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Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard

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Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard
Dragonshard Logo.png
Studio United StatesVereinigte Staaten Liquid Entertainment
Publisher FranceFrankreich Atari
Lead Developer Ed Del Castillo
First publication 21. September 2005
Platform Windows
Genre Real-time strategy game
Theme Dungeons & Dragons
Game Mode Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Controls Mouse & Keyboard
System requirements
  • OS: Windows 2000/XP with DirectX 9.0c
  • CPU: 1.5 GHz Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Graphics card: 64 MB card with hardware T&L
  • Sound card: DirectX compatible
  • 2.5 GB free hard disk space
  • 8× CD-ROM drive
Medium CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, Download
Language German, English, French
Current version 1.2.1 (EU)
1.2.1b (US)
Age rating
USK
USK ab 12 freigegeben
PEGI
PEGI ab 12 Jahren empfohlen
PEGI content
rating
Violence

Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard is a real-time strategy game with role-playing aspects by the US developer studio Liquid Entertainment. It is the first computer game set in the Eberron campaign world of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game rulebook. It was released in September 2005 for Windows PC by Atari, the D&D licensee at the time.

Storyline

Game world

Dragonshard is set in the world of Eberron, which combines familiar fantasy elements of previous D&D campaign worlds with an incipient mechanized civilization, thus incorporating so-called steampunk elements. According to the creation myth of Eberron, the dragon Khyber once fought his sister Siberys and tore her body to pieces. This enraged Khyber’s brother Eberron so much that he buried Khyber under his own body. The three dragon bodies created the three parts of the game world: the surface of Eberron, the underworld of Khyber, and the ring of Siberys that orbits around Eberron. All three parts produce so-called Dragonshards(dragon shards), crystal and stone fragments with magical powers. The largest Dragonshard is the Heart of Siberys. When it fell from the Ring of Siberys onto the continent of Xen’drik, it was responsible for the sinking of a city below the earth’s surface and simultaneously created the storm-ridden mountain range known as the Ring of Storms. Its tremendous magical powers caused the lifeforms there to evolve into lizardfolk. Since then, the Heart has been a source of conflict for various factions seeking dominion over its powers.

Fractions

There are three factions that are relevant to the action. In addition, there are other independent small groups and races that can be both supportive and hostile to the player.

Order of the Flame

The Order of the Flame is the military wing of the Church of the Silver Flame, an organization dedicated to the destruction of evil. The Order is an alliance of diverse cultures and traditions, including human, dwarven, halfling, and Celestian.

Lizard People

The Lizardfolk are the indigenous lifeform of the Ring of Storms. According to legend, they were settled there by the dragons as guardians of the Heart of Siberys. Over time, they have changed and gained consciousness due to their proximity to the magical energy of the Heart. Several centuries ago, their hero Darroc managed to unite the tribes. He sacrificed his life to defend the Heart of Siberys against Order invaders. Since then, peace reigned again for a long time.

Transfold

The third faction does not have its own campaign and is only selectable in multiplayer mode. The Umbragen are, according to lore, the descendants of the elven race that once inhabited the city of Qalatesh. Qalatesh was once destroyed after a Shatterstorm and sank into the depths of Khyber, where some survivors also found refuge. To face the dangers of Khyber, the elves connected with the dark energies of Khyber, which became part of their culture and ultimately turned them into the vicious Umbragen.

Framework for action

Led by the cleric Lady Marryn and the dwarven shaman Amathor, the Order of the Flame moves to the Ring of Storms to conquer the heart of Siberys and claim its magical powers for themselves. In doing so, they disrupt the centuries-long tranquility of this region. The Order faces opposition from the native Guardian race of lizards. Depending on your choice of faction, it is up to the player to either take control of the heart (Order) or defend it against the invaders (Lizard People). In addition, both parties are confronted with the Umbragen, who under their leader Satros want to use the powers of the heart to unlock the secrets of the ruins of Qalatesh.

Game principle

General

The game combines elements of traditional real-time strategy games with role-playing aspects.[1] The player can choose between two factions in single player and three in multiplayer: the Order of the Flame, the Lizardfolk and the Umbragen.[2] In the single player mode there is a plot-driven campaign for the Order of the Flame and for the Lizardfolk. Furthermore, there are free battles against computer opponents and human players via Internet or LAN.[1]

The mission maps each consist of two game levels: the surface of the earth and the underworld of Khyber, which bring out the different aspects of the game. On the surface, common strategy game aspects come into play, such as building a base, gathering resources, and expanding and upgrading one’s armies.[1] Possible positions for bases and expansions are given for each map. These are also self-sufficient, with a likewise predefined number of building sites. The limited building space forces the player to make strategic decisions about the composition of his armies, as appropriate production buildings cannot be built for each unit type.[3] Unlike usual in strategy games, all unit types are available to the player from the beginning.[1] These are divided into four unit types:

  • Champions: Hero characters selected by the player in the campaign before a mission begins, and summoned in battle mode at a base. Each faction has four different champions with unique abilities and army bonuses:[2] a Warrior, a Cleric, a Mage, and a Rogue.
  • Juggernauts: powerful and expensive units that can be summoned from bases. Each faction has a unique Juggernaut unit, of which only one can be in play at a time.
  • Captains: Units that can be trained in the base. Captains can be upgraded to a total of five levels. With each upgrade, they gain new abilities and a squad of subordinate soldiers, up to a maximum of four at level 5. Each faction has a wider selection of Captain units to choose from, including flying units, tanks, rogues, healers, spellcasters, ranged fighters and resource gatherers.
  • Soldiers: Support troops that are automatically trained by Captains near their own bases. They cannot be controlled directly, but automatically follow their Captain. Soldiers always take damage before their Captain, effectively symbolizing higher life expectancy and the unit’s increased damage potential.

Of these units, only heroes and ground-based captains can switch between the overworld and underworld via set transition points.[4] Juggernauts are denied access, soldiers turn into additional life bars for their captain unit and are restored upon leaving the Underworld.

The gameplay in the underground is therefore more akin to an exploration campaign by a group of heroes with different role-playing game-standard characters, rather than an armed conflict between different contingents of troops as on the surface.[1] For example, in the underground, units must disarm traps, collect unique items, and hunt monsters similar to common dungeon crawlers.[4] Items are collected in a global inventory and are then available to all units.

Resources

There are three resources in Dragonshard:

  • Dragonshards: Are required for the construction of buildings and units. Dragonshards periodically rain down from the sky onto the surface.[5]
  • Gold: Also needed for the construction of buildings and units. Buildings automatically generate a small increment at regular intervals,[5] however, much of the gold is gained by exploring the underworld areas by completing quests and searching fallen enemies.
  • Experience Points: Needed to upgrade units. Experience points are gained by killing and destroying enemy units and buildings, and completing quests.

Experience points are allocated to a global pool in Dragonshard. The player can use these in unit-producing buildings to level up his captains. With this upgrade, all units of this type will rise and automatically receive this level in the future after training. To upgrade a Captain higher than level 2, the player needs two or more training facilities of the same type, one for each additional level. The player must decide whether to use the limited building slots for upgrading certain unit types or for buildings with bonuses for units instead. Heroes cannot be upgraded, but can be upgraded in the campaign through hero artifacts.

Game modes

Dragonshard has a single player campaign for the Order of the Flame and the Lizardfolk, with seven missions each,[2] plus several maps for single-player and multiplayer battles. The single-player campaign maps include several scripted main mission objectives that advance the storyline, as well as optional side missions that earn the player bonuses such as special items, experience points, gold, or hero artifacts. Unused items can be stored in a vault between missions. During a mission, the player receives so-called Reward Points depending on the quality of their play. These can be used between campaigns to purchase items or upgrade heroes with additional hero artifacts.

Single player and multiplayer battles have one mandatory and three optional victory conditions:

  • Raze – the destruction of all enemy buildings. This victory condition can not be turned off.
  • Expansion – control over 50% of all expansion bases over a period of time.
  • Artifacts – The goal is to collect a set number of artifacts by killing randomly appearing creatures.
  • Control – control over 50% of all so-called Places of Power on a map over a period of time.

Development

Dragonshard is the first computer game set in the D&D campaign world of Eberron. Although Eberron creator Keith Baker himself wrote the story framework for Dragonshard, some deviations exist between the game and the canonical Eberron Campaign Setting. For example, Sibery’s Dragonshards are gold-colored according to the rulebook, but glow bluish in the game. Also, building new warforged, as practiced by the Order, is forbidden under the Treaty of Thronehold, which marked the end of the Last War.[6]

Dragonshard was marketed by publisher Atari as “the first Dungeons&Dragons real-time strategy game”.[7] In fact, real-time strategy games for the D&D franchise had already been released in 1993 with Stronghold and Fantasy Empires by SSI, and in 1996 with Blood & Magic by Interplay Entertainment.[8]

Reception

Metavaluations
Database Rating
GameRankings 70,88 %[16]
Metacritic 71 out of 100[17]
Reviews
Publication Rating
4Players 74 %[9]
GameSpot 8.5 out of 10[14]
GameStar 80 %[10]
Gameswelt 79 %[11]
Gamona 78 %[12]
IGN 8.4 out of 10[15]
PC Games 77 %[13]

Dragonshard received majority positive, albeit reserved, reviews (GameRankings: 79.09%[16] / Metacritic: 80 out of 100[17]).

The game was praised for its combination of the elements of traditional real-time strategy games with D&D role-playing games.[18] The main criticism was the small size of the single player mode, especially underlined by the lack of a Umbragen campaign.[19]

Web links

Individual references

  1. a b c d e Heather Newman:Upcoming DragonShard in a class by itself, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. 29 September 2004. archived from the Original on January 23, 2017 Info: Thearchive linkwas automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check original and archive link according to instructions, then remove this notice.@1@2Template:Webachiv/IABot/www.highbeam.com Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  2. a b c Mike Govenettio:Strategy at heart of ‘Dragonshard. in The Buffalo News, October 13, 2005. archived from the Original april 15, 2016 Info: Thearchive linkwas automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check original and archive link according to instructions, then remove this notice.@1@2Template:Webachiv/IABot/www.highbeam.com Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  3. Dragonshard for PC ReviewGameSpot. September 21, 2007. Retrieved May 24, 2008: “For example, instead ofbeing able to build a huge base anywhere on the map, you are limited to a fixed-sized base on certain points of the map. This base-building mechanic requires a lot of strategy on your part, because each base has only 16 building slots that are divided into blocks of four. What you build on those blocks determines the type of units that you construct, as well as the experience level those units can attain.
  4. a b Ahmad Faiz:Riveting adventure-filled realm. in: New Straits Times, 11 August 2005. archived from Original may 27, 2016 Info: Thearchive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check original and archive link as per instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Template:Webachiv/IABot/www.highbeam.com Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  5. a b Bruno Dieter Chan:Worthy to stand on its own. in: New Straits Times, 27 October 2005. archived from Original march 2, 2016 Info: Thearchive linkwas automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check original and archive link according to instructions, then remove this notice.@1@2Template:Webachiv/IABot/www.highbeam.com Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  6. Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, James Wyatt (2004). Eberron Campaign Setting. Wizards of the Coast, Inc. ISBN 0-7869-3434-4.
  7. Dragonshard(English) In: Official website. Atari. Archived from Original 8 March 2005. retrieved 6 November 2012.
  8. Allen Rausch:A History of D&D Video Games – Part III. GameSpy. august 17, 2004. retrieved February 17, 2008.
  9. Bodo Naser:Test: Dragonshard. in: 4Players . freenet AG. 21 November 2005. retrieved 15 December 2012.
  10. Dragonshard in the testIn: GameStar. IDG. November 11, 2005. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  11. André Linken:Dragonshard – ReviewIn: Gameswelt. web media publishing. 17 November 2005. retrieved 15 December 2012.
  12. Sebastian Weidner:The mixture of real-time strategy and role-playing! How good is Dragonshard, really?. in Gamona . webguidez entertainment. january 4, 2006. retrieved december 15, 2012.
  13. DragonshardIn: PC Games. Computec Media Group. 26 September 2005. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  14. Ocampo Jason:Dragonshard Review(English) In: GameSpot. CBS Interactive. 21 September 2005. retrieved 15 December 2012.
  15. Steve Butts:Dragonshard(English) In: IGN. news corp. 22 September 2005. retrieved 15 December 2012.
  16. a b GameRankings: average score of the game, based on 22 scores. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  17. a b Metacritic: Average score of the game, based on 24 articles. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  18. Dragonshard for PC ReviewGameSpot. September 21, 2005. Retrieved May 24, 2008: “What makes Dragonsharddifferent is that it combines a lot of cool concepts from earlier real-time strategy games and then blends the resulting combination with D&D-style role-playing. In essence, it literally is a role-playing strategy game of sorts, with the surface portion of the world focused on real-time strategy, and the underworld, which deals with role-playing. And yet, the gameplay is subtly tied together, so that what you do in one plane has huge consequences in the other.
  19. Dragonshard for PC ReviewGameSpot. September 21, 2005. Retrieved May 24, 2008: “That said, we do have somegripes about the single-player campaign. First, despite the fact that there are three factions, the game only features two campaigns, and each campaign only has seven missions. There are many quests in the game, so you can replay parts to see what you’ve missed. However, despite this feature, it still feels like there’s a campaign that’s missing that didn’t make the cut.