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Dungeon Siege III

Talking Co-op Shop In Dungeon Siege III
by Meagan Marie on Mar 11, 2011 at 06:08 AM
Platform PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher Square Enix
Developer Square Enix
Rating Rating Pending

Our initial session with Dungeon Siege III detailed classes, combat, and basic lore, painting Obsidian’s upcoming title as Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance meets Mass Effect. In a recent hands-on session at GDC, we got a chance to dive deeper into the action/RPG and get a taste of co-op.

Co-op is compatible with two players locally and four players online. We play as Lucas and Anjali, the only two announced characters, in a shared-screen demonstration. A witch named Leona tasks us with purifying a rundown manor, but her motive for exorcising evil from the abode isn’t altruistic. She wishes to gain access to the wealth of information housed in books throughout the home.

Our intentions are slightly nobler, having met a female ghost who can’t access the river of souls and depart the mortal world. She informs us that her father is responsible, having stored a powerful and ancient artifact in the house with unexpected consequences. She provides us with a key to the vault deep below the manor, and we set off to find the item in question.

This exchange highlights one of the unique co-op mechanics: All players are allowed to vote for dialogue options in the conversation wheel.  Although the choice ultimately comes down to the first player, the option was implemented to keep additional dungeon crawlers engaged. If players agree more often than not, they will unlock achievements, gain boosts, and generally be rewarded for their like-mindedness. Obsidian tells us that you will face repercussions for the opposite, too.

Combat is unchanged with additional players, aside from the ability to revive each other. Additionally, weapons and armor are shared among players, so fights won’t erupt over weapons and joint spoils. This is a necessary consideration, since weapons vastly influence your character’s statistics and performance. Obsidian claims that even if you’re level 30, you won’t do much damage without the right equipment.

Putting our skills to the test, we descend through the building and face a variety of undead foes. After smashing through the skeletons, we run into an anthropomorphic door that requires a password before granting us passage. Ruffling through papers in an adjacent room revealed the correct answer, but we choose the “guess” option and offer up the name of a local pie as the password. Infusing some humor into the situation, the talking door gives us a history lesson about the pie, and then caused a bit of damage as a reprimand.

As we progress deeper into the keep, enemies become more challenging and diverse, requiring constant dodging of spells and the exploitation of larger area attacks.  When we reach our goal – a glowing object that must be the artifact the ghost was talking about – we find ourselves forced to make a decision. We can destroy the orb and save the daughter in purgatory, or be selfish and take the artifact for our own. Feeling generous, we destroy the artifact and set the woman free. Obsidian tells us that there are ramifications to both actions, and the outcome of ours is immediately apparent.

Destroying the object summons the departed woman’s father, enraged at the fact that the artifact and his child are gone. He transforms into a massive demon, and the subsequent fight has us taking advantage of his limited mobility. We keep our distance and build up focus by eliminating his summoned allies, and then move in for the kill by unleashing more powerful attacks on the boss himself.

With that bit of business concluded, we work our way back up to Leona, feeling slightly smug in our success. She isn’t particularly happy with our decision to destroy the item of antiquity, but seems willing to overlook it if we give her the purged manor. While that option is a viable one, we deny the request, indicating that the property is an important stronghold to the legion and that she can use it on loan only until needed.

Despite the brevity of the demo, our time with Dungeon Siege III was engaging and only marred by some questionable voice acting and slight UI confusion. At this juncture, our biggest concern relates to the lack of incentive for cooperative play. While players can drop in and return to a character they created for a specific user’s world, items and experience are lost when they resume their campaign. While scheduling play sessions for multiple heroes is possible, the secondary players won’t have true ownership of their efforts.

Cooperative play often augments a game’s entertainment, but Dungeon Siege III is a core experience appealing to equally core individuals. Finding a player willing to put their own campaign on hiatus and play without reward makes the co-op feel superficial, at best. 

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Dungeon Siege IIIcover

Dungeon Siege III

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
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