Dungeon Defenders II – From Love to Hate

Dungeon Defenders II: Power of the Ancients is an RPG style Tower Defense game. It’s played in third person and has the option of micro transactions to enhance game play.

I picked up Dungeon Defenders II a few years ago on Steam while it was still in Early Access. It was fun, at least with more than one player. It had a few bugs, but still playable and I hoped for a polished version to come out soon.

archerA year or so later – with the game still in Early Access – I found it again on the PS4. Exciting! Yeah, so it wouldn’t load.

Flash forward to about 6 months later. Fire up the PS4 version. It works! It is also no longer in Early Access on Steam. Who am I going to make fun of about the qualms of Early Access now?

Dungeon Defenders II is a game better played on the PC. The controls aren’t natural for a gamepad and I found a lot of my time during a nearly nonexistent and confusing tutorial getting a spell mixed up with placing a tower.

I like a good tower defense game. Ever since I fell in love with the original Popcap Plants Vs Zombies, I’ve always been obsessed with the strategy behind beating them. When they started advancing Tower Defense games with special effects like in Kingdom Rush 2 or even adding FPS aspects like in Sanctum 2, it made me happy the genre wasn’t dying.

Dungeon Defenders II takes the tower defense model and inserts it into an RPG category. Sort of a one-sided MOBA where the champion has special attacks but also has to build stuff.

Gameplay

One of the most irritating parts of the game were the random conversations between heroes in the corner that I always missed. At first, I kind of liked that gameplay wasn’t interrupted by cut scenes. As time went on, I realized that I kind of did care about what those stupid characters were bantering on about and I had just missed all of it.

From what I saw, the information wasn’t that important. I could be wrong because I missed half of the conversation. A few times they warned of portals opening up which…is kind of important information.

The other super annoying part of the game was the map and navigating the area. Oh the East Sewer is being attacked? Pray tell, which way is east? Precious seconds became spent on figuring out where the fuck you are. More seconds spent figuring out which way is east. By the time you got to the East Sewer, you could be assured that it was destroyed and there will be no bonus points for that game.

warriorYou’re also given marks and totems to compliment the heroes attacks and defenses. Nothing explains them forcing you to blindly pick and choose.

Even in the single play campaign, the game is played through the server. Meaning if you have a bad connection, be prepared for some pretty bad lag. I feel like anything named single player campaign should have the ability to be played offline, but I guess in the microtransaction world you want everything to be accessible.

Difficulty

Dungeon Defenders came off as too easy or too hard. There was no happy medium. In the beginning, a few towers and some spells did the trick. After a few levels, you needed a prayer, a miracle, and the sacrifice of your first born child to have a chance at beating it by yourself.

This could all come down to skill and choices, but I don’t believe that certain levels can only be beat by using certain champions. A more realistic view might be that you need other people to help you play the game. If that were the case, then why bother with a single player campaign in the first place?

Controls

I found Dungeon Defenders to be easier to play on the PC. When you have to utilize all of the controller buttons and bumpers at the start of a game, overcoming the learning curve becomes a hassle.

It also got confusing remembering what each tower and special attack did. You’re given the option to play with 4 heroes that you can switch between at any point in the game. When different skills or defenses opened up, nothing announced or explained them.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much when all I want is a little less discretion and a little more instruction. They’ve had years to figure this out.

Visuals

monkDungeon Defenders II is pretty. It’s a cute cartoonish style game with some cool special effects for the heroes abilities. The graphics are probably the best part of the game. Maybe the only good part of the game.

Did you notice the big goblins look like The Hulk? Bruce Banner, eat your heart out.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer was almost non-existent. Perhaps it has a better following on the PC, but it was almost impossible to find a friendly public game. They’re really going to have to ramp up the marketing on consoles to make it a fun game to play for us people with no gaming friends that will play tower defense games.

Conclusion

I want to like this game so badly. I want to tell everyone to play it. Unfortunately, I can’t. There are too many inconsistencies and it doesn’t make for a satisfying game play. I’ve waited years for a finished version and am left with only disappointment.

Where are the good tower defense games when you want them?

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