Going underground with Gameloft's latest dungeon crawler.
The over-riding message of Gameloft's fourth Dungeon Hunter game is that bigger is better. Pack in more multiplayer content, throw in more loot, polish up the visuals and add more enemy variety. It's a strategy that works for the most part as Gameloft refines, rather than reinvents, this particular wheel.
Combat is pretty tight and fluid for the most part. Playing as a duel-blade wielding character, there's a meaty connect between blade and prey, although accessing the special abilities in the right-hand corner of the screen can occasionally feel a little clumsy. Limited by your mana energy bar, use of these skills such as blade flurries and forward charges provide a keen edge in combat. Rest assured that if you prefer ranged combat, powerful mage and hunter character archetypes are available, along with a clumsier, yet more brutal melee warrior.
No action-RPG would be complete of course without a sprawling set of equipment to greedily hoover up and Dungeon Hunter 4 is no exception. Some will drop from the enemies themselves as you progress through the story, and more powerful gear appears from post-boss chests. If you've been lucky enough to gather precious materials during battle, you can even craft your own gear - and socket items with charms which add a defensive or offensive enhancement to each piece.
Multiplayer is another area of the game that's been fleshed out - a coop mode allows players to tackle level-appropriate areas together while a handful of player-versus-player modes allows players to get stuck into each other using their hard-earned gear. At the moment, on the day's launch, matchmaking is a little slow to get going but will hopefully improve as more and more players get stuck into the game.
Gorgeous though the graphics are, and generous as the content and drops are, there are certainly areas of the game that lack the same refinement. Dialogue is fairly blunt fantasy fluff and the voice-acting can be a bit hit-and-miss. Veteran players of Skyrim will certainly appreciate the nods made to that game though, such as the guard greetings that pay reference to gaming's greatest meme of 2011: "I used to be an adventurer like you..."
As always with a free-to play-game of this level of quality, we need to talk about the in-app purchase costs that underpin its development. In-game gold is used for all manner of game elements, such as socketing charms into equipment. Health restores slowly, and instant-refill potions are only available after many hours - unless you take advantage of the Gem shop to purchase more immediately. Likewise, the most powerful gear in the game also requires this Gem currency, and it's hard to see how the toughest competitors online will emerge victorious without spending a hefty chunk of change.
There's an awful lot of game to be had from Dungeon Hunter 4 before you feel the need to do that, however. In the early days, a lack of health potions is likely to be your most pressing problem and so kiting - using the space around you to delicately pick at an enemy before moving out of harm's way - is a key skill to be acquired quickly.
Anyone who played the earlier Dungeon Hunter games will need very little convincing to jump straight into Gameloft's fourth installment of the franchise. Those new to the mobile action-RPG may find the premium purchases a little stifling compared to the feast available on more traditional platforms, but there's ample opportunity to find out if the price suits your pockets from the free download alone.
Review code provided by Gameloft
What's Hot:Everything fans would expect of a sequel, and the core combat is more than meaty.
What's Not:How quickly you'll hit the premium wall will likely depend on your skill at the genre, while the best gear is pricey.