Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale

"At its heart, Daggerdale is all about dungeon crawling, baddie-bashing, and loot-scoring – and I don't mean that in a derogatory way."

Recently, RPGFan got to sit down with Atari to see – and get some hands-on time with – their upcoming Xbox Live Arcade/PlayStation Network/PC title, Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale. Set in the Forgotten Realms region of Tethyamar, Daggerdale tells the story of an evil wizard who plans to take over the region using a tower built underground. The only force standing in the way is a group of brave heroes who have been called upon to brave the tower and save the land.

Okay, so the premise isn't new, but the game's focus won't be on its story (although there will be plot elements, NPCs, and side-quests). At its heart, Daggerdale is all about dungeon crawling, baddie-bashing, and loot-scoring – and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. The gameplay is reminiscent of classic top-down dungeon crawls such as Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. In fact, the developers admitted drawing upon that game and its ilk for inspiration. Daggerdale is the first commercial game to be based on the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition ruleset, which fans of the tabletop game know is much more combat-friendly.

The build we were shown featured four playable characters: dwarf cleric, human fighter, elven rogue, and halfling thief. Each character has unique abilities and skill trees which can be developed as you gain experience. Each character also has a melee and ranged attack so you can mix it up if you're feeling bored.

As you progress through the four areas, you encounter mobs of enemies to mow down and objects to break, all of which can drop items, equipment, and gold. Loot drops are somewhat random, but should be tailored to the current player character's class. Enemies similarly scale to match what your character is capable of at his or her current level. This should ensure that coming back to a previous area doesn't simply mean slaughtering your way through masses of scrubs, and allow leveling in areas you're familiar with.

Visually, the game is clean. Character models are well-detailed, and new armor gives a character a distinctive look. The dungeons are also seamless, because unlike many "rogue-like" games, they are static maps.

Aurally, you get what you expect from a hack-n-slash game; well-developed sound effects and music which is more for avoiding awkward silence than anything else.

Lastly, the controls are intuitive and responsive, with a little key in the corner of the screen in case you forget which button does what.

So, while Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale may not have an epic story and deep customization, it seems to be on track to become a solid beat-em-up. What's more, with two player local co-op and four player online, Daggerdale should work well at your next gaming get-together.

Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale currently does not have a release date more specific than "spring" or price point. We'll bring you more info and media as it arrives.

© 2011 Bedlam Studios, Atari Inc. All rights reserved.

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