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Dragonshard

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Liquid Entertainment
Release Date: Sept. 20, 2005

About Judy

As WP's senior editor, I edit review and preview articles, attempt to keep up with the frantic pace of Rainier's news posts, and keep our reviewers on deadline, which is akin to herding cats. When I have a moment to myself and don't have my nose in a book, I like to play action/RPG, adventure and platforming games.

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'Dragonshard' Officially Announced

by Judy on Aug. 4, 2004 @ 10:52 a.m. PDT

Lead your warriors underground, to thrilling RPG-style dungeon campaigns that affect the myriad maneuvers above. Control armies of haunting power from another time, another plane, another bloodline, in this innovative fantasy experience from the legendary worlds of Dungeon & Dragons.

Developed by Liquid Entertainment, "Dragonshard" will incorporate classic role-playing themes, a powerful and dynamic real-time strategy engine all woven together with a rich storyline involving a global conflict for an immensely powerful artifact with the power to change the fate of Eberron itself. "Dragonshard" is scheduled to be available for personal computer in Spring 2005.

"Ed Del Castillo and the team at Liquid Entertainment have a long history with the real-time strategy genre stretching all the way back to the original 'Command & Conquer.' When Atari needed a strong development studio that could bring together the depth of a Dungeons & Dragons world with the intensity of a real-time strategy game -- they were the natural first choice," said John Hight, executive producer, Atari. "'Dragonshard' will take real-time strategy in new directions by using many of the unique aspects of the coolest features from traditional role-playing; we are also taking advantage of new surface level terrain rendering technology to give the player two distinct levels of play; new squad and leader tactical functionality to give the player an all new army experience; a new base development system; and much more."

Eberron, which has been recently released by Wizards of the Coast, details a land composed of a dark underworld ruled by monsters and demons, and a surface world home to the civilizations of humans, dwarves, halflings, gnomes and more. Surrounding the world is the Ring of Siberys, a multi-colored belt of crystal shards and a source of tremendous magical power. These "dragonshards" occasionally fall to earth and are the cornerstone of all magic on Eberron.

The "Dragonshard" takes place at time when the world of Eberron is in chaos. Three forces are vying for control of a massive dragonshard, known as the Heart of Siberys. The ancient artifact has come to rest in a mystical part of Eberron known as Xen'drik, once home to ancient and powerful civilizations; it is now a place of mystery and monsters. Shielded by a circle of high mountains and blanketed by never-ending tempests and blizzards, this region has been shunned for millennia.

"When you think fantasy in the videogame business you think Dungeons & Dragons. And, when we're done with 'Dragonshard' players will associate real-time strategy with that same brand," said Ed Del Castillo, president and founder, Liquid Entertainment. "With our knowledge of the RTS genre and Atari's quality-first attitude to making this game great, we're confident 'Dragonshard' is going to be turning a lot of heads next year."

Each of the three warring factions in "Dragonshard" has its own role to play in the overall story of the game. One force is looking to free the power within the ancient shard and use it to further its own self-righteous cause -- it is The Order of the Silver Flame. A second faction has been expelled from its ancestral homes and has come seeking a dark tool for revenge -- these are the Umbragen. The third force in "Dragonshard" remains veiled and mysterious, its intentions unknown.

The Order of the Silver Flame is an alliance of humans and dwarves from the land of Khorvaire. The Flametouched have gathered together warriors from a variety of cultures and traditions, all of whom are united in their desire to fight for the light. Guided by a seer's visions, the Flametouched have assembled an army to destroy the Heart of Siberys; but the purpose behind this action is something that will only become clear as the campaign is unveiled.

The strength of the Silver Flame is in the versatility of its elite units. The Silver Flame provides players with a significant number of options, and each unit can adapt to fill many different situations. The forces of the Silver Flame are also familiar in form. Players can expect to control knights, wizards, priests and rogues among many others as they attempt to sway the tide of battle in their favor.

Order of the Silver Flame Units (sample):

  • Artificer -- The foundation of the Order's workforce, gathering resources, repairing equipment and keeping things running smoothly. Given their knowledge of building construction, they function very well as siege engineers to attack enemy structures
  • Berserker -- These stout and hardy Hammerfist dwarves honed their skills battling foul beasts in the caverns and wastelands they call home
  • Sentinel Marshal -- Paragons of virtue who ride horseback into battle, inspiring allies and demoralizing foes, swinging their swords until victory is won

The Umbragen are the descendents of an ancient elvish race. When the age of giants came to an end, the Umbragen fled into the dark underworld. Forced to use dark powers to survive in this world of mind flayers, beholders and other terrible creatures, the Umbragen slowly became as evil and twisted as those they fought. Lead by the wizard Satros, the Umbragen have come to reclaim the might and power of their ancestors in an attempt to reshape the destiny of their race and the world.

All Umbragen units possess an innate ability to manipulate umbral energy. Those who serve in the military must master some aspect of the umbra. All Umbragen learn to merge with the shadows to avoid mortal injuries; this is reflected by allowing an Umbragen unit to use its mana in place of hit points once these are exhausted. An Umbragen with zero hit points becomes a shade; it is invisible in darkness and possesses other special or altered abilities.

Elite Umbragen units are drawn from the ranks of the undead -- those who have given up their mortal lives in exchange for terrible mystic powers. In addition, the Umbragen army commands a considerable number of monstrous beings from their underworld home.

Umbragen Units (sample):

  • Shadowblade - Umbragen who have shown less of an affinity for magic and more for ambushing their enemies from the darkness
  • Darkslinger -- These lithe and cunning assassins slink through the shadows waiting for the perfect moment to unleash bolts of dark energy upon their unsuspecting targets
  • Shade Witch -- Brooding, female mages who spend the better part of their lives in deep study and meditation, using their abilities to aid allies and curse enemies

In addition to the three controllable factions, "Dragonshard" will also feature two other significant forces that cannot be controlled by the player, but that will be encountered throughout the game. The first of these are the Illithids. These ancient enemies of the Umbragen have learned of the Heart and intend to claim its power for their own. Over the course of the story, the Illithids will prove a threat to all three sides. Finally, while the ancient elves themselves are long gone, their guardians and traps remain. All three warring factions will have to contend with these constructs and golems as they explore the ruins of the ancient elven city-state and the Ring of Storms.

"Dragonshard" is scheduled for release on personal computer in the spring of 2005.

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