Step right up tower defense enthusiasts, Diablo style RPG enthusiasts, and even MOBA enthusiasts, because Dungeon Defenders 2 might just pique your curiosity. As a sequel to the 2011 Dungeon Defenders, Dungeon Defenders 2 (developed by Trendy Entertainment) places players in the world of Etheria where the army of ‘The Old Ones’ have invaded. It’s up to you and your hero to band together with friends to build the ultimate defense and push back the monstrous hordes. You can choose from one of four heroes: the Monk, the Squire, the Huntress, or the Apprentice. As many of you can probably guess, each hero falls in to a certain archetypal role that is standard in many fantasy RPGs. The Monk is a fast brawler, the Squire is the tank, the Huntress uses high damage ranged attacks, and the Apprentice uses areas of effect spells. Each hero obviously has their own unique combat abilities, but also their own selection of tower defense pieces that they can use to help defend.
I decided the Squire was the best choice for my play style, also the heart patterned vest he dons made me laugh, so that was a contributing factor too, I suppose. From there you enter a tavern, which acts as a sort of a menu, where you can gear up and sort out your hero before searching for a game. Once you finish an online match, you are then placed back in the tavern with your dungeon defending buddies, and you can buy or sell loot, choose a new map, or simply chill out and wait 20 minutes for your friend to come back from whatever the hell he was doing. The RPG elements are as follows: you receive loot from fallen enemies and the end match chests, which you can then either equip this loot or sell it in order to buy better items. You also level up, which not only unlocks the rest of your hero’s abilities, but also is a contributing factor to which skill pool you are allowed in to. That is pretty much it for the RPG elements, and so far it is simple, yet effective. You will be running straight to the hero customization menu to swap out your +46 physical defense boots for the +47 physical defense boots you just looted last round.
Matches consist of defending the maps core from waves of enemies. There’s an impressive number of maps to cycle through for an early access title, and visually the game looks very good with its cartoon style art design. But you can’t stand around and admire all the detail, as you need to set up defenses with your friends to dent the oncoming hordes. To build towers and use your heroes skills you need to collect certain resources. Certain recources can be gained from chests that are available during the ‘building phase’ in matches, but usually everything drops from fallen enemies. Green mana is used to build, upgrade, and repair your defenses, blue mana is consumed when using your heroes special abilities, and gold is a currency used for buying new items. You’ll need to have a steady supply of all three resources, and so will your teammates, if you want to defend the levels successfully. As the Squire I had an immensely fun time hacking and slashing my way through hordes of enemies, before raising my shield and back-peddling to a safe area to heal up. I like to think I was an asset to the team, as my ‘Leeroy Jenkins’ tactics did at least keep one enemy lane usually clear. The abilities hot bar at the bottom of the screen, combined with the overall gameplay mechanics, the team play, and even the art style make Dungeon Defenders 2 feel like it has a spoon full of MOBA included in its design.
Dungeon Defenders 2 will be fully released as a free-to-play game sometime in the future, and will follow a ‘freemium’ monetization model. In its early access state, however, the game will cost you $14.99 on Steam. It has also been recently announced that alongside the PC version, Dungeon Defenders 2 will be a PlayStation 4 console exclusive. The game is charming, right down to the animations. Both the gameplay and the RPG elements will keep you addicted, and with friends it becomes even more of a joy. The tower defense elements do work seamlessly alongside the RPG elements, however at this stage I feel games like Orcs Must Die! nail the concept better. For an early access game that is labelling itself as a pre-alpha, it sure does have a lot of content and detail. The impression here is that the game looks like it is on track to be fully released next year.
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