E3 2002: Dungeon & Dragons Heroes preshow report

Infogrames is giving the first public demonstration of its upcoming action RPG at E3.

Shortly before E3, Infogrames announced Dungeons & Dragons Heroes for the Xbox and GameCube. This action RPG takes advantage of Infogrames' official Dungeons & Dragons license, and it uses this established universe as the basis for the game's monsters and its character skill system. The game is in development internally at Infogrames' Hunt Valley studio in Maryland, and one of the designers of Wizardry 8 is overseeing the project.

Dungeons & Dragons Heroes' gameplay focuses on action-oriented combat and character development. You can choose to play as one of four major Dungeons & Dragons character classes: fighter, cleric, wizard, and rogue. In the game's story, it's clear that each character is a potent hero who's been resurrected to vanquish the evil force threatening the land by collecting all the planar gems. Each hero type has around 40 combat moves, as well as a variety of special abilities. As your character advances, you'll gain access to branching system of skills and "feats" adapted from the D&D 3rd Edition rules. To further customize your character's abilities, there's a weapon upgrade system that lets you switch planar gems in and out of weapons to add bonus effects. There are also permanent rune stone upgrades that can be used to improve your base weapon directly.

The game's levels span a number of varied environments, ranging from dungeons to other planes of existence. For example, one of the environments is a castle that's magically suspended in the sky. The levels are populated with monsters from the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, so there should be plenty of diverse and challenging creatures to fight. The boss monsters are of an imposing scale, such as towering iron golems, fire-breathing golden dragons, and horrific beholders. Along your path, there'll be plenty of traps and treasure, but for more of a challenge, there'll also be secrets, bonuses, and rare items.

One of the game's main draws is its cooperative multiplayer component, which will let up to four players work together to complete the single-player quest. The character and combat systems seem well suited to cooperative play. Dungeons & Dragons Heroes is currently scheduled for release this fall. We'll have more details on it from E3.

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