GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Dungeon Siege II Hands-On Impressions - E3 2004

We spend some time with the upcoming sequel to Gas Powered Games' hack-and-slash role-playing game.


Microsoft Game Studios has Gas Powered Games' upcoming hack-and-slash role-playing sequel at E3 2004. The new game will be built on the existing engine that powered both the original Dungeon Siege and its expansion pack. Though it will feature some visual enhancements, lead designer Kevin Lambert explained that the sequel's real improvements will be made to its gameplay. Specifically, Dungeon Siege II will feature a more complex story with major characters that are driven by individual motivations. Like in the original game, you may meet other characters who will join your adventuring party, but they won't simply accept your offer at once and then fall into line as silent, mindless thralls. They'll instead offer continuous conversation and may have agreements--or disagreements--with other characters that join your party. Furthermore, their particular motivations may also open up optional quests for you later on in the game.

Like in the previous games, Dungeon Siege II will let you customize your character's appearance by choosing different hairstyles and starting clothing. You'll also be able to play as one of four different races: humans, elves, dryads, and half-giants. The E3 demonstration opened with an in-engine cinematic sequence that showed an army of winged humanoids flying through the sky escorting a dragon, which, in turn, bore a huge steel vessel. The dragon landed and laid the vessel on the ground. The vessel slid open to reveal an army of ornery mercenaries, including our own character. According to the game's story, you'll begin your adventures as a moneygrubbing sell-sword in the service of an evil warlord. However, over the course of your adventures, you'll experience a change of heart and will begin working against him.

In addition to an improved story, Dungeon Siege II will also feature deeper, more-interactive gameplay in the form of a modified combat system that will require more thought and input. Lambert candidly admitted that more than one member of the Dungeon Siege fan community had raised the issue that the original game practically seemed to play itself, since characters could simply be set to auto-attack and left alone to fight the game's many monsters. As such, the new game will have an enhanced character development system that figures in a new set of skills. While the original game's basic character classes of fighter, ranger, earth magic user, and combat magic user will be carried over to the sequel, the new system will feature a branching tree for each class that, for instance, lets fighters specialize in a sword-and-shield style, a two-handed-weapon style, or a dual-weapon fighting style. The game will also have an all-new set of "powers," which are exceptionally potent one-off abilities that may not be used often. Once used, these abilities must "refresh." As a result, you must wait for them to replenish themselves before using them again. Using your individual party members' powers in sequence can turn the tide of battle in an instant. For example, using a fighter's stunning-attack power briefly incapacitates a group of enemies within a small radius. This small radius is about the same size as the one created by a combat mage's conflagration power, which summons an extremely damaging burst of flame that is capable of leveling most low-level enemies immediately.

Our hands-on time with the game included the opening sequence of the game, which acted as an optional tutorial. We started in the mercenary camp and made our way through a few preliminary fights using the game's highly accessible control scheme. By default, the control scheme in Dungeon Siege II lets you left-click your mouse to move to specific destinations. Additionally, you use the W, A, S, and D keys to scroll and rotate the camera (the mouse scrollwheel also serves this purpose). We were also able to use the Z key to order our character to automatically pick up any items lying on the ground, like in the original game. The hack-and-slash gameplay we saw in our time with the game seemed slightly faster-paced, and the game's brief cinematic sequences seemed to fit seamlessly into the action.

Dungeon Siege II seems like a promising sequel indeed, especially since the final game will offer scripting tools that will provide the Dungeon Siege fan community with even more control over creating custom content. The game is scheduled for release later this year.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 1 comments about this story