Sword Coast Legends sounds like a dream come true, a return to the beloved Forgotten Realms Dungeons and Dragons setting with a sprawling single player campaign and a Dungeon Master tool kit allowing the community to create an infinite amount of adventures. Unlimited goblin stabbing and dungeon delving? Co-op multiplayer? DM a session online? Yes please!
Unfortunately it’s not long before the cracks start to show. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a group of adventurers are seeking a magical macguffin while another group are haunted by nightmares of the destruction to come at the hands of a big bad. The two groups join forces when it turns out that the only way to stop the big bad is to find the magical macguffin.
This paper thin story could have been saved by taking advantage of the rich setting or by propping it up with some memorable characters. Sword Coast Legends does neither. The companion characters are bland, the NPCs offer no humour or intrigue and the poor dialogue is further hampered by the phoned-in voice acting. Sword Coast Legends drops the ball when it comes to a single player experience and seems to be relying on the community to create memorable stories using the DM tools – we’ll get to those in a moment.
Exploration Is Sadly Limited
You’ll be spending most of your time in Sword Coast Legends traversing dungeons, stabbing their inhabitants and stealing their things. However there is no real scope for exploration as such, the game is very linear. There are pockets of exploration here and there, but you are affforded little of the freedom of many of Sword Coast Legend’s competitors. You can’t just wander off the beaten track and get into mischief, there are side-quests but they are mainly the bland collect X and kill Y variety.
Combat itself is a chore, it does have active pause but you’ll be making very few interesting tactical choices, if any. The pathfinding of allies is atrocious and many times I found my Elf ranger sprinting to fire arrows at point-blank range and then subsequently getting torn to shreds. Sadly the best bet for combat is not tactical positioning and judicious use of skills and abilities, but to group your characters together and focus attacks on each individual target until everything is dead. It’s mind-numblingdly dull and when stood next to something like Pillars of Eternity it is embarassing. Yes, you have status effects and the decent enemy variety has certain resitances and immunities but you rarely make interesting decisions in or outside of combat.
Hi there Similar To But Legally Distinct From The Balrog
Rather then a faithful adaptation of 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons in digital form, what we have here is Diablo-lite with active pause. This is also reflected in how much magical loot you get. Traditionally in Dungeons and Dragons and in CRPGs in general, magcal items and potions etc have great value and it’s aways compelling to hunt for and acquire them. Sword Coast Legends bombards you with gold, potions, scrolls and magical weapons and armour. My invenory was regularly full of different typeds of swords, axes and boots not to mention the slew of trash loot that’s only fit for selling to vendors. Each character, including yourself, starts off with a full set of magical armour that renders the majority of what you find useless anyway so your only choice is to sell them.
By the end of Act One I was the richest Elf on the Sword Coast. I had 20,000 gold coins to my name, this completely broke the in-game economy and I hoovered up all the healing potions I could carry and bribed everyone. My Dwarven thief, who bizarrely didn’t have the ability to steal anything, complained when I paid off a guard with 1000 gold when I had around 15 times that left over – by saying “We could buy a house with that!” I had half a mind to jack in this whole adventuring nonesense and become a property moghul.
Once you get bored of the story mode you can generate any amount of random dungeons you wish for a one-off dungeon crawl. You can choose the amount of levels, the difficulty, theme and inhabitants and also set a couple of quest parameters such as kill X collect Y. The random generator does the rest and builds the dungeon for you. This mode is okay if you want to jump into the action, but as it is entirely combat focused, it’s not really worth your time. XP and items earned here do carry over into story mode and other adventures though, so it is possible to forge a nice little adventuring career for your character.
This brings us to Sword Coast Legend’s major selling point, the Dungeon Master Tools. You can create adventure modules consisting of exterior locations and dungeons. You can inhabit them with NPCs and set encounter parrameters and place traps etc. The tools are very easy to use and you can quickly cobble together a basic adventure.
Trolls Can Be a Pain In The Arse
The tools are extremely limited however. While you can place objects in and traps etc. You cannot design an area or dungeon, you have to rely on a random generator to do most of the work for you. Much like the unlimited dungeon crawl feature for player characters, you set parameters and the algorithm does the rest. It is just so disapointingly limited, you cannot craft that complex labyrinth to baffle your friends or the trap-filled doom gauntlet you’ve be nefariously chuckling to yourself about. The quest parameters are, once again, kill X and collect Y but you do also have the ability to set custom quests, but they do require a Dungeon Master player to trigger those manually.
Some enterprising individuals will undoubtedly craft some decent modules, but those of you who want a true digital DM experience will be disappointed. Sword Coast Legends fails to even accomlsh what Neverwinter Nights did 13 years ago.
SWORD COAST LEGENDS VERDICT
Sword Coast Legends fails to deliver on its promises both as a solid RPG in it’s own right and as a digital Dungeon Master toolset. The limited options available to creators are unlikely to yield anything memorable and the single player story section is marred by poor pathfinding, limited scope and shoddy writing. Overall an immense disappointment.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Becoming the richest Elf on the Sword Coast.
Play how you want to play - you can adventure alone or with friends.
Extremely limited in scope compared to D&D games from 15 years ago.
Bland and lifeless single player campaign with a predictable story.
DM tools are underwhelming.