This year I decided to kick off PAX South with the demo for Dungeon Defenders: Awakened. For fans of the original game, Awakened features many of the same aspects which made the first game so successful and will feel almost like returning home. However, there are also many new aspects to Awakened which prevent the “just more of the same” feeling. Also, players who are new to the series will also find it’s a fairly easy game to pick-up and play, though truly mastering it might take some time.
Each level starts with a build phase which allows for time to find the choke points and set-up defenses. The level I played had little pink whisps which flowed from the active doors to show the path the enemies would take to the crystals I needed to defend. There’s a limit to how many structures can be built at first and I was also limited by the how many mana points I had (they looked like little green gems). After each wave, there was another building phase where I could put new structures up and repair/upgrade the ones I had previously put up. As a nice bonus when I would upgrade one of my defenses it would also be fully healed.
The demo was one of the earlier levels where I was fighting large troll/orc types and smaller goblins. The goblins were particularly annoying because they were occasionally able to squeeze through my defenses and made it to the crystal before I notice. There were five waves in the demo as well. The first wave was from two doors, the second was three doors, and the fourth and fifth waves were four doors. My initial impulse was to put everything close to the doors, but everything is temporarily invulnerable when they first come through the doors. What was more effective was to find the chock points and focus there.
Awakened features four playable characters: a melee-focused, a magical focused ranged Apprentice, a Huntress who uses traps to ensnare enemies, and dynamic support focused Monk. Players can play alone or with up to three others in a four-player co-op mode. During the demo, I played on the Apprentice which, interestingly, in addition to having magical abilities also has what seemed like a gun that shot little balls of energy. Although his spells were fun in interesting I generally ended up just running around and shooting things with my gun. I particularly enjoyed double jumping around the map and finding vantage points that let me lay down some cover fire from a distance.
At the end of each wave, there was also a loot box that contained gear. The armor pieces didn’t change how the Apprentice looked, and that is true for each character. They all have a particular look to them which carries over no matter what gear is equipped. What did change was the weapon appeared in-game. What’s even better is the way the gun looked before I picked it up was exactly how it looked once it was equipped, which isn’t the case in a lot of games. One aspect of gearing I didn’t get to see during the demo is the pet system. Apparently there are different pets that all have different abilities and unique ways to enhance the player characters.
Having never played Dungeon Defenders before I didn’t really know what to expect, but I had a blast with the demo. Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is planned to launch on Switch and PC at the end of February. After that PS4 and Xbox versions will also be released, probably closer to mid-year.