Our Favourite Tower Defense Game to Date

Dungeon Defenders 2 is the sequel of the highly acclaimed action-strategy title by Trendy Entertainment. It combines the essences of the popular tower defense genre, with action-RPG elements. Aside from being able to build defenses, players can take part in the actual battle with their created heroes. Each hero has his/her own ability that players can trigger at will. Heroes can earn experience in battle, which will increase their stats, unlock new defenses, and allow them to use better equipment. Deployed defenses can also be repaired, sold, or upgraded. Players will also gain access to a central hub called the Tavern where they can manage their characters, purchase new gears from shops, and enhance their existing gears through item fusion.

The gameplay is in 3rd person perspective. You can see your character and you can control him/her using familiar movement and look controls: WASD keys for movements, SPACE to jump. and mouse to control the view. Left-mouse click will perform an ordinary attack while holding the Right-mouse click will allow you to charge your attack or raise your shield. Like action-MMORPGs, you can activate your skills or build towers by pressing the number keys. First four number slots are for abilities, remaining four are for the towers and traps. The controls are very responsive and seamless.

The main gameplay takes place in isolated maps (similar to “instances” in MMORPGs) with multiple entrances. Each entrance is protected by a force field which disintegrates projectiles coming in or out of it. That means your arrows won't hit the enemies until they enter your side of the field. The layout of each map are permanent and won't be randomized every session. The players' main objective is to prevent waves of enemy monsters from reaching the high-valued object they're protecting. While it is possible to do this alone, it is recommended to do it in a party. To help them complete this task, players have to deploy defenses and traps unique to their character along the enemies routes and join the battle once the waves arrive. There are also some helpful environmental objects and traps that players can use in tandem with their towers and abilities to help them take out the Old Ones' hordes. There are no fixed spots where the players are limited in placing their towers; they can build towers and deploy traps as long as the terrain allows it and not near the barriers.

Each map has a fixed number of Defense points. This limits the number of defense towers and traps that players can deploy. This amount is shared throughout all players. This means a lone player can deploy more towers and traps to compensate with the lack of players while a full, four-player party session will have a smaller number of defenses they can build individually but they're more effective since they can cover the horde's paths individually. Once the limit is reached, you can't build any more defenses until some are destroyed or sold.

The game has two “currencies”. The green crystal is used to build your towers along the projected path of the enemies. Green crystals are also used to repair and upgrade your towers/traps. You can also repair your allies' traps/towers by spending your own green crystals. Green crystals can be acquired from chests that replenish after entering Build Phases between waves. These chests have fixed locations, and will be activated once the Build Phase starts. These chests however, seems to be limited to one per character. That means you cannot open a Green Chest of another player (unless that player dropped out in the middle of the Build Phase and he hasn't opened the chest yet) Green Crystals are also dropped by defeated monsters. Blue Crystals function like your character's Mana or MP. This is consumed when your character is using an ability. Fortunately, using the Heal ability doesn't cost anything at all. Blue Crystals can be collected as enemy drops as well. Because the resources needed for defense-building and abilities are separate, there's no need to sacrifice one over the other when the situation calls for it.

The game now features Elemental Combos. This allows you to combine the effects of your defenses, abilities, and equipment. For example, enemies drenched with water will receive extra damage when hit by an ability or weapon that deals lightning damage.

The game's item and loot system is also outstanding as it is. While in the battle, everybody gets their share on the dropped loots – eliminating loot-stealing and greed. After completing the stage, each player will be given their own loot chest that may contain various rewards.

A player has a total of four bags that are shared between all heroes in the Deck. Three are usuable by default and the fourth one, called the Bag of Holding is locked. This can be unlocked by spending gold. You can spend 10,000 gold for an ordinary, 18-slot bag or get the premium one that costs 50,000 with 30 slots, with the freedom to pick icons and rename it as you please. There's also this Temporary Bag where items that you missed are kept but with a timer; if the timer runs out, the items in the temporary bag will disappear permanently.

You have two weapon slots (two-handed weapons like bows automatically occupy two slots), four armor slots for the head, body, feet, and hands. You can also carry one Relic. Relics are artifacts that further augments your Heroes abilities or towers. Relics with additional bonus effects must be sought after of course. These are dropped by enemies or can be bought from a specific merchant in the tavern. You can also upgrade various equipment using other pieces of equipment. You can put up to five items that will be consumed as materials for upgrading your gear. After successfully upgrading your gear, it will earn one point that you can assign to any of the available stats to increase it. Each item has their own upgrade level limit too.

There are currently four available heroes in the game, with two more yet to be revealed or unlocked. Each hero have their own abilities and towers. In addition, they can also heal themselves. Each hero can deploy four types of towers/traps, and have four different active abilities. As heroes and their deployed towers defeat enemies, they earn experience to level up. Leveling up allows them to wear better gear and unlock more abilities and towers. Players can create multiple characters but they can only assign three of them in a Deck. The Deck allows easy access to the selected heroes when you're managing their equipment via the Hero Manager feature in the tavern. The Heroes in your deck must be within the level range of the selected session. Heroes that don't meet the level requirements will be removed from the deck but you can add them later in the Hero Manager. Players can also strengthen their heroes through Specs. This is basically your character's skill tree. You'll earn Skill Points and use it to improve your listed Specs. The game also offers Respec which is basically resetting the your allocated points so you can re-assign them.

The game's art style is cartoony, like what you'll normally see in non-violent, kid-friendly games. However, this is also part of Dungeon Defender 2's great charm. The character designs, environment, background – they're all pleasant to look at. The maps have simple layout but they're effective and engaging. The visuals are stunning and really gives you this light perception of the game's environment. The game doesn't seem to suffer framerate issues as well, even if there's a lot of going on in the battle which is a huge plus as well for an incomplete game. The same thing goes with the game's audio quality. The sound effects and background music have the generic, fantasy, medieval theme but it really blends well with the game's presentation. It's enough to immerse players to the game.

The controls are very responsive and so far, it is quite effective. Having a limited number of towers and abilities per hero ensures that players don't have to bother with advanced hotkey modifications or macros. Everything is within reach, and this proves to be efficient so far. The default mouse sensitivity is already good and the third-person perspective is seamless.


The game requires constant internet connection and players can join active sessions based on their level range. The game will allow you to play with other players within the reasonable level range. You can even opt to play solo though the game encourages playing with a group. Up to four players can play at a time in a single session. In the end-game evaluation screen, you can also upvote or downvote other players you've played with.

The game is in its Pre-Alpha build and was released on Steam on December 5 as an Early Access Game. The game is not fully complete yet but it is playable with the main features delivering some of the core experiences promised. That said, the developer, Trendy Entertainment is continuously working on perfecting the game while keeping lines open for player feedback. They have displayed their development milestones that they want to implement until the game reaches its final build.

Dungeon Defenders 2 looks very, very promising and if the developers stay true to their milestones, this game will have the makings of a hit. The initial flow of reviews in Steam are very positive and I personally find the game simple yet addictive. Trendy Entertainment mashed a bunch of elements into one great game. They have the formula, if they continue doing things right, Dungeon Defenders 2 won't just be a sleeper hit.

The game is available now on Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/236110/

The game is available now on Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/236110/

Posted: 10th Dec 2014 by vhayste
Tags:
Dungeon Defenders II, PC,