Inside Pulse 12

Preview: Dungeon Defenders II (PC)

Dungeon Defenders IIDungeon Defenders II
Developer: Trendy Entertainment
Publisher: Trendy Entertainment
Genre: Strategy
Release Date: December 5, 2014 – Now Available in Early Access

I loved the first Dungeon Defenders–absolutely loved it–which is why I was surprised when I didn’t know that Dungeon Defenders II was a thing, and that it was coming out on Steam Early Access. We were offered a code right before I had to go to Germany for a week, so I said I’d get on it as soon as I got back. I was happy to see the game kept its beautiful “cartoony” graphical style and entertaining music and sound effects, as well as its sense of humor. What follows is my single-player experience, and hopefully within the next few weeks I will be able to expand on my multiplayer experiences.

There are some important differences between the first Dungeon Defenders game and what we see so far of the second. One of the easiest differences to spot is the changes with mana. In the first game, mana was used for everything: building defense towers, using spells, and purchasing items. In this game, however, mana has been split into building mana and spell mana, and gold is used for purchasing items. Leveling up and assigning skills has also changed from the first game, to mixed reviews: some seem to enjoy the new system, while others seem to be disappointed with what they feel is a lack of customization. I personally want to wait until the leveling system has been tweaked a bit more, but from my own experience, I understand both sides. On the one hand, the newer leveling system has potential, but I also really liked the old system. As the game develops, I will probably be better able to make a comparison and form an opinion. In this instance, it feels a little too early to tell.

Dungeon Defenders IIWhen I played the first Dungeon Defenders game, I praised the game’s learning curve, and that the game still allowed for creativity when beating levels and an increase in difficulty as you progress in the game. This seems to still be the case with Dungeon Defenders II. The game is not difficult to learn, but it still has potential for difficulty, though at the moment I haven’t run into much on the single-player side of things. It’s a little early to tell exactly how much the maps will vary, but so far, the ten maps that are available have feel different from one another and offer different challenges. Additionally, each map will have multiple difficulty levels, which should help. The addition of new enemies and sub-objectives (like protecting certain structures) should add to the strategical difficulty as well, which excites me because one of the things I loved about the first game was the creativity players could bring to each map. The destruction of a sub-objective will change the map, forcing players to change their strategies.

Trendy also boasts that multiplayer offers the ability for the combination of different elements in order to do more damage and get extra experience and gold. Like its predecessor, I found myself putting in more hours than I had intended to when I sat down, and I imagine that once I get into the thick of things regarding multiplayer, even more of my time will be sucked up by the game. I prefer playing with people I know a lot more than random strangers, but if Trendy are able to implement some of the quality controls for players that they want, I think it might be a bit more appealing to play with strangers than it was for me in the last game.

Dungeon Defenders IIOne of the complaints I had with the first Dungeon Defenders was that the camera angles could get awkward. I still had a few issues with this and ended up putting a trap on a bridge no enemies were going to walk over but overall, so far, I’ve had fewer issues with that particular problem. But because this is in Early Access, there are bound to be bugs. I had issues installing the game; it took three tries, with different error messages each time. However, once I got the game installed, my biggest problem was that sometimes the game would run slowly or I would get disconnected, which is something other people have mentioned, probably because they’re still working on servers (they only recently added Oceania servers, for instance). Trendy appears to be on top of fixing a lot of the more major issues, like the occasional deletion of profiles when players would transition from gameplay to the entry tavern, or the more hilarious “entering the tavern and falling through the game world” glitch. Thankfully I’ve been able to avoid most of those bugs.

Dungeon Defenders IIWhile some will balk at paying $25 to be what amounts to Trendy Entertainment’s beta testers, especially since the game will be free-to-play, that $25 is not without bonuses: it does also get you $30 in-game currency once the game launches and an exclusive Hero Embellishment Set, which is also not available at the moment. Obtaining Early Access status also allows you to have a direct influence on the way the game develops, which Trendy has been pretty good about responding to, from what I’ve seen in their blogs and on the Steam community page. Of course, you can also upgrade to the Collector’s Edition for even more game goodies. Acknowledging that those items are not in the game yet, Trendy does ask that people only get the Collector’s Edition if they’re enjoying the Early Access and want to further support the game. If they can keep the paid aspect of the game down to cosmetic changes, as they are currently claiming will be the case, I can be okay with in-game purchases and paid Early Access.

I look forward to seeing how the game develops and will do what I can to report bugs and suggest features. Trendy is utilizing an influence system which rewards people who play more with more influence points, which can then be used to vote on features or ideas, but of course anyone can submit a bug issue or a suggestion. While the game has a long way to go in order to be considered ready for launch, Trendy has some big plans for the game, including ways to control for people abusing the system (AFKers, for instance) and pets, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they pan out. The potential here is great, and I can’t wait to be there with them every step of the way.

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