Dungeon Defenders II

Trendy Entertainment has joined the PS4 universe with the sequel to their most fantastic series, this is Dungeon Defenders II. The game is on Early Access on Steam and on PS4 (this one being updated after the PC version). The sequel is filled with a bunch of action, colors, wacky sounds and your favorite characters all grown-up.

WHAT IS THIS GAME EVEN ABOUT?

Hold on there. First, I have to mention that the first Dungeon Defenders is probably one of my most played games on PC; it is just crazy fun once you set up a team with friends and if all of them play a different class. In Dungeon Defenders II, well, it’s basically the same deal.

This is a tower defense game where you can play as 1 of 4 characters (a Mage, a Knight, the Huntress and the Monk), each with different abilities, on a third person camera view and place different sorts of towers and traps to slow down incoming waves of enemies. These enemies also have different abilities, depending on their model, but they all have one thing in common: to destroy your precious “orb”, once its destroyed you’re done, so protect it no matter what.

After each set of waves you have the chance to place more towers, upgrade them, sell them, replace them, it’s all a matter of optimization since there is in fact a tower limit. One you settle with your teammates the best placement for all your shenanigans, levels can become trivial.

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LEVEL DESIGN

This is where the game steps up; every level is unique in the sense of its design, the map is well drawn for players to move around all points with ease, sure at first you need to explore it and learn where all the waves will come from, but after a few rounds you’ll get used to jumping over tough looking obstacles to get to alarming spots as quick as possible. Not to mention the levels also offer some hazards that can aid you in battle. Every level is also made in accordance to the quests you’re given, although this sort of “plot” I feel very weak, it’s just weird characters ordering you to do stuff (defend the “orb”) and to go to X place. Feels like this can be put a lot more work, and not just static art of some knight telling you objectives.

GAMEPLAY!

As I mentioned before, coursing through a map, jumping over gaps and general maneuvers are fairly decent to control. Character animations can feel a bit stiff at times, they sometimes feel like moving towers running around and shooting where they point, but overall it’s very responsive.

Of course this also has RPG elements, which means enemies can drop loot which can be equipped to your characters, depending on the traits you want for each of them and with a rarity color palette. Furthermore, the game offers cosmetic customization, a big plus over its predecessor, allowing you to change your characters outfits in many ways (although there aren’t many options currently to pick from). After beating levels you gain XP and coins, making you better, stronger, not necessarily faster, I believe? Anyway the sense of rewards is there and that is a very special factor for this sort of genre mix.

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IS IT REALLY THAT GOOD?

Well, it’s a free-to-play game, and not many games that go this route implement fun ways of progression and acquiring methods. In the case of Dungeon Defenders II, you can buy a lot of cool equipment with in-game currency after grinding or with the random loot chest reward at the end of each level. The only stuff I know you have to buy with real money however, are cosmetics and character slots. Usually, cosmetics as the only payment option on F2P games are a good way to run, something not many developers take into consideration.

The game is fun, but like I said, you get the most out of it once you have a full team and hopefully everyone has a different character (which can even be changed inside missions). On the other hand, if you’re somehow having trouble finding people to play with, solo-mode can be quite a challenge, fun for some, boring for others.

THE VISUALS

I feel like the biggest aim this game has in terms of its art style, is to show the grown-up versions of the characters, each with certain aspects that resemble their younger selves, all with a toon-ey look. The designs on costumes and such truly go on out with each character, and hey, maybe we can expect to see some of the DLC characters from the prequel join in, such as the Summoner or the Series EV, those designs could be quite challenging but would bring much value to the character roster.

The game has a wide variety of colors, allowing levels to be bright, dense or opaque, giving their themes much more strength and depth.

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ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

The music in this game has fairly decent cues, although I feel that most of the soundtrack is just heavy themes that sound way too menacing. Feels like the only cheerful moment is when you beat a level, it would help if the soundtrack had more dynamic throughout waves, empowering players a bit more.

TOWER DEFENSE THOUGHTS

Dungeon Defenders II improves the series in many ways, but how important was their decision to go free-to-play? The first game did fairly well with a base price and DLC, was it somehow necessary to leave this route? Many things feel much simpler than in DD1, such as adding points to selected stats, now you get them instantly to what the game decides. The game at its current early stage still has much to improve and to implement to further develop the gamer’s experience and satisfaction.

Verdict:

Fun experience but mostly for multiplayer

At its current stage of development, it shows a lot of potential, but it will only show it's true strenght once it has more character upgrades and a bigger roster.

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