Every now and then a game comes along and makes you think, why arent all the other developers making games like this? I got that chill down my spine when I was playing Trendy Entertainments Dungeon Defenders, their first title being a seven-course meal of MMO Tower Defense. I mean, Im no stranger to this genre, I play every game under the sun that has me destroying waves upon waves of oncoming retarded AI NPCs, and I even had a week with a great entry in the genre in Orcs Must Die! last week, but like all tower defense games, it started to get stale after a while.
With Dungeon Defenders though, 30 hours of gameplay later and Ive only scratched the surface, and it costs about as much as a large pizza. Hows that for value in this era of gaming?
Your dungeon is rated E for everyone as far as Im concerned. The violence has no limbs flying, very little blood if any, and monsters just fall to the ground in a heap when impaled by ballistae. Of course, you are playing a team game online, so you dont know what obscenities will be yelled at you into the headset.
Gameplay - 87 / 100
more meat on its bones than any other title this year.
First you have to pick from four classes that
each play completely differently
is your typical mage,
with a variety of basic
ranged towers, and his combat spells can be charged up for much greater
and effects. Also
sports the fastest
repair and placement rate of the four, and can jack it up further in
things are looking extremely
dire, the Apprentice can blow everything to holy hell with a high cost
is a melee powerhouse,
with high health and the abiliy
to go berserk for more damage later on.
He can block with his alternate attack, but I hope you
have some backup
for flying foes, as you have no ranged attack whatsoever. style=""> Most of the Squires
towers are melee range,
and those that arent require precise placement for either impalement
case of the Ballista, or working downstairs physics in the case of the
is your typical ranged
badass, but her towers
arent towers at all, but traps. Anyone
on your team can trigger them for maximum effect... or minimum if theyre
clueless and knock a single opponent into a giant proximity bomb. She has a
clip of sorts that
she needs to reload in her weapon, which is capable of rapid fire and
arrows that devastate everyone in a line.
Shes also capable of invisibility to get into or out
is a bit of a strange
onehes considered the
hardest to play for good reason.
towers arent even towers, but large auras that damage, confuse, slow,
and more. His
abilities are just that as
well, for heroes or towers respectively.
Hes both melee and ranged combat capable, so you have
ton of flexibility
on how to build a Monk. This class is also your only healer and
debuffer, so hes
absolutely essential for tackling difficult bosses.
Much like the MMORPG classes of this type,
theyre always in demand and never in your party when you need them.
So once youve got a hero in mind,
you need to decide if youre
going for the top in Open or Ranked play.
Its just like Diablo 2s battle.net
can be used with local and
modified characters, and Ranked is all saved on their secure servers
only way to get your name on those sexy leaderboards that are placed in
stage. You want
your name there as people
have to stare at it every time they want to change gear in the middle
stage. Just dont
think youre besting
imagine tens of thousands of
players who have to stare at this every time they play. I've
left my mark on the game. Can you leave yours?
Finally when it gets down to the
action, weve got your
typical tower defense formulayouve got some time to place towers,
trigger the oncoming hordes.
good variety of enemies, and each one will get upgraded over time to
versions over the course of a stage.
Take the Mages for instance.
sit at a distance, casting wide area heals, summoning mean skeletons,
eventually they reach critical mass if left alone where they have so
running around that they overwhelm your tower setup.
Thats where you come in.
Youve got a weapon, and you know how to use it. style=""> Each class can
beat some ass when necessary,
and with the level up system giving you full control over how your
increase, you can build a hero to do nothing BUT annihilate in toe to
combat. Of course,
you can also build
for maximum damage or durability towers.
I say durability because if the monsters spot something
thats in their
way, they will remove it with force!
worry, you can repair mid-fight, but getting hit by archers will
and there are plenty of them.
enemies move towards a goal,
eventually youll run
into stages with multiple goals, and theres even a challenge stage
goal moves! This is
where your buddies
come in. All
facets of the game can be
played with up to 3 others. Defending
most maps solo will be a huge pain, but when you have multiple allies,
and tower types, you can build some sick defenses and slug it out with
increasing hordes. Unlike
most games of
this nature, there isnt some artificial % based increase in health or
for having more players in your game.
Dungeon Defenders, the only thing
that changes is the number of enemies that spawn.
You have to have enough kobold guts to go
around, you see? The one exception is boss health, which I'll
forgive, because the boss fights are awesome.
A quick sample of the second boss. You have to deal with monsters continually spawning while the boss is alive, so it can quickly become a do or die scenario, and someone has to keep repairing and maintaining your tower setups. As a Squire like I am, my job is to get in there, dish it out, and block damage where I can to halt the boss's advance and keep it in range of all of our death dealing towers.
Each wave is split into a build phase of setup, repair, currency collection, and also item scavenging. You have equipment in this game. Equipment has base stats, but also can have a great effect on your heros stats as well, much like precious sets in Diablo or WoW. Most equipment can be upgraded, which functions as a big currency sink in the economy but offers one interesting rewarda maxed out item can be renamed to your liking or style. You can even drop and trade any gear in the game, there is no silly bind on equip nonsense in this game. Anything you acquire has value to a vendor or someone else!
So with the gear factor, its time to talk about how deep this game really is. Youve got 13 campaign maps, 1 bonus map, and 13 respective challenge maps with crazy variety like goblins raining from the sky, or mobile goals as mentioned before. Each of these has four difficulty settings, ranging from new to the veteran, and of course the insane. Im no stranger to Tower Defense and Medium has given my team a run for their money several times. If you just want to go nuts, infinite survival is available on all maps, as is strategic survival, which is a more traditional tower defense with no blocking and no interaction with the enemies.
Now throw in a transparent developer who lets people know of future events as free dlc, is releasing a SDK and will be supporting mods and total conversions, and adding campaign and challenge maps regularly, and weve got a game that is not going to get stale anytime soon. The heart and soul of a quality TD game is variety, and Dungeon Defenders has all of the tools to keep people up until 5 AM on a regular basis.
Such a stellar set of gameplay tools is not without a few minor flaws, though. For those of you coming from other action tower games, your character moves rather anemically until you get some hero points in Speed. This is especially prevalent if you're playing singleplayer, which I do not advise at all. Theres also the fact that each class only has 5 towers and 2 special abilities. While they can be used in multiple ways, and built for in hero stats differently, it would be nice to have some more toys. The developers might have anticipated this though, and have added all kinds of unique effects to weapons such as multiple projectiles per attack, chainsaw sound effects, and more to keep you interested in getting in the action personally.
Graphics - 87 / 100
Youve got an awfully pretty game on your hands here. If youre not sold on the smooth animation, just take a look at each stage. Each stage is built on an entirely different tileset from the looks of it, and has details all over rather than just being a series of corridors and choke points. Spell and tower impact effects are rather subdued, but its better to be able to see what is going on in a game as challenging as this. In addition, Dungeon Defenders is not a hardware intensive game if you need to run it on an old laptop. Just lower your settings and you'll be kililng with the best of them, albeit at lower resolution and detail.
But maxed out, it's hard to argue with a bright and beautiful shot like this.
Sound - 70 / 100
One of the weak spots in this game is in the sound effects department. Some effects ring true, like a sword cutting through tens of monsters at once. Others sound pitiful, like the gatling gun, which sounds like a crappy paintball gun rather than a lead dispenser. There is some music repetition, but the music in the game definitely does a good job of trying to make your combat feel epicif you can hear it over the death and destruction! Voice work is very rare though aside from the occasional cutscene, but spot on when you hear it.
Multiplayer - 97 / 100
All of the right tools are in place to ensure fair and competitive multplayerleaderboards, secure trading, anti-griefing mechanics, and more. Getting into a game is quick and easy, and since every game is likely to have a different class makeup and especially hero builds, no two games will play out the same way. Throw in the huge amount of randomized loot and a handful of epic boss battles with strangers or buddies yelling over the integrated in-game voice, and youve got a blissful multiplayer experience.
It will only get better as the mods and additional content come out, hopefully.
Value - 97 / 100
At a lowly 15 bucks, and having more gameplay and replay value than every other offering in the genre or hell, even in the most of the gaming industry this year, its amazing what you can get out of this tiny little game. Near infinite tower and hero combinations, a variety of difficulty settings, good map variety and the limitless potential of total conversion modding this could be the best investment a fan of tower defense makes since Warcraft III.
Lasting Appeal - 95 / 100
Whether youre a fan of gearing out your heroes in the sickest stats or sexiest looking weapons, youll keep coming back to the variety of challenge maps, campaign difficulties, and they even have pure survival or classic strategy modes where the enemies ignore your towers and go to the goal. There is something here for everyone that loves defense games, and more importantly, its all done very well. If the modding community takes off, you might not have to load a Blizzard game ever again for your tower defense fix. Hell, you can even PvP with your characters in this if youre bored.
Pros and Cons
- Amazing graphical design/variety in the stages
- Four classes and infinite item and build loadouts for each class make no two games play out alike
- Strong multiplayer supporteven split screen!
- Id like more than 5 towers per classbut the game is balanced around these 5, so its a minor complaint.
- Nowhere near as much fun alone. Stay away if you don't play well with others.
- Requires strong coordination on higher stages/difficulties,
which may be difficult for matchmaking games. Bring friends
if you can!
If you and some buddies are tower defense fans, youve probably found your fix for the foreseeable future in Dungeon Defenders. It may not have the same level of polish and speed as the comparable Orcs Must Die! reviewed last week, but the sheer depth and options for expansion, as well as the obvious multiplayer component will spur it to a much longer lifespan. What if you dont like tower defense games? Make a Squire, jack up your combat stats and play it like a brawler. Have friends build the tower setup and call out key targets like mages and suicide kobolds on the in-game voice. The possibilities are endless, and thats why this game is a resounding success.