When first starting, you are able to pick one of many characters to start playing as. The squire is a very strong melee hero who places down some medieval looking traps. Huntress is a bow shooter who can lay down explosive and other traps on the ground to be sprung by enemies. Apprentices are very strong magic users who can summon arcane structures to shoot elemental projectiles at his enemies. A monk will use polearms while also summoning supportive auras to help turn the tides of battle. These are just the basic characters you start with, and you can unlock a bunch more from DLC purchases. All characters also have special abilities specific to them that can be used along side their traps and defenses, such as a large area of effect bomb from the apprentice and a berserker rage that the squire can enter. Playing the game allows each character to gain experience, which increases the total amount of mana that you can carry around, as well as giving you skill points that can put into the many different skills and abilities.
Every character, except for the Barbarian, will have four different types of traps or auras or defenses that they can place down to make victory easier. They all require you to collect a certain amount of mana before you can place them, which is easily obtainable from enemies and chests. A trap on its own might not very strong, but when you combine them with different defense from multiple characters, you can create some deadly combinations. Base traps are weak, which is why you can spend mana to upgrade them, multiple times if you have the mana in order to do so. Upgrading causes all the base stats of traps to increase, whether its higher health or shooting speed.
Except for a few challenges, all levels have the same goal of protecting the Eternia Crystal. Later levels will involve more than one of them, and even if you lose just one the game will still end. When the level first starts, you will have to wander around and open up the chests scattered around to collect the mana inside so you can start building defenses. Some levels will have unique gimmicks about them, but for the most part you will just be doing the same thing on them. . . finding the most efficient place for traps.
When you’re not in a dungeon defending your crystals from the hordes of enemies, you will be spending most of your time in the tavern. Here you can safely and easily customize everything about your heroes, test your abilities and defense on the test dummies, mingle with other players if you have joined their game, and a few other things to check out. Strewn all over the building, any achievements that you have earned while playing Dungeon Defenders will have an actual trophy placed somewhere in the tavern, making it easy for others to see how well you have done. There is also the Tavern Keeper who you can talk to that will sell you gear, let you respecialize or buy bonus experience, and let you look at all the items that you have in storage.
When you complete a normal level on whichever difficulty, you will be able to unlock a special challenge that is specific to each level. Challenges are very different from one another, from simply having to defend the crystal without being allowed to build any defenses, to defeating every boss in the game in succession without a break. All challenges when completed will reward you with special weapons only obtainable from each challenge, and sometimes achievements as well.
There is a large variety of enemies in the game, ranging from basic goblins to flying wyverns and helicopters, and even warriors who will seek out you instead of the defenses that you have laid down. Each enemy no matter what type has the chance to be enchanted with an element, causing it to be immune to that specific type of damage, causing you to plan your defenses accordingly. All defeated enemies will drop mana and items upon death, which will stick around until too much of either item has accumulated on the field, causing older ones to disappear. Certain levels will also feature bosses, that you will have to fight while your defense and yourself still have to defend the crystals from destruction.
Most of the equipment that you find will have dropped from enemies onto the ground for you to pick up, though you can earn items from completing certain levels as well as buying directly from the tavern between levels. Everything is randomly generated, which can cause you to search for that perfect piece for a long time. When you find a piece that you like, it can be upgraded to improve the stats that are already on the piece, though costing a fortune in mana. All equipment can increase your character and tower stats, while weapons have special attack stats and armor will have defensive stats as well.
Dungeon Defenders allows multiplayer to be played on the Trendy Entertainment servers, as well as unmoderated servers that allow mods and any thing that resembles hacking or cheating. Everything is exactly the same as single player, except there will be more enemies per wave as well as each enemy being stronger in every way. Loot that is dropped on the ground is seen by everyone, so if there is something that you see on the ground that you like you had better pick it up.
Through the use of the Steam Workshop, you can install mods that other people have created to enjoy playing in game. You will have to use the free for all Open servers for this though. Most of the mods are just new maps and levels, though there are some other miscellaneous ones such as cheats that get you to max level in a short amount of time.
Dungeon Defenders has had a ton of DLC get released for it over the years, ranging from added levels and holiday events, to adding completely new and unique characters for you to play with. Although it is all optional, some of the DLC items feel like they are required to play the game… especially the much later levels.
There is currently a sequal being worked on called Dungeon Defenders 2, but there isn’t a whole lot of information for it other than just be a simple sequal. There aren’t many tower defense games that let you control a character at the same time, but another good one that would be worth checking out is called Sanctum which has a sequal currently out.
Everything that you would like to see in an options menu exists in Dungeon Defenders, including some unique options such as making it so melee characters don’t automatically select a target for you. The graphics are cartoony and don’t look bad at all, though you might want to either change the brightness or bloom because the game can get quite bright and colorful at times. Everything has unique and fitting sounds, though if you are doing the same levels over and over you might get tired of the music, since there is only one or two each level, and a lot of levels share the same music as well.
The biggest bad thing about Dungeon Defenders is that it simply involves way too much grind. Even though you can play through the game fairly fast on normal settings and get to enjoy the storyline and everything, you will be spending a lot of time getting stronger to be able to do harder challenges. This would make sense in a more heavily focused online game or MMO, but the multiplayer is very optional and at times it is actually best to play alone. If you want to play in a hack free environment with other people, you will have to always be connected to the Trendy or Steam servers, and if they ever lose connection at any time you will be kicked out of your current game.
Since you can set the difficulty level of any map before you start it, you will never get stuck on a level for being too hard. The levels themselves aren’t very hard, you will just have to do some trial and error to find out where to put traps and everything at. Being able to use more than one character on each level allows even just one person to make a clever defense make a level easy. The basic levels where you only have to defend the crystals for a certain number of waves can all be accomplished fairly fast, maybe at most 20 minutes. However, you will play through these levels fairly fast and you will end up having to do survival and challenges that can easily last 30 minutes and sometimes hours.
Although it is an RPG where you will always be getting stronger, the levels and challenges that you run into towards the end of the game is where all of the difficulty comes from. Even so, the introduction of nightmare difficulty helps ensure that even the first levels become hard again. Since you can play the game solo, managing traps and auras from multiple characters will give you an even bigger challenge to overcome. You will never have trouble finding sometimes to test your tower defense skills in Dungeon Defenders. Simply put, there is just a ton of content to do in Dungeon Defenders. For each level you beat, challenge levels appear to be beaten as well. The large amounts of DLC will give you even more content to accomplish. It is easy to put hundreds of hours into Dungeon Defenders, and still have more activities to do.
Dungeon Defenders currently costs 15 dollars with 60 dollars worth of DLC, although there is a complete bundle that only costs 50 dollars and comes with everything. If you’re not entirely sure about wanting to spend a lot of money on Dungeon Defenders, the base game alone comes with a ton of content and most of the DLC only prolongs the end game. The Quests for the lost Eternia Shards is the most important DLC to purchase, if you only want to get the bare necessities.