I love a good dungeon crawler. There’s just something about killing a tough boss and getting a sword that raises my stats. As of late, there haven’t been many outstanding dungeon crawlers. Dungeon Siege III hopes to remedy that.
You play as one of four warriors of the Legion. The Legion used to be the protectors of the country back in the old times, but after a long war with rebels lead by an evil woman named Jeyne Kassynder, the Legion has been broken into almost nothing. Now, years later, the remaining descendants of the Legion join forces to finally take down Kassynder’s reign of terror.
At the beginning of the game, you choose your hero, but will eventually encounter and join up with the other three. There’s Lucas, a warrior that uses a sword and shield and two-handed long sword; Anjali, a fire elemental that uses a spear and transforms into a fire form; Reinhart, a special mage that uses a gauntlet infused with magic to attack both in close quarters and from afar; and finally, Katarina, a ranger that uses a long rifle as well as pistols and shotguns.
Each character has his/her own unique abilities for every situation. Each has a very helpful heal spell that recovers hit points over time. They have power attacks, and of course, special abilities that use Focus. The special abilities are mapped to a corresponding button on the controller. When leveling up, you get points to place in proficiencies, which specialize abilities. Every ability can have 5 points placed in their proficiencies but you must choose which out of the two proficiencies you want to raise. It all depends on your play style. There are also upgrades for your main stats. At each level, you will gain one point to place in constant perks that will grant special stats at all times. Everything feels very streamlined, which can keep the confusion down, but offers very little by way of customizing your own character.
The combat is yet another streamlined part of Dungeon Siege III. You have your standard attack that offers up a succession of three hits. These attacks, when damaging enemies, will supply your Focus. Focus represents your mana in the game and is consumed when using special attacks. Special attacks come in a variety of flavors. You have your power attacks that deal high damage, character buffs that grant better stats for a brief moment, healing spells, and enemy de-buffs. All of these, once powered up through proficiencies, can make or break an encounter with enemies.
When traversing areas, there are always new items to obtain. All of these come in the form of equipment or gold. Each character has their own set of weapons and armor they can use. Placing new and improved equipment on your character can make your character more powerful. There are a ton of stats that the game keeps track of during combat, all of which are governed by the features of your equipment. Your standard attack, agility, armor, and stamina are there, but more colorful and unique stats like doom, momentum, and chaos elements give your character that slight edge over the competition.
The game offers up a decent story that kept me interested throughout the game. Your character talks with other NPCs, and during these dialog discussions, the player can choose what to say next. The game does offer up a little variety in these choices that affect the game in small ways. You sometimes have to choose the fate of other characters or choose whether or not to assist someone. These aren’t game changers like the choices in Mass Effect or Dragon Age, but they do shift the story a bit.
There is 4-player co-op throughout the entire story for the ones who want it. Let me just say that it is gimped beyond belief. First off, there is a host lock. This means that if you join my game, you don’t bring your character into my game. You are basically a henchman for my character. Experience points, loot, abilities, and gold do not transfer into your game when you leave. This feature blows my mind. There is almost no incentive to play with your friends online unless you’re the one hosting the game, and even then, good luck trying to convince your buddies to join your game when they get absolutely nothing out of it. The other problem is the fact that the game scales to how many players are in the game.
So if you have three human players, the game’s difficulty ramps up to an almost ungodly level, and the last thing is that you share the same screen as your co-op partners. For instance, if I’m playing a 3 player game with two friends, both my friends die in combat, and I can revive them but need to take out a couple of enemies. Well, I’m stuck in the same screen with limited mobility due to the fact that my partners have to be on the same screen with me. The co-op is just too clunky and not really worth the effort to play for either you or your friends. This is such a shame because done right and with no host lock, the co-op would have made this game shine.
All in all, Dungeon Siege III is a rather enjoyable action RPG that offers up a decent story and fun mechanics throughout the single player game. The multiplayer is a completely different story, but it is there for the ones who want it. If you’re looking for a good loot whore game, you just found it. It may have a few hiccups here and there, but there’s no doubting the fact that Dungeon Siege III scratches that itch for a good dungeon crawler.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.