9 Dec

Shadowrun: Dragonfall (Director’s Cut)

Filed under: PC Games No Responses


That’s a lot of enemies but they’re no match for my cyberzombie!

I played Shadowrun Returns last year and liked it but also stated my opinion that it’s too rough around the edges to appeal to many people who aren’t already Shadowrun fans. I knew that the KickStarter campaign had promised a Berlin campaign and looked forward to it. But before I actually sat down to play it, they announced that a more polished, standalone version of it would be made. So I waited on it and now months later I’ve played. I am delighted to report that this is a fantastic RPG and is everything that the first game should have been and all RPG-fans should play it whether or not they are fans of Shadowrun.

  • This game is epic, both in the scope of its story and in length. It is very, very strange that this is a DLC to the main game when it is so much more substantial than the original Dead Man’s Hand campaign. As its new title, Dragonfall, indicates, the story deals with dragons and there are lots of evil corps, intrigue, combat, betrayals and plot twists. You get a real team this time, complete with side-missions that involve them. It’s all very much modelled after how Bioware RPGs work and I love every bit of it.

  • I may be running out of superlatives here but the missions in here are a real blast. The levels incorporate many ways to avoid combat or make fights easier through specialized skills. The various etiquette skills for example allow you to talk your way out of many fights, a decker allows you to gain control of turrets, a rigger allows you to send drones through vents, a high strength allows you to break through walls. There are even ways to make use of skills like Biotech and Spellcasting out of combat. The fights themselves are also great, with some having truly large numbers of combatants. The designers have really embraced the “go big or go home” philosophy here. You get to do truly amazing, over-the-top stuff that is just stupidly fun, like controlling an overpowered cyberzombie, taking out a roomful of enemies with nerve gas etc.


The art of conversation is important.
  • I know that choice is something of an illusion here but it works for me. It’s like how the Telltale adventure games work. You spend a large part of the making trying to raise enough money to fulfill a certain objective and you get to choose which missions to do to raise the cash. Actually there aren’t that many missions but because you control the pacing of the missions, it kind of feels like you have a lot of freedom especially since you can intersperse them with little side-missions for team members or your local neighborhood. What isn’t an illusion are the moral dilemmas at the end of many of the missions. You frequently have the option of fulfilling side-objectives within each mission for other factions who aren’t exactly on the up and up. There’s a real trade off here between being not too evil and pleasing your team mates and earning some rather awesome rewards.
  • One of the gameplay changes made in Dragonfall was a revamp of physical adepts who were considered way too weak in the first game. So I duly made my character an adept in this campaign. I have mixed feelings about this. It’s true that by the end of the game, the katana-swinging adept was my most powerful character, frequently able to take out two enemies in a single round when Hasted. But I did it by basically being not much of an adept since I felt that the Chi Casting powers still felt too weak. Basically I only invested enough in it to get the passive benefit of faster movement and then splurged out on cyberware. This enabled me to cover lots of ground and hit really hard. Karma Point distribution is a real problem. You just don’t enough to put into Strength, Close Combat, Willpower, Chi Casting, Quickness and Dodge all at the same time. If you need to drop something, Chi Casting is the easiest because you also get to use cyberware if you sacrifice it. Also if you go pure Chi Casting, there isn’t much for you to spend money on.


The Kreuzbasar, home sweet home.
  • One of my main complaints is that the user interface has been improved but it still isn’t good enough. They still use a tiny pane for descriptions of items and powers and it just can’t fit all the information inside. It doesn’t even mention that for example sniper rifles have a minimum effective range of about 10 which would be a really good thing to know if you wanted to use the sniper team member you get. I was also gimped for most of the game because I couldn’t figure that the button in the bottom right hand corner allows you to upgrade your team members. I remembered reading about this but didn’t notice the UI element and just forgot about it later.
  • Writing quality feels much improved. It was okay in the first game but it is great here. I loved the dialogue and all of the options that you get. I loved that you have a mission computer where you can browse for news, post optional data for auction and review jobs. I loved walking around the Kreuzbasar and building it up by helping its residents. I loved the characters and how the game made me actually care about my team members. I loved the plot and how it is both epic enough and yet still reasonably believable. The only part that irked me is why your team is the only people that seems to care when the threat seems to potentially involve all of Berlin. I loved that there is a lengthy epilogue where you get to talk to everyone about what happened and text explanation of what is recorded in history. All RPGs should do this!

It should be pretty obvious that I loved this game. It’s a game made by a team whose confidence in their tools and technology has matured and is fully as ambitious as their imaginations. I really hope to see more of this. A Hong Kong campaign which was one of the poll options during the KickStarter would be a fantastic choice.


Yes, you even get to travel to another plane!
Written on December 9 2014 and is filed under PC Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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