The Aranoi Desert is as vast as it is creepy. Having bared witness to many heinous acts and strange occurrences, it’s become a cursed home to the undead and other evil creatures. The land’s sand-filled pathways, dank caves and ancient ruins tell tales of years past, with the decaying bodies to prove past failures. It’s this sparse and foreboding landscape where a long lost Legion hero is said to be. They say that he was on a mission to find the greatest treasure, though nothing was heard of him after his departure. Being the most able-bodied group of Legion heroes around, it’s your duty to find the whereabouts of this treasure hunter in Dungeon Siege III: Treasures of the Sun; the first downloadable content expansion for Obsidian Entertainment‘s solid and very enjoyable dungeon crawler.
One of this year’s most unappreciated titles, Dungeon Siege III is a top-down action role-playing game. In the gaming community, this type of experience is usually referred to as a dungeon crawler. The term refers to the fact that players must enter dungeon-like mazes and areas, in order to search for lost treasures. Generally, this ends up becoming a hack and slash or magic-filled battle against all sorts of ugly foes. Puzzle solving also comes into play quite often within such branded games. This third entry in the popular video game series certainly contains every one of those listed elements. Its first expansion does as well.
Unlike some expanded content packs, Treasures of the Sun isn’t a completely separate gameplay option from Dungeon Siege III‘s main quest. Instead of having the ability to launch it from the game’s starting menu, players must find it in-game, with only previously-created characters to choose from. The easiest way to do this is to launch the game over auto-save file which would have been planted onto your hard-drive after completing the core campaign. If you’re not that far yet, then searching a previously-traveled area will be required. A tacked up note from years passed initiates this lengthy and perilous journey – one which has enough challenge to offer that it’s recommended you level up quite a bit before entering its sandy dunes.
Once the content is initiated, a way to the Aranoi Desert will appear in the game’s causeway portal system. Enter at your own risk, but do so in the name of the Legion. Going through the magic window into another land will add a new main quest to the player’s log, though it’ll be a while before its end is seen. Along the way, one will come across hundreds of reanimated corpses, giants and spell-casters, all of whom wish to add the heroes’ corpses to the piles dotting the dunes. It’s in-between these violent battles that non-playable but friendly characters will be discovered, offering their own side quests in the name of assistance. Due to the large amount of side content and secondary achievements/trophies to unlock, this new quest line will take most gamers around four to five hours to complete.
Throughout this several hour long expansion, gamers can look forward to fetch quests, exploration challenges and a large assortment of loot. Friendly characters met along the way will have an eclectic assortment of jobs to be completed, with the occasional story tidbit to be discovered along the way. Tons of gold and helpful equipment can also be found throughout your journeys into hidden crevices and dangerous tombs. It’s these side quests which happen to make up the brunt of the content found here, with a handful of solid story quests on offer as well. The nice thing is that some objectives will entwine themselves together with others, providing extra intrigue and greater rewards. Digging deep into some seldom seen rooms and pathways will also give the player some interesting back story about the environment and its lore.
In addition to creating a lengthy and interesting new quest line with Treasures of the Sun, Obsidian Entertainment went an extra couple of miles in an attempt to flesh out their fantasy experience. First off, the game’s level cap was raised from thirty to thirty-five, adding more reason to battle every ferocious beast in sight. Secondly, new blessing-based abilities were added alongside some disturbing and deadly new creature types. Players can also transmute special gems into weapons, in order to make them elementally proficient. While all of this extra stuff is a hit, there’s one more change that may become a favourite of Dungeon Siege III veterans. For the first time, character skills can be reset and re-done. If you feel that your warrior is lacking in a certain category, then that can easily be fixed. It’ll cost a lot of money for your follower’s stats to be re-done, however. That is unless they’re player-controlled in up to four-player cooperative fashion.
Jumping back into the game’s world and mechanics was a treat, especially since Treasures of the Sun offered a very enjoyable new campaign to play through. There’s a lot to like about this quality dungeon crawler, which has had its best qualities carried over into expanded form. Though, on the downside, most of the problems I had with the main game have also been carried over. Then again, none of them come anywhere close to being overly large problems or game-breaking issues. The game’s mechanics are still relatively repetitive which can be a drawback for some. Its frame-rate still isn’t perfect within this downloadable content, however the majority of that issue has been addressed. Additionally, the utilized inventory system is somewhat clunky and confusing, which is something that will hopefully be addressed in any future series releases.
In games of this nature, boss battles are known to be hit or miss. Unfortunately, the latter term fits Treasures of the Sun‘s bosses better than the former. Many mini-bosses pop up throughout the journey, with several main story ones dotting the map. Each one employs similar mechanics, needing to be attacked repeatedly until a health bar fully depletes. If there were only a couple of these fights included, then this wouldn’t be as much of an issue. Though, since they’re quite prevalent, it becomes a noticeable form of repetition, and a bane of the experience. It’s too bad, but the final encounter also fits this description, using a lengthy health bar to instill boring repetition.
The move to a desert location has certainly altered the title’s main colour palette quite a bit, turning its predominant colour into yellowish gold. Almost every inch of the newly-crafted world found within this ten dollar download features a sandy colour scheme. Despite its prevalence, this new look didn’t become a detraction from the expansion’s gameplay. It looks quite good, featuring some nice detail and an interesting assortment of enemy types. These visual assets are helped out by interesting writing, a solid original score and some quality voice acting.
Overall, Dungeon Siege III: Treasures of the Sun is a high-quality downloadable expansion which adds longevity to an under-appreciated title. For ten dollars, it’s a content-rich must-buy for fans of the core game and its genre. Adding quite a bit of extra time to the experience, its new story content is quite rich, with lots of interesting back story elements to be found. Plus, it adds some extra achievements and trophies, as well as expanded opportunities to work on previous ones. The latter asset will be especially helpful if your warrior, mage or ranged sniper happens to be close to the previous level cap plateau.
The greatest treasure ever discovered awaits you. Happy looting!
This review is based on an Xbox 360 copy of the downloadable content, which we received for review purposes.
Treasures of the Sun provides Dungeon Siege III fans with several hours of bonus content that add a whole lot to the game, making it well worth your money.