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E3 2010 Preview: Dungeon Siege 3

By Jeff Buckland, 6/21/2010

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Many gamers have considered the Dungeon Siege games as that knock-off you'd only play if you had never heard of Diablo. Hell, I was never big on the first two games, seeing them as derivative me-toos (admittedly, with some really cool features I'd have loved in Diablo 2) that offered nothing over the games they mimicked. Well, after seeing a demo of Dungeon Siege 3, that's all changed for me.


Obsidian Entertainment founder Feargus Urquhart may be the lead on their Bethesda-published RPG Fallout: New Vegas, but this year at E3, he was nowhere to be found at the Bethesda booth. Instead, he was behind closed doors over at the Square Enix complex, showing off their action-RPG Dungeon Siege 3. With constant communication with series founder Chris Taylor (Square Enix bought the Dungeon Siege rights from Taylor's Gas Powered Games in order to make the sequel) and a signing-off from Chris on many of the things they're adding, Obsidian hopes to make this one of the best action-RPGs we've ever seen.

Of course, they have a lot to live up to, especially since Diablo 3 is likely to launch before the end of 2011. Still, Feargus' vision is that of a highly detailed world and cooperative play that's just as deep as you'd expect out of any Diablo-style game. To that end, they've got fantastic lighting, very sharp textures, an impressive-looking physics system, and great action where you choose between going one-handed or two-handed. One-handed attacks are more focused on a single enemy, but going two-handed forsakes some defense for the ability to take on several enemies at once.


Loot flew out everywhere during this demo, and while it was pretty obvious that it was just for the purposes of showing the game off at E3, the system was sound, with plenty of random and class-specific loots. The creators also showed us a drop in/out cooperative system on the same machine, which was particularly impressive because this was actually a PC version of the game being shown - features like that usually are only seen on consoles. It could be that this feature was only put in to show off what it'd look like on consoles, but I'd love to see this bit survive to the final PC game. All they have to do is allow players to either use two gamepads or one to use a mouse/keyboard and the other to use a gamepad.

There's a verticality and fluidity in Dungeon Siege 3's environments that we don't often see in games like this. Off in the distance and far below us we saw a town, and were told that eventually we'll be working our way down the mountain towards it. The intent is for this to be a fully-rendered world with no load times, so switches in lighting and dynamic loading of distant areas must mesh in with the action that's in your face. From that perspective, DS3 is already delivering on some of the promises, as early as they are in their development cycle.


Our demo ended with a boss battle, and while it wasn't exactly massive from the perspective of that many action games out there, it was still a damn fine-looking boss considering the hack-and-slash games of the past. It was big, mean, and the cooperative team had to work together pretty hard in order to win - and even pull each other up when they went down. Frankly, my expectations for Dungeon Siege 3 were almost nil before going into the demo, but it really surprised me with just how good it looks and how fun it promises to be. The release date is set for a rather vague "2011" for now, and it'll be released on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.


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