Sword Coast Legends is a cRPG that has been touted around for a while now, and with a set release date up – the 29th of September – comes a lengthy preview of its gameplay, with community manager Ash Sevilla and design director Tim Schwalk playing it for a bit more than half-an-hour. They’ve set up a weird pre-order system where those who pre-purchase the higher tier of the game get to play it earlier, so if you’re the sort to pre-order games and splurged some extra dollars you should be able to play at least its DM Mode by the 11th.
Before any discussions, here it is:
Sword Coast Legends is set in fan-favorite Faerun, a continent with scimitar dual-wielding drow rangers that show you how bad prejudice can be and ancient wizards that even the gods respect. The Forgotten Realms are probably one of D&D’s most developed settings, with several campaign books and novels illustrating its vastness, that goes from the swamps of the Silver Marches to the bustling metropolis of Waterdeep (which so happens to be on the Sword Coast). Previously established lore and characters are something you won’t find amiss in Faerun, and I fully expect there to be a few nods to olden-days players of D&D as they play through the story.
The game will feature two modes: the main story and the DM mode. The main story will be your standard RPG affair: you take your party, this time of up to four characters, questing and side-questing along the Sword Coast. DM mode allows one player to either previously create a story for a party of friends to explore or to do so on the fly as they traverse your dungeons. If you haven’t guessed it yet, the game features 4-player co-op for both modes (five in the DM mode, with the dungeon master).
Race and class selection seem a bit limited, at first, as you’ll be able to pick from six of the twelve classes in the tabletop: the cleric, fighter, paladin, ranger, rogue, and wizard; and five of ten races: Dwarf, Elf, Half-Elf, Halfling, and Human. The fifth edition of D&D heavily features sub-classes and sub-races (i.e. Elf: High Elf, Wood Elf, Dark Elf), so they could potentially expand on those numbers but as it is I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment from the lack of a few classes, namely the sorcerer, bard and druid. N-space are an indie developer, however, so I can understand that it’s better to implement a select amount of classes and races than overextend scarce resources and deliver something half-assed.
Sword Coast Legends seems closer to Neverwinter Nights than its Infinity Engine brothers with its module creation, 3D models and animations and free camera angles, rather than a fixed viewpoint. There’s also party A.I. for those who decide to run the main campaign solo-style, something Pillars of Eternity made clear to me as a necessity in real-time with pause RPGs.
If you’re a person who grew up playing D&D and you and your previous groups have moved on to computer games as the less time-consuming alternative, Sword Coast Legends could just be the game for you to revive this tradition. They haven’t, however, been explicit on whether dungeon crafting allows you to create entire areas or if you’re limited to customizing pre-fabricated areas with props and whatnot, something I personally find very important to the game’s longevity. With decades of fine-tuning and several editions released, the D&D ruleset is an intricate beast, more complex than most we see used on cRPGs, and how well this ruleset translates to Sword Coast Legends, how open-ended it allows its players to be, will set the game closer or farther from being just a dungeon crawler.
Sword Coast Legends is available for discounted pre-purchase at Steam.