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Review RPG Codex Review: Shadowrun: Dragonfall

Crooked Bee

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Tags: Harebrained Schemes; Shadowrun Returns; Shadowrun: Dragonfall

The recently released DLC (but actually more of an expansion) to Harebrained Schemes' Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun: Dragonfall, promised to improve on the original campaign by making gameplay less restrictive and more open-ended. But did it deliver on those promises? Read this review by Darth Roxor to find out. Here's a snippet:

As you may remember, the main issues with the OC’s missions were their corridor-ish maps that didn't leave room for different approaches, the lack of decking opportunities, and the checkpoint system that didn’t allow going back and forth between maps. Every single one of these flaws has been fixed. In Dragonfall, every level gives you the opportunity to you access the Matrix and do funny things, like taking control of turrets or spying on enemies with cameras, and there are lots of those excellent set-pieces where you have to cover a decker in combat. Some missions take place in multi-floor buildings, and while you shouldn’t expect maze-like levels, there is still considerably more to do in them than just run and gun. A few of them can even be completed without firing a single shot if you have the proper skills, and most have a few side objectives as well. Navigating around the maps is much smoother now, because the game properly turns off turn-based mode outside of combat. The last mission, in particular, is simply brilliant, and I wish there were more runs like it in the game – it’s actually almost a straight-up dungeon crawl, with multiple levels, navigating through dark tunnels, finding the means to tip the scales in your favour, while coming across lots of nasty-ass enemies that slowly chip away your medkits.

[...] I did say difficulty was still a problem, and unfortunately, two significant issues with it remain: the Heal Wound spell is as broken as ever, and the enemy AI is as retarded as ever. I have absolutely no idea who the hell decided to keep the hard-coded routine that makes enemies never use more than one offensive action per turn, but he should be yelled at. Seriously, I mean it. There’s nothing that keeps the difficulty down more than this – even if you are severely outnumbered, your team still effectively has more actions per turn than the enemy, and it is downright absurd when you see a foe shoot you once and end his turn, even though you know he has 4 action points because a flashbang that hit him on a different occasion for -3AP didn’t knock him out. If the AI was actually using its potential to the fullest, Dragonfall might have actually been a very challenging game. I have no idea why they couldn't make the “Very Hard” difficulty setting remove this "enemy action limit".​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Shadowrun: Dragonfall
 

thesheeep

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I also wondered about the action limit on enemies.
Especially since some enemies do not have this limit (turrets, bosses, ...).
 

Bio Force Ape

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I definitely saw some enemies attacking 2 or 3 times in the final battle, so it can't be hard-coded that they can only attack once per round can it?
 

Darth Roxor

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I also wondered about the action limit on enemies.
Especially since some enemies do not have this limit (turrets, bosses, ...).

The thing is, there are a few AI routines possible to set in the editor itself.

One is a generic mook AI, and this forces the enemies to never perform more than 1 type of action. Shootaz will run and shoot, but never shoot twice. Mages will run, cast a fireball and cast an aim buff, but never cast 2 aim buffs or 2 fireballs.

Only "boss" AI lets them use all the AP they have, but those are obviously just singular examples in the whole game.
 

Sceptic

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Good review as usual Roxor. A little on the short side though :troll:

This is going well on the way to actually convincing me to get SSR though. Much as you seemed to like the game originally, the combination of systemic flaws and the mediocrity of the OC didn't thrill me. This "DLC" seems to at least solve the campaign problems, if not all of the other flaws. If they have more such expansions lined up, and if they keep on improving, then we have some really good campaigns coming up.
 

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Good review as usual Roxor. A little on the short side though :troll:

This is going well on the way to actually convincing me to get SSR though. Much as you seemed to like the game originally, the combination of systemic flaws and the mediocrity of the OC didn't thrill me. This "DLC" seems to at least solve the campaign problems, if not all of the other flaws. If they have more such expansions lined up, and if they keep on improving, then we have some really good campaigns coming up.

If you hated the original, you probably won't love this, but if, like me, you were decidedly "MEH" on the original, this might win you over.

Also, like I said in the other thread:

Nice review. I agree with the ending paragraph and especially this part:

Darth Roxor said:
The developers showed with Dragonfall that they learn from their mistakes

In this world of repeated mistakes (*cough* Cyanide *cough*), it's nice to see a company that took some if not most of the criticism to heart.

Also, Dragonfall inspired me to write and GM a Shadowrun campaign. Always kindda disliked the setting, but the elements put point and center by both games seemed like they'd make for a very fun game of pen & paper indeed.
 

clemens

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And you know, I would be pretty happy if Shadowrun Returns could take me on a tour of the Renraku Arcology...

Oh, fuck yeah, please do this, HBS ! (or maybe just expand on Germany and let us visit the SOX... eurosetting is better than the OC anyway. But it's true that we need more twisted AI cyber-stuff and less fantasy dragons and insects.)

:bro:
 

Darth Roxor

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Also, Dragonfall inspired me to write and GM a Shadowrun campaign.

DMS made me go play and GM pnp Shadowrun. Contrary for me, I always liked what I read about Shadowrun in a potato pnp mag that I used to collect back in the days, but I never really had the opportunity to delve into the game/setting properly.

If you want, I can lend you my .doc of SHADOWRUN SUNNY DUBAI SETTING that I brewed for that occasion +M

Also, obligatory gming_shadowrun.gif

fSV89.gif
 

Grunker

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Also, Dragonfall inspired me to write and GM a Shadowrun campaign.

DMS made me go play and GM pnp Shadowrun. Contrary for me, I always liked what I read about Shadowrun in a potato pnp mag that I used to collect back in the days, but I never really had the opportunity to delve into the game/setting properly.

If you want, I can lend you my .doc of SHADOWRUN SUNNY DUBAI SETTING that I brewed for that occasion +M

Also, obligatory gming_shadowrun.gif

fSV89.gif

lol

Yeah, send me that shit. No harm in it.

P6q9ZKU.png

Ads for game right next to positive review, new level of magazine prestige unlocked without a doubt.

roxor would only take payment in potato-chips though, no dirty maïze-doritos
 

Cowboy Moment

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Last edited:

Azael

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Good review as usual Roxor. I've yet to try this DLC, but looks like I should based on this review. Nice to see a company listening to complaints and trying to address them.
 
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It's still a very limited game with few possibilities, no openness (only making the same relatively linear missions in a different order), fake choices, Bioware lite NPCs, some frustrating design choices like fixed inventory for NPCs, and most frustrating of all, zero exploration. Why the hell can't Berlin be a real city like Seattle in Shadowrun on SNES, instead of a hub?
 
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P. good review. :thumbsup:

Dragonfall was a lot better than DMS but HBS still has a lot to improve content-wise, like adding aforementioned legwork. Though I'm hoping the next "DLC" focus on some much needed mechanical improvements like fixing the AI, customizing other runners beside MC, improving GUI elements, etc. And of course not that I'm particularly ever holding my breath for it, but more system depth.

And they need to drop the fucking EPIC STORY WITH FAR REACHING CONSEKKKUENCES. It's like people have been doing the same shitty from zero to hero fantasy CRPGs for eternity they forgot how to do something more low-key.
 

Grunker

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Dragonfall was a lot better than DMS but HBS still has a lot to improve content-wise, like adding aforementioned legwork

Gotta disagree hard. What crushed SRR was trying to spread too little butter on too much bread. Dragonfall is better because it is more focused, not less. I mean, of course I'd like a full-fledged mega-RPG with three different gameplay levels (brief/debrief - legwork - run), wishes aren't horses.
 
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But they need to add that if they want an actual Shadowrun structure, what the game has is just incomplete. I'd rather have HBS cut the number of runs and make them more complex.
 

Serious_Business

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And they need to drop the fucking EPIC STORY WITH FAR REACHING CONSEKKKUENCES. It's like people have been doing the same shitty from zero to hero fantasy CRPGs for eternity they forgot how to do something more low-key.

The story was more low-key than what we're used to. I think that rpgs want to have the player's action have far reaching consequences on the world, it's just the concept of "world" that needs to be redefined ; in Dragonfall the world was effectively Berlin and not "the universe" in itself, which I thought made the whole thing a bit more credible. The world itself is also the gameworld, and you see it evolve through the story, which is nice. The setting is pretty convincing overall, although yes I do agree that some things could have been toned down. Although I think, and the review mentionned it, that what the story actually needed was to flesh out the character of Monika - the first run shouldn't have been the first run, because it didn't give us enough time to care about her in any way
 

Grunker

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Quit with the selective quoting FFS

Sorry, that was my bad. Honestly, I'd rather have 20 hours of focused goodness than 5 hours of varied goodness. I liked Blackguards a lot. It showed us that with focus we can have quality and mass of content even with slim budgets.

Also I don't think most of the SR customers would accept less content even if that content was more broad and true to the Shadowrun P&P experience.
 

tuluse

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I don't see how Dragonfall is any more focused than DMS. It doesn't cut a single thing DMS did out and adds more stuff. Of course I've always disagreed with Grunker's claim that SRR was too ambitious since it didn't seem ambitious to me at all. DMS was just a series of combat set pieces with dialog that didn't do anything. Where is the ambition?
 

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