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Crawl, Loot, ? Profit

I was gifted a copy of Dungeon Defenders by my friend. The holiday season was coming to an apex and he sent me my digital copy via e-mail. I fired up ol' Steam, plugged in the code, and soon enough had the game running. I can say for the minimal price he paid during the seasonal sale, it was money well spent.

Dungeon Defenders from Reverb Publishing and Trendy Entertainment is, at its core, a loot hording game. You start off as one of four classes with the goal of protecting a point of interest in a level or "dungeon" from waves of spawning enemies. You kill enemies by varied means, depending on which class you've chosen. When a monster dies it drops "mana crystals" and occasionally items. You use the mana to erect a class specific defensive structure and items to upgrade your character's attributes. As you progress, the difficulty ramps up and new features and modes are unlocked.

That's a gross simplification, but the basic gist holds true. You'll wade through enemies while protecting a crystal from destruction. You'll eventually fight a boss after a few zones for added challenge and gain mastery over your class and their abilities. And, most importantly, you will have fun!

The four classes play distinctly from each other, with strengths and weaknesses.

The apprentice is a caster, with access to the strongest defenses in the game. His towers pack a punch and when he levels up and upgrades his turrets, he can cruise control most challenges in the story mode. If you want to play a tower defense structured game, chose this mage.

The squire is the most well rounded (and balanced in my opinion) class. Able to wield large weapons, heavy armor, and set up defenses ranging from bastila turrets to bouncing blade barricades, he can fight in the front lines and defend positions with his abilities very well.

The huntress is a strange class to get around. Initially, weak, she can place traps with limited charges and fires bows and guns at a distance. Later, when she acquires some solid levels, upgrades her traps, and finds a decent weapon, she becomes easier than the apprentice to sit back and win.

The monk features a combination of the warrior and the huntress, in a sense. His defense are area of effect "auras" that can damage and keep crowds of mobs under control and debilitated while he wades in with his powerful physical attacks and weaker energy projectiles. 

Each class brings something to the table and all of them are fun to experiment with and find out which play style is the most fun for you. Be it a hack-n-slash or tower defense and strategy this game has something for you.

Once you have completed the story missions (and I highly recommend you do for the experience and loot) challenges become available. They can range from all sorts of goals like "protect your crystal that will move around the map sporadically", to "kill a certain amount of enemies within the allotted amount of time" and a bunch of other craziness in between. These challenges unlock achievements and rare/unique gear as well as test your skills.

There are downsides, though. This is a social game. Sure, you can play it by yourself, but I promise the fun factor increases dramatically when played with friends. While there is a match making system, it isn't the best around. There are levels of difficulty so you can tune your experience to fit your ever leveling and better equipped character, but if you host your game publicly, there's nothing from stopping a person of inadequate level and gear from joining your game and/or stealing some loot. You can kick a player if you're the host, but the problem is there. There are other classes available through DLC, but they are really just the same four classes with a different special ability and different gender. The other DLC is pretty slim (for the moment) and carries a pretty hefty price tag for the limited content it offers. Also, while I got this game for free and my provider paid very little, if this game isn't on sale, it normally goes for about $15. While not entirely unreasonable, it is a bit steep with these tight times and tough competition. A small, but present problem as well, if you play one class seriously, it's easy to hit level cap and get bored with the relatively small game.

All things considered though, if this kind of game appeals to you and you have 15 bucks to toss around and you want to give it a spin, I can't think of a reason that would really stop you. I recommend it on PC, because my friends and I tried it with a mouse and keyboard vs. an Xbox controller and we all came to the conclusion that the PC controls definitely win out.

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