REVIEW / Dungeon Defenders 2 (PC)

 

Fans of the 2011 critically acclaimed Dungeon Defenders action tower defense game will NOT be disappointed with its sequel, Dungeon Defenders 2, released on Steam Early Access on December 5, 2014. For those of you not familiar with the Dungeon Defenders franchise, you control one of four heroes (many more can be unlocked with play) and you defend a certain location against waves of enemies, by using class-specific defensive towers, traps and special attacks.

You don’t do this alone either. Well you can, but where’s the fun in that? You and up to three friends can hop into a map together and fight against the enemy, level up your hero and collect loot! That’s right, not only does Dungeon Defenders 2 have tower defense elements, it has role playing elements as well, such as a classic loot-drop system and weapon/ability upgrade system.

 

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The four classes from left to right: The Squire, armed with his sword and shield. The Apprentice, wielding his magic elemental staff. The Huntress, drawing her bow back for an attack. The Monk about to strike with his bow staff.

 

Players start out with the option of playing one of four classes: The Squire, Apprentice, Huntress and Monk. Players of Dungeon Defenders will note that these are the same four characters that were available in the first game, only now they are older! Dungeon Defenders 2 takes place many years after the first game, so naturally, the characters have aged appropriately. In addition to these four starting classes, players can eventually unlock 20 additional classes, some of which are brand new to Dungeon Defenders 2, with more to come I’m sure.

Making a character and hopping into a match is super easy. You select a class and named them and you’re good to go!  Players can also have up to three heroes available in their Hero Manager, so if you need to swap to a different class of attacks, you can do so with ease. After players make their hero in the Hero Manager machine, they can start playing immediately. You just walk over to the War Recruiter, select the level range you want to play in and select find a group. If you don’t feel like playing with others,  you can just select Private Game save Eternia yourself!

 

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Here is a shot of the in-game HUD. Teammates and health are in the top left. Abilities and towers/traps are at the bottom. Mini-map, wave number and current number of enemies incoming are in the top right.

 

When you load into your game you have a brief period of time where you can get a lay of the land, set towers/traps and devise your strategy of attack…or defense rather. Once you have adequately armed the battlefield in your favor, you can end your grace period early and start the match. Once the match begins you essentially run lane to lane, downings enemy after enemy not only with your auto attacks but specific characters as well. Every character has four class abilities and four towers or traps. You must use them wisely if you hope to properly defend your point. Sometimes things can get pretty crazy out there, but you just have to have awareness and properly fortify the battlefield in between each wave of enemies. As enemies fall, many will drop sweet, sweet loot you can equip in between waves as well, or keep them to sell or upgrade later.

Combat in Dungeon Defenders 2 felt very intuitive. You move with WASD keys, jump with space bar, cast your hero abilities with 1-4 and set down towers/traps with 5-8. The rounds are fun and light-hearted but can get pretty intense as well, especially if you’re playing solo. Some enemies have defenses against certain types of attacks, such fire, ice or even just physical and magical. So if you don’t have a teammate that diversifies your attacks, you’re gonna have a hard time. The towers and traps do help though. A lot. They can even be upgrade to have more health and hit harder. Upgrading towers and traps is the key to late game victory.

 

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Here is some of that sweet, sweet loot I mentioned.

 

The loot system functions very nicely in Dungeon Defenders 2. Unlike in Dungeon Defenders where your “friends” can snag your loot, no one can pick-up or even see the loot you get. It was a bit confusing when I started playing with my cousin. I told him to come to my location because there was an awesome staff for his Apprentice (I was a Squire). He showed up and had no idea what I was talking about. That’s when I realized Dungeon Defenders 2 has a private loot system. No more rushing over and grabbing anything that drops. If something drops from a fallen enemy it’s for your eyes and your eyes only. I love it.

Additionally, loot can come equipped with bonuses for hero abilities, towers and traps. So they don’t only buff your defensive stats, loot can buff your offensive capabilities as well. For instance, I’m sure you can’t read it but the “Mythical Staff” found in the screenshot increases the knock-up duration of the Apprentice’s Tornado ability by 27.07 percent. It’s nice. If you can’t seem to find good loot though never fear. Dungeon Defenders 2 has a very nice upgrade system designed to help you not only get good gear, but put to use gear you no longer need, can’t use  or may not be worth much.

 

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Inventory Screen.

 

There is also a bunch of new stuff to this sequel that wasn’t in the first Dungeon Defenders. First and foremost, weapons, towers and abilities can all COMBO TOGETHER. How awesome is that? If a Huntress lays down an oil trap and your Squire has a fire sword, light them up baby. Each class has a specialization tree they can branch into. That way, your Squire may not be the same as that guy’s Squire. There is a ping system to make communicating on the battlefield easier. A bag system that helps organized you items easier and even sub-objectives during levels to help diversify gameplay.

My only real complaints with Dungeon Defenders 2 was the poor tutorial and lack of story. Had I not been Orcs Must Die 2 savvy, I don’t think the tutorial given would have taught me everything I needed to know. I didn’t know I could upgrade towers until I was in the middle of a game and had to sell a tower, only to see the upgrade option. There is also two taverns you get loaded into. I’m still not even sure what the purpose of that is. The tavern is where your characters loads into when you start the game. You can shop, equip and swap heroes there. If I want to play a match though, I get loaded into the same tavern only it’s a different color. As I said, still confuses me a bit. I think one may have to do with playing with others versus going solo.

 

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A tutorial on upgrading would be nice too. I think I figured it out pretty well on my own but it was through a lot of trial and error. Match making is a little odd too. You select the level range you wish to play in but apparently anyone can pick any range which leads to some bad matches. There’s just a lot player-usability issues I’ve come across that can all be fixed with a little more developer instruction.

The lack of story is just that. In the first Dungeon Defenders, you are fighting off the Old Ones’ armies. Well now you’re doing it again several years later. I don’t really play this game for the story anyways but it still feels like a let down that’s all. We’re defending against the exact same things we BEAT in the first game.  Meh.

 

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Wanting a game to gift to your buddies over the holidays? Dungeon Defenders 2 is it. This game is fun, fast-paced, and has a TON of replayability, and any small hiccups are soon to be worked out when it leaves Early Access. The variety of different classes alone make Dungeon Defenders 2 one of a kind. I could play the same level multiple times, but if I’m using a different class each time, I get a whole new experience. The best part?  Dungeon Defenders 2 has plans to go free to play towards the end of 2015. So if you can’t defend any dungeons right now, give it six+ months and defend for FREE. To buy the game or learn more about it check out its Steam page where it’s on sale now for $24.99. Happy Defending!

 

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