Dungeon Defenders First Impressions

  • Absorbing. 3 hours went by without much notice, although there were two times where I was frustrated enough to stop until my buddy invited me back.
  • More action, less tower defense. You do have some towers, but this is not a stately strategy game where you place your defenses and watch over them like a demigod. In the early waves/levels, you are there in the front shooting, and later, you are repairing them while the attacks are coming in.
  • Still buggy. I think the gameplay works, but the game environment is problematic. I’m told it is more of a PC issue, and you immediately get the sense of how much the PC matters to the developers when it opens with “press start.” My “push to talk” turned off every time I zoned. The keybindings reset with one of yesterday’s patches and became uneditable at the options screen. My friend playing ranked remarked that the game/server/whatever crashed 3 times while he was still in character creation. The Steam achievements were not working for me.
  • There’s not really a point to high score screens in open. It displays while you are there, but those are obviously modded/cheat games, with scores in the millions versus the thousands. But it still displays on your forge while you’re on the map. Ranked gets you away from this, but did I mention “crashed 3 times at character creation”?
  • It’s absorbing and frantic but not great (so far?). Weak tower defense plus decent action is not synergizing strongly.
  • Classes differ strongly. I had lots of Squire envy, as their tanking+knockback towers were the heart of our defense. My Apprentice was the DPS behind them, and then I was the healer keeping the tank tower repaired. My buddy the Huntress had mostly last-ditch traps rather than attacking towers, so that class presumably is meant to be on the attack more. I did not see the Monk in action, but I get the sense it is similar.
  • There is a level grind. The difficulty and experience point curves assume that you will repeat levels to be prepared for the next, although I presume that great planning and execution can overcome a lot of that. There is also an equipment grind, and finding a staff that tripled my attack damage changed things.
  • Update, missed one: bring a group or go home. Maybe this is fun single-player, or doing older maps once you are high level, but only the first map is really solo-able (when you reach it). The maps do scale with group size, but they your combined power scales up faster than the enemies do, so perhaps it is better to say that they are 4-player maps that do not scale down well.

This is through about 4 maps, so who knows how things differ much later.

10 thoughts on “Dungeon Defenders First Impressions”

  1. I saw TotalBiscuit say that OMD is better solo and DD is better with friends…. does DD have much of a solo element? Can you describe how a game by yourself works (bots, scaling, etc.)?

    OMD seems fun, but I like the look/style of DD. OMD seems a more frenetic pace than I want.

    1. Added a comment on that. I realized once I got to work that I forgot “bring a group or go home.” It does nto scale down particularly well, or perhaps that is just how the low-level power-scaling interacts with the group size scaling.

  2. Sounds like another rough PC launch. Ah well.

    Watching TB play, the combat/action part of the game really failed to look appealing, which seems like a major hurdle to overcome. Movement looked floaty and there didn’t seem to be much meat to the combat, in stark contrast to OMD, which seemed to have a much more competent action component (but a less interesting strategy side, for my taste).

    Neither game really grabs me. I find myself hoping the two studios team up to make an entirely new game merging the best of their previous efforts – but even then, I’m not sure I’d really be that excited.

    In general, these hybrid TD/action games still seem to be missing something. I think people need to be willing to innovate in hopes of finding a more successful formula – not that I have much of a clue what that would be. More asymmetry perhaps? With one person playing in a top-down RTS mode while the others focus on collecting resources, fighting, and building or repairing? Perhaps if the invading forces were controlled by another player? I dunno.

    Maybe it’s just another indication that the whole TD genre just really isn’t for me. Seems the simplest answer…

    1. I agree that the marshmallowy action in the videos I saw really turned me off of Dungeon Defenders.

      Iron Grip: Warlord may be a good reference point to see where action-TD hybrids could go. The overarching objective of the game is to hunt down enemy captains to crush enemy morale. Once the morale meter for your side or the enemy side reaches zero, the other side wins.

      So the first part of the game is spent trying to ward off the oncoming waves of troops and the odd vehicle to earn enough money to set up some static defenses and then you’re keeping vehicles away while hunting down the enemy captains. The game has an absolute slew of problems (such as certain enemy vehicles one-shotting all of your static defenses if it gets them in sight), but that overarching goal, which is a departure from the standard tower defense genre, really makes it a bit more exciting.

      Sanctum may also be worth looking at. It’s quite solid as a TD game and the action component works, but it is really just tower defense plus shooting. However, I don’t feel the synergy between the components works as well as it does in Orcs Must Die!

      I suspect some crafty Starcraft 2 mods are demonstrating a lot of the possibilities in this space as well, but I haven’t ever looked into that for myself. I do think the demo for Iron Grip: Warlords is very much worth a look if you’ve got some time and wonder what could be happening in the action-TD area. (Parting hint: use towers to defend your base from troops and take care of vehicles personally.)

  3. Well, I’ve played nothing but solo and am having a pretty good time. The movement is a bit floaty, but you can level up your speed stat which probably makes quite a difference. I’ve had no problem soloing the first two maps playing all 4 classes. 3rd map looks a bit more challenging and has some flying things to deal with, I believe.

    I actually like leveling up weapons and pets. Haven’t needed to upgrade armor yet. I actually didn’t think to upgrade anything until I started on the 2nd map the third time (I’m doing each map with each class), so just now doing that and it makes a big difference. Find a good weapon with lots of available levels rather than hope to keep finding better ones, and level it up seems to be the way to go.

    My main complaint with the game, and it is a big one, is the lack of any turn controls. I can’t use a mouse for very long without my hand hurting and there is no way (that I see) to turn without using the mouse. I couldn’t get my gamepad to work at all so I have no idea how the console players can turn in place; the keymap options doesn’t list anything for either keyboard or gamepad. It would also be great to save between waves rather than have to finish the entire map to move on.

  4. I’m having a lot of fun with this game so far. Haven’t had too many issues and I am pretty happy with it so far. I am glad that their are continuing updates, and they are adding stuff players are concerned about. A bit of a rough release, but it seems to be getting better.

    I think the characters are a bit wonky. But this may be the way they wanted it. The 4 have different difficulty ratings, so I am assuming they wanted harder characters to play. The only concern I have really is the fact that most players area leaning towards the apprentice and squire. I am currently playing a huntress, because I like the ranged aspect. I am having a good time with her of course, although playing with my friend who is an apprentice I feel really underwhelmed. Like all my abilities are lackluster compared to his. And even though our levels are very close his kill count is always much greater than mine due to having powerful towers and a blockade. The huntress giving me only traps to work with, which are difficult to use in the beginning. I find myself running frantically between traps repairing them because my teammates don’t acknowledge/care enough to do so. It has gotten a bit easier now with a higher detonation count, so most don’t need to be repaired often.

    I really just wished that they gave each class a wider variety, because the monk and huntress feel insignificant when you play with a squire or apprentice. I guess it is too late for them to change that now, because that really is my only tiny complaint. The list of items is monstrous. There are a nice variety of pets to accompany you, the upgrading system is a nice touch although it feels really expensive at some parts. And a new item will come along later making me feel like I wasted loads of money (mana) on the other item.

    Still…. I love this game. I have spent numerous hours having a blast, the game is not like others I have played. Okay maybe sanctum, that game was good too. I just like the item/character development a lot in this game. The landscapes are beautiful, the enemies are fierce. The game is awesome. Well worth the 15 dollars I spent, and for anyone considering. Seriously :D

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