Check out the bloody, snow-covered Dark Alliance reveal trailer above.
Dark Alliance has players taking on the roles of some of Dungeons & Dragons’ most famous characters, created by famed fantasy author R.A. Salvatore: Drizzt Do’Urden, the legendary Drow Ranger, and his companions: the dwarf Bruenor Battlehammer, and the humans Catti-Brie, and Wulfgar.
Set in Icewind Dale (the harsh, frozen tundra on the northernmost fringes of civilization), players will battle against hordes of iconic D&D monsters, including an army of goblins, gnolls, and frost giants – and judging by the gameplay tease at the end of the reveal trailer at least one dragon. Oh my.
Speaking with IGN, Tuque Games founder and studio head Jeff Hattem emphasized Dark Alliance’s action-focused take on the material. “Dungeons and Dragons is a big game. It has a lot to offer and one of the cool things about D&D is that players can choose the parts they like and kind of gravitate toward that,” said Hattem. “My experience as a game maker – and my own experience playing D&D – I’m always the kind of guy that can’t wait for the [Dungeon Master] to say ‘roll initiative.’ I like it when we start bashing, and the combat aspects of it,” adding, “I know that’s a very specific part of Dungeons and Dragons.”
To that regard, Hattem wants the focus of Dark Alliance to be on the players’ execution of their customized movesets rather than slowly building up stats over a months-long campaign. “We’re focused more on the moment-to-moment gameplay and we want to ask players to be more deliberate with the combat, with performing moves and attacks with their characters. I feel like action-RPGs over the years have all tended to gravitate toward the [roleplaying game] side of action-RPG, and [with Dark Alliance] we want to put the action back in action-RPG.”
Dark Alliance Reveal Trailer Screens
“Each of the characters can be built in a different way and there are dozens and dozens of moves per character that you can unlock and you can basically build your own kind of customization on the combos that you can build. We call it emergent combat, where you have a quick attack, a heavy attack, and you can build combos out of that based on how to like to play.”
Though Dark Alliance won’t allow you to create your own character – you’ll select one of the four iconic D&D adventurers – the direction you take that base character is completely your own. “Depending on the gear you put on your character, the moveset that you decide to unlock and progress through, and the skills that you equip on your kit, you can really customize those aspects.”
However, those characters won’t be treading old ground. Though the exploits of Drizzt & Co. are well known to fans of Dungeons and Dragons and R.A. Salvatore – Dark Alliance will feature a completely new story for the familiar heroes.
“We’re setting the game back in time, about 100 years before where we are in the current timeline. We spoke with R.A. Salvatore early on in the conceptual phase and he shared his insights. It’s always great to know who these characters are and we want to be true to these iconic characters, but we want to put our own spin on them.”Technically speaking, though the game supports online and local cooperatively play, whether Dark Alliance will be playable completely offline is a matter of security to Hattem and the team.
“I understand when players criticize games for not having an offline mode, but at the same time if you do allow for an offline mode, it’s really easily hacked and that breaks the integrity of the game for the rest of the players. So there’s always that trade-off,” Hattem said. “I can’t say that we’ve answered those questions yet on how we want to approach it, so it’s still an open question.”
But Hattem believes that Dark Alliance has the potential to survive the test of time as a series. As Tuque aims to put its own thumbprint on the spirit of the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance series, Hattem admits there are some nerves involved in making changes to such a beloved series – the more intimate, third-person camera position as opposed to the traditional top-down isometric look – is a prime example of breaking away from tradition to create something new.
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“If you want to do anything special you’ve got to take risks, rather than just making the same stuff,” Hattem said. “Those two games – Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 – they exist. They’ve aged, obviously, but they exist. We’re trying to do something different and we’re trying to delight players with something that’s new.”
“I’m making this game because it’s the game I want to make,” Hattem said. “It’s the game I’ve wanted to make since 2013. So we’re taking some risks and I hope they’ll pay off.”
“I think people want to slay a bunch of monsters together and have fun doing it.”