Dungeon Siege 3

Even ignoring the endless wait for Diablo III, the PC seems to never have enough quality dungeon crawlers on tap. We got by on Torchlight last year, but stylized, cartoon aesthetics turn some gamers (like me) off. I prefer grittier, down-and-dirty RPGs in the mold of The Witcher. Obsidian’s take on Dungeon Siege sits firmly in that category, ready to get all serious on the top-down hack-and-slasher in 2011. It’s been a long, strange journey for the series, hopping between publishers and developers, even suffering an Uwe Boll movie treatment along the way. And now this winding road has become a literal one: Dungeon Siege III wants to give the player more choices than ever before. The first two games went from immensely linear to a bit less so, but number three goes completely openworld: in my time playing, I wandered a verdant countryside before reaching the game’s first hub town where numerous NPCs offered chances to take side quests and explore at my own pace. I met a fisherman who was starving due to some nasty creatures taking over his favorite watering hole. He gave me some bait and I returned to a previously innocuous area, dropped the bait and faced a sudden horde of creepy fish-men, giving
a taste of the world’s hidden surprises.
Not unlike Obsidian’s other RPG epic, Fallout: New Vegas, DS3 encourages the player to tackle the content they want. It’s completely OK to spend a full week killing random enemies and loot until the mind can take looting no more. Or stock up on side quests. Or plow straight through the story. Regardless, with all of the beckoning NPCs I saw, it will be hard to resist the
lure of wandering on a whim.
Another new step for the series is simultaneous development for consoles. This meant that although I played the game on a PC, the point-and-click interface wasn’t ready yet, requiring the use of an Xbox 360 controller. Does this mean the PC version is taking a back seat? I doubt it—everything about the feel of the game says PC, from complex dialog trees to the robust loot system that adjusts to your character level.
That said, it’s possible that using a gamepad might turn out to be the best way to play. I say this because the maneuvers in combat can be incredibly precise: in combat, the meat of my movement was dodge-rolling away from sword slices and sticking and moving past archers’ arrows. Performing these moves at the same speed with a mouse will require frantic clicking
on a level matching DoTA, which may appeal or repel, depending on the player. It’s possible that the game will never require hyper-reflexes, but the clear early focus on gamepad controls could bode poorly for the beloved point-and-click. Still, I played without NPC companions (who have unique personalities and can be recruited later on), and it’s possible that the mouse could earn its keep once multiple characters are on the battlefield.
Open world, open road: Perhaps stemming from console considerations, DSIII offers an optional behind the character camera. I ended up swapping between the views frequently for reasons that will convince even overhead stalwarts to dabble: the world offers far-off vistas to savor, and sticking with a camera pointed at the floor will rob the player of a scenic view. A peep at distant mountains through twisted tree branches or a glimpse at winding stone pathways dropping deeper into a cavern reveals a world that feels huge yet detailed: Obsidian’s Onyx Engine (rumored to have been used on the canceled Aliens RPG) is paying off. I didn’t get a glance at multiplayer, but you can expect four-player co-op, which the original DS launched with. Otherwise, there’s the dangling issue of the mouse and keyboard interface: until that can be
tested, the truth of the PC version being an equal or a just another console port remains unknown. As for DS3 scratching that darker itch, I submit the reptile-eyed woman I freed from the clutches of a witch, only to hear her confess to immolating an entire village. Even then, I had the option to sympathize with her.

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