+Beautiful top down cRPG that follows a play style close to Baulders Gate
+Class system is very much along the lines of pen and paper DnD in real time
+Character creation is in-depth, intuitive and does require attention to stats
–Requires an online connection to play due to account login
–Extremely Limited Dungeon Master Mode
–Character classes at start are limited as are race selections
–Horrific quest markers that seem out-of-place and rather misleading
Editors Note: Since the game is still a fresh-release we will be placing this review under a review-in-progress status as we know there will be future updates and content for it. Our reviewer, we understand, was quite critical of the game based on his past with DnD. His review should be read at your own discretion and understanding of his view point. Any screenshots scene below are property to n-Space and Digital Extremes and are used for our review purposes only as we do not have our own screenshots available at this time.
Let’s just pretend I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons a day in my life. Except I have, I’ve played hundreds of hours with former friends Matt and Ben. We used to sit around the table watching Ben’s wild antics as his rather awkward and brilliantly thought out idiotic Half-Orc was about as hilarious as watching a Bill Murray stand up back in the actors prime. However, let us take away the need to stand around or sit around a table, discussing what our moves are, rolling the die needed for certain interactions and even the hysterical moments where players can hear the excitement in each other’s voices. Now? It has been limited down to a digital screen that doesn’t seem to quite have an idea of what it wants to do.
My starting hour was probably the most painful as my Dwarven Great Weapon warrior went about with his claymore and splint armor in tow. As his quests became revealed after a unique opening scene where we witness the parties alleged home at the time being assaulted and burnt to the ground, we are given the idea that the game isn’t just about our character after all, but instead about a group of friends that had some wretched occurrence happen to them and now they seem to be coping with it. Instead of taking on heroic tasks as one would predict this game to start out with, Sword Coast Legends does quite the opposite. We are introduced to a typical MMO element where our characters are sent off to gather mushrooms, fight off some bandits and take on a few Goblins, find missing persons, help bring a friend of ours back to the caravan only to be ambushed and sent on a quest. Meanwhile this is all happening my fingers began to tap onto the escape button since I’m a rather fast reader and prefer not to listen to the dialogue. Downside? You can’t skip it. While the voice acting could be worse, it’s not exactly all that exciting as players will be encumbered with listening to rather monotonous voices and poor voice acting. Just be glad it’s not the original Resident Evil kind of bad. Being as intrigued by what was going on, it was nothing in comparison to the Demon my little NPC team encountered within the fifteen opening minutes. While this was a seemingly enjoyable affair at first, it seemed to turn into one that quickly caused my head to hit my desk in frustration only to shake it off after a few moments.
After a few hours of gameplay my head began to throb as I encountered not just one mistake, but multiples. Let alone are the conversations using the in-game graphics, even on Ultra High the game looks almost like it cloned itself from older titles such as Baulder’s Gate mixed with a touch of Diablo 2. While I appreciated the aforementioned titles, this game doesn’t do it well as character models once zoomed in upon could quite easily be seen as horrific as the quests and story elements that the game has come across. Seeing as I’m a die-hard DnD fan, take no mistake that I’d be rather hard on this game in every element possible. As the quests I mentioned earlier are undertaken the game finds itself attempting to use quite a bit of filler elements such as taking care of your items, stats, party members, going to vendors and even fighting your way through a few small crowds along the way. After a while the game does tend to warm up to players as they settle into the design choices by n-Space and publisher Digital Extremes (Warframe anyone?). The game to some will be quite enjoyable, but to the die hard fans it could be a game that should be played with mildly low expectations to begin with.
Taking notes from rather successful titles such as Shadowrun, Sword Coast Legends does at times tend to miss the idea of what makes DnD locales such as the Sword Coast such an exciting place. Let alone is this place beautiful, it is filled with mystery, story and rather interesting inhabitants, but the game seems to miss the idea of using these elements in its favor just isn’t happening at this point in time. Let alone do the dungeons begin to blend in, many of them use rather familiar tile sets, design choices and even encounter points at any-one given time.
If you’ve played titles like Divinity: Original Sin or Pillars of Eternity, two of my favourite cRPGs to date that have released within the past year, you know that my love for hand-drawn art is rather unique approach and one I prefer. This is something that Sword Coast Legends tends not to use, but instead they go with a more fleshed out and realistic approach. One that works quite well with this newer DnD title. This sticks true to when going into the beautiful fields, forests, cities and sewers that the game brings to life in every aspect. This includes flowing streams, branches swaying in the winds and even small attention to details within the cities. But how does this hold up in comparison to what players will really want – cooperative play via a DM game mode or even the story.
From what I experienced in my five hours of gameplay in the first day, Drop-in, drop-out co-op works like you would expect. It’s seamless and does not interrupt when a player joins or leaves the title. Much like you would expect the game seems to be pretty well rounded despite the fact it was delayed for a short while. While you’ve read in other reviews, I quite agree with many of them as how the game should be played in cooperative. Unless players are friends who are working together, combat can be quite enjoyable, but with strangers I also can’t recommend a difficulty past easy. Simply due to the fact I was constantly dying in these adventures and scoffing as I felt myself leaving the lobby to take on a solo adventure with the game’s A.I. Unlike DnD however, the game doesn’t play like one would expect from titles of this kind. It doesn’t follow the seemingly classical use of turn-based elements. Instead the game takes on a role of its own as players take the Neverwinter Nights approach and go into combat as one solid team and use the Diablo style controls I mentioned for picking a target and attacking them. Minus the fact you can’t click your mouse repeatedly in order to attack since auto-attack does that for you.
Like one would expect from a DnD game, the title does manage to follow through with the game’s rulebook where abilities will go through cooldown periods. The time between their cooldowns is filled in between each characters prefered form of attack whether it’s a melee swing or something as simple as spells when managing combat. Luckily the characters that aren’t controlled in regards to A.I. will take care of what they must through pre-set combat tactics. Sound familiar? It should, quite a few RPGs have used this option. Unlike in solo mode the game will not allow you to set tactics and the likes while in cooperative since the characters are controlled by players and will require communication in order to find success in combat.
Where the game’s biggest fault hasn’t been shown yet, there seems to be a problem with the Dungeon Master mode in regards to the playability of it. To my experience, which honestly wasn’t long, Dungeon Master mode does seem irrevocably troubled due to the DM’s limitations, which follow close to the game’s campaign itself and doesn’t allow for much deviation from it. While DMing was one of my favourite parts of a good DnD adventure, this mode is troubled in the sense that I’ve encountered issues with the inviting process where sometimes it seemed as if the game just wasn’t sending out invites. While I would say the DM mode is fun, it isn’t a game mode that I found enjoyable since there wasn’t any true dungeon crafting left to it in comparison to what one would get if they were to simply go out and buy a few DnD books and learn how to make a grand adventure in pre-made scenarios or ones of their own. While this mode seems like a staple point of the game – it wasn’t hard to take off and go back into campaign where those I did play with seemed to find a bit more fun in the campaign in comparison to the Dungeon Mastering portion of the title.
Sword Coast Legends – PC (Reviewed)
Publisher: Digital Extremes
Release Date: Now Available
While this game is not on par with classic DnD titles such as Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale or Baulders Gate – Sword Coast Legends does have a lot of growth potential and it seems that the developers are quite aware of this as the game does have, as stated, potential. Even though it’s not a classic DnD game it is one that is slowly growing on me in the way that past titles such as Diablo have. While my time on record may not be nearly as high as many other players out there, my time is high enough that I enjoyed the game and was capable of discussing it with fellow friends who are tempted to give it a spin since it’s on sale at the time of writing for 26.99 through Steam.
Our review is based upon the final version that the publisher provided us with. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 6 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.