'D&D: Dark Alliance' Had Me Hacking, Slashing, and Geeking Out

Loot, level, and lay waste to ugly beasts

Key Takeaways

  • Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance is a third-person, action-RPG supporting four-player online co-op. 
  • It's a spiritual successor to 2001's Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and its sequel.
  • It retains the hack-and-slash combat and looting-and-leveling loop of its predecessors, while introducing a number of new elements.
Cover art for "D&D: Dark Alliance"

Wizards of the Coast, LLC

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance aims to recapture the hack-and-slash magic of classic-action RPGs, while putting a contemporary spin on the genre.

Fans of Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance and its sequel still miss clearing dungeons, collecting loot, and defeating massive bosses alongside a co-op partner. While those PlayStation 2-era classics have seen their fair share of imitators over the past 20 years, the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance is its first real spiritual successor.

Once again, players head into the depths of dangerous, D&D-themed environments, looking for gold, gear, and trouble from any ugly that crosses their path. Dark Alliance also supports four-player online co-op and is promising local, two-player co-op—a fan-favorite feature of the original games—sometime in the near future. It also includes a new over-the-shoulder view of the action that's far prettier, and nicely showcases this fresh version.

Party of Four

I recently got to tackle a small slice of Dark Alliance from behind the dual scimitars of Drizzt, the Dark Elf of the four available characters. Tasked with clearing a forge of goblin-like creatures, I quickly slipped into a satisfying gameplay groove.

Screenshot from 'D&D: Dark Alliance'

On top of the expected light and heavy attacks, Drizzt sports an evasive dash move, as well as some special abilities. Chaining combos, pinballing between baddies, and leaving piles of corpses in my wake was immensely satisfying.

While this button-mashing strategy served me well against the goblin hordes, it didn't quite cut it when a pair of Verbeeg joined the battle. The towering, troll-like beasts weren't especially fast, but that didn't stop their enormous fists from making me one with the fire and brimstone.

Thankfully, one of my co-op partners was a female archer armed with fire-imbued arrows. Upon peppering the Verbeeg with the projectiles from a safe distance, she snuck in and revived my near-death Dark Elf.

This wasn't the last time I'd rely on my partner, as the level's massive boss sported a health bar as long as the length of tree it was wielding. The quest-capping baddie was another Verbeeg, but it made the previous pair look like grade-school bullies.

It's All About the Loot

The four of us persistently whittled away at the monster, even as it mused about adding us to his upcoming meal. Thankfully, it was at this point I was introduced to my character's ultimate, a game-changing ability that's built up over time.

Screenshot from 'D&D : Dark Alliance'

You see, Drizzt has a pet, but it's no playful puppy dog. Dubbed Guenhwyvar, the faithful companion is an astral panther capable of doing some serious damage when summoned. Along with the other characters' special skills (the archer's ability to rain down a flurry of fiery arrows was another highlight), my fearsome ghost-feline was eventually able to take down the beast.

Besting the big bad also offered a glimpse into the game's comedic side, as the Verbeeg flipped us its middle finger while sinking into a lava pit. While I appreciated being flipped off by the mythical monster, it was my earned loot that made me smile. In addition to hearty chunks of XP and gold, I was treated to a pile of shiny armor, including cloaks, chest plates, helms, and bracers.

Sadly, I was not able to take my new goodies for a spin, but I was introduced to a promising loot-related feature that adds a nice risk-reward element to winning a fight. At certain points in a quest, players are given the option to rest or push forward with the chance to earn rarer loot.

The former option not only sets up a save point you can return to upon death, but it also replenishes consumable items, such as health and stamina potions. The latter, of course, holds the potential to grant you your new favorite death-dealer.

My brief demo didn't allow me to explore this system much, nor did it dig into the game's extensive, character-progressing skill trees. Still, based on my time under Drizzt's cloak, I'm looking forward to diving back into D&D: Dark Alliance when it lands June 22.

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