Preview: Dungeon Siege 3

Susan Arendt | 22 Feb 2011 09:22
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If you'd rather skip the chatter and get right to the hacking and slashing, Dungeon Siege 3 gives you plenty of opportunity and plenty of options. Each character uses different equipment and approaches to combat; Lucas favors a sword and shield, while Anjali uses a staff and her natural fire abilities. Each character has three stances: two combat, and one defensive. Lucas can switch from his sword and shield - great for quick attacks -- to a two-handed attack that doles out major damage but is quite slow. Anjali, meanwhile, is on foot during one combat stance, but changes to a floating fire spirit (who's more than a little reminiscent of the X-Men's Phoenix) in her other stance. To switch stances, you just hit the left shoulder button or the left trigger. It's swift and easy to do on the fly, allowing you to change up your combat style depending on the situation you're currently facing. What I particularly appreciated was that each stance had a clear purpose and use. So often in RPGs, a character can learn other fighting styles, but there's no real incentive to ever use more than one. After just a short while with Lucas and Anjali, I felt like I understood the basic strategies behind each stance, and their obvious value. Playing longer would only deepen that understanding, I suspect.

In addition to straight-up combat, each character unlocks Abilities as they level up. Eventually, you'll have access to 9 abilities - three for each stance, including defense - and each Ability comes with a pair of proficiencies that refine it. Anjali might gain the Ability to create a circle of fire on the ground, then have the option to make that fire do extra damage to enemies or heal comrades who step into it, depending on the Proficiency you choose. When you level up, you receive a Proficiency Point; each Ability can eventually be modified with five points. You can dump all five points into a single proficiency, or mix and match as you see fit. You'll also receive a Talent point, which allows you to upgrade a passive ability that basically acts like a buff. Talents can also be modified with up to five points, but choose wisely - you just get one Talent Point and one Proficiency Point per level, and with only 30 levels, you won't be able to max out everything you unlock.

Every time you use one of your Abilities, you gain a bit more Mastery of it, until you eventually unlock the Empowered version of it. In other words, the more you do something, the better you get at it. Keep using Anjali's Pillar of Fire spell, for example, and eventually she'll be able to throw a Wall of Fire.

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