Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance Announced, Interviews

Until fairly recently, I wasn't aware that Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance existed. A couple of early 2000s console-exclusive hack 'n' slash titles were about the furthest thing from my area of expertise. However, I've since found out that not only was that series a thing, but it in fact served as an introduction to the Baldur's Gate setting and Dungeons & Dragons games in general for a lot of people.

And apparently those people are the target audience for the newly announced Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance - a four player co-op hack 'n' slash action-RPG. Developed by Tuque Games, the game will follow the events of R.A. Salvatore's The Crystal Shard novel and feature Drizzt Do’Urden and co. as playable characters.

Here's a rather unusual trailer that shows the game in action:

And since that was quite confusing, you might want to check out this massive VentureBeat interview with Tuque Games founder Jeff Hattem and Dungeons & Dragons vice president Nathan Stewart that goes over the game's setting, characters, lore, gameplay, and more. Here's an excerpt:

In the PlayStation 2 days, two of the best co-op action-RPGs on the console were the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance games. Hattem says that Dark Alliance is a spiritual successor to those games, though it changes the story and setting.

You play as either Drizzt, Bruenor, Catti-brie, or Wulfgar. Each has iconic weapons in Salvatore’s novels:
  • Drizzt wields the scimitars Icingdeath and Twinkle
  • Bruenor’s notched axe
  • Catti-brie’s magic bow Taulmaril
  • Wulfgar’s mighty warhammer that Bruenor crafted for him, Aegis-fang
“The way that Salvatore reveals those weapons in the books are some of the best bits of those books, at least for me: when Bruenor’s crafting Aegis-Fang, when Drizzt acquires Icingdeath and Twinkle as well later on,” Hattem said. “We’re definitely going to showcase them.”

Dark Alliance has the characters using weapon types, not just these iconic arms: Bruenor has axes, Wulfgar wields warhammers, and so on.

“We thought it was important to give them an identity based on the weapon they wield. Especially in the books, I know Drizzt is a weapons master and he can wield many weapons, but through the course of a lot of R.A. Salvatore’s books, he’s wielding scimitars, Catti-brie’s got her bow, and Wulfgar has his warhammer. We added a lot of depth in the way you wield those weapons, as opposed to going with having many different weapon types without much depth.”

“Each of the [characters] plays in his or her own way,” Hattem said. “Drizzt is wielding scimitars. Wulfgar’s wielding a warhammer. It’s not only Aegie-fang or Icingdeath. There are other weapons with different properties. We’re letting [players] explore the playspace of those characters so they can [tinker with] their builds in their own way. The way I build Drizzt may be different than the way you build him. Depending on which weapons you equip and what skills you unlock, and how you decide to progress the combo system, those are all ways you can tailor the experience to your playstyle.”

Then, you should also read this GamesIndustry.biz interview with Wizards of the Coast president Chris Cocks where he talks about Dark Alliance and WotC's future plans for Dungeons & Dragons that include “seven or eight” new video games. A few sample paragraphs:

"We want each game to have a point of view, and to really keep on just a couple of things and do it really, really well," he tells us. "What you don't want to do is have every game in the franchise try to do the same thing, and try to do everything all at once."

Cocks compares Wizards' licensing approach to how a good dungeon master runs the game; it's all about facilitating.

"We really don't limit people," he says. "The D&D team's job is to say 'yes' when people want to play something... The best dungeon masters tend to want to figure out how to say 'yes', and have the players do what they want to do... We want to open it up, open up the narrative possibilities, the character development, open up the level of problem solving and combat opportunities and thrills that players can be able to experience.

"And we're going to do it in a variety of genres... And in future games we will explore different areas, whether it's grand strategy and combat at army level scale, to really intimate character portrayal."