Dungeon Defenders

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Dungeon Defenders

Post by Dzani on Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:50 am

Think of Dungeon Defenders as a four-player tower defense game combined with a third-person action title. You pick an avatar from one of four iconic classes: the Apprentice (aka Mage); the Squire (aka the Warrior); the Huntress (aka the Elven Ranger); the Monk (aka...well, the Monk). Each class has unique special abilities that they combine with specific defensive structures. The Monk, for instance, is a fighter class that can summon sphere-shaped auras that can do things like slow enemies or do damage over time. The Squire, on the other hand, summons more direct defenses, putting up walls and other direct damage defenses to stop enemies and give other classes a chance to put the hurt on.

The goal, of course, is to survive all the waves of enemies. Each wave grows in number as you go on, and get increasingly difficult with each player that joins the fight (players can join mid-fight in between waves). Between each horde of enemies players get a chance to rebuild, upgrade and tighten up their defenses. The ultimate priority is defending the Eternia Crystal; if it falls, the level is over. Early in the campaign the levels have very simple layouts with only a single crystal and relatively few choke points, but things get much more strategic in the second half, where you're given multiple crystals to protect and a much greater variety of enemies to fight. A formula that you'd expect to become utterly repetitious manages to stay fun throughout because each level forces you to adapt to its unique layout and the various types of enemies you encounter. Crisis control is also important; when barriers start to fall, only a cohesive and communicative team will recover and hold the line.

Each class has a role on the battlefield, but they're definitely not all created equal. Play a few games online, and you'll see why the Squire is the most popular class. Not only can he wreak havoc with his melee attacks, but his defensive structures can deal damage as well as stop enemies in their tracks. The other classes catch up to his prowess in the higher levels, but the Squire rockets ahead of other players early on since experience is regrettably not shared. The Squire just doesn't seem to have any major weaknesses something I don't think I could say for any other class and can be a little frustrating to group with when they're killing everything before you have a chance.

With a good party, even a pick-up group made up of random strangers, I quickly found myself utterly addicted to Dungeon Defenders. Every level boils down the same objective, but as I said before, strategic adaptation keeps things interesting. What also keeps me hooked is the constant stream of loot and experience. Leveling up your hero and collecting that oh-so-precious booty keeps the proverbial carrot on a stick constantly dangling before you. I'm a sucker for that carrot, too, and it makes even defeat a bit easier. You see, losing a battle sucks in Dungeon Defenders, but you get to keep the spoils you find regardless. If you die you just equip the new hotness you've acquired, allocate points into stats if you leveled up, and go at it again.

While acquiring loot hooks me, after it's in the bag, I'm left with mixed feelings. The look of your weapon changes and man do they look awesome sometimes but that's it. No matter what helmet you put on, or breast plate you don, your character looks the same. It may not sound like that big of a deal to everyone, but for RPG nerds like me, visually distinctive gear a big part of the appeal; I love loot grinding, but I want others to see how badass I am just by looking at me.

On the upside, though, I love how you can level up weapons, giving you a reason to hang onto gear, and something to tweak in between the times when your character levels up. Killing monsters yields Mana, which you use to buy towers during each stage. After each level there's usually Mana left over, so you can use this as well as any Mana you get for selling unneeded items to put into your equipment. Each piece of equipment can usually be upgraded several times, allowing you to tweak its stats to better suit your playstyle. My Monk, for example, is all about Auras rather than direct attacks, so I constantly spend my excess Mana on equipment levels that allow me to better my role as a support class. Leveling up weapons is a nice way to keep me occupied when I'm not acquiring loot or getting experience, always giving me something to do to feel like I'm progressing.

For PC players it should be noted the experience is slightly different. To play online you connect through Trendy Net (this is super easy to do in the game client), where your characters are saved on their servers. Because Dungeon Defenders will soon be open-source for modding, the hope is that this will prevent players from hacking their characters and taking them online. Mods are played locally with seperate characters, discouraging players from creating modded levels that are easy to grind experience or gear on. Additionally, the PC version understandably has some varied controls when using a mouse and keyboard (though it plays just fine with intuitive use of the number keys).


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