Hello again, fair readers! A couple of years ago, I tried my hand at tabletop gaming for the first time. Owen has a friend who is passionate about playing RPGs and had a game going with a couple of coworkers. I was eventually sucked in despite my lack of experience. Instead of paper and pencil, the sessions were run with laptops on a LAN, and had its perks and drawbacks. It was definitely an interesting and fun experience, but not really my thing. I just couldn’t relax enough to get into the role playing, which is a shame. We eventually called it quits when enough members had left, and it was just Owen, our friend, his wife, and uselessly shy me. We had a magic spaceship and I had found a very resilient monkey named Darwin who would rain gold down on our party at the start of each day. We also somehow managed to roll an economy where a monkey raining gold was not very impressive. It was a magical time.
Flash ahead to a few of weeks ago, and I get a beta code for Sword Coast Legends. I was thrilled to try this game out for a number of reasons. I was also skeptical for a couple of other reasons.
The biggest reason to be excited was how beautiful the game looked. The camera is set in an isometric stance, but does allow the player to swivel around, giving you the chance to look at the environment from different angles. Not only does this allow you to view the beautiful environments all over, but it also lets you look for potential traps, enemies, and hidden goodies.
Another impressive feature of Sword Coast Legends has to be the audio quality. The music gorgeously melds with the rest of the scenery, making the sensory experience fit. More importantly, there’s voice acting and it doesn’t suck! Video games have a long and arduous history of painful voice acting. Starting a fresh save on Symphony of the Night is always a challenge because I have to be reminded of what a man is. Each of the characters that you talk to and play with have their own voice and their own personality, which is a big deal for me. You start to feel the characters around you grow and develop, which is what you really want in a story.
This brings me to the story. Your character is part of a mercenary group that seems to have developed a bit of a reputation. Initially created to find a powerful relic, the Order of the Burning Dawn has become infamous for a few mysterious reasons. You all become haunted by horrific dreams, demons have become very fond of you, and you seem to be wanted by a lot of bad people. You and your crew might just be the key to world destruction, and you haven’t quite figured out how many bad sides you seem to be on. While this story sounds impressive, I unfortunately got bored a couple of hours in. I really enjoyed lurking around dungeons and doing battle with a number of different enemies, finding secrets and completing side quests, but when it came to the main story, I got bored because it felt slow.
Now for the gameplay. I’m on the fence about it. You are given the ability to pause time while you delegate tasks to your party. This not only feels useful for strategizing, but also gives the feel of how a tabletop game might go. You take a moment to assess your situation, think about who would be better to face that deranged mage on the cliff, and set your troops to their tasks. I enjoyed this feature whenever I remembered to use it; it is entirely optional for the quick witted and experienced player. As a beginner, I did find it very easy to get overwhelmed by all of the possibilities and skill trees you unlock as you level up. This leads up to my main problem.
I’m just not good at tabletop RPGs, and I just couldn’t get into Sword Coast Legends. I applaud this attempt to make tabletops accessible to video gamers, and tabletop gamers that want to conquer distance from friends. This just isn’t my cup of tea. However, if you do enjoy tabletop games, and you would like to try a modern digital creation of one, give Sword Coast Legends a shot.
There are a couple of important modes I didn’t really get to try, but feel are important to mention. The first is for the story mode. It allows you to team up with other people to play together online. None of my friends have the game, so I didn’t get to play this, but I imagine this makes the game very entertaining, and probably very frustrating. Ah, the joy of multiplayer. This feature comes with a caveat: you have to create an account for their online services, which can be irritating to some.
The other mode is probably more interesting to those DMs readers. Sword Coast Legends‘ DM mode allows you to create your own dungeons for your friends to try. You also get the chance to share your masterworks with others online to play. I imagine this is the reason to play this game for a lot of people. It opens up a lot of opportunity for those who can’t gather a solid party or just don’t want to put on pants to play D&D. I totally understand that feeling.
So there you all have it. Sword Coast Legends can be a huge let down if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. It can also be disappointing if you don’t like tabletop games. However, if you live in the happy not-so-little niche of liking tabletop RPGs and enjoy video games, Sword Coast Legends might just be your thing.