First Impression of Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance

First Impression of Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance

by Rick Miles Bruenor, Cattie-Brie, Dark Alliance, Dragons, Drizzt, Dungeons, Dungeons & Dragons, Icewind, PC, Playstation, Video Games, Wulfgar, XBox Leave a comment

Hey Folks, last night at midnight a game was supposed to drop on Xbox, PC, and Playstation, Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance. As per the twitter account for the game, there were minor delays on a couple of platforms, and I was doing the irresponsible thing and staying up with too many energy drinks until I'd gotten some experience with the game. Full disclosure here, Wizards of the Coast is a large part of my life, for a few years I made y living judging Magic tournaments, and before that I played in many of those same tournaments, heck I've been playing Magic since 1994, and I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1992. I have gone through every iteration of the game except 4th edition because it felt too much like a video game for me. Yes I like my video games, yes I like my role playing games, but they should each feel different, what feels good at the table in pen and paper just doesn't always translate well to digital formats. I also read the Drizzt books starting in the 90s, I am not a huge fan of Drizzt himself, as I find he is a character that tends to get overdone, but whatever. Ok, now you know my biases and starting point here, these are my first impressions of Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance.I had an interesting experience before the game even started, my son and I were both going to be playing, him on PC and me on XBox One (launch system). Both of us had predownloaded the game and so we clicked begin within about 30 seconds of each other, me with the slight headstart. By the time my opening cinematic had loaded and started to play his was already finished, and this is not a short cinematic. This seems like a fairly significant selling point on a newer XBox because these load speeds are terrible. We had wanted to see if the crossplay that some XBox sites had spoken of as being possible PC-XBox would work so Alex and I each chose a different character, he went Drizzt and I went with Wulfgar because big honkin hammer, what more can I say. Once the game loaded it pointed out that we were both in an Offline instance, and showed us the button to hit to alter that. I hit the button and was given three options: Open, Friends Only, or Invite Only. Now this being an alteration from my closed environment at the moment I didn't think anything of it, as I could back out and nothing would change, but I would discover in a moment there was a problem here, there is no option to go back to offline mode without restarting the session. Unfortunately Alex was unable to go online, I'm going to experiment tonight to see if that was because he was playing the game on my Game Pass Ultimate but his account which doesn't have Game Pass or not, we may need to figure out something different if that is the case. As he was unable to load though, we decided to each play single player for a little, starting with the tutorial. Interestingly the tutorial missions lock if you are in an online instance, and since I had set to Invite Only to try and getAlex into my game a few minutes before I couldn't go to the tutorial and had to restart my session. This may sound like not a very big deal, but remember I'm on an original XBox One, and every time I need to load it takes forever. Anyways, delays aside OFF TO THE TUTORIALTutorial: Don't click the Tutorial if you can avoid it. This is a long grindy session of checking off a list in order. Most of the things you are going to do here seem to have a tutorial pop up the first time it is relevant in game, and if they don't they are likely not mentioned in the tutorial either. On top of this being a long, grindy, redundant waste of time, there is no reward for going through the slog. The video we watched last week with Jemaine Clement seemed to suggest that you could do missions in any order, but the first mission at least is set in stone. You get to watch a video of goblins taking over the dwarf hold, and the return of Icewind herself, the mate of the dragon Icingdeath. As you play the level a couple of things of note, Red is important. If you see something that is red, it probably deserves more examination. This is frequently a place where you are meant to jump across or jump up to a different level, and sometimes there are explodey containers thatare always worth throwing things at (you won't always damage anyone, but blowing them when you are not near them is much better than them blowing up while you are beside them). Sometimes there will be red on a wagon or other breakable, and this sees to signify that there are goodies that direction just out of sight. One thing that no pop up tells you is that the areas with spikey ice on the ground will do massive damage to you. Alex fell a couple of times to the ice. I thought maybe it was the sharp bit of the spikey, but no, it turns out it is the cold that is damaging you, kind of like in Breath of the Wild, the way to get past these sections is to stand near a fire until you are warm, then run through the ice. This needed a tutorial pop up. Each level is broken down with rest points along the way, like five or so of them. These points allow you to rest, which respawns the enemies you have already killed, but sets a checkpoint so if you die you come back here, it also refills your health and consumables. You are however given the option to skip a rest point, and instead get a bonus on loot rarity. This provides a really interesting "push your luck" mechanic into the game, trying to decide if I still have enough potions to make the next rest point and reward myself with better loot at the risk of having to redo more of the level if I mess up. Alex tells me in Slay the Spire if you have to rest at a campfire you are losing already, but I still found I only skipped a couple of the rests. First time playthrough I was being more conservative than I needed, and if I knew that potions were possible treasure drops I would likely have skipped at least one more, if not two.After finishing the level I went to check out my loot, and I do like the concept of "Set" pieces not being entirely specific. Each set piece can appear it seems in any rarity and value, so after the first level I am running around with three parts of the Tundra Hunter set which gives a 5% chance of any enemy I kill dropping a health pickup. You then can head to the merchant to sell what you don't need, and purchase consumable abilities. These are the items that restock at the rest points, and seem reasonably costed. I picked up the potion to refill my stamina, as well as one that adds to my Ultimate meter. I then saw that gaining moves costs gold as well, so the potions are competing for the resource with the moves you can use, and those are a fair bit more expensive. I scoured the level pretty thoroughly, and ended up with enough gold to get two moves, but instead ended up with a move and two potions.So far I'm having fun, there are glitches, and there are things I don't like (The lock on mechanic is really bad) but there is a lot of potential there, and I'm looking forward to having even more fun as we go and get into multiplayer.Rick Miles

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