Dungeon Siege 3 review - First impressions

Dungeon Siege 3 is an RPG game that sees players attempt to rebuild a once powerful Legion and attempt to stop the Kingdom of Ehb falling into evil hands. This third outing is the first time that Dungeon Siege will be heading to consoles, having previously found a home exclusively on PC.

Developer Obsidian Entertainment (You know, the folks behind Fallout New Vegas) hopes that it will deliver the RPG experience console fans want. Does it? We got a good, hard, early look: read on for our Dungeon Siege 3 hands-on first impressions.

We caught our first live glimpse of Dungeon Siege 3, during a one-on-one demo with the developer, last August. Obsidian told us that Dungeon Siege 3 will replicate the same type of RPG gaming experience PC users have become used to, but on consoles. The overhauled control system necessary for the new formats Dungeon Siege 3 will be appearing on (Xbox 360 and PS3) means that, for some Dungeon Siege fans, playing Dungeon Siege 3 will be a completely different experience from the previous two games in the series.

More on the controls later, but what of the game itself? What we played of Dungeon Siege 3 earlier was pre-alpha code. It wasn’t the finished version, but Dungeon Siege 3 is now already looking polished. Obsidian seemed to make a lot of the fact that Dungeon Siege 3 will look great on high-definition TV sets. We agree. The world of Dungeon Siege 3 is almost Fable 3-like in its colour scheme.

The kingdom of Ehb is a lush setting with that same orangey glow, paired with the bright green hues of vegetation around it. Even the underground cavern levels give off a nice blue hue. The first thing we noticed is how great this game looks. Dungeon Siege 3 is the first game from Obsidian to use what it’s calling the Onyx engine for its graphics. Consider this first test passed.

Our short gameplay time saw us attempting to build up our legion by locating fellow members by heading to a small village and questioning its inhabitants. Like most RPG titles the gameplay involves chatting to folk in search of clues to help you on your quest. Initiating conversation brings up a dialogue tree. The direction you take conversations in is entirely up to the player.

Players can choose to take part in new sub-quests given by villagers, or ignore them. One quest saw us volunteering to locate a mysterious creature said to be living in a nearby lake, with the aim of retrieving a tooth, as proof of its existence. Doing this successfully will grant you a reward should you choose to accept it. Decline said rewards and you’ll be honoured for your generosity. Your reputation stays with you throughout. Perform negative actions, and villagers are less likely to help you out in future.

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Another, more exciting mission required us to head to some caves, take on a witch and her enemy cohorts, and set free a caged busty beauty. Obsidian obviously has a thing for the ladies – none we came across seemed dressed for a cold snap. Having integrated joypad controls into the Dungeon Experience it was interesting to see how they would hold up. They do so very well. We played as one of the already announced characters classes, as a Guardian class character, named Lucas, who uses a sword and shield as his primary weapon.

The bulk of combat is mapped onto three buttons for blocking with your shield, swiping with your sword and changing your weapon stance. Each character class has two stances. Here, one stance enabled quick sword swipes, the other, more fierce strikes with a longer range for when surrounded by enemies.

It’s a very easy system to get to grips with. Taking on said witch was a matter of knowing when to block and swipe. Some enemies will blast magic at you. Pressing L1 causes your character to roll out of harms way. Most of the enemies you’ll encounter in Dungeon Siege 3 require different tactics, keeping the combat fresh. If you’ve got friends, Dungeon Siege 3 features co-op multiplayer. All a buddy has to do is press start to instantly join in.

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Killing enemies lets you earn XP points letting you level up in order to upgrade your weapons and powers. We only got to see a couple of these new powers. One, called Shield Bash enabled our character to rebound enemies with a shield thrust. Another, Blade Dash, gives your player the ability to perform a speed dash in enemy direction. It comes in most useful for dealing with archers and their long-range arrow attacks. The quicker you get to them, the less chance you have of getting hit.

Accessing all these goodies at a glance is easy. Pressing select brings up a screen displaying items you can equip, your current and available quests, unlocked abilities, armour and any new stuff you unlock. Again, Obsidian looks to have made a real effort to ensure console owners aren’t bogged down with too many commands by making everything you need to access, as easy as possible to do so.

All the above: the approachable gameplay, easy to access menus, top-notch graphics and, we’re told, the sort of depth of story fans have come to expect from publisher Square Enix, and developer Obsidian Entertainment make Dungeon Siege 3 one to look out for – as if a legion of Dungeon Siege fans weren’t already. Console gamers new to the franchise would do well to keep an eye on Dungeon Siege 3 when it comes out later this year.

Out 2011 | £TBC | Dungeon Siege 3

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