Wot I Think: Dungeon Siege III

By Alec Meer on June 27th, 2011 at 1:45 pm.

The third siege of dungeons arrived a little while back, with Obsidian taking the reins of the Gas-Powered Games-created loot’n’kill fandango. I’ve been frantically clicking my mouse button at it for the last few days – an act which I have now transmuted into some words.

First point of interest for me in any dungeon crawler: can I summon animals? Silently beating up monsters in rock corridors gets pretty lonely, after all. Also, I’m really very lazy – if there’s some companion animal doing half the damage for me I don’t need to press so many number keys. Get to it, my furry friend.

Dungeon Siege III delivers on this front, at least. My stocking-wearing gunwoman can summon a spectral hound to antagonise foes while she snipes them from afar. On top of that, one of the AI-controlled companions (only one of which you can have with you at any one time) can summon a flaming hound. It’s doggy carnage out there.

Fightin’ hounds are hardly a defining element of Dungeon Siege III, especially as they just vanish after a couple of minutes instead of being a constant companion, but their token-yet-dramatic presence does speak to the conflict at the heart of the game. There’s something excessive and ludicrous in there trying to get out, but it’s restrained by a formulaic hack’n’slash structure, dour dialogue and rather insipid aesthetics.

‘Formulaic hack’n’slash structure’ is a bit of a stupid thing for me to say though, isn’t it? Hack and slash is by nature formulaic, and the appeal of these games is less about grand adventures and more about killing and collecting things until your fingers are raw stumps and your eyeballs are blood-hued gooseberries. Dungeon Siege III has that – this review is later than planned because I kept diving back in for more, under the false pretext of ‘I’d better investigate this element a little more before writing, or maybe there’s something important in that side-quest I didn’t bother with yet.’ I was lying to myself – the interest in returning was simply the pleasant, self-chosen boredom and fleeting sense of reward that comes from click,click,click,click, die,die,die,die.

Trouble is, I can’t think of anything to pick out from Dungeon Siege III and hold aloft as being better than the myriad other killfests in this ever-compulsive sub-genre. It doesn’t have Diablo’s CGI-bolstered story or escalating sense of doom, it doesn’t have Torchlight’s gleefully unbridled just-getting-on-with-it… and it doesn’t have Dungeon Siege’s organic skill levelling or party system. Only the name and the background hum of Ehb lore makes Dungeon Siege III particularly a Dungeon Siege game – take that away and it could be any old dungeon crawler. And despite being far flashier, in many ways it’s a backwards step from the first DS towards something far more simple and over-familiar.

The closest it comes to its own identity is the skill system. As well as a neat and fluid system that has you insta-switching between two distinct trios of skills – in my character’s case, one set best for hordes and another for wearing down stronger single foes – it makes a noble attempt to hide all its numbers, presenting abilities as big, friendly icons you click on when levelling up to make ‘em better. Obviously this is anathema to the cRPG devout, but it lends welcome immediacy – that power’s fun/easy, so make it better with a click then get on back to the action.

It’s probably most comparable to console hacky-slashy such as Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, placing an emphasis on powers looking flashy as much as achieving useful things, but there are gentle hints of strategy to it. For instance, stacking together various abilities to whittle down the occasional big, bad bosses that much more quickly, and upgrading them in certain ways (you can put about half a dozen points into each, with each point choosing broadly between either improving its raw power or a bonus effect such as healing you or stunning foes) in order to lean your character slightly more towards more efficient self-healing or more regular critical hits.

Still though: too often the overall experience is as dry as a plywood sandwich. For every power that does something visually over the top (like dog-summoning or turning into a human torch), there are two that just emit a small purple glow and change a number for a few seconds. There are a reasonable number of side-quests (quite a few of which you’ll need to do in order to level up enough for the main quests), but they’re almost always long, samey kill-treks through more disguised corridors rather an an adventurous diversion in and of themselves. Some of the deathly-dry conversations between missions offer response options, but bar a few that have a poorly-explained positive effect on your companion NPC, it pretty much doesn’t matter what words you click on. This is a game about pressing the left mouse button until everything’s dead – it might have been better if it had concentrated on making that element as glossy and varied as possible, instead of cramming in unengaging cutscene filler.

Occasionally though, real character creeps in – the steampunk robotic guards of a major city, for instance, are straight out of HK-47’s Guide To Politely Threatening Horrific Violence, and thus a very welcome change from the endless, endlessly earnest variations upon Basil Exposition. Infrequently, a sub-quest such as the haunted house offers more visual and atmospheric variety – and stuff you might actually remember a few weeks later – but it’s all a bit lost in a flood of cod-fantasy blandness. There’s clever writing hidden in there for sure, but for some reason it hasn’t come to the fore. As for giving loot names such as ‘Stockings of Rage’ – well, the image of angry hosiery made me laugh, but I got the horrible sense that the game wasn’t joking.

That said, it does find more boldness later on in the game, when it moves out of textbook forests and into slightly wilder environments, like cannon-besieged ice-lands and dwarven caverns filled with floating platforms and giant fans made from carved gemstones. The plot even starts to find its own voice and explore grey areas, though it takes for too long to get there and remains a far cry from Obsidian at their best storytelling. Stick with it and you will enjoy it more. It seems to find its feet eventually, but there are issues it never quite escapes.

DS3 even doesn’t quite get loot right, despite including an amount of it perhaps best summarised as A Veritable Fuckton. While levelling up your skills is all big icons and easy percentages, loot quickly starts carrying additional, cryptic stats such as doom, momentum and chaos. Some are easy to figure out, but if you want to do the hard maths on what’s better than what, you’ll need to delve off to some forum or wiki. Is +4 momentum better than having +12 agility? Buggered if I know.

Instead, I just equip whatever the game’s said is worth the most money and sell the rest. Which is quick and effective enough, but between that and the very fixed nature of the class archetypes, I get no sense of building a specific type of character. Instead, I’m just making my little killing machine incrementally better at pretty much the rate the game dictates, and not really caring about what the magic hairclip (yep, really; yep, unironically) I’ve just equipped actually does. It doesn’t feel like my game or my character – just a fairly untaxing charge forward through a chain of death-corridors.

On PC, there’s more wrong still. No support for 16:10 monitors (only console-friendly 16:9) means big black bars at the top of bottom of widescreen displays. This is rendered all the more unforgivable by the fact that it’s the work of seconds to edit an .ini file yourself and force 16:10. Then there’s the fact that you can’t rebind keys, and that rolling the scrollwheel doesn’t increase or decrease zoom, but instead flicks wildly between extreme close-up and not-quite-birds-eye-enough. Roll it up a millimetre and you’ll zoom out; roll it up two millimetres and you’re back on your character’s shoulder.

It’s pretty clear that PC version of the game got a little less tender loving care than its Stationed and Boxy cousins, and while patches have been promised that’s not enough to battle upset that it was released with really bloody basic and obvious oversights. Even aside from this, I can see that DS3 would be far better suited to console than PC anyway – it’s button-mashy, it’s pop, it’s instant, it’s got splitscreen co-op… These are worthy values, but they’ve resulted in a PC game that simply doesn’t try to make its shadow any taller than its years-old rivals and predecessors. It’s all too telling that it’s a significantly more enjoyable, less fiddly play on gamepad than keyboard and mouse – that way, the crazed camera actually makes sense.

(Speaking of co-op, remote multiplayer is perhaps one the game’s major selling points. Unfortunately, the Steam-based review code I’ve been given has a slightly different name and appID to the release version, and thus can find no other people to play against. Gah! I could buy another version of the game to test the co-op properly, but based on my singleplayer experiencedo not feel it would be worthwhile. There’s your full disclosure – if anyone reckons the co-op really does switch DS3 from ‘OK’ to ‘gadzooks!’ do say so below and I’ll investigate.)

Of course, for all its shortcomings I played it for hours anyway, stayed up too late, got RSI, ate only chemically-flavoured snackfoods… That’s how these things go, isn’t it? It’s a solid enough hack’n’slash game with varied environments and some inventive skills, and that certainly kept me playing – but when you can pick up something like Torchlight or Titan Quest for pennies (both of which are also far more attractive and characterful), it’s really hard to recommend dropping £30-odd on this. If a patch that fixes up the PC control and display oversights and rethinks the presentation of stats does show up, I’ll certainly feel a lot more fond of Dungeon Siege III. For now though: resume frustrated waiting for Diablo III.

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110 Comments »

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  1. Velvetmeds says:

    I liked it. More than Torchlight anyway. Play it with a gamepad though.

    • ZIGS says:

      BURN THE HEATHEN!

    • amorpheous says:

      Liked? Past tense? As in, you’ve finished it? How is this possible? How do people do this with RPGs? Once I start playing them I get sucked so hard into the side quest time sink. I’m still playing Oblivion five years on, ffs. :-(

    • Hunter says:

      I agree with the console pad. I played it on a console toy this weekend with a friend and quite enjoyed the pick-up/put-down aspect of it. It’s def meant to be played on a couch and, in that regard, its the best hack-n-slash on the system.

    • bill says:

      i always wonder about that. Not just for RPGs, but any game that gets reviewed always has dozens of people who’ve already finished…. wish i had that kind of free time!

    • Velvetmeds says:

      Actually it’s quite small. It took me a few days to finish but if i hadn’t been studying for exams i probably would’ve finished it in 2 days, 3 at the most.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      I liked it a lot, but I can agree with some of Alec’s criticisms – not enough variety when levelling up for instance (but the 4 characters play very differently so you have that replayability). But it had a decent story, fun combat (what Pidesco said below), the engine had some spectacular views, and it was very smooth and bug free.

    • bill says:

      at how many hours per day?

    • Wulf says:

      @amorpheus

      I’m still playing Morrowind. Aside from mods (amazing mods like Deserts of Anequina and Ruined-Tail’s Tale) I generally find that Oblivion doesn’t sink it’s hooks into me. But Morrowind… eesh. D:

    • Premium User Badge

      HermitUK says:

      The game isn’t particularly long. My completion time on the most difficult setting was about 13 hours according to the save file, not including the restarts on some of the more difficult boss fights. As far as I’m aware I didn’t miss any side quests, and I certainly wasn’t rushing through with any great speed.

      On the one hand, it’s short for an RPG, though the length fits the game quite well – I’m not sure the gameplay as it stands would have held up over 30+ hours. That also makes it a good length for co-op, as a fairly competent group could probably finish it over a week of evenings. My main issue with the length is the lack of a New Game + feature. No option to replay with more difficult enemies, or to replay the game with a different character using the loot you found for them on your first playthrough.

      On the hardest setting the game offered a decent challenge, especially towards the end, relying on a lot of quick dodging and stance swapping to succeed, which was nice. And your AI companion is mostly competent, with the ability to pick you up if you get knocked down to no health. Though Lucas, your melee only companion, turned out to be a bit thick and would often run into deadly AoE attacks to hit stuff with his sword. Which then usually meant I had to scrape his face off the dungeon floor.

      I enjoyed it as a no-nonsense hack and slash game, though it’s certainly a very different beast to the previous Dungeon Siege games. Does need to be played with a gamepad – personally this doesn’t bother me, as I actually prefer it to the usual Click-to-move system. I prefer Torchlight 360’s control scheme for this very reason.

      I hear co op is good fun, but the implementation leaves something to be desired – you can’t import heroes from your own game into the online mode. Rather, Player 1 has the save file and all the characters, while player’s 2-4 drop in to that game. Not a problem for a group of friends playing the game start to finish, but the ability to drop in and out with your own heroes would have been a nice touch for the multiplayer.

    • PatrickSwayze says:

      The hours per play through in the game are completely busted. It says six for mine but I know it’s more like twelve.

      Also, when you save the game, under your characters portrait it says 1/40.

      WHAT THE HELL IS THAT FOR?

    • Velvetmeds says:

      yeah it’s basically 12~14 hours first time around. worth playing with different chars though.

    • Souldark says:

      @PatrickSwayze, it’s the save slot number.

    • Urthman says:

      I’ve got so many hours on my Oblivion character I’ve had to use Wyre Bash twice to fix the animation bug that crops up when the TesClass Abomb counter passes 1,224,736,768.

  2. Zogtee says:

    In a nutshell, a lazy port of a mediocre console title.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Uh, no. It’s much prettier than the console version, runs much smoother. It stays comfortably at 60fps pretty much maxed out on my pc. And it plays wonderfully with a pad in front of the Tv with a friend.

      It’s one thing I think the review passed up a bit, Torchlight and Titan Quest don’t allow for coop on one screen which I think adds a lot to this game. Feels more like a modern day Gauntlet.

      Overall though, the review is spot on, although I did enjoy all of the criticisms are valid.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      Well see there you go. You played with a game pad on a couch with a friend.

      If you’d played it in a chair by yourself with a mouse and keyboard, you’d understand the mediocre console port bit, I think.

  3. DainIronfoot says:

    STOCKINGS OF RAGE! HOSIERY OF HATE! SOCKS OF SARCASM! TIGHTS OF TANTRUMS!

  4. Phoenix says:

    The multiplayer would be fun, if it hadn’t been for the baffling decision to make anyone other than the host act more like a temporary companion rather than a hero on their own. No items, experience, quest progression or anything is saved a cross game sessions. Your character gains nothing by joining someone else’s game and playing.

    • unlimitedgiants says:

      I like the part where it lumps all the cash together, and whoever gets to the shop the fastest gets to try to spend it before the others show up.

  5. reticulate says:

    Out of interest, what are Chris Taylor’s minions doing these days if not Dungeon Siege?

  6. Baka says:

    The demo told me before that the game is “okay”, what I’m really looking forward to now is someone elaborating his co-op experience with it.

    • Gormongous says:

      I can tell you from about six hours of co-op on the couch that multiplayer does improve the experience markedly, with a lot of the design decisions coming off a lot less irksome, but does not fundamentally change DS3’s nature as a chips-and-soda game to be played between torrenting episodes of “Game of Thrones”.

  7. djbriandamage says:

    My wife and I played DS1 like nuts. Loved it. By the time DS2 came out we’d moved on to Gulid Wars and Titan Quest. DS3’s demo absolutely underwhelmed me and I have no intention of buying it, even on sale.

    The weird thing is that 95% of Alec’s comments about DS3 also apply to Titan Quest which is a game of a similar vein. Such a fine line between excellence and mediocrity in the action RPG genre. Titan Quest is a game whose demo just floored me and I rushed out to buy it. I was never once disappointed by that game, except for how badly it humbled the first PC I played it on. It still looks and plays like an absolutely modern game today. Gorgeous, enthralling, addicting game.

    • drplote says:

      Here’s hoping the makers of Titan Quest finish Grim Dawn one of these days.

  8. Bhazor says:

    “Hack and slash is by nature formulaic, and the appeal of these games is less about grand adventures and more about killing and collecting things until your fingers are raw stumps and your eyeballs are blood-hued gooseberries.”

    “Even aside from this, I can see that DS3 would be better suited to console than PC anyway – it’s button-mashy”

    Huh? So it’s a good thing it’s a button masher but its too button mashy to be a good button masher and as a result it feels like a button masher?

    If you’re just left clicking all the way through then I have to say I think you’re doing it wrong. I’m no fan of Diablo likes but I thought the combat in this was really good. A real focus on dodging through enemies and timing your 2/3 special attacks to do the most damage before zipping to a distance and changing to a ranged stance to pick off the survivors. Certainly I enjoyed it more than torchlights focus on repeating the same combination over and over to the point I might as well just put up a win macro.

    That said I was disappointed with the writing, it wasn’t bad as such but it was very linear and I just expected a lot more from George Zeits (writer of Mask of the Betrayer).

    • bill says:

      so mashing the dodge button?

      timing your mashing is a part of mashing. isn’t it?

    • Wulf says:

      I felt the same way about Alec’s review of Darkspore, which completely failed to understand the tactics of the later worlds, which you didn’t have to grind at all to pass, you just had to employ the right crew and some bloody clever tactics. I think that’s the problem if grinding is an option, people tend to turn to grindy clickfests and playing games wrong instead of asking themselves how they could approach a challenge.

    • Alec Meer says:

      The fact I talked about the skills rather bloody gives away that I wasn’t actually only clicking left button, you bizarre literalists.

      (Wulf, I think you’re talking about Jim’s Darkspore review).

    • Bhazor says:

      I think Quintin was right in that it’s very scalable. At the easiest setting it is a mindless grind where you just hammer the mouse button until theres nothing left moving. On higher settings however it becomes completely different, your guy can be killed in just a hand full of hits and you need precise timing on your skills and careful management of your stamina. Not as good as the best, sadly console only, slashers like Ninja Gaiden Black (Ninja Gaiden 2 went deep into cheap ass dick move territory sadly) or God of War but certainly more engaging than the mass of Diablo likes it’s been compared to.
      Unfortunately, I think a lot of people went in expecting the grind and sticking to it because thats what they were expecting. To me this game is much more Fable than Diablo and I think that confused a lot of reviewers.

      @ Alec
      Yes you touched on skills. You also said you played it as “click, click, click, click, die, die, die, die,” and overtly stating that you were grinding it. It’s a complaint I’ve seen a lot, praises combat and then at the end of the review says it isn’t “grindy” enough or isn’t reliant enough on stats. On that note the review I disagreed with most is Edge’s which was positive (by Edge standards at least). So positive in fact that the guy rated it higher than Witcher 2 reviewed in the same issue. Which is just objectively… wrong.

    • Pidesco says:

      Your WIT really makes it sound like the combat is shallow, when in fact, it’s much deeper than the combat of most of the big action RPGs on PC, like Diablo, Titan Quest or Sacred.

      The combat in DS3 is fairly unique on the PC, at least as far as action RPGs are concerned.

  9. Gravy says:

    Hack and Slash is all about the items for me the frost stave, or lightening sword, the totally random green item thats better than items of higher tiers. The game really falls apart from that point of view and after seeing the same models with +4 whatever it gives me no need to explore the game world or the game at all really.

    I mean its even average in its combat/control side of things…. As above a poor console port of a mediocre game.

  10. Azradesh says:

    All of the stat info is in the game, in the menu. There’s a tutorial/guide section that covers everything, no need to hunt for info on the forums.

  11. Pidesco says:

    What this offers as opposed to other Hack and Slashes on PC is good combat. This is less about character dressup, e-peen waving, and eternal grinding and more about mastering the great combat system with your awesome skills of dexterity and tactics.

    Unlike the Diablos, or the previous Dungeon Siege games, the combat isn’t just an easy to pick up vehicle that enables your loot getting and stat increasing. This is about figuring out your enemies tells’ and using the combos, dodges and blocks at your disposal, to defeat them in stylish and spectacular fashion.

    I’d also like to note that the game is much better with a gamepad. And that Co-op works fine with two players as long as you’re not jumping into random games. The co-op was designed to maximize the experience of a few friends playing together from start to finish.

    • Wulf says:

      Again, I felt the same way about Darkspore. You can grind in Darkspore, but if you’re good at managing your teams and the items you just pick up along the way then you don’t have to grind at all. In fact, in that way, I felt it had a lot to share with Guild Wars. I saw a lot of Guild Wars in Darkspore, and I see a lot of Guild Wars in this. It’s just that sort of game.

      It presents itself as a potential clickfest, but that’s really just one way to play it. You can grind your way through, or you can make the right choices in regards to tactics employed. I just don’t think everyone is good at this sort of game though. Which makes me dread how Guild Wars 2 is going to be reviewed, to be honest…

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      GW combat seemed to be absolutely vanilla MMO fare. 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5… 1, 1, 1, 2 etc.

    • Nick says:

      GW1 was not vanilla MMO combat at all, as anyone who has played it and a variety of MMOs can easily attest to, unless they decide to massively oversimplify it down to hitting number keys to activate abilities, which is completely failing to understand any of the key differences, subtle or otherwise.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Nick: I’m no particlular MMO expert, but the combat in GW, Warhammer, Champions and LotR felt identical to me. What am I missing?

    • Nick says:

      If it genuinely felt identical between all those games, apparently a lot.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Gee, thanks for the assistance.

    • Rob Maguire says:

      Guild Wars vs other MMOs such as World of Warcraft:
      First of all, Guild Wars is almost entirely based on character skills. You hit max level (20) in a few days of playing, then grab a signet and start capturing abilities from bosses (think Pokemon). You can carry a limited amount of abilities with you at a time, and their effectiveness is based on how many points you put into the relevant skill. The gear you have might give you a slight benefit, but it’s nothing compared to an optimized skill point loadout. Not to mention, you can respec nearly* everything about your character while in cities. Bringing the right tools for the job is a core part of gameplay.

      To put it bluntly, in most other MMOs, you only have to use real tactics in the top tier stuff: raids, bosses, end-game content, etc; and the tactics used will be the same every time you do that mission. In Guild Wars, the heavy reliance on status effects and ability denial (and most of the time, absence of bullshit immunities on mobs), varied mob teams, and fairly decent AI means you’ll be playing tactically from the very beginning, even against common mobs.

      Here’s a long, rambling example:
      My Guild Wars main is a Mesmer/Necromancer (hex/curse), meaning my job is to find the enemy team’s damage dealers and support classes and make them unable/unwilling to use their heavy stuff. My ability bar, at the moment, contains three abilities that cause the enemy to heavily damage themselves when they attack (one each against basic attacks, melee skills, and spells), a massive health degeneration effect (healing/mana regen works on a ‘pip’ system in GW, so a healing spell might give you 5 pips of healing per second; my spell will cancel several of those out, and will cause damage over time if I push the pips into negative), a quick spell that interrupts casting, a curse that halves the enemy attack rate, and a few other useful tricks.

      Success in combat relies on the situational awareness of your team and what abilities you had the foresight to bring with you, and things go fast in this game: if I don’t notice an enemy casting a deadly area attack in time to interrupt it – often a window of only a second – chances are half the team are now in desperate need of healing.

      tl;dr:
      Guild Wars = heavy focus on player skills and abilities, level/gear is almost meaningless, respec of character in preparation for a mission is encouraged, no item whoring, ridiculously tactical. Also, PvP balanced, since the really absurd abilities have alternate forms for PvP.

      *The only thing you can’t change during respec is your primary class, which controls what bonus skill you get (faster casting, more mana, etc).

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Thanks Rob!

  12. origo says:

    Rewiever forgot to mention that you can control naked flying woman as one of character choices. When was the last time you could do it in such mainstream game?

  13. bill says:

    “Is +4 momentum better than having +12 agility? Buggered if I know.

    Instead, I just equip whatever the game’s said is worth the most money and sell the rest. “

    I had this problem with Jade Empire, which simplified everything down to a “sounds great in theory” set of stats, but in the end everything was just a colored gem with +3 spirit and +5charm – so i went with the most expensive ones.
    Never felt like any of them made any difference… they might as well have automated it and just made your stats increase slowly over time.

  14. Ondrej says:

    I tried the demo, but the flashy and extremely slow menu which required at least two mouseclicks to display my inventory totally put me off. And disappearing corpses? Meh.
    It suffers a great deal from consolitis.

    • Pidesco says:

      Press F to open the inventory. Directly. In one key press. As explained in the same tutorial message that explains how to open the inventory with two clicks. Yeah.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well we wouldn’t want a console game dumbing down our isometric click grinds would we.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Er, how was DS1 a “click grind”? An “H”-masher, perhaps, but even that could be avoided if you had a couple healers and positioned them wisely and timed your “M”-presses carefully.

      DS1 was never your typical clickity-click-click action RPG. You couldn’t really play that way even if you tried. Hence the sadness.

    • Bhazor says:

      Actually I meant he’s accusing it of being dumbed down for consoles despite being designed around an old PC formula. But still, blame the consoles.

  15. Giaddon says:

    I really, really like this game, far more than Torchlight/Titan Quest/the rest of that group. The combat is actually fun! You don’t, you know, hold down the left mouse button until everything is dead. You block and dodge, you time powered-up attacks and abilities, you don’t have to tetris your inventory. The graphics are great (as mentioned in the review, there’s a very memorable haunted house) — I can’t remember a single distinct location in most hack and slashers (except in the most broad sense — “cave,” “snow place,” “desert”), but I’ll remember the haunted house, the foundry, the Eastern swamp. The writing can be a bit dry, but it is always high quality. I enjoyed grabbing the pieces of lore strewn around.

    It either moves the hack and slash genre forward in a way it hasn’t been since Diablo 2, or it mixes so much with brawlers that it can’t be considered part of that genre at all.

    • Wulf says:

      I just wish people had realised this about Darkspore as well, but I guess human characters were required in order for people to actually try to get to grips with something. That makes me feel both :/ and :C, to sum it up in emoticons.

      Really though, everything there applies perfectly to Darkspore. You could spend ages grinding, or you could actually engage in combat as a fun challenge, and use tactics, and use the incredibly inventive abilities that characters are given to win the day. Clicking away in Darkspore will absolutely not win the day, unless you’ve spent most of your life grinding, being good with tactics will win you the day without any of that grinding.

      I just feel that there are two camps with games like this: Those that suck at these games, and those that rock with them. And the former camp is going to be waaaay bigger than the latter. Hence the desire for most publishers to just crank out Yet Another FPS.

    • Gundrea says:

      Wulf if you mention Darkspore one more time I’m going to buy a copy off Steam and beat you with it.

      (I leave the logistics of how to your inventive imagination)

  16. bowl of snakes says:

    exactly wot i thought too!

  17. aircool says:

    I’m saving my tendons for Torchlight Twoooooo.

  18. PatrickSwayze says:

    I got this on launch but have yet to finish it due to illness, but it’s… okay.

    It’s fun enough but with the borked loot system (good statistical variety but little visual differentiation) it’s lifespan will be limited.

    I’ve enjoyed my play through as the warrior class but I feel I’m playing the game as the developers want me to rather than how I want to. I dislike having to switch to my smaller sword to fight bosses, I’d rather just stick with my crowd cleaving two handed fire imbued monstrosity.

    I can’t see myself wanting to try any of the other other classes either perhaps except the strange magician guy.

    No doubt DLC is going to rear it’s head with this game… I can just feel it. Could be persuaded to play more if the co-op system wasn’t so strange but don’t see it happening.

    • Giaddon says:

      Was it the big “Downloadable Content” button on the main menu that tipped you off?

    • PatrickSwayze says:

      That was a big give away. I’m guessing premium armour sets, characters would be nice though

    • Bhazor says:

      With a very short linear campaign this has DLC campaign modules written all over it. Which coming from Obsidian and George Zeits could be a very very very good thing.

  19. unangbangkay says:

    Personally I like it a lot. Dungeon Siege I never really clicked with me way back in the day, being a lot like a squad-based RTS cloaked in Diablo-style loot lust.

    And while I’m much more open to the number-crunching and purity, for lack of a better word, Diablo-style gameplay, I’ve got Torchlight for that. What I had been missing since the PS2 days was a successor to Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath. This is it.

    Obviously that’s irrelevant to a person who plays primarily on the PC and prefers PC-style things (seeing as those games were box-station exclusive, but that’s this game is to me. That it’s on my powerful PC and suffers from none of the performance issues the console versions have (borked KB/M controls aside) is a bonus.

    It’s a matter of expectations, I suppose. Given the series legacy you lot were perfectly justified expecting another Diablo-style game (or even another Dungeon Siege-style game), but for me, I got what I didn’t know I wanted this whole time.

  20. Jason Moyer says:

    Do the first 2 DS games have branching dialog and armies of socially awkward automatons? I may have to try them again if they do.

    • Pidesco says:

      Nope

    • Bhazor says:

      They’re still worth trying if you can find them cheap (sadly no direct downloads yet) but they’re a completely different game. More a stratedgy game than a dungeon hack really. It’s still impressive technically, it’s a truly vast world with no loading screens at all, not even going into dungeons. It must have been really impressive in its day.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      When DS1 first came out, I remember one of the big selling points was the seamless overland/dungeons.

      Does steampunk play a role in the originals at all? I really like the generic-fantasy+technology setting in DS3. If they’re ever actually for sale on Steam I guess I’ll pick them up anyway.

  21. MrMud says:

    I thought torchlight was terrible (suprisingly since i liked diablo) but I am liking DS3 so far. Not the greatest game obsidian has made but its pretty good.

  22. Freud says:

    Everything about this game screams pick-up-when-it’s-on-sale. They might even have fixed it for PC by then too.

  23. Premium User Badge

    innokenti says:

    Personally I felt that the story and writing, although basic by comparison with Obsidian’s other works, was above, in feel and execution, anything else comparable. Even Diablo 2, which I may remember fondly, didn’t quite have the charm of it all. That immediately lifted it out of the mire of similar games.

    The other thing is that the combat is involving. Tactically interesting if not hugely, after you get into the swing of things, challenging. All four characters play differently and require different tactics to be developed, and you are forced to use almost all your 9 different abilities, not just a couple of hyper-powered staples.

    No, while I feel that most of Alec’s complaints are technically justified in that… well… I suppose they are there… the whole experience is one that has given me per-minute much more fun and excitement than e.g. Tochlight, Titan Quest, Sacred. Personally it even tussles with Diablo 2 a little, although there is a certain variety with D2 that has stretched it over the years and it’s impossible to say if DS3 might even remotely have it.

    The biggest let-down is the cut-price job done on the co-op. Locked into one character’s view? Use of only one player’s characters? Great for the sofa co-op… not so much for online. Boo.

    • Urthman says:

      The plot/story for Titan Quest is nothing special, but the writing and voice acting on the dialogue are consistently above average for this kind of game. And there’s a truly gratuitous amount of it. You can click on almost every character 3-5 times and get more dialogue, all of which is just non-essential color. A lot of love went into that game.

  24. Soon says:

    Alec makes me think no, comments make me think yes. Demo time!

    • Pidesco says:

      Be aware that the demo is a fairly poor representation of the game, as it’s easier, and it’s the beginning of the game until just before it actually gets good.

    • Lilliput King says:

      So how long is the demo, roughly?

    • Pidesco says:

      One hour for each character, I guesstimate?

  25. Kablooie says:

    Had a big wall of text typed, then realized it boiled down to: another poorly done console port. Utterly forgettable story and characters.

    DS3 lacks the charm of Torchlight, and the excitement (as well as loot systems) of either Titan’s Quest or Diablo2.

    For fans of the title, only, I’d say. Definitely bargain bin material.

  26. Gundrea says:

    DS3 is a real “good but…” game. For every positive there’s a negative. The combat was good but the camera was awful. The story was good but felt short. The characters were stand out but limited.

    One thing that can’t be mentioned enough is that this is an Obsidian game without bugs. Perhaps consoles are their true calling.

    • malkav11 says:

      Because certainly none of Obsidian’s other games were released on console.

    • Gundrea says:

      A fair point but I’m struggling to find a reason for why Obsidian have gone from New Vegas, NwN2. Alpha Protocol to all of a sudden putting out a game as clean as DS3. I mean, did Square Enix threaten to take away their sugar if they didn’t playtest?

    • malkav11 says:

      I would put it down to two things:
      1) Obsidian’s reputation for buggy games being a -teensy- bit exaggerated.
      2) Dungeon Siege III being a pretty linear, unambitious corridor crawl. Again, I think it’s a pretty good one, but it certainly hasn’t got the kind of scope or ambition that any of Obsidian’s other projects do, and the more moving bits, the harder it is to catch everything.

  27. Kdansky says:

    Publisher: “Oh no, we must add DRM to prevent day-0 piracy!”
    Geeks: “Dear developers, the controls suck ass.”
    Publisher: “Sure, no problem, we’ll just patch that in a few months!”

    Publisher: “Why doesn’t anyone buy on Day-0? It must be the filthy pirates!”

    As for me: I do not have enough time to play mediocre games, and judging from the demo, this is mediocre at best. Clearly passing.

  28. Jim Reaper says:

    “It’s pretty clear that PC version of the game got a little less tender loving care than its Stationed and Boxy cousins…”

    It can bugger right off then…..

  29. DigitalSignalX says:

    Disappointed the Archon player character voice acting wasn’t mentioned. If ever there was an example of wooden sounding, Microsoft text to speech being used as a game voice / narrator – this is it.

    • Daedalus207 says:

      Interesting that you should feel that way. I felt just the opposite. The stilted, not-quite-right delivery fit perfectly a character who isn’t human or mortal. Similar to the G-Man from Half Life. My opinion only, of course.

  30. Yosharian says:

    Another epic fail from the industry that thinks endlessly cloning successful titles is a good way to do business!

    And shame on you Obsidian, I thought you were better than this type of trash (buggier too, but…).

  31. Baines says:

    Unless the PC version is different from the consoles, it doesn’t have split-screen co-op, it has single-screen (or shared-screen) co-op. When it comes to gameplay, there is a pretty big difference between the two.

  32. Olivaw says:

    From what I have heard, the co-op in this game is a crime against all dungeon crawlers.

    It’s like Obsidian is afraid of success or something.

  33. Daedalus207 says:

    I am having a bit of trouble understanding the complaints about gear stats. The quick help menu presents a very clear explanation of the effect of each stat. Barring that, it’s easy enough to look at the “Attack DPS” and “Ability DPS” numbers and watch them change as you equip items with different stats, and figure out from there what stats do what.

    • Premium User Badge

      innokenti says:

      Yeah, I was going to add to my comment above – Although yes, some of the stats and what they do are not particularly traditional or self-evident, and there are no clicky/hover tips on the character screen… they are actually very simple and sensible and it all works well. And the help explains all of it sufficiently.

      Their only real problem was locking it away under a dozen entries in the help menu rather than as little pop-ups or whatever is the norm on PCs today. It hardly took a few minutes to understand it all, and then some playing with your character to decide what you wanted to maximize.

      Likewise, the controls using mouse and keyboard were not atrocious and are far far far from a poor console-to-PC port. Yes, it would be nice to have some more options and customisability, but nothing was fundamentally broken – just not enough extra work done. Which they are doing now. Not ideal, but not awful.

    • Baines says:

      I didn’t find the gear stats bad the way that others have professed. Although it was buried in a help section, the game did tell me what the stats did. It could have given me more information, though. The only processed numbers it gave were things like hit points and damage, and as I recall you had to equip and unequip an item to see what change it had even in those areas.

      The main weakness I saw with gear was that it was just kind of boring, which seems to be what a lot of people are complaining. Despite all the numbers and the ton of damage/effect stats, it all seems pretty samey. In the demo, my friend and I (playing co-op) ended up just equipping the most expensive items because they were almost always best. If items were fairly close in price, we might pay attention to the stats and pick what we thought fit our styles, but the differences were never enough to really be noticed. Maybe later in the game the stat differences will become pronounced enough to have a more noticeable effect, but from what others have said, that doesn’t really happen.

  34. egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

    Well said about the attraction of these kinds of games. It’s conserving and nurturing boredom and familiarity like at the start of Catch-22. I remember Diablo as this big old negative place to hide in when I had too much time on my hands and no life. It’s not stimulating or challenging and I end up regretting the time I have idled away in it, unlike say, Portal or Civ. I guess crawling through dungeons is a good way to waste time if you really have been working/living too hard. When I have PTSD from all the singularity I will prescribe myself this; like a racing sim you can get into quite the meditative trance. But what I’m trying to say is watchout y’all (or atleast be vaguely aware), stuff is strong medicine and if the game starts playing you instead of the other way around suddenly you’ll be old and gray and bits of you will have fallen off and you’ll be wishing you went base jumping or learnt to dance the charleston when you still had the chance.

    • Wizardry says:

      There are stimulating and challenging dungeon crawlers. Diablo is not representative of the genre. Not at all.

  35. Hug_dealer says:

    i very much enjoyed the game, i played it on hardcore, and the fights all felt difficult at times, and having to block and dodge kept me on my toes.

    Its more than i can say for any other hack and slash game, i think it might have ruined me for other hack and slash adventures.

    the days of potion chugging are over, and that worries me for torchlight 2.

  36. malkav11 says:

    What does it have over other games of the genre? Engaging, challenging combat and a rich, well written story and world that is revealed during the game (Diablo’s world is pretty cool, don’t get me wrong, but the only real nod to storytelling is during the cutscenes, which have almost nothing to do with what you yourself are doing, and you don’t learn most of the lore in game at any point.). Also, even Titan Quest is a bit less shiny these days, while Dungeon Siege III’s graphics are gorgeous.

    What does it have over previous Dungeon Siege games? Containing an iota of fun. (Okay, okay, I never played #2. The first game was as boring a game as I have ever played in my entire life. And the PSP game Throne of Agony was actually quite enjoyable, if unbalanced as all hell.)

    It’s almost certainly one of Obsidian’s lesser titles. I’m not going to argue that. And if your primary joy in these things is relentless acquisition of loot, min-maxing characters, and playing online with random strangers, then yes, DSIII is going to disappoint. Myself, I find those elements only mildly compelling at best (and I have no desire -at all- to play with random strangers), so although I enjoy the genre at a basic level I find the direction Obsidian has taken this game much more compelling.

    • Baines says:

      Maybe it is because I am from an older generation, but I didn’t want all the story that Dungeon Siege III insisted I experience. I wanted to go in, smack some enemies, get some items, and smack some more enemies. DSIII wanted me to see story, smack some enemies, spend several minutes in town talking to people I don’t care about, smack some enemies, watch an unskippable cutscene, smack some enemies…

      Why do I say “because I am from an older generation”? Because I’m from early arcade games that let you get to the action, and from computer Roguelikes written in an era before C++ caught on. Diablo and its spawn to me are the chance to marry arcade action with some measure of Roguelike design, but game developers want to marry Diablo with other games.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Baines

      You should take a serious look at Din’s Curse, if you haven’t. It’s very much the love child of Diablo-likes and Rogue-likes.

  37. Neon Kitten says:

    Just a quick technical note – the release-day version of the game on Steam (and, since it’s Steamworks, on disc as well) had out-of-the-box support for 16:10, while the demo (and obviously the review version) did not.

    General game performance is also much better than the demo. A 60fps Vsync-d beast that uses all four cores and barely raises a sweat doing so.

    Should be played with an Xbox 360 controller because it was designed to be played with one. There’s no shame in playing such a couch-friendly game in 1080p at 60fps on a 46″ screen via HDMI, relaxing on the couch rather than hunched over a keyboard. And while when playing on a keyboard you can only run everywhere, the controller also allows seamless walk/run speed control of your character because of the analogue sticks. Win.