Darkspore Beta Impressions

Darkspore is an upcoming PC action/RPG from Maxis, the creators of Spore. Don’t expect Darkspore to be a sequel to Spore though. You won’t be controlling a species of creatures from a single cell to a galactic civilization. In Darkspore you will be controlling a team of alien heroes against hundreds of enemies.

The heroes are the backbone of Darkspore. There are 25 separate heroes to choose from with 4 variants each. You will make squads of three heroes. Before each mission you choose one of your squads to go into the field. Customizing your squads and heroes is what makes Darkspore stand out.

In most action/RPGs you collect weapons and armor to equip to your character. In Darkspore you don’t just equip armor. Besides weapons, the items you collect are organic enhancements that you will use to customize your hero. You get to choose where most of the enhancements go and you even get to change aspects of how they look. For one of my heroes I got some antennae that raise it’s stats. I could choose to place them on its head, back, shoulders ect. I could even merge them into one horn sticking out of the middle of it’s head. You can’t completely create your own hero but you can make the available heroes your own.

Darkspore impressed me with how different all the heroes feel from one another. Not only does each hero have a special ability that is always on, but most heroes regular attack has a unique attribute. So while one hero with ranged attacks automatically summons pets and can heal allies, another will lock onto enemies and shoot homing missiles. All the heroes feel different from one another.

Each hero’s specific powers further differentiate them. Maxis has made some really fun and creative powers for each hero. I have some favorites from the beta that I haven’t seen in other action/RPGs I’ve played. A poison user has a power that takes all the poison damage that would happen over time and makes it happen immediately. A hero with power over time can re-cause all the damage an enemy has taken in the last ten seconds. Finding useful combos of powers is fun and effective. One of my favorites was shooting a very slow moving projectile at an enemy, waiting, then using a teleport attack to hit the enemy at the same time as the projectile.

As I said earlier, you choose a squad of three heroes to take into battle. Customizing your squad involves more than just choosing your three favorite heroes. Each hero on your squad shares one power with its squad mates. This opens up even more opportunity for unique power combinations. With one squad I can poison enemies then slow down time around me so the poison can get to work as I run to safety. With another squad I can root enemies in place then hit them with a barrage of missiles. Darkspore is full of opportunities to creatively destroy your enemies.

I wasn’t able to try co-op or PVP but the game will allow for up to 4 player co-op online.

I had a lot of fun with the beta of Darkspore. The characters are surprisingly unique and fun to play. There is no doubt, with so many different heroes, you will find a couple that appeal to you. The game is being released April 26th in NA but right now on Steam there is an open beta. Try it out for yourself!

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