Preview: Dungeon Defenders II Comes to Steam Early Access

The following is a preview of an unfinished product. Features and problems discussed in this article do not necessarily reflect what will be in the final release.

The sequel to the popular RPG/Tower Defense hybrid is in the works, but you don’t have to wait to get your hands on it. Starting Friday, December 5th, Dungeon Defenders II (written as DD2 from here on) will be available on Steam for Early Access. The price for Early Access will start at $24.99 with an optional larger package that includes more goodies in the final release. The developers at Trendy are excited to work with fans of the first game to make an improved follow-up.

Trendy let us here at Geeks Under Grace in on their pre-alpha version of DD2 before Friday. As a fan of the previous game, I was quite excited to dive in.

There are four character classes to choose from. More to be added in later updates.

There are four character classes to choose from. More to be added in later updates.

Choose Your Character

I chose the Apprentice class because he was my main class in DD1. Before I even named my character, I knew much had changed. Each class seems more balanced when compared to the first game. As Apprentice in DD1, I focused exclusively on towers and would spend my time during waves either repairing/upgrading my towers or guiding the enemies where I wanted them to go. My character was almost worthless in battle, but the towers were absolutely devastating! Now the Tower Apprentice build (among many others) appears to be significantly altered.

There is less direct control over character stats at level-up. In DD1, I would fuel all of my stat points towards tower attack, speed, and range. In DD2, each level-up is predetermined for the individual character classes. The only control the player has in this regard is perk points that the character starts gaining after a few levels. These perks are different for each class and involve buffing the characters abilities or giving the towers added effects. It is hard for me to say that I am not disappointed somewhat. I’m hopeful for further character customization as the game updates in the coming months.

The stat screen for my Apprentice, Hulvir.

The stat screen for my Apprentice, Hulvir.

The tower range stat has been removed altogether or not implemented yet. Towers are stuck at their default ranges. Fortunately the default range of towers is quite generous when compared to DD1. The “cone” that indicates the view and reach of the tower feels more flexible.

 

From The Bar To The Battlefield

Once a character is selected from the title menu, the player is put into a tavern. This is the hub for all shopping, upgrading, and gathering parties before each mission. Shop owners are paid with gold collected from missions and each of their inventories change every so often–about 20 or 30 minutes from what I could tell.

When a mission is selected, all players in the party (or just you, if you are playing solo) are brought to the map. The opening minutes are known as the “Build Phase.” During this time, players are allotted two types of mana. First is green mana, which is used to construct towers to hold off the horde of minions that will shortly be making a bee-line for whatever it is that your party is tasked with defending. The other is blue mana, which is used by hero characters to perform their various special abilities.

My Apprentice's Fireball Tower prevents multiple minions from progressing.

My Apprentice’s Fireball Tower prevents multiple minions from progressing.

After the Battle Phase, minions charge out from their nests and the real action begins. Towers auto-fire when minions are in range. Meanwhile, players can run around the map attacking enemies or repairing towers where needed. Loot drops from enemies consist of various pieces of equipment used to power up the hero or towers. Mana drops from many enemies as well, allowing more towers to be build and abilities to be used.

Towers aren't the only way to stop your enemies,

Towers aren’t the only way to stop your enemies,

A Few Words of Caution

Not everything has been implemented yet. There is currently no gamepad support, but that will be put in during a future update. Multi-player is sparse with the current limited number of players. You either need to join up with others on the DD2 website or invite friends if you want to play more than solo. Pets will be added like in DD1.

One major thing to know: there will be a complete wipe of all data before official release. No progress from alpha or beta will carry over. However, Trendy will be providing premium currency to those who purchase the game before release.

Premium currency? Oh, yes. That brings me to my final point. Unlike the first Dungeon Defenders, DD2 will be Free-to-Play upon its final release. Upon hearing this, I know I was skeptical. Many gamers are not fans of the FtP style of gaming due to microtransactions that developers put in these games that are often necessary to complete the game in a realistic time-frame. This has earned Free-to-Play games the monicker of Pay-to-Win, a derogatory term used to warn other gamers of these tactics.

Fear not, Defenders! Trendy has already addressed this by stating DD2 will indeed have microtransactions, but those will only contribute to cosmetic changes. Your gameplay is safe and untouched. If you are one of those players not tempted by costumes or similar visual changes, you could put in 100 hours to DD2 without paying a single cent. Though I imagine after spending some time with the new and improved Dungeon Defenders, players will want to support the developers through these means.

This change to Free-to-Play after release means that people who buy Early-Access are, in fact, paying for what will eventually be a free game. Trendy does not encourage anyone to purchase this game on a whim. If you have doubts about this game, either play DD1 first or wait until DD2 comes out for free. This is clearly designed for fans that want to be a part of shaping a game that they love.

Anyone with concerns about if the Early-Access is right for you should visit the FAQs on the official forums. Much of the above information comes from this. Many of the questions I had going into this have already been answered on the forums.

Do you not want to jump in just yet? No problem. Keep an eye out here on Geeks Under Grace, as I will stay involved with this game as major patches and changes occur. I will be certain to pass it along to all of you.

But first, I need to get back to the game. Quick!

Looks like I'm a bit rusty.

Looks like I’m a bit rusty.

Thomas Martin

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