Dungeon Siege 3
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Genre: Action RPG
Release: US 2011

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I hope you get to bust up that glass.
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While this is just artwork, the game does feature multi-level dungeons like this.
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An example of what a snowy environment in the game is going to look like.
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That doesn't look like a happy place...
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John McCarroll
E3 Preview
John McCarroll

The folks at Obsidian Entertainment have found their fingers in quite a few pies lately, from the recent release of Alpha Protocol to the upcoming Fallout: New Vegas to the announced Wheel of Time games, they have quite a few games in development or just out of development. You can add one more name to that list with Dungeon Siege 3, a game in a series originally developed by Chris Taylor's Gas Powered Games. How did such a game come to be in Obsidian's hands, however? About two years ago, Square Enix began working with Chris Taylor and Gas Powered Games on the RTS Supreme Commander 2, and Square, who purchased the property from GPG, showed interest in bringing out their first western-styled RPG, specifically with the Dungeon Siege brand. Gas Powered Games, however, didn't have the available manpower to craft a new game in their Action RPG series. Enter Obsidian, who has lots of experience creating western RPGs. With that, we have slated for early 2011 release, a third (or fourth, if you count Throne of Agony for the PSP) Dungeon Siege title. From what we've seen, it's shaping up well.

Based on a new engine, called Onyx, developed in-house at Obsidian, the title will see release for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC platforms. Unlike many titles, which have a "base" platform and is then ported to others, the Onyx engine was crafted from the ground up to be multiplatform. They craft the game using their tools, and "press a button" and the title is ready for multiple platforms. The game was designed with consoles in mind, so the gamepad is the natural control scheme for the title, but Obsidian will be including a mouse-and-keyboard control scheme for the die-hard PC gamers who don't want to sully their hands with a controller.

Along with the new control scheme comes the promise that Obsidian wants to make Dungeon Siege 3 a "fun and actionable" game that is easy to pick up and play, but that also has enough to keep RPG fans continuing to hunt for loot and slay more powerful monsters. There will be some dialogue in Dungeon Siege 3 - and the Onyx engine is set up to have a Mass Effect-style dialogue wheel - but Obsidian is keeping the focus toward the action more in Dungeon Siege. That's not to say that there won't be story and dialogue, but much of the dialogue will not be presented in cutscenes, but rather to the player while they explore the dungeons.

Inside the dungeons, players will have access to multiple classes, each with two different stances. We were shown the example of the Guardian class, which functions as the tank. The two styles are a one-handed with shield, which is a more defensive, quick-to-attack stance, and the two-handed style, which bestows players with larger and more powerful AoE attacks. Players can develop both of these styles, but they will not be shoehorned into either of them, as they can be swapped at will. The combat itself looks smooth, too, so players shouldn't have to worry too much about hitting the wall during their ass-kicking sessions. There's no worrying about hitting the invisible wall of loading, either - all of Dungeon Siege 3's zones are streaming.

The graphics in Dungeon Siege 3 look great, everything from the character models to the animations to the environments look top-notch. The lighting in the game is all dynamic, so when an enemy with bioluminescence was punted over a cliff, his eerie glow went with him. The environments are what most caught my eye, as unlike most hack-and-slash titles, where you navigate by your minimap and often never look at the actual environments, there are lots of visual cues in the environments themselves. Players can see other zones and treasures as they travel near overlooks, and branching paths can be traced to where they end. Dungeon Siege 3 will trend toward non-linearity, as it will feature a World of Warcraft-esque quest system and more open areas. Players who find themselves often lost and would prefer a more linear system, however, have access to a breadcrumb system, similar to the shiny gold line from Fable. There will also be multiple levels to most dungeons, so players won't be overwhelmed with just mashing the left analog stick in a single direction for hours on end.

Players who want a deep RPG system will have it, as well. Most of it will be focused around loot - the staple of any hack-and-slash, and players will be able to twink to their heart's content. Loot drops in the world and has what it is and what its gold value is spelled out for the player on the ground. Items will be exclusive to each class, so co-op players (of which the number has not been disclosed, our demo featured two-player co-op) won't be fighting over loot. They won't be fighting over bag space, either, as players in co-op will share one inventory, which will be "very large." Each class also features unique animations and abilities beyond the items, so it fosters replayability.

The classes also work together in a way that can only be described as synergistic. Players will need to combine their powers with their co-op friends (or AI partners in solo play) to take down each of the different boss fights. These fights are all programmed to be unique, with different phases. We were shown Drakonir, a skeleton boss, who shifted from regular melee attacks to summoning creatures to take us down. When one of our demo characters was killed, he wasn't dead forever - Obsidian wants to keep the action going in the same, so the death penalty isn't stiff - players can pick up their fallen allies almost like it's Left 4 Dead. Not a bad way to keep the play going.

Dungeon Siege 3 is shaping up well, and we're excited to see the game in a more complete form. The title is slated for a release in the first half of 2011. Keep watch to RPGFan as it gets closer to release for more information!


© 2010 Square-Enix, Obsidian Entertainment. All Rights Reserved

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