Preview: Dungeon Siege 3

As someone who's predominately a console gamer, I wasn't particularly familiar with the Dungeon Siege franchise before I sat down for a peek at the third iteration deep within the recesses of Square-Enix's E3 booth. I knew it owed a lot to Diablo, but little else. Within the first seconds of seeing Dungeon Siege III, however, I knew that Obsidian's new take on the series had been designed with someone like me in mind.

The most obvious cue? The perspective, which has gone from the zoomed out view the series is most associated with, to a more traditional third-person action perspective right over the shoulder. The classic view is still available with just a button press, but most of the demo I saw zooms in tight on the lead character.

The message is pretty clear: This is the new face of Dungeon Siege, and it's doing its darndest to win me over.
As I was taking in the perspective, the next thing I noticed was the high level of polish -- impressive considering that this is a game that's traditionally been able to trade detail for an expanded field of view. Within the first few moments of the demo Obsidian showed off an imposing vista that's both decorative and practical, giving you an accurate sense of your location in the world. You've also got all the character detail and dynamic lighting you'd hope for, but not necessarily expect in an isometric action RPG.

There are other modernizations as well. This being an Obsidian game, the studio is bringing its talents in creating branching dialog for this new iteration. Though co-op's not a new feature to the series, it's been streamlined since DS2, with a friend able to jump in and control your partner at any time without interrupting the flow of action.

It would be understandable at this point for long time franchise fans to worry that they were going to be left behind, but the core tropes are still very much in place. Fighting off hordes of enemies while collecting gold and loot is still very much central to the experience. And Obsidian promises that while the team hopes to keep the writing quality of its previous titles, there won't be enough of it to get in the way of the aforementioned loot gathering and monster slaying.

It's early yet, and Obsidian still has an awful fine line to walk, but at this early stage it seems that the studio definitely has a shot at reaching this franchise newbie.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.