December 13, 2019
2020's 'Dark Alliance' video game features iconic Dungeons & Dragons characters, location
Dungeons and Dragons has never been more popular.
That's what publisher Wizards of the Coast says following the game's best year ever in terms of sales. A resurgence is underway for the enduring tabletop role-playing game during its 45th anniversary, sparked by a user-friendly fifth edition.
Next up? A video game featuring one of the series' most popular characters. "Dark Alliance" is set to launch in fall 2020 on PC and consoles. The game is described as "exciting, action-driven, hack-and-slash adventure filled with iconic monsters, legendary characters, and epic loot." It'll be a third-person action role-playing game with local and online four-player cooperative play.
"Dark Alliance" will feature Drizzt Do'Urden, one of the most popular characters from the lore of D&D, also featured in the works of author R.A. Salvatore. The game is being billed as a "spiritual successor" to the "Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance" games of the early 2000s.
"Drizzt and his companions are some of Dungeons & Dragons' most recognizable heroes," Nathan Stewart, head of franchise for Dungeons & Dragons, said in a statement to U.S. TODAY. "This all-new Dark Alliance will give players a visceral experience that drops them into the action of a Drizzt storyline like never before."
Jeff Hattem, head of studio at Tuque Games, said he wants "Dark Alliance" to live in the space that comes after a Dungeon Master—the one who guides players through a game of D&D—tells players to "roll initiative," or begin in-game combat.
"Then you're throwing down with monsters and you're bashing them up with your friends and it's a good time," Hattem said in an interview with U.S. TODAY.
Players will explore Icewind Dale, and Hattem said it's preferable to tackle the game with three companions. The theme of companionship is something Hattem said goes hand-in-hand with Dungeons & Dragons, both in this game and in the tabletop experience.
"It's about you and your friends braving the wilds of Icewind Dale," he said about "Dark Alliance."
"It's one of the harshest places in the entire multiverse of Dungeons & Dragons. You've got frost giants. You've got goblins. You've got gnolls everywhere. You can play the game in single-player. ... But the thing is, if you play it alone, you're going to have a hard time."
The hope is to help create a new generation of Dungeons & Dragons fans, Hattem said.
"Back in the day, the older "Dark Alliance" games, they were, for many people, the first introduction they ever got to Dungeons & Dragons," Hattem said. "People got introduced into the world of D&D through those video games, and then got excited about the world and expanded out from there."
"We think our game has the possibility to also introduce a lot of people to the world of Dungeons & Dragons."
The game is being developed by Tuque Games in Montreal. Development has come a long way since it started in early 2017 with a 12-person team, Hattem said, noting he first inquired about making the game in 2013. Now, there's a team of 60 "D&D nerds" working on the game.
"It's taken on a life of its own, for sure," Hattem said. "Part of our development process is to empower people on the team. So, as the team has grown, every person on the team gets to put a little bit of themselves into the game."
And, of course, there's pressure that comes with adapting such a beloved property, he said.
"Lots of pressure. It's more popular today than it has ever been," he said. "History and players from all over the world. All kinds of players playing the game having a blast. It's a big game.
"There's a lot you can do in D&D. There's lots of rules, lots of lore. It's huge. What we want to do with the game is pick and choose our battles. We don't want to port D&D. That's not our goal."
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