Dungeon Siege 3

PREVIEW: Witches, warriors, fire spirits - everyone loves opening chests

The Tenth Legion have fallen on tough times. After creating and ruling the Kingdom of Ehb, there's only one of them left - and their murderer, Jeyne Kassynder, has just gatecrashed a party for Tenth Legion children, and slaughtered all but four of them.

Luckily, the four left behind all have complimentary fighting styles, so they're well-suited to four-player online and two-player sofa co-op.

We've met Lucas before - he's the warrior type. He's happiest in the thick of battle, with melee attacks and energy-draining special abilities that zip him into the action. Since we last reported, the fire-spirit archon Anjali has arrived, who can flip between her spear-wielding human form, and hovering, fireball-tossing spirit form.


Next we meet Katarina, a pistol-wielding witch with a similarly pronounced bosom. Honestly, why men feel the need to burden themselves with so much armour is a mystery - the women cope perfectly well with a bracelet dangling from their hips and a tin bra. The fourth character - well, he hasn't been announced yet.

It's the stance system that'll take most getting used to, but it's all logical stuff - you can swap instantly between your character's two combat stances with a tap of the left bumper. The effect is different for each character, although it's most dramatic in Anjali, who'll flip from girl-next-door-with-a-spear, into a floating astral flame demon.

Your stance doesn't just affect your basic attack, it changes your palette of special moves. You start off with just A and X mapped to powers, but as you level up, the gamepad fills with new abilities. You'll quickly pick up the tactics of your character, and learn to use the third defensive stance - hold LT to block, make an evasive roll, and access your third set of defensive special moves.

Reassuringly, too, the cutscenes are much better now. There's lip-syncing for starters, which stops the game accidentally feeling like a low budget '80s kids' cartoon. The dialogue is all typical fantasy fayre, but that's fine - it's competently written and performed, and Obsidian hasn't completely stifled its humorous side - some of the loading screen text is pleasingly sarcastic.

It'll be interesting to see how the story pans out, and whether your character progression and the difficulty of the game keeps up the pace throughout. From what we've seen so far, we're optimistic.