The Burning Dawn have only helped people in the past. Why are we being sought out and murdered?
Sword Coast Legends is the most recent Dungeons & Dragons video game from Digital Extreme and n-Space. The developers aim to provide a full single-player experience, while innovating Multiplayer and Dungeon Master modes to provide for unique styles of play. Legends is an Isometric action RPG with some D&D elements. Unfortunately, many of those D&D hallmarks seem to have been abandoned or half-realized. With forthcoming DLC we can hope to see some improvements and expansions coming to SCL along with more depth and challenge.
Plot: The adventure takes place in Forgotten Realm’s Sword Coast on the continent of Faerun. The player creates a hero and starts the adventure escorting a caravan to the city of Luskan when “naturally,” trouble ensues. The protagonist wakes up from a ravaging nightmare to discover other members of their guild, The Burning Dawn, shared the same nightmare. The player gets the caravan moving by completing quests to learn the functions of gameplay. Upon reaching Luskan the Hero discovers The Burning Dawn guild hall has been destroyed. This begins the adventure by having the heroes discover why they are being attacked and finding their own way to save the Sword Coast.
Gameplay: Sword Coast Legends doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of action RPG’s. Character creation only offers 5 races and 6 classes whereas 5th Edition D&D has 11 races and 14 classes. Battle can be fun but quickly becomes repetitive with the ability cooldown system and slow battle speed. Exploration is enjoyable but with each character being able to effectively having the same skills takes away uniqueness of each class. Spending time to scour each dungeon and new area eventually becomes stale as the player repeats exploring using the easily accessible Ranger and Rogue powers. The skill trees in the game don’t match creation or spells of 5th edition and seem hastily put together if not an afterthought. Conversations with NPC’s can give advantages or disadvantages to the player depending on the hero’s ability scores and form a significant portion of the game. However, the writing seemed dull and having a high enough charisma stat allows the player to win over most NPC’s. It felt like a text heavy dungeon crawler that lacked major battle, exploration and skill functions that would have made it great. In general the adventure becomes boring due to the lack of ingenuity and originality in the script and mechanics.
Difficulty: The adventure can be difficult but mainly has easy consistent gameplay. The quests provided in the game are simple to understand and the player is provided with a Map and HUD to direct themselves on which quest to complete first. Each exploration will come down to having the Ranger or Rogue search for traps and secret doors until the entire map has been searched adding a great amount of redundancy to the gameplay. Battles are mildly tactical as characters coming back to life after each death takes away the challenge of resting safely that was in previous D&D games. The ability system gives battle more depth unfortunately most of the time the player ends up just waiting for skills to cooldown. Additionally the plot is very easy to follow and most conversations can be concluded well with a high enough charisma. The game didn’t seem to have a lot depth in both the gameplay and plot making it hard to get the end.
Music: The music accompaniment to this game is fantastic. The composer Inon Zur in collaboration with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra wrote and performed a highly successful soundtrack to Sword Coast Legends. Each song provides atmosphere to dungeons, towns and world map areas. Within bar and taverns simple folkish music is played to accompany the light setting. Horns erupt as the companions run into battle to slay enemies and ominous string harmonies play while exploring open areas and while at encampments. The soundtrack gives the game great atmosphere and I personally use it when I play regular tabletop Dungeons and Dragons as it adds depth and feeling to the adventure when my team plays.
Summary: As a player and fan of Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition this game was below average compared to its games in the genre and its tabletop companion. The repetition in the game made me restart 3 times because I became bored with the class I had chosen. The campaign is fun to play but unfortunately the party members you receive have every skill needed. This takes away from the limited skillset and creative problem-solving which Dungeons & Dragons is known for. Exploring dungeons and open areas feels like a chore and becomes tedious. We had Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2 created by Black Isle fifteen years ago that implemented every race, class and spell of 2nd Edition. This begs the question of why they couldn’t follow the same formula? Free DLC is coming out to expand the classes and races and I hope with patch updates they are able to fix some of the major issues with the game. The spells are a true let down in this game, magic user tactics within battle were entirely left out which made them seem more like magic archers.The skill trees are shared across most classes leaving out variation between the party since the heroes share the same skills. Many of the spells that go into the conversation and crowd control were entirely left making the magic user almost useless. Overall a disappointment and I think I came into the game hoping for too much, hopefully with updates and some DLC this game will become better and vastly more enjoyable.