Who the hell designs a castle with doors that OPEN when enemies approach? That’s one of my questions to Trendy Entertainment, the developers of Dungeon Defenders, a 4 player cooperative hack-and-slash/RPG/tower defence hybrid.
Dungeon Defenders lets you run around as one of four classes in 13 different “dungeons” (ironically half of the maps aren’t actually dungeons so really the game should just be called Defenders). The classes are your typical RPG-issue; An Apprentice (mage), a Squire (warrior), a Huntress (…) and a Monk (support).
Each class has its own special moves and a pretty unique style of play so there’s plenty of replayability if you feel like levelling a different class. If you want to solo though you’ll probably have to go for the Apprentice or Squire, the Huntress can be pretty tricky early on but becomes pretty overpowered in the later levels if you have mana and use the portal gun Trendy gave to everyone. The Monk on the other hand is really good early on but falls off into a support role quickly, relying on his slow aura to let your ally towers do the hard work.
Now like I said you can solo the game, but where Dungeon Defenders really shines is the cooperative, especially in the later levels when you have to defend from 4-5 directions at once. Having allies able to run around and repair everything while you deal with kiting and killing the boss makes the game a lot easier regardless of the hordes, and let’s face it, friends make a game a lot more enjoyable anyway.
So I booted up the game with a mate and chose the Monk, not bothering to look at the character difficulty or what the Monk actually did. My mate chose the Huntress and we jumped headfirst into the first map. The first two maps were relatively easy, my electric aura got rid of most of the enemies and we cleaned up the stragglers. We both thought we were just awesome, until the third map where we got stomped.
We quickly realised that if you want to succeed you shouldn’t pick the two “hardest” classes. You should pick one of the classes that puts down towers and falls asleep. Now don’t get me wrong, the Monk and Huntress are decent classes, but Trendy clearly intended for them for them to support the other two classes’ towers, another reason why coop is really important, but also a reason why co-op is kind of broken.
See, there are two kind of stupid issues with the classes in Dungeon Defenders and both issues come down to balance. The first issue is basically the entire class of the Squire. It does more damage than any other class, its towers are as powerful if not more so than the Apprentice and it has more health than any other class. The “balance” for this is that it doesn’t have a ranged attack, but its ballista turrets can easily destroy air targets anyway. The second issue with the game, and this is a big one, is the Experience system. Experience is gained by killing enemies, but because the two tower classes (Apprentice and Squire) are always going to kill more than anyone else they’re always going to out level them. So the Monk and Huntress pretty much get shafted in the XP department which makes little to no sense for a coop game.
Even with the stupid balance issues the game is still really fun to play with friends, and in the end that’s what it’s all about. There are enough maps and challenges to last you a fair few hours playing the game and it’s nice to see difficulty settings where Insane actually means Insane. Overall I had fun and if you feel like playing something a little bit casual that still provides a decent level of challenge then Dungeon Defenders is probably for you.