Dungeon Siege III

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Dungeon Siege III
Dungeon Siege III.jpg
European cover art
Developer(s) Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher(s) Square Enix
Director(s) Richard Taylor
Designer(s) Nathaniel Chapman
Tyson Christensen
Artist(s) Justin Cherry
Writer(s) George Ziets
John Gonzalez
Travis Stout
Composer(s) Jason Graves
Timothy Michael Wynn
Series Dungeon Siege
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release
  • AU: June 16, 2011
  • WW: June 17, 2011
  • NA: June 21, 2011
Genre(s) Action role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Dungeon Siege III is an action role-playing game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Square Enix for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows in 2011.

The game is set in the pseudo-medieval kingdom of Ehb, 150 years after the events of Dungeon Siege. It follows descendants of survivors of the 10th Legion, the military force featured in Dungeon Siege, in an attempt to rebuild the legion and defeat the evil Jeyne Kassynder, who 30 years before the game's events has wiped out nearly all of the Legion and established herself as ruler of Ehb. The player can choose one of four characters, two of which are descendants of the player character in Dungeon Siege and one who is a descendant of one of her companions, with the other three either controlled by the computer or another player using multiplayer features. Unlike the first two games, players are limited to one companion at a time.

Dungeon Siege III was announced in June 2010 as the first main entry in the series not to be developed by Gas Powered Games following a purchase of the rights to the series by Square Enix earlier that year. The game was instead developed by Obsidian Entertainment with Chris Taylor, the inventor of the Dungeon Siege franchise, serving as an advisor.

The game received mixed reviews by critics who praised the game's mechanics and graphics, especially the character models. Opinions about the story, replay value and multiplayer system were mixed on the other hand.

Gameplay[edit]

The game takes place in a fantasy medieval world with geographic variety in open and closed environments (dungeons). The player controls one of four predefined characters with one of the other three characters accompanying them. In previous Dungeon Siege titles, multiple characters could be active at the same time. The accompanying character can be changed via the game's menu at any point of the game.[1] The companion character is usually controlled by the game's AI but can also controlled by a second player through the game's online feature or using a second controller on the console versions.[2] Only when using the multiplayer feature up to four players can play the campaign together, with the difficulty being adjusted accordingly.[2][3] However, since players can join and leave at any time, the game will only save progress for the host, not the other players.[3] The AI will also take control of players who have gone inactive.[3] In co-op mode, players can also vote on which quests to accept or different story-related decisions.[4]

The player character (Lucas) using the block-system to defend against an attacking enemy while the AI controlled companion (Katarina) shoots at the enemies from a distance

Each character has two different styles of fighting to handle different situations.[5][6] For example, the character of Lucas can wield a two-handed sword to damage a lot of enemies at once but with less protection or use a one-handed sword and shield to fight against single strong enemies or to block attacks. In addition, there are three different special abilities for each stance[5] that require "focus", the game's equivalent to magic points, to use.[7] The amount of focus required varies based on the ability used. Each of those abilities has an improved version available after meeting certain conditions, such as using the skill a certain number of times. There are also three different passive abilities (such as healing, increased armor etc.).[2] The improved versions of the attack abilities and the passive abilities use a different system of power spheres.[7] All improved and passive abilities will deplete such a sphere. Both the focus points and the spheres are refilled by fighting enemies. While amount of focus available will always be a maximum of 100%, the player will start with only one sphere and gain three additional ones at key points of the plot, regardless of their level or experience points. Additionally, each character has ten different skills they can increase at each level reached, allowing them to improve their attacks, get bonus effects when being hit, etc.[7]

Each of the four characters features nine different sets of equipment, meaning that (with the exception of rings) no piece of equipment can be used by multiple characters.[3] It also features an "transmute item" mode, allowing the player to transmute their items into their worth in gold instantly from the items menu without having to sell them to a shop (although transmutation will yield a lower price).[1]

Unlike the previous games in the series, Dungeon Siege III features a new control system. Created to accommodate the parallel release on consoles as well as on the PC, the game no longer features an automatic targeting system and point-and-click mechanics. Instead, the player moves their character using the keyboard or a controller and has to point the character in the direction of the enemies they want to fight and then press the attack button to fight.[7]

The game uses a display engine that makes the entire experience seamless by constantly loading required game scenes in the background.[8] This way, the game does not need any load screens often found in other games.[1] The game also avoids using many cut scenes by haying characters talk to each other while traveling.[8]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting and characters[edit]

The game takes place in the fictional Kingdom of Ehb in a high fantasy world, the same setting used in Dungeon Siege, roughly 150 years after the events of the first game. The 10th Legion, who provided stability and protection for the kingdom for 400 years, has almost completely been wiped out 30 years before the game's events take place. Jeyne Kassynder rallied the people of eastern Ehb and the Azunite Church against the Legion who she blamed for the death of the king, her father. Following a long and brutal campaign, she managed to kill the entire remnant of the Legion in a battle in the Rukkenvahl Forest and the royalist army of young Queen Roslyn has been driven deep into the mines of Glitterdelve, bereft of almost all their power. A small group of legionnaires remained, led by a man calling himself the Venerable Odo, a former Legion spy. He kept descendants of the Legion safe from Kassynder and, at the beginning of the game, calls them to meet in order to regroup the Legion.

The player can choose to play as one of four different characters:

  • Lucas Montbarron: The youngest son of Hugh Montbarron, the Grand Master of the 10th Legion at the time of their last fight against Jeyne Kassynder 30 years before the game's setting. He is also a descendent of the first Lady Montbarron, the protagonist of Dungeon Siege, who is commonly only referred to as "The Farmer" (Dungeon Siege III takes place 150 years after the first game[9]). Lucas fights with a one-handed sword and shield or a two-handed sword.[10]
  • Anjali: An archon, a member of a servant race to the lost creator gods. As a mythical being, she can shift between human form, fighting with a spear, and elemental fire form.[11]
  • Reinhart Manx: A descendant of Merik the mage (from the first game) and therefore is able to fight with magic at range and in close combat.[12]
  • Katarina: The illegitimate daughter of Hugh Montbarron and a Lescanzi witch. She fights with a long-range rifle or a pair of shotguns at close range; Rebecca Grant modeled for Katarina's character.[13]

Depending on which character is chosen, the plot is subtly altered. The other three characters are later available as AI controlled companions or can be controlled by other players using the multiplayer feature. As the game progresses and different quests are completed, the other three characters will first meet and then join the player character. Depending on which character was chosen, some events encounters might be subtly changed and the lines of dialogue are altered to fit the character's back-story; for example, while Lucas, Anjali and Reinhart will meet Katarina for the first time in the town of Raven's Rill helping them, players who chose to play as Katarina will meet a non-player character serving the same purpose.

Plot[edit]

The player arrives to find the meeting place attacked by Kassynder's mercenaries. With the help of Marten Guiscard, another Legion descendant, the player tracks down Odo at a former Legion safehouse. After hearing what happened, the player is tasked with finding other survivors and information on the attacks. After fighting more of Kassynder's forces, the player travels to Stonebridge City to reopen the grand chapter-house there. On the way to Stonebridge they help a group of royalist soldiers fighting Jeyne Kassynder.

After reopening the Stonebridge chapter-house, the player seeks to enlist the support of the royalists by aiding Queen Roslyn against Kassynder's assault on Glitterdelve and the help of the City of Stonebridge by helping the Meisters who control the city. Their support ensured, the player attacks Kassynder's capital, the Spire of Azunai on top of Mount Jhereb. After prevailing against Kassynder in battle, she is revealed to be an archon, a member of a servant race to the lost creator gods. She was seeking to use her powers to reawaken her long lost masters in the Rukkenvahl Forest but only managed to create a mutant god. After it is defeated, Kassynder is captured her alive in the Forest. The player may then render judgment on her, allowing them to choose the ending.

Development and release[edit]

In 2010, Square Enix purchased the rights to the Dungeon Siege franchise from Gas Powered Games.[14] Square Enix announced in June 2010 that they commissioned Obsidian Entertainment, which had previous experience creating role-playing games such as Neverwinter Nights 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, with developing Dungeon Siege III.[15][8] Chris Taylor, the original creator of Dungeon Siege, served as an advisor during the development of the game.[15] It is the third game in the series not to be developed by Gas Powered Games after Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna by Mad Doc Software and Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony by SuperVillain Studios.[14] It was also the first major game of the series that was developed for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC while the first two entries were PC-exclusive.[16]

For Dungeon Siege III, Obsidian used its own proprietary Onyx Engine, allowing the developers to create graphically appealing settings.[17] A first preview was shown at E3 2010, in June 2010.[18] At this point, Obsidian was still working with character classes and not predefined characters, previewing a "guardian" and an "archon" class.[18] Further details about the game's co-op mode were revealed in April 2011, shortly before the game's release a month later, including the ability to vote on choices.[4]

Originally slated for release on May 27, 2011,[19] the game's release was delayed until June 16, 2011 in Australia,[20] June 17, 2011 in Europe, most of Asia and South Africa[21][20][22] and on June 21, 2011 in North America.[23][20] A three-issue mini-series also titled Dungeon Siege III was released digitally by Dark Horse Comics. A printed fourth edition was available as a pre-order bonus from Walmart.[24]

After the release, a number of players complained about the controls on the PC version of the game,[25] prompting the developer Obsidian Entertainment to address those concerns.[26]

Dungeon Siege III: Treasures of the Sun[edit]

Dungeon Siege III: Treasures of the Sun was released on October 25, 2011 as downloadable content (DLC) for Dungeon Siege III. It features a new location, several new monster types, three new obtainable perks, and raises the level cap to 35. The story follows the protagonist(s) on a journey to Aranoi desert, where an undead outbreak is taking place, in search of a long lost Legion spy and the mysterious "greatest treasure of the Azunite church". The downloadable content offers approximately five hours of added play time to the base game.[27]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic(X360) 72/100[28]

(PS3) 71/100[29]

(PC) 73/100[30]
Review scores
PublicationScore
EGM8.0[31]
Eurogamer8/10[32]
Game Informer8/10[5]
GamePro3/5 stars[33]
GameSpot(PC) 6/10[1]

(X360) 6.5/10[34]

(PS3) 6.5/10[35]
GameSpy3.5/5 stars[7]
GameTrailers6.3/10[36]
IGN6.5/10[2]
Joystiq3.5/5 stars[37]
PC Gamer (US)78/100[3]

The title received a lukewarm response from critics, earning a Metacritic score of 72, 71 and 73 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows platforms respectively, indicating mixed or average reviews.[28][29][30]

The game's graphics were praised by reviewers, with critics especially noting the landscape and effects as well as light and shadow effects.[38][39][3][1] Reviewers also positively noted the visual design of the characters and of the various gear, with GameSpot especially pointing out that items get more visually impressing as the game progresses.[1][5] The differences between the console versions were thought to be marginal at best, although Eurogamer pointed out that the frame rate was capped at 30 frames per second on the Xbox 360 while fluctuating on the PlayStation 3, thus making the Xbox version appear more consistent.[38] Rock, Paper, Shotgun also bemoaned that on PC the game does not allow 16:10 resolutions and controls cannot be changed to different keys while there are only two zoom settings, very close and very far, indicating that the PC version was considered less important by the developers than the console versions.[6]

The voice acting received mixed responses, with Gearburn remarking that it helps the characters more than the story does[13] while Joystiq called it "horrible".[37] The music and soundtrack were described as "decent" and doing its job but not exceptional.[13][1]

The loot system was often considered too complicated with too many items - which Rock, Paper, Shotgun described as "A Veritable Fuckton"[6] - and not enough discernible differences and a difficult to manage inventory.[6][5] Reviewers also were confused by the game using a lot of different statistics on inventory items there were not explained, such as "doom", "chaos" or "momentum" and thus does not allow players to adequately know what items to choose.[6][7] The skill system on the other hand was considered refreshing and intriguing by many reviewers, especially the amount of customization it allowed.[6]

Some critics found the story compelling and interesting,[40] with PC Gamer expressing surprise that the game features both memorable characters and choices that actually impact the game.[3] Game Informer highlighted the steampunk-accents of the game's world and praised setting and characters while considering the story not as interesting.[5] On the other hand, several reviewers did not find the story particularly interesting and too linear with the quests offering little variety from the standard "kill something" or "retrieve items";[13][6] IGN called the story tedious[2] and both GameSpot and GameSpy found both the story and the characters uninteresting.[1][7] The Telegraph found the story simpler than in Obsidian's previous game, Fallout: New Vegas, and that choices only have cosmetic consequences but thought the story fitting for the game;[39] this sentiment was largely shared by Rock, Paper, Shotgun in their review.[6] IGN also thought there is no incentive to replay the game or continue exploring the game's world,[2] while others thought the alterations provided by the four different characters does provide some replay value.[5][40] Critics also considered the game's length too short,[40] especially compared to its predecessors.[1]

Reviewers also liked the multiplayer system, explicitly noting how easy it is for others to join, while also bemoaning that progress is not saved for other players.[3][1] Gearburn on the other hand considered multiplayer a "waste of time" and criticized Obsidian for forgetting to implement obvious safeguards, mentioning that anyone can join a game and sell off all the player's items before exiting again.[13] The restricted camera in co-op mode, forcing all characters to be on the same screen, was criticized by many reviewers as unnecessarily limiting and potentially confusing.[39][3][5] The game's artificial intelligence was considered up to the task, with critics praising that the AI-controlled second character is usually well designed and capable of making smart choices when using character abilities.[40][5]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]