Once more into the dungeon, and this time with feeling!
Talk, talk, talk! Developers love to talk about their game, the art, the design, the freakin' animations when characters are standing still. Ugh! I'm so tired of talking!
[image1]The Dungeon Siege 3 team did a lot of talking last week. The art and effects designers loved pointing out how certain items and effects are hand painted. They likened DS3's art style to that of a moving storybook. As VFX artist Jay Bakke tore through enemies in a crypt area, he pointed out how the equipment you use shows up on your character.
Lead Systems Designer Matthew Maclean and Project Director Richard Taylor went through the same motions. While they played through the same section, they described a loot system that generated random goodies on the fly. As they attacked countless enemy units and colorful attacks flew across the screen, they highlighted the magic bar that refills when melee attacks connect. All of this action worked in tandem with the AI partner on screen.
Look, I'm sorry guys, but DS3 is an ACTION RPG. Less talking, more doing!
With my hands finally gripped around a controller, I jammed on the X button right at the main menu. DS3 makes sure to inform you that all the hacking, slashing, and casting you're doing is for a good cause. Something about your legion of warriors being wiped out, an attack on your training grounds, and a quest for revenge. Okay, whatever! Time for action!
[image2]The first hour of the game teaches the basics of gameplay, which is all you really need to know. The X button is your primary melee attack. Your magic abilities get mapped to the other face buttons as you gain and upgrade them. Every level gives you a point to spend on these abilities and another point for latent abilities like an extra 10% damage on critical hits. You won't be able to fill all of these abilities in one playthrough, though, so it's best to pick a play-style and follow it. Hitting the L1 button switches combat stances, opening up an entirely different tree of melee attacks and special abilities.
DS3 will give players the choice between four characters to control, although only two were available during the preview. Lucas fills the more archetypal knight-in-shining-armor role. Anjali, on the other hand, doesn't seem to fit in any predefined RPG role. Her magic focuses on the fire element, but her ability to transform into a half-deity creature makes combat completely different. In her human form, Anjali is a sweeping melee beast, while her transformed state focuses on casting and ranged attacks. Learning how to use both of these methods of attack will be key while playing at high levels.
Every area of DS3 loads seamlessly from area to area. I went from a burning estate, to wooded throughway, to populated village, to dank cave without a hitch. Along the way, I slaughtered countless mercenaries, spoke with NPCs, gained side-quests, picked up key story items, and tore through a horde of cave monsters. At the end of it all, a boss stood waiting at the end of the quest trail.
[image3]By the time I faced off with the witch, I had learned how to string together melee and magic attacks with ease. Being able to switch to a second form extends those combat strings even further. I kicked that witch's ass!
DS3 really sunk its hooks in me. I wanted so much more! I immediately started the game over after the preview finished to play again as the other character. After I finished that, there was time left, so I started it over again! It finds that action RPG sweet spot where the gameplay makes you ask what's around the next corner for hours on end. With a load of quests, multiple characters to play, and, you know, all those neat touches the art guys were talking about, Dungeon Siege 3 looks to be a massive time sink when it's released in May.