Dungeon Defenders PC Review

Author: Dany Argueta
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/dungeon_defenders/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

After a lengthy delay, Trendy Entertainment has finally released Dungeon Defenders. This action tower defense title bundles several fun gameplay styles into a solid co-op experience, but the game's long-awaited release starts out rather bumpy thanks to some unfortunate performance issues and its staggering difficulty.

As one of four young heroes, your job is to fend off increasing waves of monsters and other nasty creatures from destroying your Eternia Crystals.  What makes Dungeon Defenders stand out from other tower defense games is not only do you set up sentries and defenses around the level, but your character also gets to actively take part in the battle with their weapons and abilities. Over time, your character can level up and acquire new equipment over their career to become stronger.

A Very Tough Job

Dungeon Defenders allows some versatility with leveling up by letting players choose which stats to increase. In addition to boosting the stats of your hero and traps, you can also spend banked mana on strengthening any equipment on hand. Think you’re about to get steamrolled by the next enemy horde? You’re free to switch to another one of your characters between waves if you think you’re not going to be able to handle what’s on the way.

All that gear and stat boosting won’t prepare you for Dungeon Defenders’ punishing difficulty, however. Even on Easy mode, Defenders is ruthless with the amount of enemies thrown at you, especially for solo players. Fortunately, playing with others alleviates the toughness, assuming you find players who can properly coordinate.  In co-op, you can work with your team to set up defenses and better defend your assets, making competent teammates a must-have.  The problem here is that Dungeon Defenders' difficulty isn't scaled to accommodate both single-player and co-op modes, meaning the former is pretty much moot, unless you like that feeling of banging your head into the wall while playing a video game.

You can use just about any combination of classes you want, though certain combos are more useful than others.  Huntresses and Monks are especially useful, but don't deal much damage on their own.  Apprentice and Squire users can handle themselves too, since they’ve got a nice balance of offense and defensive abilities on hand.  Again, the effectiveness of these classes is maximized when you have a team to work with.  Again, the game doesn't offer any single-player aid like AI teammates, so if you really want to tackle the enemy horde solo, choose your class carefully.

If you want to step away from the usual defending business for a bit, Dungeon Defenders offers plenty of different challenges. Right off the bat, you've got Pure Strategy and Survival modes where you can try traditional tower defense gameplay (focus on deploying and repairing your units) or surviving against endless waves as long as possible. Then you've got Challenge Missions unique to every stage that present diverse tasks like defending a friendly ogre or teleporting crystals to deal with. Reaching certain milestones within each play mode will award you with decent loot.

PC Features and Performance

Unfortunately, Dungeon Defenders has few graphics options that can be changed. You're only able to change screen resolution (you can set a custom size if desired), toggle post-processing effects, and pick from one of three preset graphics quality settings. Since Defenders runs on the Unreal Engine, I tried modifying the game's configuration files directly yet there were no significant changes to performance.

PC users get exclusive modes in the form of mods and TrendyNet. Mod tools haven’t been released as of this writing although a peek at Defenders’ settings program shows total conversions are possible. TrendyNet is where ranked games take place and offers some unique events scheduled on certain dates. Non-ranked servers let players use any installed mods and characters saved locally. Lastly, although it’s not an exclusive feature, it’s worth noting Dungeon Defenders is capable of four-player local splitscreen multiplayer as well.

With a Core i7 Q740 and 5700m at 1280x720 resolution, Defenders ran at an average of 40fps with graphics set to High and post-processing enabled. Despite the average framerate, Defenders did a good job of keeping that 40 fps steady even when there was lots of action going on.

Trendy Entertainment released several patches shortly after Dungeon Defenders' release that fixed several problems although new issues have sprung up at the same time. As of version 7.03, along with voice chat not always working, Defenders occasionally does not save character and game progress (patch 7.04 should address that). It would be nice if Trendy added more features in future updates such as more graphics options, auto fire, and displaying ping times in the server browser.

Final Thoughts

For $15, Dungeon Defenders packs in plenty for PC users. Having a variety of play modes and control over character growth means you’ll have lots of ways to play through the game. However, the game’s bumpy debut shows it wasn’t quite ready for prime time and needed some more testing before it was ready to go.  As for the aforementioned issues, Trendy Entertainment has shown they’re making constant effort to quickly knock out performance problems, so keep an eye on the official forums and grab a copy once things get better.  Just keep in mind that you'll need to look online for teammates if you haven't got any friends who own the game, because Dungeon Defenders is barely any fun alone.


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