I played Dungeon Defenders last night, having purchased it as a 4-pack with my regular gaming buddies, for about five hours (casually, yo). I think the fact that we played it for five hours straight says a lot right there, but this being a blog and all let me write a bit more about it. Also see Zubon over at KTR for some more impressions.
For a $10 game, graphically it looks surprisingly good, and the sound is also enjoyable. Controls in-game are mostly solid, although the occasional wonky collision detection is noticeable. The UI on the other hand is clearly console-inspired, and makes simple stuff like inventory management unnecessarily sloppy. As Zubon mentioned, this is very clearly a console-first title.
All of my impressions are based on playing the game with three friends on vent, which is basically the ideal scenario for the game. Even after just five hours, I can’t imagine the game being nearly as fun playing with PUGs (though keep in mind my general tolerance for PUGs is somewhere between zero and none).
I say this because there are some serious game-design issues. The most glaring being that XP gain is based on who kills a mob, which naturally means support classes/tower, while very helpful in winning, don’t earn you the same amount of XP as killing stuff. This encourage bad-tactics stuff like people putting attack towers in front of defense towers to try to get more XP, or people charging into mobs to score more kills. If I saw it playing with three friends, I can’t imagine how this is going to play out in PUG-land. This also naturally makes offensive classes like the Squire ‘better’ than a support class like the Monk in terms of leveling/score. The whole mess could very easily be fixed by making XP gain global.
One concern I had with DD is how it would balance tower defense with the Diablo-monster-bash aspect. On the surface it seems like the Diablo part is dominant, and sometimes it is, but on tougher maps proper use of towers is the key to victory. We lost twice last night, and both times correcting how we place our towers resulted in victory. This was very satisfying, and I think there is a decent amount of strategic depth in terms of tower combos and placement.
While certain areas of DD are rough, I think overall the game does a nice job of mixing genres. Collecting items is fun, and the itemization is on-par with Diablo in terms of random stats and such. Going up levels is also fun, and there seems to be decent depth to the character customization (and no doubt there will soon be ‘best spec’ builds). The tower placement/upgrading part is flexible and interesting, and the monster-bashing is what it is, simple yet enjoyable.