It's been over five years since Dungeon Siege 2, a game I played to death back when it was released, I loved it. But its been over 5 years since Ive played it, so Ive forgotten most of its main gameplay mechanics completely, with that in mind I went into dungeon siege 3 as if i hadn't stepped foot in the franchise before. So with that said, read on for my full review of dungeon siege 3.
First off a small bit of background info, we played this game 2 player coop throughout, I was the main player, the mage. My brother who joined me throughout the entire journey was the warrior. We are avid action RPG fans and more so if we can get coop on the go. We were heavy WoW players back in the day and since leaving it we've always been looking for coop RPG experiences to play, as that was our main draw to WoW.
So lets get started with the story, your one of the sole surviving members of the legion initially trying to escape the evil clutches of Jeyne Kassynder, a character whos past is shrouded in mystery. Your tasked with rebuilding the legion to which you belong and fighting back. Thats the jist of the story, its quite interesting and will keep you engaged throughout.
When interacting with characters in the story your given a question wheel, like mass effect or any other game with the feature. Conversations serves as a means to get information out, you can choose to keep on listening to get more details on your current matters, or just say goodbye and move on, so if your more interested in gameplay over story, you can quickly skip through any conversations easily (Not that you would want to though). At certain points in the game your given choices to make about the current situation your in. For example you have a captured enemy,kill them? set them free? have them carry a warning? There arn't really solid 'good' or 'bad' choices, instead they are in a morally Grey area, making decision making more difficult, there is no set good or evil path. Thats not to say your choices don't have consequences though. Depending on your choices you can earn things called 'Deeds', basically if you pick certain choices, it can count as a deed towards someone, and instantly gives you a permanent staff buff based on your decision, deeds are not just limited to decision making however, completed side quests and influencing your party member are also a means to get deeds, adding more incentive to go on and do the side quests. The side quests themselves can be just as interesting as the main story itself and are worth doing, if not for the neat stories they tell but also as a way to gear up as they often have dungeons exclusive to them. Many side quests also end with bosses, except their more like sub bosses, we beat about 5 sub bosses before fighting our first actual boss, until then we thought they where actual bosses, but damn were we surprised, I'll come back to bosses later. Onto the Game-play
So the meats and the bones of the game, if the gameplay sucks your only playing for the story, but luckily that is not the case. The design is well thought out, in depth and an absolute joy to play.
Classes, Talents and Leveling
You start out with your 2 stances and 2 starting spells. A stance is pretty self explanatory, each character has 2 stances and their standard attacks vary depending on each stance, for example the Mage has a ranged area of affect attack stance that is great for long range but cannot touch enemies that are near you, his other stance is a lightning glove single target melee attack, good when your fighting one on one. You might think that you'll only ever use one stance with some characters but that is not true, changing stances is important and if you do not use both stances well enough you won't get very far, especially on hardcore.
Each stance starts with 1 spell each, with a total of 3 spells for each stance. You also have defensive spells, there are 3 of these and usually do something along the lines of heal over time or shield. In total each character has 6 attacking spells and 3 defensive spells. That might seem somewhat underwhelming but it isn't. not only is each spell for each character very different from each other but you can also add proficiency points to your spells along 2 separate paths, each path can only have 5 points on it which you can either spend equally on both proficiencies or all on one, its a great tool that allows you to adjust your spells to be more useful to your play-style. For example with the mages geometry of annihilation spell you can add proficiency points to either increase the length the spell remains on the floor (It is an AOE Damage over time spell) per rank, or add a slowing debuff to enemies while they stand in it and an increased to allies agility while they stand in it which increases per rank. You have to decide whats best for you, should you go all out damage? or specialize in buffs and debuffs so your whole party can gain from it. Every spell for each character is distinct enough to either make your choice for what proficiency you choose to be a difficult or easy one.
As if customizable spells wasn't enough you also get talents! And boy are they interesting, they can vary from being healed more whenever you're healed, adding debuffs to a selection of spells, enhancing your dodge, increasing your critical strike damage etc. Like spells though not all of them are unlocked from the get go so you have to gain many levels to be able to invest in the more interesting ones.
That's it for your classes, a varied selection of characters that all have strengths and weaknesses, unique attacks and spells for each character that you can customize to your play style, because of this, every class is just great to play because you can tailor them to your style, making whatever class you pick the best option.
Leveling is nothing new, you kill monsters, complete quests, you gain experience and level up. There is one new leveling feature however that sticks out quite an interesting feature. Each spell you have has a mastery meter, the more you use the spell the more the meter fills up. When you finally get it up to full(It takes a considerable amount of time to do so) You unlock empowered versions of the spell, MUCH more powerful than the standard version and usually adds some cool buffing/debuffing effect when using it as well. Now, you may be thinking that thats quite overpowered and you will just stick to using that spell once it is mastered, but thats not the case. You can only use the empowered versions when you have power orbs, which I will explain in the next section of this review.
Combat, Inventory and Strategy
So the combat? Is it good? or is it a mash fest? Is there even any strategy? Time to answer these questions and more.
You will be pleased to hear that the combat is addicting, fun, innovative and not to mention tough at times. Me and my brothers choices in classes made a great combo, a tank and a ranged DPS. It reminded us of our WoW days where he'd soak up the damage from bad guys while I beat the hell out of them from a distance.
You have your health bar, a focus meter (mana bar) and power spheres. There are NO focus or health potions in this game, at all, ever! You might think of this as a put off, how are you supposed to heal and get more focus? well the game handles these two problems pretty well. The lack of health potions is easily supplemented with your healing spells, talents as well as shields to block, dodging and HP draining items, having health potions would actually make this game too easy but instead with there being none, It is easier to die and takes more skill and tactics to stay alive during battles. This can make for some intense fights, especially if one player is down and needs to be revived. to revive you need to stand on top of the player and hold RB for about 2 seconds, there is no focus cost or item used for this. If you take a hit in that time the revive fails, so you need to time it well if your doing it in combat.
The issue with focus is very cleverly handled, now. As i said before I cannot remember much of DS2 so if this is in that then my apologies for forgetting. Now with that said, when you run out of focus from using spells the ONLY way to get that focus back is to hit them with your standard attacks which refills the focus meter a small amount each time you hit someone, this makes battles more interesting as you have to keep switching form spells to standard attack. Not only that though, but using spells increased your power meter, fill it up and you can use your defensive spells or empowered versions of your normal spell, or an empowered version of your standard attack, using these power spheres is so much fun, being able to deal massive damage in one blow or heal yourself is very useful. You only start with one sphere but you gain more as you level up.
You also have your block and dodge moves, each characters dodge is slightly different from one another, some go further and faster and some act like teleports. You will be using dodge a lot in this game to avoid incoming attacks, your invincible while dodging so you take no damage while the animation is in motion, great for multiple groups of enemies. The block however, originally me and my brother thought this didn't have much use, but once we reached that actual first boss and realized how useful block was it was a godsend. Great for single target fights as well as bosses. Blocking uses focus, so you take no damage while blocking as long as you have focus.
Now onto the boss fights, oh boy.. Now keep in mind we where playing on hardcore as we find games too easy on anything lower. The mini side quests bosses are generally quite easy, they usually have a set of 4 moves or so which you need to learn how to recognize fast in order to be able to beat them, they have TONNES of HP and can take up to 5 minutes of severe beat down to kill. Actual bosses on the other hand are very hard, the first boss took us about 6 attempts, each fight was about 10 minutes each. The actual bosses have similarities to WoW, they have loads of HP, require a lot of teamwork and coordination, can kill you in a few hits and even have separate phases and are generally Endurance fights. Fighting the first boss on hardcore may seem quite daunting at first, because it is a very difficult fight, but at the same time it feels like when you lose it was your fault, driving you forward with another 'we'll get him next time!!!'. Just be sure that whenever the boss changes tactics, so should you, otherwise you'll soon be dead. My and brother felt a great sense of achievement beating the first boss after a few attempts and getting the phat loot that dropped afterwards.
Now the inventory system, it is quite standard as most other games like this are such as diablo/torchlight etc. You get new gear with better stats and stick it on, you'll find loot quite often and you can purchase new items from vendors. Your characters appearance changes with the more powerful items, making the new power match their outward appearance. You can also transmute items into gold should your inventory get full, though I never found myself in this situation, selling the items to vendors gets you more gold as well.
The Coop experience
All in all, me and my brother had a blast developing strategies for enemies, by working together you will find fighting enemies becomes much easier, and much more fun. We only wished that we could play 4 player coop throughout as we think it could only add to the amount of fun to be had, presuming the difficulty scales with each new player added. The only gripes with the coop is that my brothers character wasn't really his, he was my AI partner which he took control of, he does still however contribute into conversations in the main story which is quite nice. Another actually neat feature is if my brother went to the kitchen or bathroom or anywhere away from the game, the game recognizes his lack of movements and the AI takes over while he's away, following me and fighting in battles Allowing him to start playing again by just moving the analog stick.
In conclusion dungeon siege 3 is what I feel a great addition to the series, the classes all feel like their own, the combat is fun, the spells are a blast to use, and it is genuinely challenging on the hard difficulty and the story is interesting. All in all I'd call Dungeon siege 3 a success!
Score: There is no score! Read the review and make up your own mind about the game!