For the third instalment of their flagship action roleplaying game, Gameloft have made radical changes to the formula. And judging by the comments left by disgruntled fans on the App Store, not all of them are very popular. Whereas the first two games were traditional RPG dungeon crawlers, this new game is something much more basic; an arena brawler built around the freemium model.
How does it play?
Choose from four different classes of character - warlord, astromancer, trickster or shaman – and then venture into an arena with your sword held aloft, hacking and slashing your way through everything in sight and collecting as much loot as you can. The monsters you face are of your stock-standard RPG variety. We're talking orcs, goblins and werewolves, that kind of thing.
There's no semblance of a plot or a storyline, it's all about clearing out the arenas, spread out across four different "worlds". Arenas have to be individually unlocked at first, but thereafter you can revisit them in any order you like. The objectives will vary from arena to arena; for example, kill a certain type of monster, capture a location, or destroy a specific item.
Based on your performance, you're awarded a treasure chest, which you can choose to unlock to claim gold and experience points. The gold in particular is needed for the shop, where you can purchase and upgrade your weapons, armour, and other sundries to improve your warrior's abilities. Alternatively, you can sidestep all the grinding and exchange real cash for the virtual currency outright, and then instantly upgrade everything.
Why do we like it?
Dungeon Hunter 3 is a dramatic change of pace from the previous games in the series, albeit still infused with the quasi-medievalist claptrap that's so endemic to the genre. Gameloft have converted one of their key franchises into the freemium model, with all the potential pitfalls that arise from it, and it's a brave gamble.
The game itself is a solid distraction, in its own brainless fashion, but we've been playing more out of curiosity to see how intrusive the freemium modelling is going to be. Will players be wasting hours trying to harvest enough gold to level up their players, or has the balance finally been struck between playability and profitability? Only time will tell.
Dungeon Hunter III is available now on the App Store, Universal (free)