Dark Alliance Preview: D&D Returns to Cold, Hard Action Once Again

The cult classic series has gotten a makeover, but some familiar faces return.

Dark Alliance might just be the Dungeons & Dragons video game you’ve always dreamed about. It’s the first new chance to join the legendary party of Drizzt Do’Urden, Bruenor, Cattie-Brie, and Wulfgar across Icewind Dale in cooperative, action RPG form in years, and now it captures the magic of Fifth Edition D&D. Whether you’ve been rolling dice since the 1980s, or you’ve never even seen a character sheet, Dark Alliance is an action-packed fantasy world experience for anyone who loves slinging spells. Welcome to the party.

Enter the Forgotten Realms

The frigid lands of Icewind Dale in the Forgotten Realms setting are the backdrop for this original story. R. A. Salvatore fans will see a lot of inspiration drawn from his timeless books in this world, but the adventure is entirely new. It’s up to you and your companions to save the Ten Towns from a legion of invading monsters. Though most of your adventures see you embark from your base camp on standalone missions in seven different quest lines.

Beholders, frost giants, verbeegs, and dragons: the monstrous gang’s all here. Missions pack personality into creature designs from your favorite D&D adventures, according to Kevin Neibert, Lead Game Designer at developer Tuque Games. “What are monsters like when heroes aren’t around?” he teased. You’ll find out in these missions, complete not just with iconic bad guys, but all the secrets and puzzles you and your group could hope for.

Nonstop Co-Op

The action RPG emphasizes teamwork as you and your companions fight your way through the region of Icewind Dale, which has been featured in other D&D games, but not the Dark Alliance series. You play as one of four heroes in each mission. In true D&D fashion, each character has their own set of strengths and abilities. All about stealth and backstabbing? Choose Drizzt. Prefer to play the healer and pick off enemies from a distance? Support the party as Cattie-Brie. Or if you simply want to bash things, Bruenor and Wulfgar are the barbarian and fighter for you, respectively.

If you’ve read any of the Forgotten Realms book series, you’ll be thrilled to know that Dark Alliance puts the Companions of the Hall at your fingertips like never before (or at least not since the cult classic PS2 Dark Alliance games). “Our goal was to bring [these characters] to life,” Neibert explained.

Real-time combat masterfully combines button combos and button mashing, which might sound contradictory, but Dark Alliance absolutely makes it work. In fact, it’s a blast. Light and strong attacks mix with special abilities to keep combat exciting. And when it’s done, you’ll have the option to take a short rest to regain strength or keep fighting without stopping for even bigger rewards.

At the end of the mission, a tally screen for monsters slain and loot acquired gives one player bragging rights as the party returns to base camp.

dungeons and dragons dark alliance

Back to Base Camp

Almost all of the adventure in Dark Alliance begins at your base camp. You can choose a mission from the world map, check your journal, practice your combat skills, and much more all from this hub.

As the story and characters progress through missions, you also have the chance to pick up treasure and materials. Back at base camp, a surly shopkeeper offers to use them to upgrade your weapons and gear. Each character has 12 sets to choose from. The equipment gives each character not just a unique look, but unique modifiers for gameplay as well. You can use these sets to create a sort of subclass for your character to make them completely your own. Take that customization another step further in the character sheet by adding points to your stats.

Then it’s time to gather your party and head out on your next quest.

When Can You Play?

Whether you’re ready to try D&D-style fantasy action for the first time or want to revisit your old friends from the Forgotten Realms, Dark Alliance is poised to give you the group adventure you’re hoping for. “We wanted to make the game as accessible as possible for people who don’t have familiarity with D&D,” Neibert said.

With an emphasis on teamwork, special attention to customizing a character, and worldbuilding with memorable monsters, Dark Alliance brings everything that makes a D&D tabletop game fun — only now to consoles and PC for the first time in what feels like a while. The action RPG will launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Xbox One and Xbox Series X on June 21, 2021.

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Kelly Knox

Kelly Knox is a freelance entertainment writer in Seattle, WA. She writes for Star Wars, DC Comics, and more. Her first book, Marvel Monsters, comes out in July from DK Books.

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