Dungeon Siege III, the first in the series to appear on consoles, is all about the comfortable fun. It’s about co-op, looting, gaining experience and taking down hordes of enemies. These elements are reliably enjoyable to play through, and we haven’t seen a full retail take on the genre for a while now.
In the game, you take on the role of one of four characters: Lucas, last in the a line of nobles and your all-purpose melee sword guy; Katarina, Lucas’ illegitimate half-sister and a master of guns of all types; Reinhart, a veteran mage whose spells aren’t purely long-range; and Anjali, some sort of legendary fire being who, you know, attacks with fire. You can choose any of them from the start, and while the main story is largely static, each plays through it from slightly different lenses. Each of these characters has two different “stances,” and you can switch between the two for various tactical reasons. Typically, one’s good at crowd control and the other’s good for more damage to one enemy, but that’s not always the case.
Obsidian Entertainment, taking over development of the series as they have with so many others in the past, bring an experienced hand to the series, and unlike previous efforts, their presence is nothing but an improvement for the series. We haven’t had any problems with glitches in DSIII, thankfully, and generally everything is polished. It’s not the most gorgeous game we’ve seen, and the level of detail isn’t great, but it seems like it just wasn’t a big focus. You really only see it in the dialogue and cutscenes, and the zoomed-out top-down view is fine and runs smoothly. The wider environment looks cool, if a bit darker at all times than it reasonably has to be. It’s not completely without issues, though; the camera sometimes zooms in at awkward or random angles when you approach a wall or building, which can be a bit annoying.
How does it play, though? The team took a very to-the-point approach, wanting you to get from Point A to Point Be Killing Monsters. There are breadcrumbs you can trigger to the next point in your quest, menus are mapped to the D-pad for easy access, weapons and equipment are all color-coded by quality and you can push down the stick to collect all nearby gold and orbs. (We wish they had taken that last one a step further, and allowed you to set it to automatically pick it all up, including equipment.)
Dungeon Siege III supports multiplayer, as any game like this should. Four can play together online, though one must host and the rest must progress through that player’s campaign. Additionally, each must use a different character, so sometimes there’s a fight over who’s who. You can join up with a friend on the couch in drop-in drop-out local play, which is a nice inclusion, and Player 2 usually joins in as whatever other character is helping you out at that moment. We really wish Obsidian had tried to include four-player local play, as that really makes a game like this magical. As it is, though, it’s a decent package.
If, like us, you’re still yearning for the days when games like this were released more regularly, Dungeon Siege III scratches all the right itches, and you should definitely grab it soon. If, however, you don’t have an undying love for the genre, Obsidian’s play-to-the-base approach doesn’t make for as appealing an experience.
Pros: Scripted story, well-thought-out characters
Cons: Limited customization, no 4-player local