Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard

a game by Liquid Entertainment, LLC
Platform: PC
User Rating: 9.5/10 - 4 votes
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See also: Dungeons and Dragons Games

We've Been Detecting some running themes in games lately. FPS titles have plenty of mono-syllabic heroes; WWII games have spent more time on Normandy than lost booze cruises; and RPG worlds all seem to be under attack from giant dragons and sweeping orc hordes. Anyone would think the developers are all living under the same roof.

The first time you look at Dragonshard you'll think the same; cheesy cash-in, expanding the D&D franchise into a new yawn-worthy area. But then you look closer and you realise there's more to this.

The guys at Liquid (the villains behind the so-so Battle Realms and Lord Of The Ring) have been paying attention to what's done well over the last ten years, and they've learnt all the tricks. They're not plagiarising a particular game; they're imaginatively ripping off good ones.

So there's the triumvirate of races from Starcraft: the good (elves, dwarves, humans); the bad (the umbragen, dark elves by any other name) and the ugly (the lizardfolk). There's the innovative city-building system from Kohan II. the curious troop levelling system from The Battle For Middle-earth, the heroes from Warcraft and of course the cheesy, work-a-day, more-twists-than-kosher-bread plot from Neverwinter Nights.

Surprisingly, it all hangs well together on a Warcraft III backbone.

Nothing New Here...

That meandering plot isn't too bad either; it's set in the new D&D setting of Eberron, a planet surrounded by a ring of peripatetic asteroids (dragonshards) that are the source of all magic in the world. Old Baldur's Gate/ NWN/Planescape fans will be askance at the lack of familiar faces and locations, while new players will be heartily sick of yet another unoriginal fantasy world to stomp over - but it's no worse than any other. The three races are different enough to keep everything interesting, with a cross-cutting plot that involves them all in a race to regain the mythical Heart of Siberys (a giant dragonshard).

There are only two resources in Dragonshard-, gold and the eponymous dragonshards. These both slowly tick up as you play the game (so you'll never quite run out, a nice touch), but you get most from your troops gathering them as they wander the world (nearly every unit can gather). Dragonshards fall from the sky whenever you've exhausted the surface supply, though not always near you; it can be difficult to build up an army when all the resources are behind enemy lines. Gold, on the other hand, is found mainly in the abandoned cities of the underworld, sitating expeditions of heroes and imen into the depths, infested with ters and rewarding side-missions.

Many Become One

Curiously, these heroes don't level up, relying solely on magic items to improve their stats. However, your normal troops Mo gain levels both from experience and in a base. As the troop levels go up, each warrior gets more midget henchmen to follow him around, meaning that your army expands into a million easily-ntrollable little warbands. When you go inderqround, all these midgets fold into their main guy, making for an intimate RPG experience with a smaller warband that expands into a massive army when it merges again. It gives the two halves a isfy inqly different feeling, though in reality you're controlling the.same units and, individually, both are at best average genre games with freewheeling combat and standardised enemies, special moves and characters.

Download Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

As Much as we'd like to deny it, PC gaming owes a huge debt to Dungeons & Dragons, and those shameful bonds aren't ready to loosen just yet. The latest game to drop out of the matted facial hair of tabletop D&D is Dragonshard, an innovative RTS in the works at Liquid Entertainment.

Rather than trying to blend strategy and role-playing elements like so many recent efforts, Dragonshard essentially does both at the same time. At ground level it's a traditional RTS, with basebuilding, resources and massed ranks of cavalry and infantry. Take your 'hero' units underground, however, and the game reverts to a dungeon bash in the finest Baldur's Gate tradition.

It's certainly a novel approach to the D&D universe, and one that could provide the best of both worlds without compromising either.

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