Dungeons 4 Preview
Successfully blending game genres is hard. Most developers are challenged just by dialing in one genre. In contrast, the Dungeons series has excelled in bringing together a city-building sim, a real-time strategy game, and a lot of fourth-wall-breaking humor. Dungeons 4 is on the near horizon and appears to carry forward the winning formula that has been the foundation all along.
If you’re a long-time fan of Dungeons — not to be confused with Dungeon Keeper — you’ll feel right at home with this new game. The colorful, stylized art is now more detailed, with more complex and subtle unit animations and vastly more complicated, sprawling underground dungeons. There are more units, traps, rooms to build… altogether a lot more toys to play with.
Also gloriously intact is the game’s humor, which is a compendium of game and pop culture references. Dungeons throws a lot of jokes, visual puns, and snarky humor at the wall, hoping most of it will stick. Some of it’s worthy of an eye roll, but a lot of it is clever and pretty well hidden. In any case, both the game’s humor and art help to lighten the mood of what could be a grim idea. I mean, chaining dwarves to an oversized hamster wheel could be a bit disturbing.
It’s Always the Dwarves
Did you catch the reference to dwarves? That’s right, there’s a whole new element to Dungeons. Dwarves are an autonomous race that is competing with your armies of evil for underground domination. Just like you, they want to expand their territory, so you can expect to knock heads and weapons with them as you build out your mega-dungeons. The dwarves add a fun new layer of complexity to the game. Your goal is always to protect the all-important Dungeon Heart at the core of your build. If your enemies destroy it, the mission is over.
Not that Dungeons 4 needs more depth, as there’s always been a lot going on in these games. On the surface, you have a full-fledged RTS layer, where the goal is to expand territory, spread your evil corruption, and gather resources. At the same time, you’re taking those resources to construct vast labyrinths of torturous dungeons underground, which further expands your empire above. The mechanics make for an engaging back-and-forth and give the player lots to pay attention to. Dungeons 4’s strength is also its biggest potential frustration, which is managing all that activity and monitoring a pretty elaborate UI.
The developers promise a substantial, 20-mission campaign plus skirmish mode to expand the fun and playtime. The writer and truly remarkable voice cast returns from Dungeons 3, assuring that one of the best parts of the last game remains in place. It’s obvious that the team has taken advantage of the power of current-gen hardware with improved visuals and much larger missions, but the world is more fluid and active as well.
Something for Everyone
Fans of the last game or the Dungeons franchise in general will be able to hop right in. There is a patient tutorial to bring new players up to speed. Thanks to its blended genres, Dungeons 4 is a game for RTS lovers, would-be city builders, and those who lean into snarky and self-referential humor and social satire.
Players need not be tortured waiting for the game to drop. Dungeons 4 releases on November 9 for PC, and PlayStation and will land on Xbox Game Pass at launch.
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