Dungeon Siege III - Hands-On Opening Acts

The venerable Dungeon Siege series is ready for a comeback, so we go hands-on to see how this latest incarnation stacks up against its past.

Since its initial release back in 2002, the Dungeon Siege series has always been about two things: exploring dungeons and collecting loot. It was a series revered for accessibility, addictive gameplay, and cooperative multiplayer. After getting our hands on Dungeon Siege III, we are excited to see that developer Obsidian isn't deviating from the elements that made this series great.

You see eight bandits; he sees eight piles of treasure.

Our demo began in the shoes of intrepid adventurer Lucas Mont Barron. As an orphan, Lucas has finally come of age and is ready to assist in rebuilding the Legion after its near destruction by the villainess Jeyne Kassendar. Right away, Obsidian's in-house-developed Onyx engine made the game's fantasy setting pop with color, lending a storybook feel to our surroundings. We set out across a mountain pass on the way to our birthright, the Mont Barron estate, to meet with the few remaining Legion members. Naturally, things went awry almost immediately. Cresting a rise in the pass, we spotted the estate--or what remained of it--engulfed in flames.

Horrified at this turn of events, we plunged into the inferno. A few stray barrels caught our eye, and we stopped just long enough to try out Dungeon Siege III's combat system on these wooden targets before facing the inevitable danger that lay ahead. Combat is conducted through stances, with different sets of abilities tied to each stance. By default, our character looked every part of the adventurous rogue, with a quick-hitting sword and sturdy shield in hand, as well as access to a shield-bash ability. As the name suggests, this maneuver let us smack an opponent upside the face, knocking him prone and occasionally stunning him.

The next stance substituted our current armaments for a massive, two-handed broadsword and a dash ability that was handy for nabbing pesky ranged units behind enemy lines. Finally, a defensive block stance allowed us to--you guessed it--block hostile attacks while conferring the ability to regenerate health. As the barrels crumpled beneath our blade, a few home invaders took notice and attacked. We quickly switched to the sword-and-shield stance, which excelled at cutting down individual foes, while the slower-hitting broadsword caught multiple enemies in its wide arc.

With flames licking our ankles, we cut through the smoke to find Martin Guisgard, a fellow Legionnaire. A dash of exposition later, and we were assigned to seek out Odo, the man in change of organizing this failed event, at the chapter house in the woodlands of Rukkenvahl. However, the path there was littered with bandits and other malcontents. But the one good thing about bandits is that they're always loaded with loot. As we hacked our way from one villain to the next, color-coded treasures spilled out at our feet--some in the form of currency, others as weapons and armor.

The acquisition of loot played a large role in our time with Dungeon Siege III. Every piece of armor we equipped changed the appearance of our hero, and a detailed equipment screen clearly displayed the statistical differences between the various pieces. And should you run out of inventory space, unwanted items can be broken down locally into cash rather than simply thrown away. Six pairs of boots, three chest pieces, and one flaming sword later, we located the chapter house and met with Odo.

An enemy's stamina is represented by the colored circle at his feet.

Without even giving us a chance to rest, Odo sent us in search of survivors who might have fled to the nearby village of Raven's Rill. By this time, we had done enough stabbing to reach the next level. Leveling up lets you unlock new abilities for your stances, modify the effects of those abilities, and upgrade your hero's stats. Our shield-bash ability, for instance, could be modified to do more knockdowns or have a higher stun chance. You may choose to advance through either of these ability trees--or both if you have enough skill points to spend--but you'll have a limited number of skill points throughout the game.

We arrived at the sleepy village of Raven's Rill, and after a stern word with the town's gatekeeper, we promptly got sidetracked by side quests. After aiding a merchant who had been robbed and helping a vengeful elderly woman, we were set upon by the mysterious Katarina who--despite her introduction--was anything but subtle. We interacted with her, as well as the other locals, using a dialogue wheel. After some questioning, she turned us on to a nearby cave where some Legion members were being held captive.

Inside, we finally located our brethren and their captor: Vera, a powerful witch who served as our first boss encounter. Versed in the arcane arts, Vera preferred to teleport around the arena and pepper our hero with some nasty offensive spells. She also sported a nasty aura designed to impede our movement. Ultimately, all it took was a liberal application of cold steel to fix it. Once she was defeated, we turned our attention to the prisoners.

Among those captured was our first would-be companion Anjali, a spellcasting ranged hero who is supposedly an Archon of legend. The way you talk to and interact with others can influence your companion's opinion of you, for better or worse, manifesting in small performance boosts for content cohorts. However, our demo ended there, so her power remained untapped. In the full release, you'll be able to manage a party of up to four heroes, either in a single-player game where you control all four characters, or with a group of three other people in co-op mode. Two players may share the screen locally, and you can bring in two more players online. The other players will serve as assistants to one main player, and no progress will be carried over to their game.

While our time with Dungeon Siege III was spent on a PC, we played it using a Xbox 360 gamepad. The controls were simple to understand, with movement tied to the sticks and stance-specific abilities tied to the face buttons. Combat flowed fast and frantic as enemies would charge us in large numbers with ranged attackers supporting them in the rear. Tapping the X button unleashed the broadsword's dash ability which proved invaluable by letting us quickly cut through the center and dispatch two, or even three, ranged attackers at once with the sword's wide reach. After that, a simple click of the shoulder button let us switch to our sword and shield stance. We had to keep moving to prevent our numerous foes from encircling us. And if one did start hitting our flank, the shield bash could incapacitate them long enough for us to regain the advantage. For the duration of our admittedly short play session, we had only these two offensive abilities at our disposal and no party members to command--but the game will have other skills you can learn and companions who can join you later.

Anjali may be more magically inclined, but she's not afraid to mix it up in melee.

To help curb potential living room fisticuffs, items and equipment you find during your travels are unique to the individual characters--meaning only one character may wear a particular pair of gloves or wield a specific staff. Inventory is also shared among the party members. Players may drop in and play and drop out when they're finished, with the computer retaking control of their discarded hero. In addition to co-op play, Obsidian is pouring a lot of effort into crafting a robust story. Creative writer Geroge Ziets, author of the moody Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer expansion, is penning this tale, with series' progenitor Chris Taylor serving as a project adviser. Be on the lookout for Dungeon Siege III this May.

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Discussion

116 comments
rashbourne
rashbourne

What the hell? Dungeon Siege was about exploring dungeons and collecting loot WITH YOUR PARTY! Why the hell make this an action RPG? That's friggin stupid. I guess it wasn't enough that we be betrayed by DA2. I'm calling a preemptive fail on this.

Blackdeath099
Blackdeath099

@BasiK3108 Sorry, but Chris Taylor being adviser doesn't mean a thing. Have you ever played the prequel ? I bet not. You probably weren't born anyway. Have you seen the gameplay trailer ? It look as generic as any other RPG out there. I give you, there is some interesting additions to gameplay, but I can't help but think they have toned down a lot of complexity just to please consoles users. Which is, in my opinion, really bad for an old PC-exclusive. Anyway, I'll wait until a demo or some reviews. Oh, and perhaps you have any arguments against what I said ? That would be great instead of a personal attack.

BasiK3108
BasiK3108

@Blackdeath099 i luv people that post comments without reading! idiots like you make me laugh, so thanks a lot!

Offkorn
Offkorn

@Blackdeath: Try reading the last paragraph: "Creative writer Geroge Ziets, author of the moody Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer expansion, is penning this tale, ."

Blackdeath099
Blackdeath099

The first two were great (Altought I hated II's graphics). Seriously... I was looking forward to the 3, but now ? Square Enix ? It doesn't look like dungeon siege anymore anyway.... This was Chris Taylor's baby. Without him, it isn't same. You could call this game anything and no one would bother. "Call of the Sword" "The Legion's last hope". R.I.P. Dungeon Siege.

Hunawearl
Hunawearl

I hope it's as good as the first two. This will hopefully tide me over until Diablo 3 comes out.

Had3sg0ty0u
Had3sg0ty0u

OMG Never Expected that DSIII was Out On PS3

Had3sg0ty0u
Had3sg0ty0u

@NerdHerdman009 Try DSII (Dungeon Siege 2) It's A Good Game TQ too (Titan Quest)

Had3sg0ty0u
Had3sg0ty0u

@Monkeybassguru Dragon Age Sucks it totaly does nothing fun about it so boring

Had3sg0ty0u
Had3sg0ty0u

Ouh man can't w8 gonna buy Diablo 3 aswell but playing Dungeon siege 2 atm got a female Combat mage lvl 79 154 combat magic lvl :P SUperb Best game eva

KoRniTo
KoRniTo

@Khatjal That's exactly what I thought :D

24k_Solid_Gold
24k_Solid_Gold

Big fan of the Dungeon Siege series, hopefully this will be as much fun as the other ones. :)

siarhei
siarhei

Sounds like fun game.

lokesc
lokesc

Dungeon Seige III filling the shoes of Diablo III

lokesc
lokesc

Dungeon Seige III filling the shoes of Diablo III

Cindro-Deth
Cindro-Deth

no co-op progress to be carried over? so there is only 4 characters in the game and they can only assist player 1(no reward for any one). this would have been good if it let you create a character and drop in and out of games allowing you to keep your xp and items found. i been tracking this game for nothing... i wanted a good co-op game and now im severely disappointed.

Alex_09
Alex_09

Interested until I read Square Enix.

krazeekhujo05
krazeekhujo05

@uberjannie : I know it sounds pretty crazy, but I'm definitely going to check some Black Adder out

NerdHerdman009
NerdHerdman009

wow this looks cool, I have never heard of this game got to check it out some time. Oh my gosh, it is Square Enix cool makers of final fantasy. Now I know it is going to be cool.

capncarl
capncarl

I am looking forward to this game. It looks like a faster paced NWN2 on a console. Good stuff so far, but we'll see what happens.

Khatjal
Khatjal

So it's officially coming out this May? Excellent. Should be a great filler until Skyrim and Diablo 3.

uberjannie
uberjannie

@krazeekhujo05 : What, you have never seen Black Adder? It's awesome! It's in Black Adder Hugh Laurie really kicked off his career. You may know Laurie from House.

krazeekhujo05
krazeekhujo05

@uberjannie : LMAO never knew that even existed Rowan Atkinson his pure jokes!

krazeekhujo05
krazeekhujo05

@uberjannie : Guess I don't know that song going to listen to it right now! Oh well get that double chocolate chip cookie next time! lol

uberjannie
uberjannie

@krazeekhujo05 : No, It's from Black Adder :D The sound of hoof beats 'cross the glade. Good folk, lock up your son and daughter. Beware the deadly flashing blade, Unless you want to end up shorter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8pUKXtmcnE I will keep mah cookie :D

groovus
groovus

Oh GOD, that Dungeon Siege movie was one of the worst films ever made. And when Matthew Lillard came on screen, I put my fist through our LCD screen...yeah, its that bad.

krazeekhujo05
krazeekhujo05

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

N0tYrBeezin
N0tYrBeezin

I don't think the movie was half as bad as people pretended it to be. I found it a pretty standard popcorn movie. They just like to vilify anything that has Uwe Boll's name attached it. If somehow Uwe Boll managed to hide his name from it, a lot of you would have made up a lot less crap about it. This is not to say the movie did not have its fault but not more than a lot of other movies. And no, I don't even like Uwe. I just tell it like it is.

Jhedan
Jhedan

@geord666 Not really sure never got past from the first 10 minutes. Yes, its THAT bad. The question is, how does Uwe Boll keeps getting money to make movies?

uberjannie
uberjannie

@krazeekhujo05 : Ach mein got! That movie does not deserve a sequel -.- -The pain of Boll across the screen. Good folk, lock up your son and daughter. Beware the deadly Uwe Boll name. Unless you want to suffer longer. Free cookies if you can guess where I got the lyrics from ^^

krazeekhujo05
krazeekhujo05

@uberjannie : It seems they spent just as much time on the dialogue as they did the gameplay none! lol By the way did you know Uwe Boll is doing a sequel to In The Name Of King: A Dungeon Siege Tale starring Dolph Lundgren lol

krazeekhujo05
krazeekhujo05

Diablo 3 looks like repetitive garbage! Thanks all you Diablo fans for the thumbs down LOL

GeneralShowzer
GeneralShowzer

@bibyl2 Yes, seems so. They made a dungeon crawler with console in mind first. You know it's gonna suck.

DontEatCream
DontEatCream

Sweet. I needed something to tide me over until Diablo 3 is released.

uberjannie
uberjannie

@aillon : Dude, that film is an Uwe Boll production. That man is next to Hitler on my list of people who deserve to be shot in the face.. Also, the name of the movie is not Dungeon Siege. Its : In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.

uberjannie
uberjannie

@krazeekhujo05 : What amazes me is the voice acting in Diablo 3, or the lack thereof. I have watched A LOT of gameplay movies, and all show dialogue with NPC's but they do not have voices? Come on Blizzard! This is 2011! A game from such a wealthy company should have 100% voice acting, even the merchants.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Well if the bugs are lessened(which come on dungeon crawler,cant be buggy...right?) and it flows nicely then it will be well worth the wait.1 was downright amazing even on the single player.2 was just simply passable.Hopefully it will be a series revival here my friends.If not sadly dungeon siege will put be put to death forever by the most buggy company of all time.Though it oddly has the best writing, go figure.

TrueIori
TrueIori

The other players will serve as assistants to one main player, and no progress will be carried over to their game. LOL lame...I wait for the real deal Diablo 3 > : P

bibyl2
bibyl2

what? WHAT? with this MP system the game seems dead on arrival. i guess it was made for the console crowd. gg. i guess now torchlight 2, not dungeon siege 3, has to hold me over till diablo 3.

SirMordredX
SirMordredX

Totally rad. Can't wait - and I'm thrilled that they're not screwing it up...apparently.

krazeekhujo05
krazeekhujo05

This game will be a better dungeon crawler then Diablo 3 for combat and story. Obsidian can write great stories and Diablo 3 combat is like they mixed a top down space shooter with dungeon crawling absolutely horrific. (I watched the 20 min gameplay video) Look to put it blunt I would rather watch paint dry then play Diablo 3!

mungrin
mungrin

Wow i was really really waiting for this game.Now i see the rumors are true.The same BS co-op like in Fable where as in other games like Diablo,Sacred 2 and Borderlands I can use my own char to join someones game and keep the loot i take. I would get this game if i could use my own char for co-op,not some stupid assistant.Looks like i will just have to hold out for Diablo 3

aillon
aillon

Well the movie dungeon seige had nothing to do with the game. The movie was kind of lame, but it had some cool moments. If you see the movie forget that it has dugeon seige in the name. Just watch the movie, and like or hate the movie not the game.

geord666
geord666

has anyone seen the dungeon seige film with jason statham? im too scared to watch it incase it just ruins everything about the series like DS2 nearly did. If someones seen it tell us what it was like please!

siarhei
siarhei

Cool. Finally it makes it to x360!

Dylanius
Dylanius

Well. I dont know what obsidian is gonna do.. But look at what happened when squeenix and GPG teamed up with supreme commander 2... I fear for DS 3. I dont think its gonna be that good..

severe_009
severe_009

I see Square Enix beside Obsidian? Hmmm, Is SE making the game with Obsi? If so, I hope SE just do all the CGI movie and don't touch any of the gameplay aspect.

SilentGmer
SilentGmer

@WulfenMortys Agreed. Their games may be bugged, but you can be sure that they're excellent in every other way.

WulfenMortys
WulfenMortys

So happy that Obsidian are doing Dungeon Siege III. Can't wait!