Sword Coast Legends: First Impressions

Sword Coast Legends, the new D&D 5th edition computer game, is slated to be released Sep 29, 2015. It may be the first computer game in ages that I actually take off work to play on the day it’s released. That aside, I figured I’d go over some of the items I am jazzed about, and some of the features I’m disappointed with or wish they had implemented.

The game will be playable by up to 5 people, 4 player characters and a DM. The description of the game says that you can choose from five playable races and six unique character classes. The classes available are fighter, wizard, rogue, cleric, ranger, and paladin. They haven’t shown gameplay with the ranger that I’m aware, but just this last week they showed off the paladin class.

The races available are going to be Dwarf, Elf, Half-Elf, Halfling, and Human. From listening to the developers it seems that each race, except maybe human, will have sub-races available to choose from as well. This list of classes and races may be small at first, but it is predicted that the other available options in D&D 5th edition will be made available through DLC.

The solo campaign will feature party control similar to Baldur’s Gate, with one player controlling a party of up to 4 characters. The developers have recently revealed that the campaign can be played cooperatively, so you can have your friends come in and play through it with you.

The one drawback I’ve noticed with co-op play is that unlike Neverwinter Nights, if you want to split up the group you are unable to spread out more than single “board” or dungeon. This limitation was likely implemented for game balance and development purposes, but still it’s a bit of a disappointment as I personally enjoyed the freedom player characters enjoyed in Neverwinter Nights.

The player talking to an innkeeper.

One of the most exciting features that they have unveiled is the DM mode. Not only can the DM create a custom campaign and influence the world while the PCs interact with it, but inside dungeons the DM gains a threat meter which allows him to place down more monsters, traps, secret doors, and the like. Also, he can use threat to gain direct control of monsters and their abilities during a fights as well.

A silly concept to some, the DM threat meter allows the dungeonmaster to tailor suit the difficulty of his dungeon to the PCs power level. Not only does it allow him to make encounters more difficult, but he can also tone down encounters, and remove monsters if the fights are going particularly bad for the players.

The developers took a look at this play mode a few months back on their Twitch stream, and as you can see it allows the DM to keep the dungeon fresh and interesting, particularly if the players are taking their time working their way through the dungeon.

Currently there are a few features that may irritate some tabletop fans. Spells in the game are not regained through rest, but are put on cooldown timers so they cannot be spam cast. Also, there is an overland travel screen that allows you to go from one area of a map to another, but currently you cannot upload custom maps. At the moment you are forced to use the Sword Coast maps they have available with the campaign, which has frustrated some DMs who wanted to port their home world into the game.

There is also a limitation on dialogue currently, with branching dialogue not supported. The developers have said that for complex dialogue they would hope that the DM would roleplay the situation out with the players, but some would like to be able to code options into questlines.

The last hotly requested item for DMs is to be able to build a dungeon, or city, tile by tile. The release build of the game will make it so that if you build a dungeon it will generate the rooms randomly, and then you can adjust the encounters throughout the dungeon. This is great for a DM that wants to get a dungeon together quickly, but some DMs would like to be able to customize the layouts and are unable to do so at this moment.

I don’t normally pre-order games, but Sword Coast Legends has me pretty sold on their product. There are definite limitations, and I am hoping that most of them get worked out through future DLC, but even with the limitations the game is definitely worth the $39.99 asking price.

Sword Coast Legends

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2 comments on “Sword Coast Legends: First Impressions
  1. kensaied says:

    Great review Pete, I might have to pick this one up!

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