After nearly 500 hours of early access playtime I feel i should weigh in on Grim Dawn. Also at 491 hours and rising it should tell you i've enjoyed this game greatly, and have paid for two other copies that i gave to my brother and a friend. Now lets get to the actual Review.
Grim Dawn as a game does not hold your hand, in quests you are told to seek out something or someone at a location, after that you are left on your own to search for your objective, only once you get near your objective(about near the edge of your screen) does a marker show up. This encourages exploration of areas in full and i also reccomend that you fully explore an area there are many secrets in the game to be found, from loot, to quests, to bosses that may or may not kill your character when you first meet them.
The world is also not sectioned off like say as it was in Titan Quest or Diablo, it is instead one continous worldspace, akin to Sacred, some complain about this giving the games world areas too similar to one another, i personally enjoy this as it creates a more cohesive world.
As for the games story, i find it enjoyable enough, when you start the game your character was to be hung at the gallows for being possessed by an Aetherial spirit, said spirit abandons ship before it dies with you, you're cut down, then asked if you want to stay you need to earn your keep by assisting the settlement of Devils Crossing, i wont spoil much more, but another thing i would like to address about the games story is that some NPC's you meet arent helpless sods needing rescue, bar some casses. theres quite a few times in the game where you find the odd NPC camped out somewhere surrounded by slain monsters, I find this a refreshing change of pace compaired to other ARPGs. Lastly much of Grim Dawn's history, backstory, and lore are found via notes scattered throughout the world, some are journals from before the game, others history of the world, or just the odd bit of why a particular foe is with a faction. Again encouraing more exploration of the world.
Now to the meat and bones of any ARPG, Character customiztion, progression and loot. Lets start with the Masteries, in Grim Dawn there are 5(and a 6th coming in the next build, Build 27) Masteries, Soldier, Demolitionist, Occultist, Nightblade, and Arcanist, and soon to be the Shaman.
the Soldier is your melee specialist, hearty and strong, a robust choice for someone new to grim dawn.
The Demolitionist is all about explosions and fire. Like seeing the world burn? then this is the mastery for you.
The Occultist Focuses on debuffs, pets, and debilitating attack spells. command minions to maul your foes or debilitate them with vile curses.
The Nightblade is your melee dual wielder, focusing on speed, and very fast attacks, want to shred your enemies into ribbons? chose the nightblade
The Arcanist is a pure spellcaster that rains down destruction and devastation. the glass cannon of the game
Each of these masteries can be combined with another to create a dual class, covering one masteries weakness or bolstering anothers strengths. in my opinion this lends the game a great deal of replay value because i am the kind of person who will explore all avenues of play. with the varied skill pool of a single mastery there are quite a few dual class combinations you can take advantage of and explore different playstyles.
The loot in Grim Dawn is quite good, the qualities ranging from White(basic), Yellow(magic), Green(rare or rare monster infrequent), Blue(epic) and Purple(Legendary, not yet in the game). Curiously magic rare and epic are competative, in some character builds a good yellow might be all you need to properly outfit an equipment slot, while another can get by with some basic epic items, or builds looking to gear in all rare equipment. there are a number of affixes to suit any and all builds, as well as epics.
There is also a Faction system in Grim Dawn, there are many groups you can aid, and many you can anger. Increasing your standing with friendly factions allows you access to their equipment and augments. these augments offer additional bonuses to your items and can be worth the effort to obtain access to them. Conversely further angering hostile factions makes them send more dangerous enemies at each threshold, culminating in the chance to encounter a Nemesis, a random boss linked to the faction you angered. these nemesis bosses while rare drop incredible loot, and assure an epic from their defeat, and once they are in the game, an increased chance of legendary drops.
this last section I am going to adress some deal breakers: Many ask "will there be secure servers?" at this time there are no plans for such, it is however under consideration if Grim Dawn sells enough to pay for the required infrastructure and personel to maintain them. Tying into that, Grim Dawns files are all stored locally, every game file and every save file is on your hard drive, to those with the ability to edit and modify them, they can. this leads to seeing some oddities in multiplayer games, like players exceeding the current set level cap, items that are unobtainable legitamately, and stats that are likewise impossible. Grim Dawn is going to be moddable, this is why the games files are on our hard drives, so that once we have the mod tools we can edit the files as we please. Lastly while there is PvP, it is not the focus of the game and is not balanced accordingly, in fact most pvp matches tend to be whoever gets hit first dies. Grim dawn is primarily PvE and will remain as such.
To close this out, if you want an ARPG that offers very deep character customization and itemization and great gameplay and atmosphere then this game is for you. If you want a secure multiplayer experience away from what you would consider cheaters this might not be your cup of tea.
thank you for reading my long as hell review.
see the full version on the forums here: http://www.grimdawn.com/forums/showthread.php?p=249496#post249496