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The Dwarves Preview


During Gamescom, King Art's Creative Director Jan Theysen showed me The Dwarves, a game based on the first Dwarves novel by Markus Heitz. The Dwarves is not an open world game, but is story driven and combat focused. You play the game with a party of four, for which you can select 3 out of a total of 15 characters, each of which are their own character class, with their own specific skills. Your characters will level up, at which point you can give them different skills, of which there are about 70, most of them physics based. Some of the skills will be available to multiple characters, but many skills are limited to a single character only. For each two levels you can choose between two new skills. Each character will have also one passive skill, which does not need to be selected and is typical and fitting for that character and which they will have from the beginning of the game.

You play as Tungdil, the main character in the game. He is a dwarf who was raised by a human mage and does not know much about being a dwarf. He is also a rather weak fighter at the start. In the game you will encounter other dwarves and learn what it is like to be a dwarf and get thrown in enough combat to improve on your combat skills. You're a fast learner, which means that by the end of the game you could become the strongest fighter of all. This all begins when Tungdil meets the twins Boindil and Boendal, who will be your first party members and who will lead you to meet other dwarves in the world.

You move from one point on the map to the other, explore different locations, learn more about the background story, and do quests you get from talking to NPCs. When you gain experience from these quests, all of your potential party members will gain experience as well. This is in contrast to gaining experience from combat, as in that case those not in your party will only gain half the amount of XP compared to those who are in your party when the fight took place. By granting experience in one way or the other, also to those you didn't select to be in your party, the developers wanted to ensure that characters will not become completely useless when you have not played them for some time.

The physics-driven combat of The Dwarves is the game's main focus. You play with up to four characters, which you have to select before the fight begins, typically against large groups of enemies. These enemies are smart and will show group behavior. Ogres, for example, carry huge clubs, and when they stretch their arm to swing the club, they might hit other enemies (perhaps an orc or two) and do damage to them. If you manage to push an orc back, it will be pushed against another orc, who will also be pushed back somewhat, etc.

It's not only your party characters that need to be selected prior to the start of the combat, but also the skills the characters can use, as well as one useable item. Each character can use up to three skills from their total amount of skills and one item from the items available to them. Some skills work better with certain enemies, but some skills can also be combined with the skills from other party members to become more effective. You can choose items like a potions, grenades, or something else that can assist you in one way or the other. It is not possible to change your selection of skills or items during the fight, but with four characters you can end up with 12 different skills and 4 different items between them. Currently, it's not possible to select less than four characters. It must always be Tungdil and three others, otherwise the battle will not start. The only time when it is possible to have less than four is when there aren't any more to choose from, which will only happen at the beginning of the game.

Most of the time, before the combat starts, you can get some information on what kind of enemies you can expect from the description of the combat. This helps you in selecting the most effective characters and their skills. However, sometimes you simply do not know and you either get lucky or you fail and need to restart, now that you know what creatures you will encounter in that fight.

The Dwarves supports three difficulty levels: easy, normal, and hard. However, to make the combat more intense, the developers decided to make the normal combat more difficult. A fight lasts somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes, on average.

In combat, you can control only one character at a time. You can pause the game to give orders to each character. The devshave been in doubt on whether or not this would be a supported option, as it could become a game where you continuously play-stop combat, but in their tests they have found out that players do not really do that and only use the feature to stop the game when they get into trouble. They have also experimented with the stop option being a resource, where you gain points while playing real-time and lose those points again when pausing, but also for that they found out that people playing the game don't tend to overuse the stop functionality, so that was not implemented either. Right now the game is real-time-with-pause.

In The Dwarves, you can have your party characters use their skills in succession to become more effective. The example that was given at Gamescom was that one of the dwarves has the ability to throw diamonds. When he does that, the Orcs will see it and flock around those diamonds. You can then switch to another character who has an area of attack skill and unleash it on the Orcs grouped together around the bait. As the game has friendly fire, using area of attacks skills need to be carefully planned, but that becomes easier in the given example. Another example was that one character can use a skill that will make the Orcs fall to the ground, which makes it easier for others to kill them off.

Your party can also contain non-dwarves. The advantage with non-dwarves is that they have very different skills from the typical dwarven skills.

About 70% of the world map can be reached by traveling. As mentioned before, it is not an open world game, so you're limited in the locations you can visit. You can travel to one or more other locations as long as they are directly connected to your current location. On the map itself, you can see where enemies and potential new quests are, but on your travels there will also be random encounters and random events. Quite regularly you can also choose to not fight and take a different route away from any enemies, but if you do not fight them, the city those enemies are headed towards will most likely get destroyed, with the result that you can't go there anymore to trade goods since the survivors will not be happy with you and won't see you as a hero. Travel on the map consumes time, and as your characters will heal over time, traveling is also a way to heal your characters as long as you have enough food for them to eat. When you fight less, you will gain less XP as well and since the game does not scale your opponents, the fights you do participate in will become harder over time.

You're able to interact with NPCs and befriend them if you wish. Later on in the game, if you play your cards right, you can rally the people you've befriended and get them to help you in a battle, with up to 20 additional persons supporting you in that fight. If you haven't made many friends, you won't receive much help and the fight will be harder, but you might also lose out on some of the available quests as well.

The duration of a single play-through depends on the style of the player, but typically it will take up to 20 hours. According to the dev team, the game also doesn't have any filler quests to extend play time.

Check out the below gameplay video if you'd like to see some of what's described in action:


The game is scheduled to be released at the end of December on PC (Windows and Linux), Mac, PS4, and Xbox One.

Box Art

Information about

The Dwarves

Developer: KING Art

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Combat: Unknown
Play-time: Unknown
Voice-acting: Unknown

Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2016-12-01
· Publisher: EuroVideo Medien

More information

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