Dungeon Siege III Previews

Two more previews have popped up online of Dungeon Siege III's recent hands-on tour. PC Gamer has a fairly indepth review, digging the Onyx engine and story.
I've got Nathan Davis, associate producer, sitting with me during my limited-time play-through, so I'm trying to strike a balance in my crawling behaviour. Do I spin the camera to peer down every potentially chest-filled nook, or would that look like I was lost? Do I take on the side-quests? Does Nathan even know how much I love chests?

He's a patient man, but as I walk past another stack of barrels and crates, he chokes on his own compulsion. (I swear, if you don't smash up that pile of stuff.) Let's not forget the loot. Loot is important. I question the lack of adjectives on the items I find (Deadly Greatsword) seems slightly less prosaic than, say, Blizzard's fruit machine of loot names. With curiosities such as the Jeweller's Sturdy Pauldrons of the Owl in the wider gaming world, surely a Deadly Greatsword seems a little dull?

Loot, explains Davis, is only gently randomised. Some stats will be different from game to game, but not names, and many of the items particularly rare ones are hand-placed. There are no level limitations, either: this is because the loot will be tailored to your level. It's a philosophical thing: Dungeon Siege III isn't about endlessly replaying on the offchance of finding better gear or another flawless gem: it's about playing through the story, with or without a friend.
AusGamers walked away "pretty happy".
Action, exploration and story are all evenly paced here, and I never felt more bogged down in one than in another. If Fallout: New Vegas taught us one thing about Obsidian, it's that they know how to stretch a tale out and keep you interested on the side for a bit of side-tracking fun. Obviously Dungeon Siege itself is an entirely different beast than Fallout, but it's great to see the team expanding their horizons, and the Onyx engine they're working with looks fantastic.

The whole fantasy setting here is absolute, with sporadically placed villages, forests, marshland, narrow ridge-lines over-looking valleys below from up on high and those all-important dungeons. My escapade took me through a few desolate villages and encampments before coming across a massive, derelict mansion. The mansion itself was unassuming, but being the exploratory gamer I am, I found a mass of hidden goodies and rooms, and a locked door that required a key... oh how it had me chomping at the bit for that key. But I was pressed into a more main-story oriented direction by my Ubisoft guide to get the most out of the demo, but damn if I don't want to get back and find that key.

For the RPG elements, it looks like everything has been reasonably streamlined, with a standard item/equip system, along with an Abilities menu where you spend accrued points each time you level up on new skills. There's no skill-tree as such, but you do have three stances available to you, each of which can have with it a special move, which comes back to the Abilities system.