So I started playing Dungeon Siege 3 (completely legally of course) a couple days ago. First I tried the demo, which actually gave me somewhat of a bad impression of the game. Interestingly, most of the merits of the game don't actually come out until you start getting into the story.
You only have 4 characters to choose from (2 in the demo), who each have 2 stances, 1 single-target stance, 1 crowd control/aoe stance, and then each stance has 3 skills attached to it. I guess what originally turned me off was that the game was forcing me into an extremely polarized class, offering 2 stances and 6 skills total to last me throughout the entire game; "What a joke", Or so I thought.
One thing that I really liked about the game was that they added something I think should have been in every ARPG since the beginning of time, and that is the ability to BLOCK. Yes, that's right, use the shield that you've been hauling around for the past 6 hours, put it in front of you, and negate the damage coming at you. It doesn't even have to be that complicated, yet (unless I've missed something), it's taken them over a decade into the 21st Century to finally do it.
But even with the ability to block, and 3 more "skills" associated with the block "stance", I still felt as though the game was missing something, and was going to get extremely boring, extremely quick.
It actually turned out just the opposite. For one thing, the block ability changed the entire way the game played out. Instead of being a typical hack and slash, you actually have to time your attacks on your opponent, and one small mistake can start a chain of events that ends up in your untimely death. They seem to have done a really good job of making the block ability incredibly useful, without bogging down the game with it too much. On normal mode, I hardly needed my shield at all. On hardcore mode (the difficulty I prefer with this game), it's practically a necessity against certain opponents. The boss fights play out especially well because they are so powerful on hard that the later ones will practically kill you if you let them get a couple good hits in. Using your shield correctly is absolutely vital, as is memorizing their combos and spell techniques so that you don't accidentally get roasted at the wrong time. However, the game does a good job of mixing up what they do enough to where they follow a loose pattern, but aren't predictable enough to never make a mistake against.
However, even with the block mechanic, the game probably would have been missing something. Fortunately, it adds another mechanic that is so elegantly simple it makes you wonder why nobody else has done it before: Yes, I'm talking about competent computer-controlled allies. Every ARPG has them, and they are usually little more than a meat-shield or a small source of damage. In DS3, having an allied CPU hero in your party is literally like having another you. They can kill groups of enemy monsters by themselves, they do a massive amount of damage, and I've even seen them kill mini-bosses with little to no help from me at all. The AI for them, while not perfect, seems to make solid decisions most of the time, and the pathing is especially good, as I've never seen my ally get stuck or bug out in the middle of a battle. Probably the most wonderful thing about them is that they require no input from you at all, in fact, you can't even control them. A lot of people might be upset about this, but I've always found the ability to take direct control of an ally in an RPG breaks the immersion for me. I like it much better having an ally that actually feels like an ally, not a helpless drone who I have to keep "taking over" and giving orders all the time (like in the Dragon Age games).
The only 2 things you have to worry about with your CPU allies are their items and their skills. Fortunately, the item system for DS3 is the best I've ever seen for an ARPG, and the skill system is also very basic, intuitive, and painless.
In terms of the skills (or lack thereof) that I mentioned at the beginning, it didn't turn out to be as big of an issue as I thought it would. Even though there are only 2 attack modes, and only a handful of skills, all of your attacks, and all of your skills, are extremely useful. Combined with the engaging and enjoyable battle system, you begin to realize that unlike most games posit these days, quality is actually more important than quantity. In practice, I've never felt as though I'm limited on the amount of skills or attacks I have, because the battle never seems to get stale regardless, something that ironically often happens in other games with tenfold the amount of customization and player options.
Dungeon Siege 3 is a shining example of how you can take very basic concepts that nobody has ever done correctly before, and make them work. It's an example of why customization and "limitless choices" aren't necessarily the most important aspects of good gameplay, and how rewarding the player for the choices he/she does have can be just as (if not more) effective.
I think this game has definitely challenged the status quo on what a good ARPG should be like, and I'm excited to see what else is to come from these developers (Obsidian Entertainment and Square). Square Enix has been impressing me a lot lately. I've never been a big fan of the Final Fantasy Series, but the last 2 games they have published, Supreme Commander 2, and Dungeon Siege 3, have been gems.
I fully expect this game to get mediocre or less than mediocre review scores, but if you are a fan of the ARPG genre, I wouldn't worry too much about that (these are the same critics that gave Cataclsym like a 97% on metacritic after all). Appreciating this game means being able to appreciate all the little things that makes it good, and I can see right now that it will be judged harshly on "lack of customization", "lack of classes", "linear storyline", and a host of other static criteria that people have become so accustomed to. In reality, a game should be judged on all its merits, not just the merits you expect it to have.
Final Thoughts: Dungeon Siege 3 is everything Dragon Age 2 should have been and wasn't. The story is actually compelling and keeps you wanting more, the character interaction is there, but is kept to a minimum, and the battle system is more dynamic, but just as enjoyable, without breaking the immersion factor of having to switch between multiple members of your party all the time (or going through an annoying "tactics" list to get them to do what you want).
If you are a fan of ARPGs in general, consider getting it.
If you are a fan of the previous Dungeon Siege games, definitely get it.
Final Score: B+
Does this mean you weren't affected by the utterly incompetent port from console?
Credit to Devious`, with thanks to AvunaOs for my last signature
the block thingy remind me of the dwarven defender in neverwinter nights second expansion
quite a beast that class is
that is one of the coolest of all the cool stories i have ever read, comrade
and i've read a number of extremely cool stories in my time
either way it looks decent enough, but the awful camera on the pc put me off when i tried it - i don't have time to sink into stuff that will get me frustrate :/
I'm going to spend exactly as much effort on analysing this game as was spent on making it and porting it to PC:
Credit to Devious`, with thanks to AvunaOs for my last signature
Played the steam demo.
Hated it. Uninstalled half way though. Won't be trying the full game.
I'd glad you enjoyed it though.
It's weird, the camera didn't really bother me that much. Maybe I'm too lenient about it or you guys are too strict. Either way, I hate shitty console ports just as much as the next guy, but this game never gave me that impression.