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Ahead of Grim Dawn's incoming 126.96.36.199 update, developer Crate Entertainment has revealed more on The Fall of Port Valbury an Aetherial-themed roguelike dungeon heading to the action role player in mid-December.
Said to boast new lore, bosses and "monster infrequents", Port Valbury has fallen under mysterious circumstances tied to supernatural beings and monstrous creatures. Here's Crate with the skinny on the setup:
"A once proud and prosperous city with a booming port and trade network, Port Valbury has suffered greatly under the influence of the Aetherials. Even before the Grim Dawn was fully unleashed upon Cairn, their agents had begun working on undermining the population and throwing the city into chaos.
"The city s mayor, Khallos Strune, could not have suspected the schemes happening right under his nose, and when he began to realize that one of his advisors, Councilor Van Aldritch, was not using his position to the best interest of the citizenry, it was already too late. Port Valbury, as countless other settlements across the Erulan Empire, was doomed."
After striking a deal with Harbormaster Jarren "if there was anything Port Valbury s harbormaster loved more than a pitcher of ale, that would be coin" Van Aldritch transforms the poor chap into an unsightly Aetherial beast with "bleeding sores covering his aetherwarped flesh". Jarren now stalks the Port Valbury slums and looks like this:
Yikes. And as if things couldn't get any worse, Van Aldritch has now shed his human form, in turn embracing the "tainted nature of the Aether itself." In short, this superhuman entity now rules Port Valbury, which is where you come in. Free for owners of the base game, The Fall of Port Valbury is due mid-December with a concrete release date expected in the coming weeks.
The concept of stranger danger does not exist in RPGs. I realise this halfway through a quest in the well-made action RPG Grim Dawn, at precisely the moment I teleport a child I ve just met to a jail cell. Did I just do something bad?
That s not a question I ask myself often in action RPGs, in which you re required to kill creatures in their thousands. And the kid was hiding in the wild, surrounded by ghosts and other cool monsters that like to eat children. The jail cell is part of a reconstituted human settlement called Devil s Crossing, and the people there seem like good not-ghost people. I reckon I m in the clear. This was an act of heroism, with a small aspect of child abduction.
Things get a little more complicated when I offer to take a man to Devil s Crossing and he refuses, and I kill him with a massive lightning hammer. It has taken me a while to realise that this was a bad thing to do an act of attempted heroism with a massive aspect of murder but I had reacted instinctively to the fact the man s name tag turned red. I can t recall if he actually attempted to attack me, but after a decade of playing action RPGs the old monster-bashing instincts kicked in. I left-clicked and he turned into a heap of bloody chunks. Self-defence, your honour.
Still, what happens in the bowels of a forsaken fortress stays there, right? There is no morality system in Grim Dawn, only a faction system that measures your reputation with the world s warring groups. The etherial ghost people hate me because I ve killed them in their thousands. The citizens of Devil s Crossing think I m OK, because I ve filled their dungeons with children. It s a strange situation, but quite suited to Grim Dawn s post-apocalyptic Wild West with wizards setting. There is no good and evil, there is only loot, and some portal-based people trafficking.
My opinion of Devil s Crossing changes when I discover a larger and better-equipped town called Homestead. This place has walls, and proper soldiers, and guard captains. I ve spent hours helping the peasants of a tiny improvised refuge when I could have been leading them to a better place. I feel as though I could have teleported the kids to Homestead where they might have a chance of seeing daylight. I couldn t, of course, the game s carefully measured progression confined me to the fields around Devil s Crossing for the first six hours or so. Now when I talk to the kids they give me canned dialogue asking me whether I ll kill the bad men. I tell them yes. I don t tell them about the guy in the basement who wouldn t go with me that one time.
It s a credit to Grim Dawn that I care at all about any of them. Action RPG NPCs only have small text boxes with which to endear themselves to the player hovering 20 feet above. They re tiny helmeted quest-nodes to be mined for experience. But in Grim Dawn they seem like small people with small problems. They just want some supplies, and a new bridge, and maybe a blacksmith. Doing good deeds and seeing the settlement change before my eyes has awakened a nurturing instinct of sorts.
Don t get me wrong, if their needs stop requiring me to kill thousands of monsters with a hammer, I m out of here, but for now this strange symbiotic relationship continues. The people of Devil s Crossing shall have all the lost children they want.
In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. This week, Tom puts points into his secondary chin-stroking class and plays a bunch of Grim Dawn.
Have you ever experienced specialisation anxiety? You're playing an RPG as a single character, and the game gives you lots of ways to develop your hero. So far, so good. But! Only a couple of hours in you're forced to make important choices about your skill path. Will you become a choppy close combat hero, or a shooty hero? Will you choose magic or brute force? Make your choice now, or go away and play something else.
Once you've chosen a route, you're probably committed to it. Even in systems that let you climb skill trees incrementally by spending points, the desire for maximum efficiency incentivises you to rally around your early expenditure and push toward the extremes of your chosen path. If the path isn't to your taste, what then?
It's an interesting problem, because we expect choice from upgrade systems. When Diablo 3 moved to a flat skill system that let you collect and swap in abilities at will, some felt that an important element of the RPG had been removed. Picking skills and spending attribute points let you personalise your avatar, establish a role and shape the game experience to your interests.
The problem with skill trees and class choices is that they force you to make an important decision from an uneducated position. In a new action RPG you don't know if area-of-effect spells will be more useful than individual attacks because you don't know how many horde situations the game will challenge you with. You don't know whether poison effects will do enough damage to make poison skills relevant throughout the game. From a position of intense ignorance, you have to guess in a general direction 'I guess fireballs might be fun?'.
Multi-classing helps by giving players an extra layer of experimentation. After a certain progression point, you gain access to a second skill tree, or a new flavour of abilities that overlap with your original choice. It's a useful course-correction tool 'fireballs are okay, but having actually had a chance to see how the game's systems work, let's go for poison after all'.
Multi-class upgrade systems also disrupt the strength vs. intelligence relationship that RPGs repeat endlessly. If you want to swing a big sword, you're normally encouraged to increase your strength stat at the expense of intelligence and dexterity stats, traditionally associated with spellcasting and rogue skills respectively. This forcibly creates the same fantasy warrior archetypes over and over again: the idiot barbarian with muscles for brains; the wizard that can barely lift their own tomes; the cunning rogue who dies a lot.
Multi-classing means that you have the option to spread your resources around a little, to create contradictory builds that are quirky and fun. Grim Dawn is good at this. It's a dark action RPG from Crate Entertainment. I start out as an occultist. That gives me a couple of nice summons (crackling lightning bird and weak exploding fire dog). He can also suck away enemy life force with a glyph, and throw poisonous eyeballs around. He's a wizard gone bad, but can also swing around a double-handed sword quite ably. At level 10, I realise that I enjoy the big melee weapons more than ranged attacks, so I select 'soldier' as my second class and create a hybrid mage-o-warrior, and then use my occult ability to imbue melee weapons with psychic oomph. Synergy!
Grim Dawn goes further still with an extra layer of 'Devotion' boons that let you compensate for any weaknesses your bizarre combination of classes might throw up. I occasionally fall a little low on health in fights with powerful enemies, so I've invested in a little life-steal.
It's not perfect. I still worry that my decisions have locked off the most fun way to play the game, and I worry that my particular choice won't take me through the game's toughest challenges. There are always re-roll mechanics for drastic circumstances. It's a bad moment, though. Re-rolls make me feel as though I've broken the integrity of the game. I have failed, and now I'm cheating. At least multi-classing presents an extra barrier to that ugly solution, and gives you several chances to find the fun hidden away in RPG's impenetrable skill trees.
Dark and sinister Diablo 2-a-like Grim Dawn welcomes its The Crucible DLC tomorrow.
Dubbed a harsh battleground filled with waves of Grim Dawn s deadliest fiends, the incoming expansion dumps players into four different arenas and tasks them with fending off 150 enemy waves all for the amusement of the titular Crucible s enigmatic overlord Lokarr.
But he is not a cruel master, says the action RPG's developer Crate Entertainment. Endure his trials and be rewarded with vast wealth; fail, and know only his scorn. So, um, don t mess up, yeah?
Tributes act as currency to craft defence structures, while Celestial Blessings call upon the gods to see you right. More on the specifics can be read this way, however here s the general idea as told via the game s site:
The Crucible will test your characters like nothing has before as you battle through its three difficulty modes. You will begin as an Aspirant, untested and unscarred by the ravages of the Crucible. But once you defeat the first 100 waves of the Crucible, you will earn access to the Challenger difficulty. Likewise, defeating 100 waves as a Challenger will allow you to play on the Gladiator difficulty. Each difficulty presents tougher challenges, but also greater rewards.
If you picked up Grim Dawn via its website prior to or during its Kickstarter or via the Kickstarter campaign itself The Crucible DLC comes free-of-charge. If you didn t, it ll cost 4.49/$4.99 on Steam and GOG with a 15 percent release discount during its first week.