Defenders adds a new twist to tower defense with a mishmash of RPG, action, and
tower defense gameplay elements making for a worthwhile investment from the
Xbox Live Marketplace. There is plenty of content to keep players busy –
whether it be working their way through the campaign and tackling challenges. It’s
not with its setbacks, though, with the less-than-exciting combat system and loot
that feels more like a chore than a reward system.
sits at the heart of Dungeon Defenders. The player takes on the role of a
Squire, Apprentice, Huntress, or Monk using traps, barricades and magic to
defend the castle from an army of evil creatures these would-be child heroes
have mistakenly unleashed. Each level plays out in an arena with several entry
points for enemies to spawn from. It is the player’s job to analyze the level
map and exploit choke points with barricades and traps to prevent enemies from
destroying the Eternia crystal at the center of the map. The game is played
from the third-person perspective, requiring characters to traverse the map to
set up towers while battling enemies along the way.
varied and numerous, requiring different strategies to counter their abilities.
Hulking orcs will devastate defenses, mages heal enemy units, and suicidal
kobolds rush towers with dynamite strapped to their backs. Minibosses in the
form of giant ogres made us rethink our tower placement in several situations
and the major bosses present the biggest challenges in the game.
Defenders has all of the workings of the standard RPG fused into the tower
defense gameplay. Player classes have unique abilities, armor, weapon types,
and towers. Killing enemies, conquering campaign levels, and completing
challenges earns experience which unlocks abilities and towers as well as more
powerful items. Character and tower attributes can be upgraded with points
earned upon leveling through a somewhat confusing menu system – improving maximum
health, damage, casting speed, and movement speed, among others.
All of these
features add a great deal of replayability to the game – as does the
multiplayer. Once we worked through the levels and beefed up one character, we
wanted to level up a complementary character to make proper use of the
character swap feature and get the upper hand on some of the more difficult
challenges. Setting up spiked barricades as the Squire and switching to the
Apprentice to place projectile throwing magic towers makes for a devastating
combination. It feels great to level up a character, unlock the advanced
towers, and add them to your defense strategy. Playing with a friend or three adds
a new dimension in strategy as we were required to actively communicate in
tower placement, mana distribution, and repair efforts to hold back the
onslaught. The real fun comes in joining a party of friends to tackle the
hardest challenges and picking up epic loot.
the action aspect of gameplay falls short. The combat became stale very quickly.
Although the characters have special abilities like the Squire’s spin attack or
the Huntress’ invisibility, we rarely found a need to use them. Enemies were
easily dispatched with well-placed towers and planning trap layouts and
developing strategies was fun, but jumping into the fray was not – especially with
the melee characters. Combat essentially involves mashing on the one attack
button and maybe throwing in a special ability for kicks. Neither feels
particularly effective and leaves the combat feeling shallow.
problem we had with Dungeon Defenders was the loot. Items can be found in
treasure chests and is also dropped by enemies. Picking up epic new armor or
weapons and equipping them to benefit from their attribute bonuses is a strong
motivator to up the difficulty on the challenges, but the problem lies in
having to sort through piles and piles of useless loot at the end of a wave.
Checking each dropped item’s stats to compare to our equipped set slowed the
game down considerably since all of the loot is spread across the map and it
takes at least a few seconds to inspect an item. While we could just run
through the map and throw everything into our item box to review later, having
fewer, more useful drops would have kept loot gathering from becoming such a
Defenders is a worthwhile addition to your game library with plenty of content for
the price. Although the combat falls short, the tower defense gameplay, RPG
elements, and the challenging game modes will have fans of tower defense