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Dungeon Siege


[Update: Contest over! Winners have been picked, check your emails!] Not only is it the 25 Days of Giving on Destructoid, but it's also the Winter of RPGs for Square Enix! Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI ha...

Review: Dungeon Siege III: Treasures of the Sun

Nov 04 // Maurice Tan
Dungeon Siege III: Treasure of the Sun (PC, Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PS3)Developer: Obsidian EntertainmentPublisher: Square EnixReleased: October 26, 2011MSRP: $9.99, 800 Microsoft Points Given that Dungeon Siege III more or less made you run a linear line from locale to locale, Treasures of the Sun fits right in with its new Aranoi Desert environment. If you have already finished the game before, you can just load up the Endgame autosave and get to Aranoi from a new path on the Causeway Hub that would normally lead you to the Chapterhouse and the final battle. If you haven't finished it, you'll be able to access it via the same Causeway Hub after you regain control of the Grand Chapterhouse and complete the Spire levels. You won't be able to just jump into the DLC from the start of the game and for good reason; it can be damn hard! The last time I played Dungeon Siege III was sometime in July and of course I had completely forgotten Reinhart's (my main) 3x3 array of abilities. Since the game was also still set on Hardcore from the campaign playthrough, suffice it to say that I died horrible at the hands of the most meager of skeletons that you first encounter on the Aranoi wasteland. After familiarizing yourself with the controls and remembering how to play Dungeon Siege III, though, it quickly becomes second nature again. As DLC goes, Treasures of the Sun will give you plenty of meat to dive into. There's a good five hours or more worth of sieging dungeons in here -- at least if you listen to the conversations -- and as Dungeon Siege III goes it's actually rather good. The Aranoi Desert environment itself can be compared to one of the larger campaign areas in terms of scope, with plenty of sidequests, cave systems, temples and dungeons to crawl through. The main game may not be one that is remembered fondly because of its story, but Treasures of the Sun offers a surprisingly much better story than you'd expect. Now that the goal is no longer to just go through the motions to gather allies against Jeyne Kassinder, there's somewhat of a lull in the storyline to allow you to explore other parts of the Dungeon Siege universe. In this case, it sheds some more light on the background of the Azunai religion and a lost temple where former Azunites have turned to heresy. Some twists should offer some good fun for Dungeon Siege fans and there is plenty of lore to go around and to help you delve into the wider universe. Compared to the regular game with its snippets of unrelated information here and there, I found it refreshing to read so much lore focused on the single topic of the Agallan giants' adoption of the Azunite religion, what happened to Ehb's patron saint Hiram, and the subsequent heresy that has tainted Aranoi. Of course, if you ignore all of that there's still some plenty of the regular hack & slash experience to go around. In Aranoi you'll come across three shrines that will each unlock a new ultimate ability. These powers will consume all your power orbs and the more orbs you have the stronger the effect will be. Hathra'unok's Embrace gives you an instant super heal, Xeria's Wrath gives you a large area-of-effect damage explosion, and Elisheva's Shield offers a very nice barrier for those harder fights. The caveat is that you can only wield one of these super powers at the same time, although you can swap them around at the Aranoi shrines as long as you have unlocked them. However, these powers are activated by clicking and holding the thumbsticks, which can lead to some frustration. Since clicking the right thumbstick also changes the camera perspective on the controller, you'll find yourself changing the camera to its useless up-close position instead of giving you an instant heal when you are down to double digits of health. Because you can already heal yourself with every character anyway and most characters have some sort of protection ability as well, the area-of-attack ultimate is the one you'll want. Once fully powered by the five power orbs you can now wield, it can even wipe the floor with the majority of a boss form's health. By the time you're in Aranoi, your character should be powerful enough to fill these power orbs quickly enough, so as long as you remember to use the ultimate ability it will make playing through the game on Hardcore a lot less frustrating in the later stages. Aranoi also provides you with a special shrine to respec all of your character's abilities and talents for 20,000 gold -- easily gathered within an hour -- which is an option that should've been in the main game in the first place, but it's still nice to have. The final big addition Treasures of the Sun offers is Essences. An Essence is an item (it doesn't take up a slot in the inventory) that you can use to enchant any piece of equipment with one of five statistics; Chaos: Vampire (drain life), Doom (extra damage with critical hits), Retribution (counter damage), Stagger (stun on attack), and Warding (stun on being attacked). Larger foes will sometimes drop an Essence, but you can also randomly gain one by transmuting an expensive piece of equipment that contains one of these five statistics. You can't overpower an item too much, as you can't enchant an item with a new Essence if that item already has six different kinds of other stats, but your main weapon will still benefit a lot from consistently adding the same types of Essences. However, adding an Essence will bankrupt you in no time due to the high cost of enchanting, so it's not likely to break the game in the areas before the DLC. I did encounter Essence drops in the final stage of the regular game, so it seems this system permeates all of Dungeon Siege III as long as you own the DLC. This new Essence system makes it a bit more interesting to go through the entire game with a new character, and the option to respec when you reach Aranoi means you no longer have to be afraid you'll mess up your build for the end of the game. If you had trouble with the final boss, a side trip to Aranoi will provide you with enough XP to gain a few levels, with Level 35 now being the new level cap. Some new and super powerful legendary weapons you can find for each of your four characters are also certain to help you out in the late game -- especially if you enchant them with all your Essences. If you didn't care much for Dungeon Siege III in the first place, Treasures of the Sun is not going to change your mind. It doesn't offer anything mind-blowing that magically turns Dungeon Siege III into a masterpiece. But if you thought it was great or even just alright game, this DLC offers a pretty neat package with additional features and some new powers to toy with. The story is far more interesting than anything Dungeon Siege III had to offer, even if most of it is easily overlooked in favor of just mashing those buttons. One choice at the end of the game hints at a larger impact beyond the storyline of Dungeon Siege III, which makes you wonder if Obsidian has plans for a future title that will be affected by this choice. Treasures of the Sun is definitely one for the fans and it offers plenty of new content with its new locale, while simultaneously giving you a new reason to play through the full game again. If Dungeon Siege III was not quite Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance but similar enough for you to enjoy, then Treasures of the Sun is best compared to Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast; it's a well-shaped and mostly unrelated side-story that offers more of the same fun in a slightly tighter jacket.

For all its faults, Dungeon Siege III was something that I immensely enjoyed to button-mash my way through on my own. The camera annoyances found in co-op were not really an issue while playing solo, although the AI's tendenc...


Dungeon Siege III DLC 'Treasures of the Sun' out now

Oct 25
// Maurice Tan
Liked Dungeon Siege III well enough to spend another $10 or 800 Microsoft Points on it? DLC is your answer! Dungeon Siege III: Treasures of the Sun is now available on PC, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. It's set in...

Deus Ex, Dungeon Siege III, Dead Island cheap on Amazon

Sep 27
// Conrad Zimmerman
Amazon usually does a pretty good job of putting recent games on sale but not usually this good. The retailer's Deals of the Week in videogames see a 33% markdown on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a $14 reduction on Dead Island, ...


Dungeon Siege III to have 'Treasures of the Sun' DLC

Sep 02
// Conrad Zimmerman
Details on a new batch of downloadable content for Dungeon Siege III have been revealed and it sounds fairly big. The "Treasures of the Sun" expansion will take players to the Anoai Desert where a lost treasure lies in w...

Obsidian bringing better PC controls to Dungeon Siege III

Jun 23
// Jim Sterling
Dungeon Siege III has become a surprisingly polarizing game since it launched this week, most notably among the perpetually annoyed demographic of PC gamers. The biggest issue facing the PC version is that the mouse and keybo...

Review: Dungeon Siege III

Jun 17 // Jim Sterling
Dungeon Siege III (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Obsidian EntertainmentPublisher: Square EnixReleased: June 21, 2011MSRP: $59.99 Dungeon Siege III's linear story takes us back to the Kingdom of Ehb and revolves around the Tenth Legion, a force decimated by a powerful conqueror known as Jeyne Kassynder. As one of four playable characters -- Lucas Montbarron, Anjali, Reinhart Manx or Katarina -- you are tasked with rebuilding the Legion, bringing Kassynder to justice, and saving Ehb in a fairly unremarkable but not unenjoyable narrative.  Each of the four characters has a distinct playstyle and a set of unique abilities. Lucas is your typical warrior, fighting with swords and shields. Anjali can switch between human and powerful Archon forms, wielding fire-based offensive abilities. Reinhart is a standard mage with a plethora of spells at his command, while Katarina is a ranged specialist, packing rifles and handguns that can be empowered with black magic.  Character development is some of the most simplistic you could ever expect to find in a Western role-playing game, and I suspect that hardcore PC gamers will not appreciate it. Each character has nine skills that are unlocked incrementally and can be strengthened with skill points. In addition, there are twelve passive attributes that have their own set of points. General statistics, such as attack power and health, are improved automatically and via the huge amount of equipment you can obtain.  [embed]203895:39534[/embed] Every ability carries with it two potential extra enhancements that are unlocked using ability points. These enhancements can be improved with further points, but you may only improve them up to five times. You can also choose to mix the enhancements. For instance, Katarina can earn the ability to summon a wolf. The wolf has two enhancements -- one that boosts its HP and attack power, and another that gives Katarina HP every time it attacks. You can choose to sink all five of your enhancement points in boosting the wolf's strength/HP, or you can sink all five into gaining superior health regeneration. Alternatively, you could sink three points in the wolf's HP/attack, and two points in the health regain, so the wolf becomes slightly stronger and heals your character.  Despite that in-depth description, it's a very easy and intuitive form of character progression, though one that is very restrictive. Dungeon Siege III's playable characters are strictly predetermined and your only real choice is the order in which you unlock skills and the minor way in which you enhance your pre-set abilities. It's easy to get into, but there's a definite lack of meat on some particularly solid bones.  Those looking for deep skill trees and manual stat tweaking will not get what they want out of this game. In what is both a blessing and a potential curse, Dungeon Siege III is very much a "casual" role-playing experience, in which most of the thinking has been done for you and your only concern is amassing vast quantities of loot while kicking the crap out of giant spiders and goblins. This approach will be seen by some as a "dumbed down" experience, but if you want a game that dispenses with busywork and gets right down to the acquisition of riches and power, then Dungeon Siege III provides the instant gratification you're looking for.  This no-nonsense approach to character building extends to the core gameplay as well. Combat is all about dodging, blocking and button mashing to spam attacks and special abilities. Console controllers seem specifically catered to, with abilities picked by hitting combinations of face and shoulder buttons in a fairly straightforward manner. You don't even have to map abilities yourself -- there are just enough special commands to fit onto a controller, and the game assigns everything for you in a way that's incredibly easy to learn.  Despite the restrictions, Dungeon Siege III's fights are pretty satisfying, overall. At first, the game comes across as far too easy. The opening hour or two puts the players up against paper-thin enemies who fall to the blade without putting up much resistance. Once the game throws some more challenging enemies your way and your character gets a few interesting abilities, fights turn into a suitably action-packed affair and a number of later bosses will give out a decent fight, even if none of them will ever truly keep you stumped for long. Part of the fun is in the unique balance the game strikes with your various powers. Most special abilities require Focus, represented by a blue gauge that fills up every time you land a regular attack on an enemy. Your healing or buffing skills require a separate magical energy that is only earned by using Focus skills. It's not a system you start to take notice of until you gain multiple buffs, but once you do, there's a terrific little system in play that encourages making use of every tool at a character's disposal.  In single-player, you're allowed to pick a single party member to accompany you, although you can switch that member out for another of the characters at any time. While generally a competent fighter, your AI ally has a tendency to run headfirst into danger and require revival. However, it will always drop whatever it's doing and revive the player when needed, and it's not shy about mopping up the gold after a fight. It's just a shame that enemies will ignore the AI character completely in order to attack the player.  In fact, AI overall is a bit of an issue. Enemies have invisible boundaries that can be wholly exploited, especially in the earlier parts of the game. Opponents won't cross a certain point, and if you have ranged attacks, it's fairly easy to incite an enemy to give chase, cross the invisible barrier, and then launch an assault as the creature suddenly stops its pursuit and retreats. Later on in the game this becomes more obnoxious as enemies simply disappear into thin air and respawn at their starting positions once you cross an arbitrary threshold.  While I'm criticizing, I need to point out that targeting leaves a lot to be desired. I played as Katarina and I found the auto-target system for her ranged shots to be pretty poor. The character frequently favored enemies that were too far away to be a threat over the monster that was actively attacking her, and sometimes she'd just fire at nothing at all, despite the enemies stood right near her. At times, the targeting system appears to work well, and at others it doesn't work at all.  There are most certainly some annoying issues that are hard to ignore, but they didn't stop me having fun with the title. As a single-player experience, Dungeon Siege III is a pleasing affair that lets you jump into an RPG experience without any hassle. I can appreciate a game that just throws the player into the action and lets them enjoy themselves without engaging in endless micromanagement. Deeper experiences are always welcome, but there's plenty to be said for the more streamlined approach as well, and Dungeon Siege III is a fine example of that style.  The game took me around twelve hours to beat, and that was with me completing the side quests and taking my time to explore. If you just want to rush through the linear campaign, you'll be able to complete it at a far swifter pace. Despite the game's short length in comparison to other Western RPGs, I found Dungeon Siege III to have a satisfying amount of content to it. The bland but pleasant story wrapped up in a satisfying manner at just the right time, and I feel the game would outstay its welcome if it lasted much longer.  Drop in/drop out co-op is included, and I have to say that it's an incredibly weak part of the game. For a start, there's simply no benefit to a player who joins somebody else's game. If you join another player's quest, you do not get to take your own character -- you simply inhabit the body of one of theirs. Furthermore, the camera freaks out when more than one player joins a game -- it attempts to force all players to stay on the screen at all times, but frequently fails, and will end up with players stuck offscreen and unable to see where they're going.  Although playing co-op is the only way to see all four characters fighting at the same time, there's just no appreciable point to any of it. It's great for the game's host, but outside of some token Achievements/Trophies, there's nothing in it for the rest of the party. They don't get to take loot home with them and they don't get to build their own characters. Such co-op is fine in genres such as first-person-shooting, where character development isn't a goal, but in a game predominantly about acquiring fresh gear and earning experience, this method of co-op completely misses the point.  It's a shame, because aside from the awful camera, the co-op features work pretty well. I was able to enjoy sessions without lag, and it's pretty cool to see all four characters taking the fight to some monstrous insects. I just wish there was an actual incentive for everyone to play it.  The game looks pretty good, although it employs a strange artistic style in which characters go for a realistic look but sport stylized textures. It takes some getting used to, but every now and then one gets the jarring feeling that a character's facial details haven't loaded yet. I'm also thrilled to report that for an Obsidian game, there were no glitches encountered during my play. Music is used sparingly but is of the droll orchestral variety, and voice acting is competent and listenable, which is a high compliment as any in the field of videogame acting.  Dungeon Siege III most certainly isn't for everybody. Many gamers expect their role-playing games to be far more involving than this one, especially in recent years. Obsidian, however, went with an unapologetic throwback to simpler hack n' slash dungeon crawlers, and created a good little adventure because of it. It's certainly more straightforward than most RPGs these days, but I don't think the gameplay ultimately suffered because of it.  With better co-op, this could have been a truly great experience, but it's still highly enjoyable, and you can't demand much more than that. 

It's been quite some time since we last saw Dungeon Siege, with the Dungeon Siege II: Broken World expansion pack released in 2006. Since then, the franchise has landed at the feet of role-playing powerhouse Square Enix and t...


Dungeon Siege III demo dated for 360, PS3, PC

May 23
// Jim Sterling
Dungeon Siege III is getting a demo and it's coming fairly soon. How soon, exactly? Well, read this article and find out, you silly sod! The first system to get the demo will be the Xbox 360 on May 31. The PS3 and PC will hav...

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