Dungeon Defenders Review
- Posted October 31st, 2011 at 16:11 EDT by Timothy Nunes
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A phenomenal co-op experience that greatly surpasses the less exciting single-player mode
- Coop works extremely well
- Rewarding character development
- A lot of bang for buck
- Slightly unorganized menus
- Single player feels undriven
(continued from previous page) ...later levels. This is due in part to limited defense resources for added difficulty, and the high cost of upgrading tower pieces. The cost of upgrading tower pieces increases in intervals of 100. So, having a higher mana pool closer to the level cap (which is level 70) makes for an easier time upgrading and not running around for spare mana.
As said before, mana is used as currency, which can be spent in a player's Tavern. The Tavern displays earned Trophies, allows for hero swaps, upgrades gear and pets, and has a vendor for new gear and pets. Friends and allies are also invited to groups within the Tavern, and it acts as a physical representative hub for the player to both show off his progress and further himself with friends.
Graphically, Dungeon Defenders doesn't push any envelopes. However, this game doesn't need it. It's all about tower defense, which it does extremely well. Colors look vibrant, animations are slick without being flashy, and the tower pieces look great. Character design is a bit unique as well, with the apprentice and the squire being the two particularities. The apprentice has a massive mage hat which covers its entire face, and the squire is a boy inside a massive colored tin can without any trousers and wielding a big sword. As humorous as it is fortifying, Dungeon Defenders looks good enough to last a few years without worry of age, even with using the Unreal Engine.
The menu setup can most definitely be quite confusing and cumbersome, since it's utilized for both the standard controller and the Move controller. For instance, upgrading gear is done on the hero screen, on the right side, but only at the Forge in the Tavern. So, for all new players, do what I didn't: run through the full tutorial, learn the controls, and don't be as confused as I was for no reason. Getting around the slight menu disarray will be the first and best move to enjoying this great game.
What can normally happen with tower defense games, especially in my experiences, is they can get very boring and drawn out. Dungeon Defenders becomes more and more intense almost exponentially, so preparation and execution are paramount. However, the game almost requires friends to play on any difficulty past medium, and even medium in some extreme cases. That implementation isn't unwelcome, however, because playing this game with others is phenomenal. As I said before, having an overlay of tower pieces and abilites makes for a very stellar performance, and the different modes and difficulty levels allow for a very engrossing experience that can easily expunge a lot of time without emptying wallets.
The lack of guidance within the game is what makes playing alone so boring. What I mean is that levels aren't really tied together in the story, so moving from level to level is simply an interaction with the Eternia Crystal and it goes on to the next one. It's only disappointing, because the game is so well planned and put together, that the single player experience is hard to finish with as much interest as the co-op experience. However, to counter that, the entirety of Dungeon Defenders can be played with friends. The online match options are Open, Custom, and Private matches. If finding buddies on your friends list with Dungeon Defenders proves to be difficult, play an open game and make some more friends. The experience is far too fun to miss.
In a current time period of AAA releases, Dungeon Defenders has a lot of potential to go unnoticed, which would be both undeserved and unfortunate. Within the 12 hours I spent my first weekend playing it, I wanted to find a way to keep everyone online for another straight 24 hours without stopping. Having all of these game options, including co-op for both online and split screen, makes playing alone seem like a waste of time. I still wanted to play it when my friends went offline, but after seeing all of the potential of combining all of the tower pieces and abilities, farming mana with my apprentice wasn't anywhere near as enthralling. The only downfall with Dungeon Defenders is the downtime that comes after playing co-op: playing alone is only so good, since playing with friends is one of the best experiences on ... (continued on next page)