Posted: October 20, 2014
Dungeon Siege III, while not stellar, is a bit underrated or otherwise suffers unjustly from its departure from the original games of old. Those had more of a Diablo-like interface, with top down, mouse point&click, party management gameplay, with classes, gear and loot. Dungeon Siege III was clearly designed for consoles and controller use, as the keyboard and mouse controls are very awkward and it has a more 3rd person view. Without a controller, it is very difficult to play this game.
I’m a fan of the original game, and I found that despite the change in paradigm to a 3rd person hack and slash action RPG designed for the controller, the Dungeon Siege “feel” is there. Experiencing the different events in the story, meeting new characters and talking to them, going from location to location, playing the combat, collecting loot, and optimizing abilities and equipment in regards to combat, all was rather enjoyable. None was arguably groundbreaking, but was interesting and enjoyable enough to keep me invested for 32 hours, which, in retrospect, is saying something. 7/10Detailed review
RPG-wise, it’s actually quite deep with lots of stats and mechanics. You choose from 4 different main characters with different characteristics and play styles: a knight for meele/tank, a rifle and pistol/shotgun wielding ranged character, an agile fire magic female warrior and a spell casting mage/scientist. One of the other characters follows you as an AI companion. Each character has 2 stances that can be switched on the fly, each stance has one attack and 3 active abilities. There are also 3 defensive abilities per character. Active abilities include heavier or AOE attacks, buffs/debuffs, or even summoned creatures. Defensive abilities include healing, pushing back of enemies or buffing yourself. As you use attacks and abilities you fill their mastery bar and once you’ve mastered it, you can perform an empowered version of it. As you level up, you can develop each of your abilities in a branching choice, for instance do you want more damage or increased chance to knockback opponents? You can go all in on one, or choose any balance between the two. Additionally, there are passive “talents” to level up. With all this and also the different equipment you loot, buy and enhance with enchantments (3 weapon slots, 4 armor slots, a ring and a pendant slot), with different stats, you have a vast array of possibilities. You can choose the abilities’ perks to work well with one another enhancing your favorite play style, and also compliment your companion’s abilities to your own, which is very satisfying, particularly, I suspect, in local coop.
However, with this 2-stance system sometimes it’s a bit difficult perform actions from different stances in the heat of battle with a lot going on. Of course, it would be easier with pausable combat and 1-9 keyboard hotkeys, but this is a 3rd person action game. Also, the way aiming works is a bit awkward, especially for ranged combat, as you have to move in the direction of an enemy to soft lock on it. This results in sometimes having to move away to get a better line of sight to the desired target. I got used to it, though. Additionally, the companion AI is not ideal, though it’s reasonable. Again, local coop should be fun.
I won’t spoil the story, which I found surprisingly interesting, meaning that the game is far from a loot fest. Events are set approximately 150 years after the first game, much of what once was has fallen or faded, and the characters from the first game are now close to legends, which also means you don’t need to play the other games to enjoy this one. You’ll learn of what happened as you progress in the game, your journey has always that tone of grandeur lost as you seek to reestablish some of that. You’ll meet interesting characters and the plot will make you reflect on your actions and compare them to the main antagonist, and also think about your dialogue choices. The voice acting is also good and the dialogues lengthy. The lore is very well done, tying in nicely to the Dungeon Siege universe, and is deepened by finding some books or documents, and talking to characters. You’ll even explore a location directly related to the characters of the first game, which was extremely satisfying for a fan.
The progression is mostly linear with growing scale of locations, enemies and events. It’s an action RPG, but the pacing and amount of enemies is not insane like for instance on Diablo 3, though some battles are more enemy heavy. Though there are different and varied locations with enemies matching them, “dungeons” aren’t as big as in the first game, but nonetheless acceptably lengthy.
The graphics are quite good, showing some age by now, but at least in runs well, high FPS. However, the camera is always restricted to look down a little, so you can’t tilt it up and enjoy the scenery in a more 1st person style, which is a shame. That restriction also sometimes doesn’t provide the best view for combat either. Though different equipment reflects visibly on the characters, there’s no way to view the full character close up and rotate it, like in a character screen. The HUD is somewhat simplistic, as are the indications above enemies, which at first makes it a bit difficult to understand what’s going on.
The soundtrack is quite good, mostly in the atmospheric orchestral style, aiding to that tone of grandeur lost, but with tense and epic combat sequences.