Dungeon Siege III Hands-On Preview - Four's a Crowd

We get an exclusive hands-on look at the full cast of playable characters in our latest preview of Dungeon Siege III.

With Dungeon Siege III, developer Obsidian Entertainment (creator of Fallout: New Vegas) has been tasked with rebooting a classic PC hack-and-slash dungeon-crawler series for the modern age. The original Dungeon Siege, which was released back in 2002 by developer Gas Powered Games, was beloved for its accessibility and addictive gameplay. However, Obsidian isn't afraid to make a few controversial changes to the formula, such as removing the ability to create your own custom characters in favor of offering a selection of four premade heroes. The aim is to bring the developer's storytelling prowess to a genre infamous for putting plot on the back burner.

In Dungeon Siege III, you command one of four heroes in service to a dying order. In days long past, the knights of the 10th Legion protected the lands of Ehb throughout a bloody conflict known as the War of Legions. After the war's conclusion, the Legion established the independent kingdom of Ehb and served as its guardian and protector. Together the two groups flourished for many years until Ehb's king was tragically murdered. Despite all the good it had done, the 10th Legion ended up taking the blame and was systematically hunted and destroyed by the outraged population led by the villainess Jayne Kassynder. Today, the kingdom of Ehb has fractured and is slowly falling under Kassynder's sway. In this dark hour, the last remnants of the 10th Legion are gathering to rebuild and retake their land.

In order to do that, we had a lot of battles to fight. Combat was all about switching among our character's three stances on the fly. The first two were offensive stances and changed what attacks and abilities our character could access. The third was a defensive stance that allowed us to block, dodge roll, and heal ourselves. Switching among the three was instantaneous and as simple as pressing a button. The effects of each varied wildly depending on whom we were playing as and what his or her role was in the battle. Our old standby, Lucas Montbarron, was a front-line brawler whose stances offered different variants on melee combat. The long-range riflewoman Katarina was the complete opposite, with techniques that favored dealing high damage to targets at a distance.

The other two heroes, Reinhart Manx and Anjali, weren't as narrowly defined in their roles and combined both range and melee tactics. Because we hadn't seen much of Reinhart previously, we spent more time with the aging sorcerer than with the others. Compared to the rest of the cast, this character felt the most complex, given his affinity for indirect tactics. His first stance, dynamic, let him pummel foes with an electrified gauntlet while blasting others with the homing lightning strike ability. His second stance, entropy, wasn't as direct. His basic attack was now a projectile in the form of a sweeping energy wave that appeared at a set distance away from him. Lining up this attack in the heat of battle was tricky until we got acclimated to the gap between the attack and the attacker. It also took some time getting used to this stance's first ability, clockwork trap. After a brief casting time, Reinhart would lay a magical trap that would damage enemies who tripped it.

All of your heroes level up evenly, so you don't have to worry about anyone falling behind.

We also played around with Anjali. Her play style felt similar to Reinhart's in that she could switch between close and ranged combat. But while the mage favored traps and trickery, Anjali was all about laying on the hurt as quickly as possible. In her human-form stance, she could use various staves and maces to clock enemies over the head before striking all those before her with the spinning-kick ability. Her second form brought about a fiery transformation that morphed her into an archon--a mythical creature of immense elemental power. Now, she could pelt her enemies with an unlimited supply of fireballs and lay down the aura of immolation which injured enemies who stepped within it.

As we completed quests and cut our way through innumerable bandits, our heroes would rack up experience and advance in level. This awarded us with ability, proficiency, and talent points to spend on customizing our characters. Ability points weren't awarded at every level, but when they were, they let us purchase new abilities to use in combat (by level 9, we had three ability points to spend). Proficiency points were used to customize those abilities. Each ability had two proficiencies and five slots. Each time we purchased a rank in either proficiency, it occupied one of those slots and altered the effects of that ability. For example, with Reinhart's clockwork trap, we could alter it to do more damage or temporally stun victims with every rank.

Finally, there were the talents. Talents were similar to proficiencies, though they weren't tied to any one ability and instead helped our character as a whole. Each talent was broken into five ranks and could be used to beef up a character's critical hit chance or increase the amount of gold he or she found. The other way we could customize our character was through the collection of loot. Every time we slew a bandit or opened a treasure chest a pile of riches would spill out at our feet. From the randomized assortments of odds and ends, we could collect swords, shields, staves, and suits of armor that were each unique to a specific character. This meant that Lucas couldn't wield Katarina's venomous hand cannon and Reinhart couldn't wear Anjali's form-fitting breastplate.

Reinhart's clockwork trap is great for snaring large groups of enemies at once.

Having items that only certain characters can use helped alleviate some of the "finder's keepers" mentality when playing in multiplayer with friends. While local cooperative play only supports up to one other person, you can play with an entire group of four online. However, players who aren't the host for that session will be playing pro bono, meaning they won't be gaining any loot or experience for the characters in their game. On the whole, playing Dungeon Siege III didn't feel far removed from our time with the first-person shooter/role-playing-game hybrid Borderlands. All the simple pleasure of collecting loot and completing quests with your friends were there, and we're excited to see how Obsidian fleshes out these characters in the final release. You can get your hands on Dungeon Siege III this June on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. And, if you're hungry for more information, be sure to check out our daily demo of the game here.

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Discussion

98 comments
nimd4
nimd4

This game blows, just downloaded it (thank God). Playstation/Xbox fanboy (controller) game. They have killed Dungeon Siege, unbelievable. Un-*******-believable.

rheinman
rheinman

I also don't like the characters design,..the spell & skills too color full,..and the weird thing is a clock up the character that's like they have to see the watch every times...

rheinman
rheinman

I wonder why obsidian?... they don't look forward for getting serious game play or replay ability in order to get best game made. look at diablo III or Sky rim, they don't hurry to release the game even we know they just could giving patch later or somethings like that...

MinerAvatar
MinerAvatar

Well I was going to get this game, I was really looking forward to dungeon crawling with my pals, not so sure now. If the multiplayer has online only characters that you can save your level and what you loot, thats fine. Now if its like what the article says, its a pro bono thing where you can't save jack and the host gets to use eveything in thier offline game and you don't, I'll pass. Ahhhhh ... blood pressure rising ........ Rant time if its pro bono ...... Why would you make a co-op action RPG that dosen't allow you to gain experience for yourself or even keep your found loot when it's played in online co-op? I thinks it even worse because the host gets to keep everything that you all did together for themselves, what are they thinking? If I go up 5 levels and find a really great weapon for my character at the end of a long session, I want to keep and use everything for next time. What I don't want is to waste my time leveling up, and finding loot I can't use again! Ohhhhh .......... Blood pressure stabilizing ....... Rant over. The article mentioned Boderlands, one reason it was fun because everything you did with your charater, online or offline, you got to keep and use however you wanted to.

jacekkaminski
jacekkaminski

Ok, I buy the game, and gonna play to.I'm caine off the game collector,got so mutch games already byed,but dont play them.maybe sometimes ?

ProxThotz
ProxThotz

The only thing I have to say is that I will be first (and if I take the majority of the comments here to heart, the only) person in line to get this game. Even if the game turns out to be lamentable, I will continue to vote with my dollar for this genre of game. By not rewarding them for their attempts, we are just providing them with excuses to quit trying altogether. I just hope that by doing this, they won't take it as a license to keep putting out mediocre if not deplorable multi-player hack-n-slash content. Sometimes I'd really like to be able to sit down and have a good chat with the majority of the decision makers in the industry, and failing that, maybe bending them over my knee for a good spanking. Still keeping the dream alive.... P.S. I still haven't seen any rpg's that can handle 4 players on one unit since the ps2. Did it all of a sudden become "too hard" to make them for this console generation, or are they intentionally trying to keep my other two controllers under a generous layer of dust?

jacekkaminski
jacekkaminski

What a sin :( they made from dungeon siege III a console game :( hopefully they gonna make a patch for de PC.till this time we gonna back to part II and torchlight , waiting for diablo:)

Gourmaillon
Gourmaillon

oh and the cam angles are awful. i played with the fire char and you cant see very far ahead so long range is; run in and get attacked then run back and shoot them, which dosnt work so well with the ocasional overpowered boss fight as you die instantly.

Gourmaillon
Gourmaillon

DONT BOTHER BUYING IT! its not dungeon siege. its a lame ass consol port. it sucks. im playing at at the moment and theres so many faults! the items are almost all char specific so its very limited. the graphics are ok but not what you would expect. a lot of stuttering and i get far too much bloom and blur effects (and yes iv tweeked the settings in the program file as the ingame options were rubbish.) the story is really weak and has some really cheesy characters. really unhelpful if you get stuck on somthing too. basically, if you REALLY want to waste a few hours of your life, torrent it. its a small file size too. but its not worth the walk to to the shops..

mjalghum
mjalghum

I strongly agree with (questclub) comment posted Jun 10, 2011 5:14 am PT "Just had a look at the game itself. Stuttering sound and clumsy controls killed the game for me. I pass." The bad controls stole the fun in battles and the constant need to rotate the screen using the A and D keys was really annoying. The inability to individually target enemies made gameplay look routine and lame. Stuttering sound hurt the game a lot and I was very surprised and disappointed to see it in a game made by / associated with Obsidian. Inventory system and the character development screens are a bit confusing. This game is in no way a Dungeon Siege game. My rating for the game is 4/10 at best.

Stockdogg2003
Stockdogg2003

All I can say is...save your money and buy Dungeon Hunter for $12 if you haven't already! I played this demo for 3 minutes before continuing on my DH game with my 2 friends!! Dungeon Seige 1, made 10 years ago, IS A BETTER GAME THAN THIS CRAHP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kazumashadow
kazumashadow

I downloaded the demo and finded it very fun, the looting and combat is pretty good and the fact that they included local multiplayer, even if for only 2 persons only makes it better. I didn't like that in online multiplayer you dont keep what you find but despite this i think ill buy it

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

and im pissed cause i wanted a better graphics NWN-like game.

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

it sucks that because this game will be bad, other developers will look at it's sales and make fewer RPG's.....just because an RPG sells badly, maybe it's because it's bad, not because there is no one buying RPG's.

jpsaply
jpsaply

DS3 is a disappointment. At least what was in the demo and I dont see it getting better. Story is bland. The use of premade characters only, so no customization. The fighting was a typical boxed in hack and slash leaving very little variety of skills and a lack of strategy needed to win.When you die, there is no consequence. No reload last save. After you die you respawn not to far from where you were fighting, and those mobs you already killed, are still dead. Its like they didnt try to make it somewhat challenging. They should have just given you God Mode. Sum up...Boring, no think fighting mechanic, simple.

Toxicum_S
Toxicum_S

Shame on you, Sqenix and Obsidian - its not a Dungeon Siege, its not a RPG, its not a good game even. Gimmick playable characters, bland story and worthless loot( its even looks all the same ) . Why, oh why do yo decide to fix what never broke and instead of hack-and-slash create arcade crap ? IMHO, disappointment of the year.

Cinetyk
Cinetyk

Played the demo and was disappointed. Back in the day, DS1 was one of my first RPGs and I have very fond memories of it. The gameplay was fluid, effective and fun, and the story had nice touches in it. DS2 was more or less the same experience. In DS3, instead of controlling the party in a 3rd person-esque mode, clicking where to go, clicking the targets for attacking, magic spelling, using items, you control one character with the WASD keys (A and D to rotate the camera) and basically hack and slash. Because of this, while your enemies move you have to rotate yourself, making it harder to it right. I really don't like it. I haven't played many rpgs in recent years, but why not keep the interface similar to DS1? It was fun and effective. Also, limited Y-axis view makes you miss a lot of what seem very nice environments. I was looking forward to continuing my DS1 & 2 experiences, but this demo is very off-putting.

Traviankocsog
Traviankocsog

could any1 complete the "into the mournweald " quest??? cuz I fraking can 't . Pls pm me

questclub
questclub

Just had a look at the game itself. Stuttering sound and clumsy controls killed the game for me. I pass.

majere613
majere613

Have to agree in part with @WraithRyder and @lowkey254 - the design of DS3 is definitely very much console-focused, to the detriment of the PC version. In the PC demo, the controls on mouse and keyboard feel very forced and awkward, with too many actions relying on holding down multiple keys at once. I'm not a huge DS fan, and I actually quite enjoyed the demo, so I'll take a punt on the Ps3 version, but were I an old school DS fan, I think I'd be pretty cross. BTW, I also agree that Anjali's voice sounds very odd. I can only hope it's on purpose given her nature.

WraithRyder
WraithRyder

I played the downloadable demo from Steam last night and was not impressed. In fact I couldn't wait to finish the demo. The graphics were good but nothing spectacular. The other sound effects weren't bad but the voice overs for a few characters sounded like they were recorded in a tank. My main disappointment was the mechanics of the game (moving the character, combat, and inventory screens) all felt awkward. Character development appeared to have some potential in choosing skills and proficiencies and I was a little intrigued by the whole yin-yang they had going on there bug overall not enough to get me excited about the game. I'm a huge RPG and MMO fan and played the previous DS games but this one I'm not going to bother with.

econ5000
econ5000

really? No helmets? No change in armor visuals? I'm going by images and some comments here... hope I'm wrong though, was looking forward to the game, but won't bother if my char will look the same from beginning to end

Lunatic_Sane
Lunatic_Sane

What logic are they using to nerf one of their own features, "no xp of loot for online co-op play". That's sales revenue lost right there.

Vlaimir_Lem86
Vlaimir_Lem86

From what i can tell, the story doesnt link into the two previous games and DS2's BS expansion, this makes me sad. Correct me if im wrong. But i loved the original games, and their story. Customization doesnt really bother me when it comes to creating characters, but i hope to see to at least some extent, the story link with the previous games.

tonkaicr
tonkaicr

the multiplayer in this game is going to be pointless hope this disapointment is reflected in the sales

andersonhm
andersonhm

Saidrex "Thats not DS anymore! Rest in peace." Amen! And deliman, about the song, what could you wait from a square-enix game?

Crudmo
Crudmo

I have been waiting for this one, as a fan of the originals.. game-play looks solid but I'm already disappointed about some of there decisions such as the lack of visual customization and basically loot-less online play.. hmm..

GreyFoXX4
GreyFoXX4

Don't like the idea, that online play doesn't give xp or loot items. Why not just make it where you play online to do the story and if someone joins they do, if not they don't. But your story progression still continues on. You know like Dungeon Hunter: Alliance.

Kiriyama12
Kiriyama12

looks good to me, I'm getting this because it's a third person game, I'm getting tired of so many FPS not that i hate them, just not all at once (Currently playing: Darksiders)

deliman
deliman

i'm sorry, but the music in that video is really...gay...for lack of a better term.

ProjektInsanity
ProjektInsanity

@zakaweb Totally agreed, for all of the reasons you stated. I think the modern decision is really "Why SHOULDN'T a developer allow customization?". Unless the character is really fueling the story (think Dante from Devil May Cry), I just can't see a good reason not to allow the player to feel more immersed in the experience. Obsidian claims this will be story driven, and we'll see, but I question whether it will be SO story driven that your own customized character couldn't stand in place of the pre-created ones and have roughly the same effect. Time will tell. @servb0ts I find you ridiculous. When I come home from work and boot up the PS3, I'm not playing for charity. Honestly, with only minor insult intended, you just sound foolish. Why berate other players because *gasp* they, like the host, want to benefit from the time they put into a game? This is easily the most short-sighted, lazy aspect of DS3. Obsidian can claim all the excuses it wants, from "it's easy to hop in and out this way" to "it streamlines the gaming experience," but bad design is bad design. I hated "co-op" in Fable 2, and I hate the thought of it here. It takes co-op gaming back to the 90's for no appreciable reason. Luckily I'll be playing locally with another player, so I can skip that nonsense.

Davo-C
Davo-C

wtf? no loot for people who arn't hosting? what the...... Looks like there is going be heaps of hosted 1/4 games..

Dordledum
Dordledum

am getting this, but very anxious to see how much they deviate from the predecessors.

mu57ang
mu57ang

Another point and click P.O.S. Games are too bloody stagnant now a days... It's either a First Person Shooter, Fantasy RPG (Dragons and mages bull*) Developers don't know business at all. people would kill for a starwars action game or a ninja gaiden esque game on the pc. Imagine a free roaming game like godfather 2 and prototype in a starwars game. where you have planets equivalent to the 3 cities and a jedi with powers equivalent to prototype or infamous. Couple that with space travel and a kick ass lightsaber combat system. You're entering the best games list of all time. It's right in front of then yet they fail to see it. You want an example? Look at brink. Why did it fail? The fact that crysis2, homefront, BF2: Vietnam, COD: Escalation etc all came out before it? Now i'am not saying they're top notch stuff, But you cram the market with so many FPS's eventually people get sick of it. I know i did. We need innovator's in the gaming industry. not just storytellers like Bioware. With the failure of dragon age 2 which gave then 2 years development time. I highly doubt the success of mass effect 3 which got only 1 year. Don't get me wrong story of ME 1 and 2 was fantastic. But most people held off buying it due to the fact that gameplay was reduced... Understand this, I buy a game to PLAY it not READ a facking story, so while i accept essentials of a story i prefer gameplay more any day. If i wanted a story i would rent a facking movie. i don't need to blow 60$ for that

Saidrex
Saidrex

Thats not DS anymore! Rest in peace.

SSeetoh
SSeetoh

I doubt it will be the same as DS2, its going to be very different, in a bad way.. Just look at it?? sword hits look so.. cheesy

guitarist1980
guitarist1980

I will buy this game because I love Action RPG's but the Co-op just seems like a poor or lazy implementation.

megakick
megakick

this game is more story and i don't think the devs wanted people to get geared in one party and then go back to your game and breeze through the game. i guess its' hard to balance this and make the game worth while for some players. The story in WOW and most dungeon crawlers is static and has almost no effect on the game, maybe the story in this game will actually be worth while.

cprmauldin
cprmauldin

This looks like it could be a blast, probably not a first day buy for me, but I'll probably have in my collection once there is a price drop.

-Saigo-
-Saigo-

So...rather than getting better gear / loot to encourage teaming up and playing multi-player...Obsidian has thrown away the proven formula for what? I just don't understand the logic that went into that decision. Who in their right mind would play multi-player just to see the host gain all the xp and loot while being left with just the experience of playing with someone else?

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

I'm curious about the game, though it's a shame there's no character creation, never been fond of pre-mades as a whole. I prefer to have the say on my character as much as possible. And it being made by Obsidian has me unsure, the game might still be great, Obsidian are capable of making good games but they also tend to make games that are so filled with glitches and problems, or aren't even fully finished in their development, that it's hard to see the good when you encounter a lot of the bad. Still though it might be a good game, just a shame there's no character creation. Love having the chance to create my character to my liking - as long as there's gender choice instead of male only. Would have to try the game to see if it's any good.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

Still on the fence with this one. Can't say that I won't miss the character customization, but remember that Diablo II didn't have customization either and it turned out "just fine". :P Big question for me is which version, if any, to get, PS3 or PC? These days it seems that most of the PC originals tend to ditch the platform and focus on the consoles, then get a sh*tty port to PC.

TrinityChica14
TrinityChica14

i hope they can successfully make this transition to the PS3 because this game looks great and i would love to play it on my PS3 as long as it doesn't suck compared to the PC

servb0ts
servb0ts

"Very disappointed that there is no real incentive to engage in the co-op multiplayer since the only person that benefits is the person that hosts the session." ^^This here is ridiculous, and selfish.

Sannom
Sannom

@stain1ess : "Very disappointed that there is no real incentive to engage in the co-op multiplayer since the only person that benefits is the person that hosts the session." Again : the host doesn't 'benefit' anymore than the other players. This isn't Diablo 2, this is more like Baldur's Gate : Dark Alliance or the multiplayer to the original Baldur's Gate, 1 & 2.

zakaweb
zakaweb

Having the ability to control the character physical appearance has been one of the greatest advancements in gaming when it comes to creating a connection to the character in my opinion. I may not want to play as an old man or women. Maybe I want my character to have my ethnicity. I can still enjoy games without this but games that have deep character customization are better for it.

davor_25
davor_25

@SSeetoh Yeah, consolization ftl

SSeetoh
SSeetoh

this is gona suck big time, you wana know why cos its on the ps3 and xbox too