Dungeon Defenders : Summoner Hero Review
Dungeon Defenders: The Summoner DLC Review
Dungeon Defenders is a game near and dear to my heart. I have spent countless hours guarding seemingly “important” crystals from thousands upon thousands of enemies. Trendy Entertainment has recently released yet another new hero to aid in the tower defense against evil, The Summoner. After the mixed reception of the melee machine, The Barbarian; and the overpowered awesomeness of the actual machine, The Series EV; I waited with bated breath for the introduction of the RTS styling of the new hero class. Having spent some time leveling my Summoner, I believe it is time to pass judgment.
Summoning the Summoner
It’s business as usual in the Dungeon Defenders world, until you start up the Summoner hero class. When you enter a game everything seems normal, save for the fact that your hero is hovering. Thisis a feature of the character; if you jump in the air and hold the jump key you remain suspended in the air for up to 15 seconds, or until you release the button. Another feature is the ability to equip two pets. The pets are the Summoner’s soul source of character damage, as the Summoner lacks the ability to equip any weapons. While the summoner lacks the qualities necessary to be successful as a DPS (DamagePerSecond) character, he still keeps the same statistic leveling options as other characters, making it possible, albeit useless, to upgrade his damage stats. Despite the ability to upgrade damage, the focus of the Summoner is in his unique traps, or minions.
Dungeon Defenders: Strategy in Real Time
Phase Shift - The Summoner has two abilities that make it very unique in comparison to all others; the lesser of the two is the Phase Shift ability. Phase Shift morphs your avatar into a ghostly apparition that can move around the physical realm while remaining invulnerable and unseen by enemies. At first this may seem like a cheat, but while in this form the character is unable to interact in any way with its environment; unable to attack, gather mana, or interact with traps, but they are ethereal.
Overlord Mode – The other, more important, ability of the Summoner is Overlord mode. This mode is the meat and potatoes of the hero; while in this phase the player is given a top-down view of the map, easily traversed with the direction keys while the avatar remains in a mode similar to Phase Shift, right where you left him. While in this mode I noticed a few things; the majority of this article focuses on this mode and the pros and cons of its existence. The first thing I noticed about overlord mode was the inability to look through obstacles; with the majority of maps containing stalactites or something similar, it became increasingly difficult to look beyond the ceiling of the map in certain areas. Other than that, the top down view gave the feel that Dungeon Defenders is indeed a Real-Time Strategy game. Upon entering the pop-up menu you are introduced to two new buttons; the “summon minions” and the “commands” submenus.
Minions - The summon minions menu is similar to the other trap menus, except for that there is a sixth choice; the available minions are crystalline versions of dungeon mobs, which bow to your every command. The mobs in question (in order of unlock) are: the Archer, Spider, Orc, Mage, Warrior, and Ogre; each able to deliver its own unique attack and fighting style. It is unclear to me, whether or not the mage (or as I’ve always referred to them: Necromancer) maintains its ability to raise skeletal minions of its own, but my ignorance most likely stems from the exclusion of the ability (or a bad upbringing). The downside of the minions is their lack of attacks, they come equipped with only one form of attack; while I know they are only pawns in the grand Dungeon Defenders scheme, it would have been nice to see them be able to contribute defensively as well, or offensively on a deeper level. Yet, the most intriguing part of the Summoner’s minions is that their existence is independent of the defense unit count; the Summoner has its own units specific to the minions. It is my belief that multiple Summoners would share these points in a game. This makes being a summoner much less strenuous, as there would be fewer complaints involved with the spending of defense units.
User Interface - The player is able to use the Overlord mode in the same way that an RTS would work; being able to pick and choose your desired units with the click of a mouse and send them to occupy, or attack, any point in a similar fashion. The Summoner has many orders to issue to its minions, found in the “Commands” menu; these include: follow target, attack target, move (offensive), move (defensive), follow me, select all units, deselect units, hold (offensive), and hold (defensive). Essentially, the minions are able to utilize basic commands you would find in many strategy games. There are some drawbacks to Overlord mode; in addition to the player heal, repair, and upgrade hot keys, the remaining hot keys are divvied up between Overlord Mode (2), Phase Shift Mode (3), Summon Minion (6), Attack Target (7), Follow Me (8), Move (Defensive)(9), and Flash Heal, which is self-explanatory. In order to issue any commands other than those hot keyed, one must enter the initial pop-up menu, go to the commands menu, and then choose the desired command, then repeat. This makes it very cumbersome to issue orders on the fly. It would have been nice to see a bit of variation in the user interface; such as a Summoner specific hot key interface for Overlord Mode, or a heads-up display that lists your selected units.
Dungeon Defenders: The Summoner: The Conclusion
While I found many aspects I didn’t like about the new hero class, I found the addition to be a welcomed attempt. The variation in gameplay, adding RTS elements to a tower defense, is inspired. The ability to jump in and out of Overlord Mode is seamless. It would have been nice to see a revision in the user interface to cater to the demands of the Summoner’s creator. Though, I wouldn’t count this class out, I believe that this hero shows a lot of potential and, with a bit of patching, can be a stand by for many casual players who enjoy mixing it up a bit. For $4 this content is worth the download and worth having around. If you do decide to pick it up, it is worth knowing that the recently released “Talay Mining Complex Mission Pack” contains new maps and the first released costume for the Summoner for $2. As a fan of both Dungeon Defenders and the RTS genre as a whole, I believed that the very idea of this DLC is worth trying, and I was right. Hooray me!