Sword coast Legends Drama!
As many already know, N-Space, the developers of Sword Coast Legends have closed shop, at least partially due to the less than stellar reviews it got on release with Sword Coast Legends.
I did actually buy this game on release, even though I had done my research before buying, meaning it was stated clearly that it wasn’t going to be a Neverwinter Nights 1 or Neverwinter Nights 2 sequel. So I tried it out with open eyes and an open mind.
So what IS Sword Coast Legends?
It’s a Computer Role-Playing Game. It was touted as being loosely based on Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. So an Isometric dungeon bash type RPG. It’s set in the Forgotten Realms Dungeons and Dragons setting along the Sword Coast (Obviously). So that’s nice and familiar for DnD fans.
So what’s the Drama?
Like I said earlier, they DID say it wasn’t going to be a sequel to the Neverwinter nights PC games, but people still wanted that. I DO think they pushed the whole “It’s a DnD game” thing too much, as it probably raised people’s expectations.
Dungeon Master (DM) Mode woes
The other thing was that it was advertised to have a DM mode, meaning someone could control the game for other players and make dungeons, areas, plots, quests and so on. Both Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 had this feature, but with Sword Coast Legends, it was much more limited. you didn’t have nearly the rich adventure creation tools that Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 had. Which also annoyed a lot of people.
Yeah, the DM tools ARE pretty bad really, you can’t actually edit each specific area you create, it just allows you to place an entire area and than place stuff in it. whereas in Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, you could edit the layout of the areas in a very detailed way.
It wasn’t really Dungeons and Dragons
This is also one of the big reason for the backlash against this game. For all their “This isn’t DnD”, they certainly emblazoned the “Dungeons and Dragons” Logos and product all over the place. It would have been better to keep the “Sword Coast Legends” name and have “Inspired by DnD” or something like that. As the game mechanics in the game differ quite dramatically from the Tabletop dungeons and Dragons. So many Tabletop Dungeons and Dragons took issue with this.
There were quite a few technical problems with the game on release and for some time after as well, which didn’t help. It was a real memory/resource hog, even on low settings. Actually I pretty much gave up on it for this reason. I DID downgrade the Nividia drivers later to an earlier version, which actually helped quite a bit, so it wasn’t entirely the fault of the game itself, some dodgy Nvidia Graphics card drivers contributed.
Quite recently, I upgraded my PC memory from 8GBs to 16Gbs and I fired up the game again to see how it went. Oh WOW!, did I notice a difference. Whereas previously I had to set some graphics settings quite low when on 8GB RAM, on 16Gb RAM, I had all the settings maxxed out and it played quite smoothly. It’s worth noting that since then I had the Rage of Demons add on and it had been patched quite a bit since I last played it, but even so, I think the game requires lots of memory to have on high graphics settings. I also have a oldish Graphics card, a GTX 660. Although I could run many other new games on high settings that were graphically quite demanding, so I don’t think the game was optimised very well. whatever the case, the RAM upgrade made a massive difference.
What’s the actual Gameplay like?
First of all, go no further if you’re expecting a dungeons and Dragons game or a Neverwinter Nights Sequel. This game is not for you. It’s kind of loosely based on both, but really it’s not the same thing, apart from it’s a Fantasy Computer RPG.
Still here? OK. Well first thing first. It’s really easy to get into. The character generation is straight forward. It has Classes, Races, skills and Levels like Tabletop DnD (and many other other CRPGs). So that’s a big plus for me. It just works, nothing special or new here, but it’s familiar ground.
Easy to get into
When you actually start the game, it has the usual introduction you see in CRPGs and in game tutorials to show you the ropes. That’s nice too. I found it easier to get into and get my head around than Divinity Original Sin (which is a fantastic game BTW, it has lots more depth than SCL). So if you just want to play for an hour, it’s easier to pick up and play SCL and feel like you’ve achieved something.
Basic plot, but good enough
The plot/Storyline is nothing special, but it’s not bad either. It’s good enough to get you going and I enjoy exploring the wilderness and dungeons. You start out in a Caravan trading convoy that is beset with raids and so on.. It’s enough to get you going and to have an excuse to beat up Goblins and Bandits..
The UI (User Interface) is functional and no real surprises here. It has a toolbar at the bottom and number keys associated with it and function keys etc. the usual Mana and Heath status on your characters. Moving around is via Point and click, although there’s lots of customization options on how to play the game. It worked very well for me and was easy to intuitively work out.
How about Combat, Spells, Monsters and so on?
Graphically it’s very pretty, the terrain is detailed and flows nicely. The dungeons, caves etc are detailed and look really nice. It really does look very good.
Spells are quite pretty, functional and feel rewarding to use. fighting itself has some decent animations and in general is enjoyable as well.
The monsters are well detailed and fun to fight, with interesting death animations and so on.
For your NPC companions though the pathing can be a bit crap where they get stuck from time to time or go the wrong way, which can be frustrating, so this at times requires micro-management for movement.
DM (dungeon Master) mode
As I touched upon earlier, there’s a DM mode, where you can actually run games for players online. You can run scenarios that you can download in game and it’s has decent enough functionality to do this really. It’s not as detailed or functional or open as the DM toolsets for Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, but it’s good enough and pretty easy to learn.
You can also design your own adventures, which is pretty nice, although a BIG negative for me is you can’t specifically design each area, you have to pick from a list of selected templates and work from there. you CAN add monsters, NPCs, quests, rewards, furnishing etc into an area. So at least there’s that.
Still I had some fun playing with the adventure editor and try not to think about the superior Neverwinter nights toolsets.
Final thoughts, rating and worth a purchase or not
If you go into this game with no expectations of dungeons and Dragons or a Neverwinter Nights Sequel and you just want a good fun fantasy romp. Then for the current price of $20 USD, it’s a bargain. Especially as you get Rage of Demons for free as well.
It’s worth noting you ought to have a decent PC rig to play this with lots of RAM.
So don’t expect too much, but after saying that, I’m really enjoying this game. I’d give it a 7/10. Especially at $20 USD and recently it was on sale for $10 USD, which is a bargain.