Dungeon Defenders Awakened is the next iteration of the Dungeon Defenders series and the newest creation of the re-branded Chromatic Games. Dungeon Defenders Awakened is a return to the beginning that was the first Dungeon Defenders game, while retaining some of the good that came from Dungeon Defenders 2. At its heart it is a niche third person tower defense game with a lot to offer but with a core flaw that keeps a lot of people away. Like Dungeon Defenders 1 and 2 Dungeon defenders suffers from repetitive and afk’ble game-play. I use the term suffer lightly though as the “issue” is more of a matter of a core game-play style that defines the game. Once you clear the initial campaign you will be playing the same maps over and over to try to push past your limit to get better gear and climb higher. There is of course a limit to the amount of content chromatic games can put out(they have to sleep sometimes) and so if you put in enough time you will find yourself repeating the same map trying to get a slightly better pair of boots. That is not to say it is not enjoyable, I have 92 hours on Awakened and 500+ hours on 1 and 2, so I can say for sure that the play-style appeals to some people. It is definitely limited though, steamspy puts the peak concurrent user(CCU) count for dungeon defenders 1 pulling between 300 and 500 while dungeons defenders 2 has a CCU of between 750 and 1000. Respectable numbers to be sure, and although the stats only show an approximation it’s clear that the dungeon defenders series isn’t drowning in users. At the end of the day most of the people who are going to enjoy Dungeon Defenders are probably already a member of the community, although we always welcome new faces.
With Dungeon Defenders being in early access and with a 40 dollar barrier to entry the key question is “Is it worth it?”, and like most things the answer is “It depends”. I would love to be able to give a clear answer as the bigger the community the better. However for many new people the game might not be worth the money in its current state. This is perfectly natural for a game in early access. From the games store page, the current contents of the early access is:
- 12 Campaign maps playable
- Four base heroes playable
- Easy, Medium, Hard, and Insane difficulties available.
- Four player online co-op.
- Survival Mode available.
- Session browser available.
- Gear, accessory, and pets available to earn.
- Quickmatch to play with other Defenders.
I believe the campaign has the widest appeal as it has the most opportunity for overcoming challenges and avoids most of the repetitive game-play that comes in once you begin to grind the survival game-mode. It took me around 20 hours until I “beat” the campaign, I did an entire run through on hard then beat a few maps on insane including the final map. Most of the time came from trial and error trying out different approaches to clear each map. This was by no means the fastest time, in fact I would imagine it is one of the slower times. At that point I was looking at about $2 and hour, which some people would find reasonable I believe most are looking for $1 an hour for their games. This however was from skipping the easy and medium difficulties in their entirety and so a new player might spend more time on the campaign. It is hard to say how much mileage any given person might squeeze out of the campaign because going up the four difficulties doesn’t change anything about the campaign itself it just makes the numbers bigger. Most, if not all, of the players will spend the most time in survival. The initial stage of survival is just as fun if not more fun than the campaign. Pushing higher, trying to find that next awesome piece of gear that will let you push higher, or trying to get to the end of wave 14 and 25 to get a new pet to boost you even higher. Sensing a theme? Struggling through the initial stages of the survival mode might earn you another 10 hours or more, but after that is pure unfiltered grind. This is where most people find out if the series is truly for them. This is where you play the same maps trying to find that next small upgrade, and the longer you play the less likely you are to find each upgrade as you approach the peak of what the rng can generate. Sometimes you will play for 1-2 hours and be rewarded with nothing but gold. For those who find out they love it, it is an amazing game that you can find yourself sinking hundreds or even thousands of hours into. It is definitively not for everyone though. For those of you who are on the fence about purchasing I would recommend waiting a few more weeks as Chromatic Game’s roadmap has them releasing a bunch more content this march. It might just be enough to push you over the edge even if you don’t see yourself enjoying the endgame grind.