Mule Variations: The Dungeon Siege III Chat

On the plus side, if you can't afford the game you could just point a flashlight at a mirror.

This week Quinns managed to get some hands-on time with Dungeon Siege III, leaving the poor boy equal parts confused and excited. He quickly hunted down the only other RPS contributor to have played DS3 – one Richard Cobbett – for a chat. Their ruminations on combat, consolisation, breasts and coca-cola follow, and at some point or other they talk about the game, too.

Quinns: Why, it’s RPS contributor Richard Cobbett! You’ll never guess what game I have been playing with my fingers recently.
Richard: Hopscotch?
Richard: If so, you’re doing it Wrong.
Quinns: Oh. Really?
Quinns: Well, I’ve also been playing Obsidian’s Dungeon Siege 3.
Richard: What a coincidence!
Quinns: Yes! Making us the only two members of the RPS conglomerate who’s had the chance to sample it. And I was… surprised.
Richard: Me too. Nothing I’ve seen of it would have shouted ‘Dungeon Siege’ to me, had I not seen the title screen. It has loot. It has monster killing. Everything else… it’s clearly it’s own thing. For my money though, that’s not necessarily a problem.
Richard: Bluntly, I don’t care about Dungeon Siege even a little. The first game was pretty dull, the second made as much impact on me as a meringue splattering against the Moon, and as for the movie… oh god. What interests me about Dungeon Siege 3 is that it’s coming from Obsidian.
Quinns: I forgot about the movie!
Richard: Once seen, it’s never forgotten, trust me. I AM YOUR KING!
Richard: Sequel on the way, minus the Dungeon Siege name. Hurrah?
Richard: Actually, yes. If it’s not officially based on a game, I don’t have to watch it! (Though I probably will, because I’m an idiot like that. I’ve even seen Far Cry.)
Quinns: Funny you mention Obsidian, though. I don’t know how much I care about Obsidian, but what blew me away is how Dungeon Siege 3 is, if you squint, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance.

Richard: It totally is. Cue lots of screaming about consolisation.
Quinns: I’ve been asking some questions of sinister men in dark alleys since then, and have discovered that some of the original Dark Alliance devs are even on the team making DS3.
Richard: It’s definitely a more console-style RPG. Direct control, a lower camera…
Quinns: And yet! And yet, Dark Alliance was great fun.
Richard: Agreed. I didn’t play much of it – I don’t like to get that console stuff on my hands – but it seemed entertaining enough.
Quinns: The trick is to wear marigolds and sit right up to the TV.
Richard: Obsidian has earned my interest whatever it is, really. Their games are rough while often not being ready, but I almost always enjoy them. If they think this is the right thing for Dungeon Siege, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Quinns: Yeah. There’s also the matter of the first two Dungeon Siege titles being PC games from their cast-iron boots right the way up to their pointy wizard hat, but… well let’s not waste too much more time on this. It is what it is.
Quinns: But on the subject of what we played, I suspect I got the better deal. (HA!)
Richard: Yes. I got to play the traditional RPG Bit In A Generic Village Before The Game Starts. Note to RPG designers: For the love of god, stop making those! Beyond a slight Slavic twist to it, it was just regular running around and hitting stuff with a sword, doing odd-jobs, and having a plot hinted at.
Quinns: While I got to check out the co-op monster thrashing, which very much felt like what the game was made for. The nearest I got to a conversation was deciding what to say to the Big Bad at the end before staving his head in with a flying kick.

Richard: What did you say to him?
Quinns: I think I chose “TODAY IS THE DAY YOU DIE” instead of “DAY YOU DIE TODAY IS THE DAY” or something.
Richard: Well, as long as you were polite. No need to add insult to injury.
Richard: Or decapitation.
Quinns: One cute thing is that it has the Mass Effect 2/Dragon Age 2 style conversation wheel, where each direction on the wheel points to a different response.
Richard: Yes, I liked that. I also liked that it’s really obvious which is the ‘Shut up and just give me the gold’ option. There’s lore and story and stuff if you want, but you can skip it all.
Quinns: Except when you’re playing co-op, the 2-4 other people you’re playing with can point their own little arrows in different directions. Responses become a tug-of-war.
Richard: That’s cool. I like the IDEA of co-op in the game, though I’ll be honest, it gives me the fear. A bit like Hunted, I just don’t see myself wanting to play the campaign more than once.
Quinns: One excellent part of my demonstration was how we spent slightly too much time on the feature that if your co-op partner abandons his controls, the AI takes over, so if he “goes to the toilet” for an exceptionally long time or something then you don’t have to wait. Which makes me wonder about the developers’ gaming habits/partners.
Richard: “It wasn’t me! It was the AI! The AI stole your gold!” If everyone leaves the controls, does the game play itself? Might be a nostalgic kick for fans of the first Dungeon Siege…

Quinns: Haha. That would be amazing.
Richard: Especially if it didn’t give the controls back. “NO, WEAK ORGANICS. YOU ARE INFERIOR. I SHALL HAVE ALL THE LOOT.”
Quinns: No, I think the main player has to be present. Still, I want that game. So, they’ve swapped out tactical positioning for arcade combat. Leaving us with the tricky question of whether the combat’s any good.
Richard: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play enough of it to really say. I hit things and they died, but there was nothing special about it. It didn’t seem BAD, just… yeah. This is how combat works in these games. Whack, whack. Magic magic. XP XP. Loot.
Quinns: Right. I think the most noteworthy part of the combat was, for me, the animation when you kill a monster who happens to be carrying gold. It’s an actual fountain.
Richard: My favourite bit in my demo was being told that there was an army outside the gates waiting to kill me. Really? You know what I call an army of darkness in a hack-and-slash game? My pension plan. I do love the way that every chest – literal and otherwise – just showers you in gold and loot.
Quinns: A vertical spray of gold, almost clean out of their torn aeosophogus
Quinns: Let’s see if I spelled that right
Richard: Think it starts with an ‘e’
Quinns: Oesophagus.
Quinns: Fail.
Richard: I never could stomach biology.
Quinns: Hooray!
Richard: Thank you, thank you…

Quinns: But yes, golden showers. Um. Showers of gold. Uh. Bosses! Did you fight a boss?
Richard: Almost. There was a witch monster, but half way through the battle, she decided that taking half my health was good enough and declared victory.
Quinns: I fought a couple, and they were the peak of my time with the game. Slowly, slowly whittling away at a huge creature with an absurdly dense health bar, learning attack patterns, making use of all of our characters’ abilities. Then finally killing the thing and enjoying an eruption of xp and loot.
Richard: I hit her in the face with a sword. Seemed effective.
Quinns: Ah, you’ve been studying swordface technique.
Quinns: Almost unbeatable, I hear.
Richard: It’s the highest level of that martial art known as Kung F.U.
Quinns: So, wait- did you not get to play with all the abilities? Multiple stances? The power gem things that let you do super attacks?
Richard: Not really. I got to stab things in the face, and hit them with a shield, but not much more than that. The rest of the demo seemed to be more interested in highlighting its ability to render ladies with breasts. Large ones. Oh, and a very slightly Slavic villages.

Richard: It was all very by the numbers stuff – a rookie character fighting the local equivalents of kobolds, and at one point, a giant fish thing, I think.
Richard: The gems and attacks were there, but not that relevant.
Quinns: Man! The combat opens up like a gory flower. The woman I controlled had melee attacks, a healing regen power, and could swap stances to become a mysterious floating burning lady who threw fireballs and placed deadly sigils on the ground. But it wasn’t needless. I was chopping and changing tactics as situations changed.
Richard: Me too. Sometimes I hit someone with my sword. Sometimes I had a swig of coke and then hit them with my sword. These are important tactical considerations, especially with a controller!
Quinns: There was NO TIME FOR COKE in my demo. That’s how we rolled. With our coke slowly warming to one side, deemed an acceptable loss.
Richard: Man. Sounds like I had a much less interesting demo. Lots of free coke though. I can feel the corruption already ripping through my veins. I’m interested to see how the wider game plays out though. In my demo, there were lots of things hinting at something a bit grander than just smacking monsters, like the option to – gasp – turn down loot, and trying to get people to think nicely of the Legion you’re rebuilding to save the world. I’m hoping that’s not just Obsidian paying lip-service to ‘real’ RPG fans, and actually plays a proper part in things.

Richard: I’m not expecting much, but something a bit like Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood’s building up of the guild would be nice, or raising an army to branch the Quintin Smith:storyline in a couple of different ways… something so that the 10th Legion isn’t just 2-4 guys ambling around smacking stuff to get their gold.
Quinns: The dungeon in my demo was actually an enormous mansion, and by the time I’d meticulously shanked my way through it there was some talk at the end as to whether the 10th Legion would need it. Interesting stuff. I was also given the choice whether to destroy an ominous magical crystal in the basement or leave it alone, and the repercussions of that were unclear, too.
Richard: Speaking as a mage, you never destroy the magic crystal. At best, artefact of power that lets you crush the universe. At worst, best paperweight ever.

Richard: I can’t see Obsidian making a game without that kind of RPG stuff. Even if they don’t mean to, I suspect it would just slip in without anyone noticing. “Look, we’ve got the large breasted girls for the teenage boys! Pay no attention to the epic branching quest behind the curtain!”
Quinns: Ooh, I think I’m a good deal more cynical that that. But speaking of things slipping in, we have to do something about that coke inside you. The RPS Code of Conduct is clear about these things. If you could just remove your pants and step into the RPS extraction chamber, we’ll have you nice and clean in no time.
Richard: Great. It’s Kieron’s wedding all over again.

Obsidian’s re-imagining of Dungeon Siege will be hitting shelves, both real and electric, or May 27th.


  1. DangerousDan says:

    I am interested in this game. The lead designer is George Zeits, the man responsible for the excellent Mask of the Betrayer & sometime Bethesda employee. I think this is his first lead on an original title, and if my inclinations speak truly I suspect this will be a darn sight more polished than a lot of Obsidian faire.

    Looking foreward to the next few months, they will be good for RPGs.

    • Cerius says:

      No he wasn’t. Kevin Saunders was MOTBs Lead Designer. Nathaniel Chapman is Dungeon Siege IIIs Lead Designer.
      George Ziets was Creative Lead/Lead Writer on both.

    • DangerousDan says:

      Oh, yes. My apologies, got the wires a bit crossed. Still – Zeits involvement is encouraging, to say the least.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    More of this please. Mono voiced previews are often too pandering.

  3. BigJonno says:

    The single funniest thing about the whole PC vs console toy thing is that, apparently, using a joypad or other direct input method to kill hordes of monsters and collect all the loots is clearly horrible consolification, but doing the same thing by clicking on the monsters with your mouse instead is one of the pillars of the One True Way of PC Gaming.

    As for DS3, I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m definitely with Richard in hoping that Obsidian will slip in an epic quest with dialogue choices and everything while no-one is looking.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      BigJonno: As you might have noticed, RPS’s take on consoles is more than a little tongue in cheek. That said, the case of Dungeon Siege 3 isn’t about them changing the controls. They’re changing the /genre/, from a mouse-centric strategy game to a pad-centric fighting game. That’s quite the thing!

    • Cerius says:

      Dungeon Siege?
      Somethings wrong here Quintin. It basically played itself.

    • Hunam says:

      To be honest, I’m crap at diablo clones with a mouse. I loved tochlight but I couldn’t target stuff for toffee half the time, however on the XBLA version, I was the lord of murder town.

    • BigJonno says:

      Oh, yes, I completely on board with the RPS console humour and I realise how significant the change is in the case of DS3. I’m just too weak to resist the opportunity to poke a little good-natured fun at the more zealot-like PC gamers.

    • Heliocentric says:

      I play the combat in mass effect much the same as i play torchlight. One is ‘action’ the other is ‘clicky’ but my mindset is identical, but torchlight roots you on the spot when you use powers and doesn’t allow for keyboard inputs.

      After 12 hours of torchlight i wanted to play it like a twin stick shooter with rpg elements (read as leveling and loot). After (probably)12 hours of bashing things in mass effect i want a wider range of loot/skills but the combat still held up because i could backpeddle or whatever or snipe and ambush.

      Not sure what my conclusion is, but i’m interested to see how they implement this.

    • rivalin says:

      The whole “I’m so very open minded and tres cool because I don’t care that Bakdur’s Gate is being remade as a cover based shooter with killstreaks attitude” does nonetheless get a bit tiring after a while. Personally I think it’s perfectly reasonable for fans of a game to be pissed off when a brand that they helped to build by buying the pc versions in the first place and lauding them as great games, are unilaterally appropriated to exploit the name while making a completely different game. They have the right to make whatever game they want, but to take the name and apply it to something else is implicitly deceitful and dishonest, and people have every right to be critical of that.

    • Bhazor says:

      This is why I was so disappointed when Diablo 3 was revealed. Clicky action rpgs feel so out of date now compared to say the God Of War games or Fable likes. It just feels clumsy and entirely dependent on hot keys and spamming a “Win Macro”. I fully encourage the death of clicky action rpgs and reserve point and click for tactical party based RPGs like Dragon Age where positioning is what matters rather than how many times you can left click in a second.

    • Cerius says:

      First off: Gamers don’t help build games. They help to get them recognition.
      Secondly: The original developers including Chris Taylor support this. IN FACT Chris Taylor himself wanted to go to a more Diablo like gameplay experience without party. He is actually pretty enthusastic about it.
      Third: There is already a massive gameplay difference between 1+2. Furthermore NEITHER system worked well and was horribly broken. In fact, with a little AI tweaking the game actually played ITSELF. NO PLAYER INPUT NEEDED.
      Fourth: ITS STILL THE SAME GERNE. Its still a top down Diablo clone. This isn’t a change like in Fallout or X-COM.

    • Jimbo says:

      It’s been a while since I played either, but I don’t remember DS requiring that much strategy to begin with. Wasn’t it just a case of holding the mouse button down over an enemy and watching your party spam it to death, then moving the mouse over the next enemy? I can hardly remember it.

      I think this’ll probably be ok, or at least as ok as the first two DS games were – and it can’t be worse than Space Siege. DS3 still has a party in single-player doesn’t it?

    • anonymousity says:

      Anything that changes the mechanics to involving player input in the gameplay is a huge break from cannon and cannot be tolerated. I got one of those dipping bird things to play for me last time and will be hugely disappointed not being able to repeat the experience.

    • Vinraith says:

      People that complain about lack of interactivity in DS2 clearly never played past the tutorial. It’s easily the most challenging action RPG I’ve played, and one of the most enjoyable. It required careful party management and development and good tactics to get anywhere in that game. As a party based action RPG it was unique, too. Games with tactical and mechanical depth don’t need RSI-inducing click-to-swing control schemes to be fun, quite the opposite in fact.

      This, of course, looks just like every other game of its sort. Sad, really, to see a unique franchise turned into same-old same-old.

  4. KauhuK says:

    As long as its hack&slashy and works like diablo or similiar game I dont care that much about the control scheme. I have xbox360 controller (for windows) so if it works better than mouse/keyboard its ok as long as the game is good enough.

  5. Freud says:

    I am a simpleton, but I like hitting stuff and picking up loot. The main thing i dislike about this genre is when they have a DPS number on our character sheet. I liked figuring out what the most effective items were myself. It takes away some of the autistic pleasures I have with these games.

    • Mr Monotone says:

      I agree about the dps thing with the caveat that the speed of weapons is displayed in some kind of useful numerical way rather than just with ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ or some other such designation. By far my least favourite thing for hack and slashes though has to be when they don’t explain what a stat actually does. I hat having to guess whether dex improves dodge chance or critical chance or whether strength increases melee damage or is just a stat to allow you to use certain bits of gear. It wouldn’t be a problem if they made manuals these days that were more than 5 pages long.

  6. Cerius says:

    Just to add:

    There was only one guy at Black Isle helping Snowblind with DA1. Chris Avellone. (Also was a designer on Champions) And he is NOT working on Dungeon Siege III

    Black Isle did Dark Alliance 2 though so you probably mean that game.

    • Bureaucrat says:

      Well, Avellone is the creative director (and a co-owner) of the whole of Obsidian, so I’m betting that he at least has some feedback on the project.

    • Cerius says:

      Well yes. Feedback. Didn’t write or design anything for it though. Thats not actually working/designing on it.
      If we go that way. Black Isle could be commented on as having “worked” on Baldur’s Gate 1+2.

  7. Squirrelfanatic says:

    So you fellas like Tom Waits?

  8. Nick says:

    I’m so glad of the two RPSers to play it, one is the guy who hates Obsidian.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gassalasca says:

      Meh, I’d hate them too if they hadn’t made New Vegas.

      Hear that, Quinns? I said… *New Vegas*.

    • Bhazor says:

      Phoned in.
      Long distance.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Don’t worry, there are plenty of folks around here who do like Obsidian. Like me!

      Hopefully, our combined commenting weight can balance things out.

      Mind you, associate with me and you associate yourself with the sort of person that thinks Storm of Zehir was the best thing about NWN2, and who liked Alpha Protocol.

  9. Navagon says:

    Sounds good. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first one. This sounds like it injects some much needed fun into the series.

  10. Rei Onryou says:

    Meticulously shanked is my new favourite description. You should use it more often.

  11. BeamSplashX says:

    When will the glorious combination of God Hand/Devil May Cry/Bushido Blade + Diablo become reality?

    You can interpret those slashes as and’s or or’s.

    • Dominic White says:

      Vindictus comes pretty close to God Hand/DMC + Diablo. Pity it’s published by Nexon who actively hate Europeans and will never let us play the game. Ever.

    • BeamSplashX says:

      Vindictus has a bit of repeating levels to it, doesn’t it? I want more of a “run this area dry, dive down to keep going.” I mean, what I really want is Devil May Cry + Angband, but that’s up there with plenty of other absurd pipe dreams like Bushido Blade + any sandbox RPG.

      I just can’t seem to learn Unity fast enough, it seems. At least I can try Vindictus when I upgrade. U-S-A!

    • Quirk says:

      Sounds like you want Demon’s Souls. Now, if only a PC port existed…

    • BeamSplashX says:

      I do want that game, but it doesn’t really fit that bill either. Higher difficulties require you to make several attacks against enemies to win while one or two good hits is all it takes to do you in. So, not quite like Bushido Blade.

    • DOLBYdigital says:

      Couldn’t agree more BeamSplashX, although I’ve always thought more like Ninja Gaiden (1 or 2) with RPG/MMO elements although God Hand looks phenomenal (still meaning to try that game). I just want smooth fluid combos and action with RGP elements and possible co-op online action as well. I guess your right though, its not happening anytime soon.

      Demon Souls is phenomenal though, I literally bought a PS3 for that game and Way of the Samurai 3 alone. However the ‘online’ co-op while very different and cool isn’t exactly easy to setup consistently (although being able to play as a boss in another players game is a phenomenal idea!). I played a bit of Vindictus when it was in beta but didn’t get past the second level. It does seem like a step in the right direction, maybe I’ll try it again now that its been released…

  12. darthmajor says:

    Until now i completely ignored DS3 since the first two couldn’t hold me for more than 30 minutes, they were so utterly uninteresting for my tastes. This might actually turn into something i would like to play, if obsidian makes it into something sufficiently different from the first two.

    Most likely, this will be the best and most broken unfinished piece of dungeon siege to date :D

  13. Dominic White says:

    “Dungeon Siege 3 is, if you squint, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance.”

    Sold! I’ve been playing through the BG:DA games with my brother lately, and they’re still a good, fun romp. A more properly RPG’ish take on that is going to be great.

  14. drewski says:

    I rather enjoyed the Dark Alliance games.

  15. Ateius says:

    Eh, the most I ever used ‘tactics’ in Dungeon Siege was “archers on high ground” and “exploit chokepoint”. Beyond that it was “spam most powerful spell/weapon, occasionally use potion”.

    I’m more concerned about the control scheme. I don’t want to see any sort of button-mashing-to-attack rubbish. The only difference between clicking once to engage auto-attack and clicking for each separate attack is that the latter is more likely to give me carpal tunnel. It’s certainly not more engaging, and in fact is why I did not pick up DS2.

    Quinns, clarification on this? Is it a clickfest?

  16. pipman3000 says:

    oh boy i can’t wait for neverwinter nights 2 i read a preview that made it sound so great and it’s being made by obsidian!

  17. amishmonster says:

    I remember seeing the word “oesophagus” in the Tyranid army book and thinking that it was cool that the Tyranids had some kind of alien esophagus that needed a different name. Only later did I know to file it in the same place as “armour” and “tyres”.

  18. Chris D says:

    I know I’m late on this one, Shogun 2 has been eating my life, but two things.

    Firstly, Cobbett and Quinns is a fantastic pairing, you should totally do more of these. In my ideal world all of RPS would play and review every single game together, well, that or world peace, but on balance probably that. That’s probably not possible or practical but when you guys do get together it’s much appreciated.

    Secondly, on an unrelated subject, it seems to me that if you’er controlling a party of adventurers then mouse is better but if you only have the one then using a controller is more fun.

    If you have a party then you’re probably all about the tactical positioning and don’t want to be babysitting too much, therefore mouse is an easier way of managing things.

    On the other hand if it’s just you then having direct control both feels more exciting and is easier to pick exactly the path you want rather than just the most direct line. Also, you’re probably looking at a faster pace for throwing abilities around. And too much Torchlight gives you RSI.

    Theoretically there’s another class of game where you have a main character and maybe a couple of support characters. In which case, I don’t know, do what you like.

  19. pakoito says:

    Direct control: yay!

    Everything else: nay!

    I may try Hunted.

  20. MiniMatt says:

    Co-op is ace, and many a happy hour was spent in dark alliance inadvertently setting off traps that exploded my other half while she was busy snaffling all the loot. Trouble with PC co-op is that one house (almost always) needs to buy two copies of the same game, wheras with consoles you just buy the one.

    If they could figure some co-op client spawn thingy so one copy can run on two local lan computers – the couple that evicerates kobolds together, stays together.

    • Ragnar says:

      Warcraft 2 used to let you play up to 8 player lan games off a single CD. I don’t see why they can’t re-introduce that to co-op PC games. Add an option to join a LAN session that bypass the CD-check, and Player 2 can join Player 1’s game off one disk.

      Consoles have split-screen built in, but the games are clearly designed to have each player on their own screen. I’d much rather play them on our computers, where we can actually see what’s going on, but buying 2 copies of the game gets expensive.

  21. KilgoreTrout_XL says:

    Dude, you can’t mention Dark Alliance 1 without noting that Snowblind followed it up with Champions of Norrath, leaving black isle to royally fuck up Dark Alliance 2.