Grim Dawn Preview

Grim Dawn1

A few years back, there was a virtual onslaught of action RPG’s into the PC market following the much heralded success of Diablo II. Some of these were blatant copies of Blizzard’s blockbuster hack and slash, with little attention paid to advancing the gametype, or to standing on their individual merits. Still, a few of those titles that flooded the genre were well received, with obvious time and talent invested into their development. From those ranks the mythology based Titan Quest was arguably the most polished and popular. Behind the creation of Titan Quest was the studio Iron Lore.

Iron Lore was responsible for both the original title and the expansion Immortal Throne. They also are credited with the last release in the original Dawn of War series, Soulstorm. Even though their titles had what many would consider to be strong showings from critics and consumers alike, reportedly their funding was cut by their publisher, causing the company to dissolve.

From the ashes of Iron Lore – a new company, Crate Entertainment has risen. With a strong background in the field, it was a natural fit for the design team there to dive into creating an appropriate successor to the Titan Quest series. They also make no apologies for any similarities to Diablo, as they recognize what it did so well and hope to build on it. That title is well under way and has been christened Grim Dawn.

Grim Dawn is as mentioned an action role-playing game which is solely being developed for the PC. The game will use the Iron Lore engine which was the force behind the Titan Quest titles. This isn’t exactly ground breaking technology at this point, but the Titan Quest games were both visually pleasing and if anything Grim Dawn will benefit from Crate’s experience with the software.

Grim Dawn will introduce the player to the land of Cairn, a world that is fittingly dark and foreboding. Cairn is a fantastical land which Crate has stated is loosely based on the Victorian Era. This is of course a land in dire turmoil, and the empire which once stood has been utterly devastated and humanity is on the brink of extinction. What is the source of this chaotic energy that has blackened the land? Cairn is the battlefield in a persistent war between two opposing factions, neither of which could really be considered a friend to man. The war has ravaged what is left of civilization and has created things of unspeakable horror to plague the land.

This collapse and the era which follows in its wake spawns the birth of a society much different from that which it replaced. Now resources such as iron and salt trump even gold. Those who are left behind try just to sustain themselves and to avoid the savage war that rages around them. In this time, humanity has continued to evolve, developing never before seen abilities in some of the survivors who have been exposed to the warp. Just as in our past, some shun and fear those with these newly found talents and other embrace them as a potential avenue for humanity to take in their fight to survive.

Grim Dawn will allow the player to combine any of five skill classes, each of which will offer a multitude of options for customization. Initially there will be 75 levels available to progress through, allowing the player to open a variety of abilities and skills. These choices will dictate who and what your character is, but no worries, if a path is taken that you later regret, there will be a way to buy back the points to reallocate. Character progression has been outlined to scale to 200 levels or more, to allow plenty of room for future adventuring. The formula of exploration, killing and looting which has made the hack and slash genre a mainstay with many gamers is not lost on the developers. Crate has stated that they also plan to offer additional classes which will release in the form of downloadable content.

In addition to using the engine from Titan quest, Grim Dawn will incorporate destructible environments which not only will enhance the visual impact of a players actions, but will be a strategic weapon in that it can actually cause damage to enemies nearby. Fog and rain will only be a part of the weather that will change dynamically, these will also vary in intensity and type and have an impact on the players surroundings. The camera system in Grim Dawn has been implemented so that it will not be a requirement for players who favor the traditional view, but will allow others to rotate to allow different perspectives. Lastly, Grim Dawn will allow those of us who enjoy a little blood splatter and chunks of gore the ability to enable just that.

Gameplay obviously is hack and slash, but thankfully Grim Dawn will allow for multiplayer and will be balanced to reflect the number of players. Also, the developers have stated that they hope to release high-end multiplayer challenges to provide what has come to be known as an endgame, basically scenarios that are specially designed for high level group play. The loot system, which Crate has stated will eliminate a lot of the trash drops that traditionally has permeated so many similar titles will also scale accordingly. They have invested a lot of time so that players will find gear with increasingly rare and unique bonuses as well as providing an item crafting system which will use collectible recipes and crafting materials that the player will accumulate as he or she adventures. Crate knows that lots of shiny loot as reward for balanced challenges, equals happy players.

NPC’s are again a part of the adventure, in Grim Dawn’s case they are to be more of a factor than in some previous titles. The path you choose in your quest or in conversation will have a direct effect on your relation with the different factions in Grim Dawn. Different rewards will come from the improved faction, from discounted merchant prices to previously unavailable quest lines. Beware though, as you rise in rank with one faction, you may fall with another, even to the point of breeding hostility, so choose carefully.

Grim Dawn hearkens back to an era that I so often talk about being gone. A time where a team worked together to create something that they enjoyed, for the platform they preferred and with a focus on what they wanted to achieve. It is a project that is poised to come to fruition and is already available for preorder. Preordering from Crate directly will not only get you certain perks based on the package you buy, but it will support the developer fully and not be diluted like third party sales. I can’t promise that the game will be great or even good, but I can say that by supporting this kind of effort, we as PC gamers can only create more opportunities to receive games that have been painstakingly crafted just for us.


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One Comment on "Grim Dawn Preview"

  1. Venger February 17, 2013 at 8:22 PM - Reply

    Though the Kickstarter push is over and the team at Crate secured the funding they needed, you can still preorder at for some very cool perks. Not only do you get early access, but certain editons also give you the chance to have your name listed in the credits and a few items for use in the game itself.

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