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Grim Dawn - OUT NOW on Steam - the best ARPG since Diablo 2


Mr. Gerbik
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Titan Quest is my favourite ARPG of all time. Sadly, Titan Quest developer Iron Lore was shut down due to some funding issues despite everyone agreeing that Titan Quest, and especially its expansion Immortal Throne, was rather brilliant. Former members of Iron Lore went on to form Crate Entertainment though and through some kinda deals with former publisher THQ they were allowed to bring their Iron Lore engine with them and use it to start making a spiritual successor to to Titan Quest called Grim Dawn. As a massive TQ fan you can imagine I was rather excited when I found out!

So what is Grim Dawn?

Grim Dawn is an action role-playing game intended for digital distribution on the PC. It is being developed by veterans of Iron Lore entertainment, the makers of Titan Quest. Grim Dawn is being built with Crate's own improved version of the Iron Lore engine and toolset; the same technology used to create Titan Quest. As a spiritual successor, Grim Dawn will attempt to better perfect the magical formula of exploration, character advancement, and loot collection pioneered by Diablo.

Players will be thrust into the dark, war-torn world of Cairn where a once proud empire has been brought to ruin and the human race driven to the edge of extinction. Cairn has become ground zero of an eternal war between two otherworldly powers, one seeking to use human bodies as a resource, the other intent upon destroying the human race before that can happen. This cataclysmic war has not only decimated human civilization but is warping the very fabric of reality and, in its wake, giving life to new horrors.

For humankind it is the dawn of a grim new age where iron has replaced gold as currency and the importance of salt as a weapon makes it far too valuable to waste on food. Small enclaves of human survivors exist scattered throughout the world, holed up in hidden refuges. These humans have quietly watched the warring invaders destroy one another and have become wise to the strengths and vulnerabilities of their otherworldly foes. A few survivors have begun to exhibit strange new abilities after surviving possession or exposure to the warp. These unnatural powers are feared by some but give many new hope of launching a resistance to fight the "outsiders" and reclaim what's left of their world.

They're implementing a moveable camera this time, a more advanced conversation system, and destructible environments. They're also planning on releasing through Steam (among others) and the game will of course have the same kind of brilliant co-op multiplayer that we all know and love from Titan Quest:

 
  • Combine any of five distinct skill classes each with multiple skill trees in which to specialize. Advance your class mastery up to 75 levels to unlock dozens of powerful skills and synergistic modifiers. New classes will be periodically released through downloadable content.
Destructible environments give evidence of your massive battles while collapsing stonework and flying shards of furniture can be used tactically to cause further injury to your foes.
Dynamic Weather brings the world to life with region-specific climates and a variety of weather effects. A sunny day can cloud over with mild rainshowers that builds into a booming thunderstorm. Variable wind gusts blow grass and affect objects like windmills and window shutters.
Gameplay systems designed to expand for 200 levels of character progression, equipment, and enemies to fight makes for ridiculous amounts of replay value.
Connect with old friends or make new allies in glorious multiplayer. Specially balanced multiplayer encounters will put your teamwork to the ultimate challenge.
Collect blueprints that allow you to combine salvaged components into unique crafted items and then, later, use those basic crafted items with higher-tiered recipes to complete items of unprecedented badassness.
Camera rotation enhances the three-dimensionality of the world and gameplay while levels are still designed so that players are not forced to rotate the camera.
Refined loot system drops less junk items and ensures more consistent rewards from hero and boss monsters.
Satisfying enemy damage and death effects with an option to enable blood and gore.
New quest and conversation system will allow players to choose quest paths and rewards, interact with NPCs in more interesting ways, and an intuitive quest creation wizard will make life a lot easier for modders.
An NPC faction system lets the player improve their relations with different NPC groups to earn rewards as their favor increases such as merchant discounts, new items, and additional quest lines. However, aiding one faction could turn a rival faction into your enemy. Choose which side you will support!
The ability to spend money to reclaim skill and attribute points alleviates the fear and frustration of having to make early, uninformed decisions that could permanently nerf a character.
More features are in the works and will be announced as Grim Dawn nears release.

Screens:
The game is still early in development though they recently successfully did a Kickstarter to allow them to actually finish the game in a timely fashion. And for those wondering, yeah I of course backed them hard and even went for the $100 tier:

Spoiler


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"Boxed Special Edition of the game with physical game disk and soundtrack. This is for those fans who just want the boxed game at a lower price without a lot of other physical goods. + Small fold-out paper map + Everything from the Digital Deluxe Edition including the expansion and a digital copy of the game with access to the alpha and beta.

Boxed and with a map :wub: And I'm in the alpha and the beta, woohoo! Latest update regarding the release date of each:

Our current estimate is that alpha may be ready by the end of this year or early next year. We're working our hardest to make this happen as soon as possible but we need to produce a certain amount of continuous, playable content and complete certain technical tasks before this can happen. We expect beta to follow 4-6 months after alpha and then estimate August 2013 for the full release. I'm sure no one wants us to rush and release the game before it is ready though. After all, this is part of the reason we've avoided a standard publishing deal. So, please be patient; it will all pay off when we reach the finish-line.

Edit (thanks to JPR for this info): missed out on the kickstarter but want to support Crate Entertainment and gain acces to either the alpha, beta, or both? you still can by pre-purchasing the game on the Grim Dawn website:
As you can see, at least $35 gives you beta access on top of all the other stuff.

They also have an excellent taste in beer which is always a plus in my book, never trust a guy who doesn't like a good beer:



They released also some early gameplay vids of a few of the classes:



Today Gamebanshee wrote about two former 38 Studios (of Amalur and dramatic closure fame) joining the Grim Dawn team:
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Im a refugee of 38 Studios. When it closed - scratch that - imploded violently, my love of Titan Quest (and the modding tools!) drove me to contact Arthur about working on Grim Dawn, probably one of the best decisions Ive made in a while.

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I had already prepurchased from the site before the kickstarter had appeared (I'm another big fan of TQ) so really looking forward to this - Amular showed some promise so hopefully the guys can bring something decent to the team. Certainly this is my most wanted ARPG of the moment.

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I hope that they make a truly worthy successor to Titan Quest, a game which I personally prefer over every Diablo game any day of the week to be brutally honest :) (not in the least because the setting and areas you explore in Titan Quest are way more atmospheric and awesome imho)

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Just spotted the latest update regarding the release date of the alpha, the beta and the full game:

Our current estimate is that alpha may be ready by the end of this year or early next year. We're working our hardest to make this happen as soon as possible but we need to produce a certain amount of continuous, playable content and complete certain technical tasks before this can happen. We expect beta to follow 4-6 months after alpha and then estimate August 2013 for the full release. I'm sure no one wants us to rush and release the game before it is ready though. After all, this is part of the reason we've avoided a standard publishing deal. So, please be patient; it will all pay off when we reach the finish-line.

Watch this thread for my impressions and critical analysis of the alpha and the beta as they're released! :D

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I hope to be tearing round the Alpha with you when it appears Mr G :)

It's projects like this that make me glad something like Kickstarter is there. Despite the fanbase being there for something like Grim Dawn it's exactly the kind of game a publisher would pull because it didn't look like it would sell the same amount as another bland 3rd person CoDlike corridor shooter. The fact that Iron Lore were shut down in the first place because no publisher would fund them says it all.

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I hope to be tearing round the Alpha with you when it appears Mr G :)

Awesome, we're totally going to do that! :D Any other Titan Quest 'muk veterans reading this who are also in the alpha and beta of Grim Dawn? We'll meet in here once the alpha is out! Titan Tuesdays are back, baby! Uhm how shall we call them now though - Grim Tuesdays? Grim Mondays? We need a new name! We've got until early 2013 to think of a decent one that is at least as catchy as 'Titan Tuesdays' :P

Also, I agree completely with what you're saying about the development of Grim Dawn and the kind of games the big publishers are more willing to fund nowadays, but that goes without saying.

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I like the look of this, though sadly wasn't in a position to fund the Kickstarter. I really enjoyed what I played of Titan Quest and have never particularly enjoyed Diablo, so I'll be keeping an eye on your impressions, Mr G!

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The Kickstarter closed in May, dude.

Kickstarter is ace, and I've back a few projects, but it makes you wonder how people feel about throwing money down then having to wait at least 13 months for the thing they've paid for. With this the fact you can get into the Alpha and Beta helps but, well, like I say it make syou wonder/

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You can buy the game on their website, also versions with alpha and beta access. Was how they kept the development going before doing a Kickstarter.

Excellent info, I will add that to the op! So it's $35 for beta access (on top of the game itself of course and all kinds of nice bonuses) and $50 for beta and alpha access (and even more bonuses, hooray!) - dood, you know what do on payday!

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Well, yeah but what I'm saying is that from their site or Kickstarter you pay your money and then there's a long period where you see nothing for your money. What happens if the company folds for some reason before the game is released?

This isn't a thing against the devs of this game, it's more of a general question. You paid your money, but you don't have anything to show for it, I don't know what measures are put in place to insure against eventualities like that.

I'll take it to the Kickstarter thread.

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Tbh, the kind of people who think that by donating (the keyword here is donating, they should really look it up in the dictionary!) money to a kickstarter project you're guaranteed a tangible and satisfying result, are the same kind of people that would berate an alpha version of a game because it feels unfinished. Unfortunately, such people will always be around and complain the loudest of all.

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Was just replying to dood to say he can still get it.

But I have had similar concerns as you to Kickstarter but the truth seems to be there are no guarantees, you just need to be aware that you could end up with nothing for your money. Why I think you have to be really careful about what you fund, not just think that looks great I'll give them some money. You need to know about the people behind it, do they seem like they can live up to their promises, what is their track record and previous experience.

In the case of the Grim Dawn guys, obviously we know they have experience of making such games. But also the project has been ongoing for a while before the Kickstarter, which they where actually quite hesitant to do at first and resisted the requests to do one on their forum. They actually got some stick in places for being an established project doing a Kickstarter but I actually thought it was a good thing, there's already people in place and a game in development that you can see when handing over your money. It's also something that was going to be made without Kickstarter, what that's done is help them get it made much quicker.

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in my case I'd bought the game from the website directly before the Kickstarter happened. I knew I'd have a fair bit of time to wait on anything coming but I had faith in the guys behind it and since it seemed apart from D3 there wasn't any other ARPG's on the horizon. If I happen to lose my $50 then I'm happy to have paid the wages of someone for a bit to try and bring me something I want to play.

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  • 10 months later...

First quick impression, only had a few minutes to boot it up before turning it off again: OMFG IT *IS* TITAN QUEST! You can immediately tell from the options screens and menus etc that this is from the same team, never mind the controls and the first impression the design and character screen make. Spiritual sequel indeed, they weren't lying. It just feels the same in all the right ways. I can only say: :wub:

Really looking forward to properly playing it!

Oh and it looks gorgeous

Edit: omg you can rotate the camera! That's new :D

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Hmmm... so tempted to buy this :) I played Titan Quest and the expansion to death. $50 is a bit steep though just to play the thing now. Also, $20 would be fine except for the fact that it might be a couple of years before it ever gets to release.

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Just finished my download and had a quick peek. It feels a lot like Titan Quest control wise - the graphics are superb (especially for a 6 man indie team) and the music is excellent too.

Being able to move the camera and zoom in/out makes a huge difference - not had a look at skill trees or the like yet but once my little one is asleep I intend to put a few hours in.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I should have posted sooner! The TL;DR version for those who've played and love Titan Quest: this is Titan Quest 2 and you should buy it when it comes out.

Let's see... you have only three masteries to choose from in this Alpha, the final version will have more. You choose one at level 2 or 3 and then a second at level 10 IIRC. The combination of these two is what makes a class, so like Titan Quest you have a lot of freedom to forge your own class from the different mastery combinations. And within those classes you have a lot of freedom to customize because you have two skill tress to pick and choose your skills (and therefore your playstyle) from. The only real difference with the skill trees from TQ is that instead of vertical, they're now horizontal.

The setting is completely different, instead of ancient Greece and Egypt, which looked all bright and idyllic, you're now in some grim, war-torn world where basic firearms have already been developed. You have magic and summons, but ranged weaponry now extends to guns and rifles. This also influences the type of skills available, I'm playing with a demolition mastery and I use a combination of flashbangs and grenades to deal with the mobs. Of course my bullets are magical and explode upon impact, dealing area damage and I have a summoned raven with me who shoots lasers and heals me. Nice! (you also unlock teleports as you travel around like in TQ and have access to a small, temporary personal teleport to quickly travel back and sell shit)

The mobs can be massive in this, a bit Serious Sam like at times when things get really hectic. I love luring them towards me and then throwing a grenade just behind them, and a flashbang right in front of them at the same time, which causes the to turn around and run straight into the area damage of the grenade - and I'm shooting the shit out of them as this happens of course. I haven't done anything with the melee class yet (the one magical class available in the alpha is my second mastery), but ranged is awesome.

The alpha is very polished, it looks great and it plays great. Very impressive for a six man development team and it bodes well for the final version. They're still constantly changing things around, there was a big update (in terms of changes/adjustments) just yesterday. Some people thought it was too hard at the moment, with health potions being rare as fuck and very expensive. This was offset with the rapid rate at which your health recharges, but I can imagine that it would make life more difficult for the soldier (melee) class. Like in TQ all the enemies are randomly spawned (within a certain type and level range for each area) and remain that way until you turn the game off. The overworld and dungeons are designed instead of randomly generated, but I noticed that further on there are big dungeons with different path and as you start the game, it's randomly decided which pathways are closed or accessible - so you have to take a different route the second time around, with different enemy placements.

Oh and like TQ you gather components which you can stack, So if you stack five 'burning ore' (or whatever) fragments and stack them, you get a single big burning ore piece. Each fragment type has its own bonuses and a complete version has further bonuses still. For example, lets say that each burning ore piece gives +12 fire damage and +3%fire resistance. Five pieces stacked on top of each other then gives an extra +8 seconds burning effect. Each type of component can be freely applied to either weapons, armour or jewellery, or all three. This gives further customisations options as you can imagine, the best tactic is to choose add-ons which enhance your most-used skills and tactics or balance out your weak areas (for example; if you use a slow but powerful rifle, apply a component to it which gives +14% fire rate or something).

The combat works really well, I love how you really tear enemies apart with your attacks, the skill trees and their huge potential for customization and tactics bode really well, the atmosphere is great and it seems to be just as addictive as TQ is. First verdict based of 9 hours with an early alpha: it's great!

spoilered images:

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