Hands-On With Dungeon Siege

We get a closer look at Chris Taylor's Dungeon Siege.

One of the most anticipated games at Gamestock was Chris Taylor's Dungeon Siege. This game is being billed as an RPG with strategy elements. After the presentation of Dungeon Siege, we delved a little deeper into the game. Here is what we learned.

Dungeon Siege will offer a fantasy-RPG experience in a beautiful 3D world. Many of the most noticeable enhancements are in the details. For instance, in almost all RPGs, when you sell back items to a shop, you're lucky to get 50 cents to the dollar. In Dungeon Siege, you can sell items for their full cost. So you can buy something, try it on, and if you don't like it, sell it back for full price. You can also aggregate potions. If you have two half-full potions, you can combine them to save space in your pack. Another great new feature is the pack mule. Rather than try to juggle a new inventory system or space, Taylor just opted to give you a pack mule for carrying even more items. Now, when you run out of space in your own inventory, you can simply place the excess in your pack mule's inventory.

We had the opportunity to witness another great Dungeon Siege feature: seamless transition from outdoor to indoor environments. We saw Taylor maneuver the main character from a countryside setting to a dungeon with zero pause and no visible signs of loading. Taylor says that as soon as the game starts, you will never see another loading screen. You'll begin as a simple farm boy whose chickens, cows, and livelihood have been destroyed by wicked marauders. Then it's off to exact vengeance and embark on a life of hack-and-slash adventure.

The game's 3D camera allows zooming and rotating of the view, but the default appears to be a top-down view. The graphical detail and special effects are eye-catching even at this stage of early development. Although the engine is tile-based, the graphics are so seamless that you won't be able to tell.

Some of Taylor's design ideas carry over from Total Annihilation to Dungeon Siege. Key among them are customizability and the option to play a number of different ways. You can manipulate the already- minimalist interface, moving the task bar up or down and dragging and dropping your character portraits. The portraits themselves are clean and Spartan, with a character face, hit-point bar, and the equipped weapon. You can also drag and drop items from the ground onto your character and set waypoints and formations.

The formations come in handy, because your party can grow to up to ten individuals. We saw a male warrior, a female archer, and a robed mage in the demonstration. There will be many other character types, and they will all have special abilities.

Dungeon Siege will support up to ten players over a LAN or the MS Gaming Zone. You'll have to wait until the game ships in 2001 to play it. In the meantime, view these screens and stay tuned for more news, previews, and interviews in the coming months.

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