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By Spencer . February 22, 2011 . 3:15pm
Square Enix and Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment are reviving the Dungeon Siege series with a story set decades after the events in Dungeon Siege II. The 10th Legion revitalized the Kingdom of Ehb after the War of Legions ushering a period of peace with the legionnaires in charge. After the king’s murder, thirty years prior to the events in Dungeon Siege III, Jeyne Kassynder turned the masses against the Legion. Hunted like animals, only a few members of the Legion survived and now live under the advice of Odo.
The build of Dungeon Siege III I played had two characters to choose Lucas Montbarron, son of a former Grand Master of the Legion, and Anjali, a fire elemental (called an archon in the game) who was raised by Odo. There are two other characters Square Enix is planning to reveal and it appears one of them uses guns. I saw gun equipment in the game and neither Lucas or Anjali could use those items. Aside from rings and amulets, weapons as well as armor are character specific. Dungeon Siege III does not have a character creation system. While you will meet all four characters in the story, you cannot switch between them after you select a lead character.
I got to experiment with Lucas and Anjali. Lucas is your standard in your face warrior. While he lacks range, his sword is deadly when it reaches an enemy. Like all characters in Dungeon Siege III, Lucas has two stances and holds two kinds of weapons. His short sword offers speedier, but less powerful attacks. Tap L1 and you switch to a powerful, but slower two-handed sword. Lucas can stun enemies with a shield bash in his short sword stance and close distance with a dashing attack when equipped with his two-handed sword. There is no delay when changing stances in Dungeon Siege III, so its possible to use Lucas’ dash skill to crash into a group of mercenaries, then switch to short sword to stun a group with his shield, and finally go back to the two-handed sword to deal greater damage. I found that technique was quite effective.
Anjali is a more versatile character with melee mode and fire magic. Armed with a polearm, Anjali has a bit more range (her attacks look like paintbrush strokes) than Lucas and has a butterfly kick to hit a line of enemies. Switch stances and Anjali lights up, literally. In archon form Anjali becomes a range character who throws fireballs and engulfs the ground she stands on in flames with her Aura of Immolation spell. I glanced down her proficiency tree and later on Anjali learns how to throw her spear, create a pillar of fire, and summon a fire jackal. Being at the beginning of Dungeon Siege III, my strategy with her was creating a fire pit and switching into melee mode to finish enemies off standing on blazing ground.
Dungeon Siege III’s focus bar governs the use of spells and skills. This meter charges when you use regular attacks (X button). Using focus attacks fills master orbs, purple spheres that allow you to use a souped-up focus attack. You have to master a focus skill first, but that didn’t take long with the first tier moves. I mastered Lucas’ sword dash before entering the first dungeon by repeatedly using it. Each character has a total of nine skills, which are mapped to the three other face buttons. You rotate available attacks by switching stances or blocking to access defensive techniques. Both characters had an auto-health regeneration skill. Lucas’ could be upgraded to add a life steal bonus while Anjali could reflect some damage back at her attackers. After each level, players gain one proficiency point to customize their attacks. In addition to selecting a skill to boost, you can upgrade each move in one of two ways. You have to decide whether its more beneficial, for example, to increase the amount of damage to Anjali’s Aura of Immolation or pick cauterize to add a healing bonus to the attack or a mix of both with your points. Staff from Obsidian Entertainment explained there are not enough proficiency points to max out all of the attributes so players will have to upgrade abilities depending on their play style. Each level up also rewards players with a talent point that upgrade passive skills. I put all of my talent points into increasing Lucas’ critical attack damage when I played as him.
Dungeon Siege III begins with a lone journey to Rukkenvahl with a single character. Whichever character you chose not to play with needs to be rescued from a fireproof cage (or "plot cage" as an Obsidian employee jokingly called it). Inside the town, there were two different side quests to take on. Neither had to be completed right away either. I met up with a fisherman who pleaded for Anjali to defeat a monster and another man attacked by mercenaries. I ignored both of them and pressed on with the main quest. Someone was captured, after all.
The first dungeon was in a bluish cave packed with mercenaries. Anjali made short work of them. Since there is no cooldown time between abilities you can rapidly kick through a group of enemies and use the same move to escape as long as your focus meter has enough energy. A few strikes fill the meter to the brim too. Combat felt fast-paced since you never have to stop to swig a mana potion. A witch waited deep in the dungeon. She teleported to cancel out my combos, but her most troublesome move was summoning skeletons. As Anjali, I tried to get some distance so I could whittle the undead army with fireballs. Lucas had no problem dealing with the groups of skeletons. He is a force to be reckoned with in two-handed sword mode. His third strike is a jumping attack that hits a group of enemies, plus dodges attacks. Since the witch had a tendency to stand still Anjali’s stationary fire aura was quite useful.
After freeing a fellow Legion member, I had my first computer controlled partner. You get to decide how to upgrade him or her. There is a built in preference to use the attacks you develop, so if you want Anjali to be a magic user spend all of your points in her archon stance attacks. With an ally at my side, I completed both side quests. One quest introduced a "lieutenant" an enemy with an aura that buffed enemies and drained focus when I stepped inside. You’ll see lieutenant type characters in other areas walking with groups of regular enemies. When I returned to the fisherman, presenting proof that I defeated the monster, he asked if I wanted a reward. That’s right you can choose whether to receive bonus gold or not. Since I ran through the opening twice, I asked for a reward the first time and took the gold. The second time around, I said "no thanks" and the fisherman went on about how benevolent the legionnaires are. It isn’t clear how this will affect the game, but there are decisions in Dungeon Siege III that do change the outcome of the story.
Later dungeons have robots to fight. Players will run into Automatons inside the Crypt of the Sacred Blood, a trap filled area with pendulum swinging blades to dodge. Automatons (check the second screenshot for a close look) are armed with flamethrowers and usually came with a pack of bomb throwing goblins. That’s a part of Dungeon Siege III I saw, but didn’t get to play.
We’ll have more information about Dungeon Siege III tomorrow and next week.