As a gamer when I hear the term free-to-play there is always that feeling of dread that creeps up on me. I used to say that FPS games are ten a penny and now, thanks to the mobile market, there is an abundance of free-to-play titles flooding the gaming community. That’s not to say there isn’t some cracking free-to-play titles out there. We have Neverwinter, Fallout Shelter and Warframe but then at the other end of the scale is Roblox and World of Tanks. These two games never quite held my attention for very long. The latest title to come out fighting for the free-to-play genre and you wallet is Dungeon Defenders 2. It takes Tower Defence and RPG elements and blends them together with colourful graphics, but does it have what it takes to sit along side Neverwinter and Fallout Shelter?
In Dungeon Defenders 2 you find that The Old Ones’ armies have invaded Etheria and in true Tower Defence gameplay it is up to you and the eleven colourful characters to help push them back. It may be a simple story but it serves it’s purpose well and will take on a journey through ancient forests, massive castles, haunted temples and active volcanoes. You will also meet an manner of various creatures along the way ranging from dragons to little mini ogre type kamikaze dude that will chase after you.
With eleven joyful characters to chose from there will be something for everyone as well as their unique abilities to help you on your quest. The characters on offer are Squire; Apprentice; Huntress; Monk; Initiate; Abyss Lord; EV2; Gunwitch; Lavamancer; Mystic and Dryad. I like how the team have given the characters specific roles like Squire who plays as a tank type role, where as EV2 plays a supporting role for the teams defences thanks to the boosting of other characters towers. So far though my favourite character is the Gunwitch, who I like to think of as a mistress of distraction. You see she doesn’t build any towers but her unique abilities allow you to transform enemies into books for a short period. The Huntress is quite a good all round character for using at a distance. Her defence is being able to plant a defence tower that allow balloons to hover in the air and once shot will drop flames. I haven’t got around to playing as every character yet but I am liking the amount of diversity in the cast so far.
The gameplay in Dungeon Defenders 2 is it’s heart and it is what makes the game stand out against other free-to-play titles. Not only is it easy to pick up but there is almost unlimited strategies and great replay value at your finger tips. The games have your typical tower defence structure to them where you first start with the build phase. In this phase you are shown the path of your foes with purple lines. This just starts off usually with two but as you go through the waves the number of paths increase as does the type and strength of enemies. After your build phase its on to the first wave, once that is complete its back to another build phase and so on. In the build phase you are granted green gems which are used to build and upgrade towers. Then you have a certain number of defence points per map and these are used up as you increase the number of towers. Each character has manna which when used will start being depleted but it refills as soon a you stop using it. In the instance of the Gunwitch turning your foes in to books costs a certain amount of mana. The games HUD screen is easy to follow and the transition from keyboard and mouse to gamepad hasn’t caused me any issues.
What I also like about this title is that you have the ability to go in to games with a total of four characters all of which can be swapped between during battle. This is where the almost limitless types of strategy comes in to play, especially if you can find the right balance. What’s more is that regardless if you use the other characters in battle, as long as they are in you hero deck they will level up all together. This is a great feature as it saves you having to chose just one hero to level up at a time. The final element of gameplay is the loot system, which you will be familiar with if you play RPG titles. Straight away I noticed elements from Neverwinter in there, where you can boost weapon stats by infusing items with shards if they allow it. While I have yet to reach the end game I can see that the loot system will no doubt get more interesting when you reach this point. As you would expect your characters will change in appearance with each of the items you equip.
Dungeon Defenders 2 isn’t without it faults, but they are only teething issues I suspect and things are getting better. There has just been a large update for the Xbox One version, although the PC runs on a different version. The issues I describe here are on the Xbox One, not the PC. This is purely a multiplayer title, and getting to the end game will pretty much require you to play with others. There are points where you just get overthrown by monsters if you are on your own. I have had some levels not load properly and the game has crashed a couple of times, but it just causes frustration, it wont make me want to stop playing it.
Graphically this game looks fantastic with its colourful cartoon palette and quirky characters. The levels all look superb and quite atmospheric especially the sewer locations. There is no character voice overs but the soundtrack is quite pleasant and has that fun time appeal to it. I love the look of the public hub and the private tavern both acting as game hubs depending on if you are playing private or publicly online. Overall I am quite pleased with the graphics and the visual effects the game has to offer.
The Good Things
- Great mix of characters.
- Great mix of Tower Defence and RPG Loot collecting.
- Split-Screen co-op on consoles.
And The Bad
- Teething issues on the Xbox One with levels not loading properly.
- You will need at least two people to get in to the later levels of the game.
- Dungeon Defenders 2 is one of the better free-to-play games out there, especially if you love tower defence titles. There are eleven characters in all each with their own unique abilities, but what I really love is the fact that you can take a four characters to battle and switch between them. This lends itself perfectly to a multitude of strategies. While you can go in to battles on your own, this game is best experienced with friends. With a little more TLC to sort out the teething issues on all platforms this game will be worthy to sit along side some of the best free-to-play titles out there. The team have done a great job infusing Tower Defence and RPG elements to produce a very addictive title. Fans of both genres cant really go wrong with giving this title a try, after all it is free. In saying that if you do enjoy it then I would certainly advise looking into obtaining more than the characters you initially start off with.
Trendy Entertainment have done a great job infusing Tower Defence and RPG elements to produce a very addictive title.