Atari is showing off several of its new and upcoming games at this year's Gen Con Indy 2003 consumer show. Though the show is mainly intended for fans of tabletop and collectible-card games, Atari has seen fit to bring its officially licensed Dungeons & Dragons hack-and-slash game to demonstrate to the show's attendees.
The Xbox-exclusive game seems to be coming along extremely well. According to producer Constantine Hantzopolous, the game is currently in a content-complete alpha state, and the development team is in the process of polishing the code, fixing bugs, and making gameplay tweaks to ensure that the game remains balanced. The game itself seems very far along, and it plays extremely well--it has a fast pace and its controls seem extremely responsive. The A button is used to deliver a basic melee attack, while the X, Y, and B buttons can be mapped to various other attacks and skills, including magic spells, such as the wizard's magic missile; heroic feats, such as the dwarf cleric's bull rush ability; and miscellaneous attacks, such as tossing a throwing dagger. As we noticed, some characters move faster than others--the swift human warrior can often outpace the slow-moving dwarf cleric, so it's a good thing that you can pull up a minimap at any time by tapping up on the right analog stick. The minimap doesn't seem to show a lot of territory at one time, but it clearly indicates your next goal.
The game will not support online multiplayer on Xbox Live in the interest of focusing on fast-paced, same-screen multiplayer for up to four players. However, according to Hantzopolous, the team is very interested in Xbox Live multiplayer support for larger groups of players in a single game session (16 or more), and should the development team be afforded the opportunity to work on a sequel, Xbox Live support would definitely be a priority. Dungeons & Dragons Heroes is scheduled for release at the end of September.