I’ll preface this article by stating that I never played the original Dungeon Defenders, and generally do not care for tower defense type games. With that said, I did spend a fair amount of time with the game, and here are my thoughts.
Dungeon Defenders 2 is an Action Tower Defense game that features RPG elements like leveling and loot collection. It is currently in its alpha phase and is available to play for free on Steam. While the base game is free, there is additional downloadable content for the game that ranges from $14.99 to $49.99, – my first thought was “great another pay-to-win” game. However, I was relieved to see that none of these packs actually gave any sort of competitive advantage – it’s mostly hero costumes and tower skins. In fact, the developers go out of their way to state that the game is supported by “ethical purchases.
After installing the game I really had no idea of what to do – after all this was a new experience for me. After clicking play on the title menu I found myself in the Social Tavern – a charming place with a nice ambiance to it. It was here that I could create a new Hero, there are four playable Heroes – Monk, Squire, Huntress, and Apprentice. Each one has different stats and build attributes and you can have more than one – even swapping out while playing in the game. I chose the Squire mainly because I enjoy characters with more physical attack vs magic.
Within the Social Tavern players can visit a variety of places, among those is the War Table – this is where you select your maps and game difficulties. I went there first and jumped right into the action – I played my first game type on “Campaign” easy. Now that I look back on it, I think that starting to play the game like this was a good choice for me as I was able to quickly learn the basics.
One of the things I really liked from the start was the intuitive user interface. I could easily find my way around and view my stats – no matter where I was in the game I could always see my heroes abilities and towers. Having an intuitive UI in a game like this is a huge plus because you do spend a great deal of time using it to browse loot, update hero stats, sell items, and much more. In your inventory you have bags, a standard bag has 16 slots while a premium bag will give you 32 slots along with the ability to pick custom icons and rename. Bags are important because the bulk of this game revolves around loot and your bags fill up quickly, especially with AutoCollect enabled – which you do have the option of enabling or disabling for each bag.
As I progressed through the game I noticed that I was quickly leveling up. It didn’t take long for me to hit the level 50 cap – immediately I began to think that this was it – I have reached the end of the game and that’s all there was to it. I was wrong, maxing out on the level cap turned out to be just the opposite – I was now able to play other game modes and it required much more skill than I initially thought.
After you reach the current level cap of 50 you unlock the game type “End Game”. It is here that difficultly levels like Nightmare 1-4 are introduced. These difficulty levels require you to fine-tune your hero’s abilities and make sure your team has the right balance. At this point – after level 50 – I really found certain areas of the Social Tavern to be much more important.
There are other places besides the War Table that you will want to visit – like the Gran Master – a sphere NPC that lets you purchase skill spheres for your hero. Making sure you have the right gear equipped proved to be a pivotal point in the game for me. Equipping your character with the appropriate gear is a must to survive any of the harder modes – equipping quality gear boosts your character’s defenses and skills. A nice feature that the game has is the ability to use your Hero Deck to swap in and out of Heroes before waves – I could use my level 50 Squire to build powerful walls and then swap out to my Monk hero to lay down some lightning auras. This proves very useful if you want to solo a map or even make up for a lack of hero availability on your team.
With that said, I really enjoyed playing this game. It has been in the Alpha stage for quite a while now – almost a year in Steam Early Access. But I can see how that time has allowed the game to mature and expand. As with any alpha/early access game you learn to take it in stride and understand that it is still a work in progress. I am looking forward to see where this game goes within the next few months.