After seeing a number of spectacular failures recently on Kickstarter, Yogventures and Clang to name two, it’s nice to see a kickstarted game go above and beyond what it originally promised its backers. One such game is Shadowrun Returns. Last time we checked in with developer Harebrained Schemes they had recently released the Dragonfall DLC which is the second campaign following Dead Man’s Switch fulfilling all their obligations to their Kickstarter backers.
Like I previously mentioned however, Harebrained has gone above and beyond. Back in August I received an email from Harebrained stating they were working on creating a Director’s Cut of Dragonfall. For everyone that already owned purchased Returns and Dragonfall or backed the KS campaign this would be a free update. For everyone else this was a chance to buy Dragonfall as a standalone game.
For those of you that have already played Shadowrun the first thing you will notice is the improvements to the UI. The previous iteration of the UI during Returns and the first cut of Dragonfall was sleek and minimalist but made it too easy to miss out on using some of your skills because they were buried in selection trees. This updated UI puts most of your abilities on expanded bars that allow you to quickly see what skills and items are available to you. While this takes up a little more real estate on the bottom of your screen it is generally unobtrusive and conveys a greater amount of information for the space is does take up compared to the previous version. This version of the UI also displays pc and npc armor levels. They are represented by white pips above the characters head. Too many white pips and you might want to rethink attacking that enemy and whittle down his companions first.
In addition to the visual improvements with the UI the Harebrained team worked on improving some of the animations as well. These involved working on the timing of actions and making the game feel more visceral. To me that seems to be code speak for making the game more bloody. A shotgun blast to the face, a ranged sniper shot, or an up close and personal machete strike to the noggin will be accompanied by arterial spray and your opponent ending up in a crumpled heap of blood and body parts on the floor.
Harebrained did not just limit their work on the Director’s Cut to improving what was already their. They have added to the game as well. Five all new missions have been included. 3 of these missions involve backstories for your supporting characters. In Dead Man’s switch the game’s narrative was focused on your main characters story development. Dragonfall surrounded you with an ensemble of characters that were your crew and not a group of hired guns. Director’s cut is taking that one step further with the backstories and crew advancement. Crew advancement allows you to pick a few unique skills for your supporting characters as they level throughout the game. You will never be able to change their character class but you do get a choice on how to put a little flair on their style.
Harebrained has also added in a couple of new endings to the game to enhance the replay factor. The core Dragonfall game is still very much well and intact, you get to choose abilities and attributes that matter. Deckers still get to crack codes, physically strong adepts and street samurais can knockdown weakened walls. You can sneak, bribe, or kill your way through missions. One thing that hasn’t changed that I wished would is the ability to rotate the camera. This would be a massive undertaking and require a lot of work on existing artwork so I understand why it wasn’t added. Just a little wishful thinking for the next one perhaps.
I also recently interviewed Mike McCain and Mitch Gitelman from Harebrained Schemes about the new Dragonfall Director’s Cut and you can see the interview over on our YouTube Channel. If you like isometric turned based role playing games and you have not played Dragonfall yet you can pick it up on Steam for $14.99. Dragonfall will take most people around 20 hours to complete so it is a decent value at that price. If you have played any of the new Shadowrun games let me know what you think in the comments below.
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