Dungeon Siege III Preview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Square Enix
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date:2011-06-21
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
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While there was plenty of information to be taken in from the Dungeon Siege III-related interviews I conducted with David Hoffman, Rich Taylor, and George Ziets, there's still a lot more ground to cover. I'm not going to get into the history of the franchise, how Obsidian ended up contributing to it, or any storyline spoilers; I'm going to do what I always do in my previews - share the game's mechanics so you have a good idea of how it will play when you install it on your PC or pop the disc into your console of choice.

The Characters

Dungeon Siege III features four characters, and in what is a bit of an unusual twist for Obsidian Entertainment, their models, genders, histories, and advancement opportunities have all been pre-determined. Aside from selecting your equipment and choosing which character-specific proficiencies, talents, and abilities you'd like to take during a level-up, there are no customization options to speak of. While that news came across as somewhat disappointing to me, I suppose it only makes sense considering that the game is much more story-driven than the previous titles in the series.

Only two of the characters have been officially revealed at the time of this writing: a melee-focused Guardian named Lucas Montbarron and a fire-controlling Archon named Anjali. These two characters play considerably different to one another - Lucas sports sword-and-shield and two-handed weapon stances, while Anjali has both a polearm-swinging human stance and a fire-tossing elemental stance. The team describes Lucas and Anjali as the more easy-to-play hack 'n slash types, while the other two characters (a male caster and a gun-wielding woman, based on my sleuthing) will be a bit more advanced and require more skill to play. Whether or not that proves to be the case is yet to be seen.

Character Development, Dialogue, and Lore

As is standard fare for virtually any action RPG, experience is gained by finishing quests and dominating hordes of creatures. When your character levels up, they gain one proficiency point, one talent point, and, at specific level intervals, they're given a choice between one of nine abilities that are split up between Recruit, Legionnaire, and Master tiers. For the sake of sharing some examples, Anjali can pick between the Recruit abilities of Spinning Kick, Aura of Immolation, and Inner Warmth at low levels, the Legionnaire abilities of Hurl Spear, Summon Jackal, and Ignite at mid-levels, and the Master abilities of Fall From the Heavens, Pillar of Fire, and Volatile Barrier when she's high level.

Once you've started to pick up some abilities, you can assign your proficiency points to either of the two child proficiencies that accompany each. Using one of the previous examples, points can be allocated to either the Crushing Impact or Fire Dance proficiencies below Anjali's Spinning Kick ability. Essentially, each proficiency enhances the ability's effectiveness in some way, such as increasing its damage or range, or adding a lifetap or stun effect. On top of any added proficiencies, character abilities can also reach a "mastery" stage after a significant amount of use. Once you've achieved mastery with an ability, you'll be able to take advantage of its limited-use special attack. Using Anjali's Summon Jackal ability as an example, once you've unlocked its mastery, you'll be able to send the jackal into a group of foes and detonate it as some kind of four-legged suicide bomber.

Talents are a mixture of passive and active skills that your character can possess. There are a total of ten talents per character, but like abilities, they are not all immediately available to you (Anjali had four talents to pick from at level 2). As many as five talent points can be allocated to each one, so you can either spice your character up with some variety or keep them specialized within a specific skillset. Some talent examples for Lucas include Devastating Criticals, Force of Will, Victory Rush, Wrathful Might, Focus Rage, and Death Defying. Most of these do exactly what they sound like - Devastating Criticals, for instance, increases his critical damage by 10% for each point that you allocate to it and Victory Rush will inflict damage to any foes within Lucas' path when he's propelled forward.