It seems like everyone has an idea of what the “ideal” dungeon crawler entails. With Diablo III just released, it may be a little hard to get hyped about another lootfest, but fledgling company Grinding Gear Games would like you to take a moment and see what they have to offer.
Last weekend they opened their beta up to everyone, and we got to take a look at what equated to about 5-7 hours of content. I did my best to complete all everything available, and I can honestly say I came away very impressed.
At it’s core it is a typical isometric dungeon crawler. Progression is loot-based and stat-focused, dungeons are dark and dreary, and longevity comes from finding ideal builds and doing boss runs. The main difference comes in its amazing skill system and its optimization of all the little things.
Being still in beta, many aspects are subject to change. So let’s take a look at the more concrete features that are confirmed to be available at launch. Mainly the skill system.
The first departure comes in the stats themselves. Instead of the usual assortment of stats, they have narrowed the focus down to three: Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina. As you gain new equipment and skills, your only requirements to use them are an appropriate level and progression in one of your three stats.
Gone are the days were each level requires you to plug points into each stat. Instead each level will grant you a passive skill point. You can plug these into a skill tree that seems very reminiscent to Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid. While no skill is out of reach, your starting position will help influence your progression in a way most appropriate for your build. These skills will augment everything from how high your stats are to your crit ratio. I can’t stress enough that this thing is massive. Build fanatics should find plenty of creativity when trying to create the perfect toon.
Active skills like Fireball or Cleave come to you in the form of gems that you can socket (and freely remove!) in your weapons. You will find these abilities as random drops of varying rarity. Each of these skills will receive 10% of your experience allowing them to level up and grow with you.
You will also find support gems that you can socket in tandem that will augment the effects of your abilities. Want fire zombies? You can have them. Wish that lighting bolt split in three and did splash damage? Go for it. The combinations are endless and makes experimenting incredibly rewarding.
All in all the game is a worthy addition to the genre, and its sandbox approach to character development provides a much needed contrast to Diablo III’s guided level system. We will take a closer look at the game when it releases on PC (for free) hopefully later this year.
Shawn Murphy is currently the Director of Media for Substance TV. Gaming has always represented more than just a hobby, and his devotion to gaming as a culture is just what you can expect from his unique and personal content. He also owns all 97 NES games, so you just better back off!