You Get What You Pay For: Sword Coast Legends
I always maintain that “games don’t suck”, that any non-technical flaws we attribute to the game are results of our own misplaced expectations, and this is a perfect example. I had expected a spiritual successor to Neverwinter Nights in both gameplay and toolset, but Sword Coast Legends is neither. It’s its own game. As a single player game, it’s terrible; as a multiplayer game with a DM looking over shoulders, it’s probably pretty damn good. It’s more Gauntlet with an Overlord than it is Baldur’s Gate. The tools are more to support extensibility than they are for creating sweeping narrative experiences, but considering there was nothing that I could see that indicated that SCL was even about sweeping narratives, the tools work towards the purpose they were intended to work towards. This is a multiplayer dungeon crawler with dynamic, real-time interaction by a (somewhat) all powerful DM…basically, it’s original D&D.
I can’t say that I don’t still harbor a bit of resentment at SCL not being more than it is. I had hoped that it would build upon NWN‘s legacy, or even Star Trek Online and Neverwinter‘s “Foundry” tool set (which is more powerful than the tools found in SCL), but that’s an unfair comparison and shouldn’t detract from what SCL will be bringing to the table. SCL looks to be a good game for those who want the tabletop experience of D&D but don’t have a local group or are daunted by or uninterested in virtual tabletop gaming. In fact, SCL is more akin to a souped-up virtual tabletop program than it is a game, and even the limits observed in SCL (like not being able to talk through a possessed character) can be gotten around with come creative thinking.
Now, before I close out on this hopefully more-positive-than-not note, I wanted to add that my turn-around not only came to me when I realized that I needed to put my money where my mouth usually is and think of the game based on what’s in front of me, but also because I saw a few folks on the official forums talking about how the game might be purposefully missing some key features beyond just the lack of the main campaign. This gives me hope that there’ll be an update waiting for the 29th that will address at least some of the disappointments I have with the product. Even if those posts were just wishful thinking, I’m hoping to be able to try the game as it was intended to be used: with others in a traditional dungeon crawl scenario and a DM at the helm.