Dragonshard is a cool combination of real-time strategy and role-playing gameplay that delivers something new and engaging to an otherwise stale genre.
- Innovative and engaging blend of strategy and role-playing
- Interesting D&D setting and universe
- Great graphics with excellent monsters.
- Short There are only 2 campaigns, yet 3 different factions
- Wish that you could carry over weapons and equipment.
It's a strange thought, but after a decade of real-time strategy, no one has bothered to make an actual D&D-based real-time strategy game. Oh, there have been countless real-time strategy games that clone D&D, but not an actual D&D game. That's now changed with Dragonshard, the latest game from Liquid Entertainment. And before you think that this is a standard, formulaic real-time strategy game, think again. Yes, it could have been easy to make a cookie-cutter RTS game featuring a good chunk of creatures from the latest edition of D&D's Monster Manual, but the folks at Liquid have done far better than that. By taking inspiration from D&D's role-playing roots, Liquid has made an RTS that's both interesting and new. More importantly, it's fun to play.
The basics of Dragonshard are fairly standard for the genre, but it's not until you get into the game that you discover something different. Set in D&D's Eberron campaign, Dragonshard tells the familiar tale of a great and powerful McGuffin that three factions are battling to possess. There's the Order of the Flame, an alliance of the various good races; the lizardfolk, who all descended from lizards that were mutated by the Heart of Siberys (the aforementioned McGuffin); and finally, there are the umbragen, a dark and sinister faction that lives in the vast underworld of Eberron. This underworld actually plays a key role in Dragonshard, as one of the features of the Eberron universe is that the world is split between the surface and the underworld, and the game takes full advantage of this fact.
What makes Dragonshard different is that it combines a lot of cool concepts from earlier real-time strategy games and then blends the resulting combination with D&D-style role-playing. In essence, it literally is a role-playing strategy game of sorts, with the surface portion of the world focused on real-time strategy, and the underworld, which deals with role-playing. And yet, the gameplay is subtly tied together, so that what you do in one plane has huge consequences in the other.
The surface portion feels and plays a lot like a traditional RTS, but one that's heavily influenced by the excellent Kohan games. For example, instead of being able to build a huge base anywhere on the map, you are limited to a fixed-sized base on certain points of the map. This base-building mechanic requires a lot of strategy on your part, because each base has only 16 building slots that are divided into blocks of four. What you build on those blocks determines the type of units that you construct, as well as the experience level those units can attain.
For example, if you construct a lorehold, you can recruit clerics. Now, here's where the role-playing aspect of the game kicks in, because when your faction kills enemy units, you gain experience. You can then use that experience to advance your clerics up to level 2. However, if you want to raise your clerics up to level 3, you'll need to build a second lorehold adjacent to the first one. If you want your clerics to max out at level 5, you'll need to construct four loreholds on a single block. And since you have a limited number of building slots, you need to decide what kind of army you want, because you can't have everything at once.
In order to even construct buildings, you need resources, which come in the form of gold and dragonshards, a magical element. Technically, there is an unlimited number of resources in each level, since you slowly generate gold automatically (think of it as tax revenue), while dragonshards periodically rain down from the skies and replenish the supply on the surface. However, the way Dragonshard is designed is that in order to accumulate enough gold to win, you need to take your units and adventure down to the underworld, where the role-playing comes into effect.
One of our biggest complaints about most real-time strategy games is that they, almost universally, feature levels where you're not allowed to actually build anything. Instead, you're given a predetermined group of units and then you have to jump through the hoops that the level designer wants you to. There's not much strategy involved in this process, and you're reduced to basically being a rat in a literal maze. However, Dragonshard actually makes these experiences fun, because instead of being treated like a rat in a maze, you feel more like you're playing a traditional RPG. While you're in the underground, you're slaying monsters, gathering loot, undergoing quests, disabling traps, and leveling up to become even more powerful.
- Player Reviews: 53
- Game Universe:
- Dungeons & Dragons Heroes (XBOX, GC, PS2),
- Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone (PS2, XBOX, PC),
- Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale (PC, PS3, X360),
- Dungeons & Dragons Online: Forsaken Lands (PC),
- Dungeons & Dragons Tactics (PSP),
- Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach (PC, MAC),
- Dragonshard (PC),
- Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder (GBA),
- Dungeons & Dragons Collection (SAT),
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Iron & Blood (PC)
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
8 Players Online