Dungeon Lords Impressions

Designer D.W. Bradley is back with a new action role-playing game.


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When game players hear the term "action role-playing game," they usually think of overhead-view hack-and-slash games like Diablo, in which you play as a single character in search of treasures and experience levels, while quaffing healing potions like mad so as not to be killed by the armies of monsters that charge at you. Designer D.W. Bradley, whose previous work includes Wizards & Warriors and games from Sirtech's classic Wizardry role-playing series, is now working on an all-new action RPG with publisher DreamCatcher Games. However, this new game will put you in control of a highly detailed, fully 3D adventurer from a close-up, behind-the-back perspective and will let you use your reflexes to fight your way through a huge 3D world.

Even though it will be easy to pick up and play, Dungeon Lords will have plenty of depth.
Even though it will be easy to pick up and play, Dungeon Lords will have plenty of depth.

Though Dungeon Lords is still very early in development, it already features impressive-looking graphics, including a detailed 3D model for the main character who wears a tabard that sways in the wind. We were able to see a few different areas, including a forest full of tall, swaying grass and trees, a gloomy town lined with cobblestone streets, and a dark dungeon. In the early version of the game that we saw, the main character was self-illuminated and cast realistic soft shadows along the walls of the town and dungeon. Each of these environments seemed impressively detailed, and the final game's environments will apparently allow for some kind of random level generation so that you won't always be going through the same level each time through the game.

Apparently, Bradley's goal with Dungeon Lords is to preserve the depth of an epic role-playing game but to present this depth as simply as possible. So, the game will feature eight playable races of characters (including nonhuman characters with superhuman abilities, like the ability to see in the dark), along with male and female variants, plus an in-depth magic spell system. However, the game's easy-to-use control system will let you control your character with the WASD keys on your keyboard, like a first-person shooter, and use your left mouse button to swing your weapon and your right mouse button to block incoming attacks with your shield. The idea is to reward skillful players by letting them gain experience levels and treasure from fallen enemies more quickly than less-skilled players, who will likely want to adopt a more-cautious approach. Since the game is being built from the ground up to be fast-paced and accessible, DreamCatcher is very seriously considering the possibility of a console version of the game as well.

This massive troll is just one of the enemies you'll face.
This massive troll is just one of the enemies you'll face.

You'll see plenty of different kinds of enemies in the game, including decrepit mummies and gigantic trolls. In one level, we came upon a huge, brutish troll chained to a post in the middle of a town and watched it be set free by having its chains hacked away with a sword. In tough battles like these, you'll want help in the form of summoned allies, which can be conjured forth using one of the game's many magic spells. While the game will offer you a variety of different ways to specialize your character, you'll find added depth in the eight-player online multiplayer modes, which will let you take on the various levels cooperatively. Considering its impressive graphics, easy-to-use control scheme, and online multiplayer, the game has a lot of potential, and if it realizes this potential, Dungeon Lords will offer a great-looking hack-and-slash experience. The game is scheduled to ship later this year.

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