The next step in my exploration was getting online. The fluidity of getting from the main menu into a game of four players exceeded my expectations. Not only is matchmaking quick and simple, I didn’t notice any in-game lag. You can join a random game, start a public match, or start a private (invite-only) match. But the real treat is being able to drag friends in with you. There are no excuses not to - only one Live Gold account is needed on the Xbox version, and the rest can play as guests. What’s more is that they can each create characters that are saved to that Live account for future use. As four-player co-op games go, it’s probably the most accessible and easy-to-begin game I’ve played this year...maybe ever. My experience with the XBLA version has been a far cry better than that of the mobile version.
After completing the game’s campaign there’s a challenge mode which further deepens the experience, asking players to complete maps in certain ways - like without towers. Beyond that there’s also an option to turn any map into a survival mode - obviously best experienced with friends in co-op.
Local co-op is played splitscreen, and when playing with only two players you are given the option to split the screen horizontally or vertically. If the interface doesn’t fit your fancy, you can also resize it - a really nice touch.
The tavern area I mentioned earlier also makes a return as an area to socialize, sell excess items, and buy unique goods like pets for your character as well as armor and weapons. From here you can also access your stats and launch one of the game’s missions. You can even sort of trade items between players by dropping items. You can even test out your weapons and defenses against a little attack dummy that sits in the corner. It’s a great way to see exactly how much damage an upgraded cannon turret does before dropping it in the heat of battle.
All in all, it’s an addictive game with a lot going for it. It’s easy to play, and just requires some patience to get used to the busy visuals and slow-to-moderate pacing. It offers an incredible range of depth, providing enough to keep hardcore RPG players interested but also using simple references so that the appeal is not lost on casual players.
And as a side note - while writing this review I’ve successfully updated Dungeon Defenders: Second Wave to my Android phone and it seems to have the bugs worked out. My tale of woe has a happy ending after all. Next year's PlayStation Vita version of Dungeon Defenders is as good as bought, in my book.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 and PC version of the game.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up as one of four characters each with their own unique abilities and traps to conquer dungeons in this tower defense action/RPG hybrid.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.