Preview: Dungeon Siege 3

Susan Arendt | 22 Feb 2011 09:22
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Though I didn't have much choice during the demo, given that only two characters were available, you'll only be able to have one AI companion tagging along in the final version of the game, too. So long as you're not in the middle of a fight, however, you can swap them in and out to suit your liking. You'll be responsible for managing your pal's stats in addition to your own, as there's no option to automatically level up, but enemies don't level with you, instead staying keyed to a particular region. That doesn't mean that Dungeon Siege 3 is entirely linear, however. Many of the game's side quests and extra missions are presented can be accessed in whatever order you choose, which means you'll occasionally find yourself walking into more fight than you can handle. During the demo, I decided to help out a fisherman who'd been chased away from his favorite fishin' hole by monsters. I, being the heroic hero that I am, naturally put this whole saving the world business on hold so that I might help him...and got my ass handed to me by an enormous fish creature of dubious origin. It's embarrassing, really, to be beaten so soundly by a giant fish, but I eventually prevailed, only to discover that the mini-boss that was next in line on the main quest was a practical pushover. Some areas, I learned, are meant to be revisited after much leveling up, or at least calling in of the cavalry.

One area in which Dungeon Siege 3 differs from its brethren is its complete avoidance of potions. Each character comes with a health ability already unlocked, and enemies will drop Health and Will (the game's version of mana) orbs that you can use to replenish your meters, but don't expect to go into the boss fight with a pharmacy's worth of healing items jangling around in your pack. It's not quite as daunting as it sounds. So long as your Will meter is full, you can use your Healing move; of course, you have to engage in combat to refill your meter, so some prudence is required. Completing Dungeon Siege 3 on the hardest difficulty will certainly earn you the respect of your peers -to say nothing of the developers themselves. (Pro tip: If you're playing on the highest difficulty, you will need to do all the side quests to be strong enough to survive.)

Given the game's focus on combat and sweet, sweet loot, you could excuse Dungeon Siege 3 for looking a little dated. After all, why bother crafting gorgeous environments when players are going to be busy concentrating on the hordes of enemies trying to do them bodily harm? Because it helps make each region and character feel distinct and unique, says Obsidian. It's the kind of thing that players absorb unconsciously, perhaps, but it makes a big difference in overall enjoyment of the game, especially if you play it over and over again - a likely prospect, given the game's design. Anjali's fire effects evoke the colors of a propane flame, while the rocks of a dungeon look wet with unspeakable slime. Dungeon Siege 3 is absolutely gorgeous, and though the PC version is, as expected, the best looking of the bunch, the console versions hold up quite well, too. If you find yourself thinking, "Gee, this sounds tailor-made for some really sweet co-op action," you're right. And that's all I'm allowed to say about that ... for now.

Some aspects of the game still need polish, of course - the breadcrumb trail that leads you to your desired quest looks unsettlingly like Pac-Man dots, Anjali is just a bit too chilly (if you take my meaning), and I got stuck in the environment every now and again - but from what I've seen, Dungeon Siege 3 is on its way to being a highly addictive indulgence.

Also, did I mention the loot?

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