Dungeons and Dragons fans are dying to know when Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance will make its full debut. Originally scheduled for late 2020, the action-RPG is now supposed to be out sometime this year, but it’s unclear when. The concept is likely to appeal to a lot of fans of similar games. It’s a game in a spirit very similar to last summer’s Marvel’s Avengers, as Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance is about adventurers and heroes banding together to stop an extraordinary threat. Marvel’s Avengers proved in September that heroic alliance never go out of vogue, and if fans liked the superhero angle of that game, this Dungeons and Dragons game will hold similar charm.
There’s a crucial way in which these games are different, though. Marvel’s Avengers has established itself as a live service game, offering weekly missions and rolling out DLC characters to expand the game over time. Mysterious as Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance may be, it doesn’t look like it’ll be presented as a service. Although a game set in the Forgotten Realms seems appropriate to expand with new adventures on the regular, the narrative structure makes Dark Alliance look much more like some other games of its kind. Marvel’s Avengers may be going for longevity with its model, but Dark Alliance‘s origins and design mean it doesn’t need to lean on weekly content.
It’s well known now that Dark Alliance is based on the works of R.A. Salvatore, one of the most celebrated Dungeons and Dragons authors in the game’s history. Salvatore himself is working on the game, which means it’s bound to be faithful to the plot, tone, and characterization of the books. Drizzt Do’urden and his Companions of the Hall, Salvatore’s original characters, all feature as the game’s playable characters. Based on the Icewind Dale Trilogy featuring these characters, odds are that Dark Alliance will follow Salvatore’s writing very closely.
Sticking to the story would make it hard for Dark Alliance to exist as a service game. Although theoretically regular content could take inspiration from other books, it seems more likely that Tuque Games would want to save further books for a Dark Alliance sequel. The game’s developers have already confirmed that Dark Alliance won’t be free to play. Although that doesn’t make it impossible for Dark Alliance to be a service game, it certainly makes it less likely. With the game so close to release and no word on weekly challenges or regular updates, Dark Alliance is probably much more like other superhero games that have yet to release.
2020 included reveals for Gotham Knights and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Both are DC superhero games in which players pick their team member and get to work. These games seem heavily story based, much like Dark Alliance, and aren’t likely to be live service games. Dark Alliance will probably be healthier by being more like these two games than Marvel’s Avengers. The risk of making a game a service is that its content becomes repetitive and grindy. Wizards of the Coast seems really interested in getting Dungeons and Dragons games back on the market, so it’s probably wise that it’s sticking to the traditional model of an all-in-one experience.
Part of the appeal of Dungeons and Dragons is that it’s a story telling medium. Players like to share in a plot together, whether it’s a published adventure or a homebrew world. As a adaptation of a foundational set of Dungeons and Dragons books, Dark Alliance‘s greatest strength is the story available to it. Tuque Games would be wise to let Salvatore lead the way and make a game built around a compelling world that gives the game all the replay value it needs, rather than releasing regular content. If Dark Alliance has good multiplayer and a good campaign, it won’t need an endless slew of DLCs at all.
Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance releases for PC and consoles in 2021.