with powerful damage over time (DOT) effect. His kit revolves around dealing percentage based damage of enemy hero in a mix of single target as well as area of effect (AOE). His key is to land his Reape’s Mark trait, without which he is rather ineffective. So for Malthael, there’s a few ways to poke or start an engagement. He can hide in a bush to flank or ambush an enemy unexpectedly. He can do so by simply walking up to an enemy and auto attacking it. Or if there is multiple enemy, he can use Death Shroud (E) to land his trait on them.
It is not always easy to land the trait as he is slow moving hero with a slow moving skillshot (Death Shroud). But once he does land it, it is rather strong and player must learn how to apply his trait as much as possible while being as safe as possible. This is especially important if level 4 talent Black Harvest is taken which requires stacking up to 150 seconds of active trait time on enemy heroes. Once stacked fully, this combines with level 16 Memento Mori is the reason why Malthael is a tier S hero on current patch. (Subject to balance changes by Blizzard in coming days.)
After his trait is activated on an enemy, that’s where his sustain and mobility comes. He can teleport to an enemy with Wraith Strike to further attack and prolong the trait’s DOT duration, all the while he can constantly sustain himself every 2 seconds with Soul Rip. He can then immediately disengage or he can continue the pressure on the enemy if it is safe and he has a teammate nearby or arriving. In a teamfight, it is very important for Malthael to be able to mark as much enemy as possible. Ideally, he would mark all 5 of the enemy heroes in a teamfight, which is why the heroic Tormented Soul is so valuable. In a proper team with the tank doing the disruption job, and the support providing sufficient heals to Malthael, he should be a very strong and sustainable hero in teamfight. But he is no tank, so it is important for him to move around or juke around the enemy team using Wraith Strike so as to prevent being immediately bursted down. Be too eager to dive in too deep and too early, and Malthael could be easily killed. So it is important to know when to dive in and when to not as Malthael lacks escape. This weakness can be minimized somewhat by his level 1 talent, Fear the Reaper which increases his movement speed by 25% for 4 second.
Malthael’s Strength and Good Ally Partners
The strongest point of Malthael is his trait. It is very powerful albeit slow sustained damage against all heroes. He is also a good solo laner with good self-sustain heals from a minion waves. As a 1v1 duelist, he is among the strongest too, with the notable exception against a full stacked The Butcher with branding active on him. Once marked, it is very difficult for enemy to escape from his high DOT effect.
Malthael synergizes well with another tank such as ETC or Johanna who will disrupt the enemy with AOE crowd control (CC) such as stun or knockback. This grabs the attention of the enemy away from Malthael which allows him to apply his traits a little easier and safer. Support like Tassadar and Uther can provide the damage mitigation for him in order to prolong his survival when he dive into the midst of the enemy to deal damage. As Malthael already have a rather strong self-sustain heals from Soul Rip, damage mitigation can sometimes be more valuable than actual heals. But of course, heals from support is always welcome and valuable.
Malthael’s Weakness and Strong Enemy Counters
Malthael has several weaknesses. He is slow moving hero and lacks escape. Thereby, he is prone to being kited by high mobility heroes such as Tracer, Genji, Lunara or Valla who can easily dodge his slow skillshot Death Shroud, while constantly apply damage. Malthael’s self-sustain is slow and this makes him vulnerable to high burst damage. He is also weak to cc effect such as stun or slows. Heroes such as Jaina can do both by slowing and bursting him down to secure a kill. Arthas is another strong hero against him as he can slow both his movement speed and attack speed. He can also root him, preventing any escape.
Malthael lack burst damage except the heroic Last Rites, which is conditional. Generally, this means it takes a while for his high damage over time effect to kick in. He could be killed by the enemy with strong burst before he can kill them. Finally, while he has decent waves clear and average mercenary camp-taking ability, his siege damage against enemy structures is very poor. He probably has some of the lowest siege damage in the game excluding damages on minion.
If you can work around his little weaknesses and adapt to his slow melee assassin playstyle, Malthael will be such a joy to play. Watch in joy, as you slowly drain the HP of unsuspecting enemy heroes to their death. Like he says, NO ONE CAN STOP DEATH, and in this game on the current patch, no enemy heroes can for sure.
Written by FieRyACE18, an avid gamer and enthusiast of Heroes of The Storm who can’t get enough of heroes kills in game that he must write an article on it.