Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition – Xbox One Review

Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition – Xbox One Review
Lord Crocosquirrel
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Genre: Hack and Slash Action RPG
Developer: Crate Entertainment
Publisher: Crate Entertainment
Release Date: December 3rd, 2021
Edited by AlexKnight2005

Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition – Xbox One Review

In the Dark World of the distant past, there is only War. Grim Dawn is a top-down action role-playing game rooted in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay tabletop game in both its backdrop and lore. Fans of the genre will feel right at home, from the action to the loot drops (and the frustration over the randomness of that part), to the various mini-bosses that dot the landscape with no other purpose than to wreck your day. The Definitive Edition is the base game and the three major DLCs from the Steam edition, ported to Xbox One.

There are a few things Grim Dawn does differently, however. The devs went to great pains to create painstakingly mapped environments that are the centerpiece of the experience, rather than using random roguelike setups. Graphically, the environments are gorgeous, hand-designed, and decorated with all the ruined buildings and other finery to make for some interesting combat spaces, with all of the attendant issues that can cause. Fighting in close quarters with mobs on all sides will have an effect on your heart rate. Monsters are generally well-designed and animated, but the human characters, including the MC, aren’t done quite as well. Here, you have the option to create your character, except the only real choices you have are the name and sex of your avatar— the one you’re going to spend the next 60-100+ hours with. More, if you want the super-secret bestest ever True Ending (maybe). Rumor has it that the grinding for that could run upwards of three hundred hours, but I’m inclined to think that someone is more than a little hyperbolic.

In the gameplay area, it works. The port passes along all of the improvements and bug destruction of the original game’s last release without creating many new ones during the process. Controls work as advertised; much as I might sometimes prefer a keyboard and mouse, the XB1 controller didn’t get in the way. There are several decisions on the main menu as well, including difficulty upgrades… Veteran mode (which is a checky box) is not for the faint of heart. Grim Dawn did what it set out to do, and the Definitive Edition port is the same thing, only on Xbox One.
There is one bright side to getting the game on console half a dozen years later: We got all the DLC in the base package— Crucible Mode, which is an Arena play mode with a hundred and seventy monsters to pick on (or get eaten by) taken in waves, followed by the two-story expansions, Ashes of Malmouth, and Forgotten Gods. All of which adds much to the experience, but on Steam will run you forty dollars US (plus tax). I still don’t have those on PC, and they were definitely nice to see included with the base game.

 

The story remains mostly true to its roots in Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (WFRP). A lot of the story centers around stopping the encroachment of Chaos while traversing a war-torn world in which safety is a relative concept. Not being under attack right this second is the equivalent of peace suddenly breaking out. You against the world, with hordes of undead, demons, and all other manner of Chaotic Hungry headed your way. We don’t see much of Lore heroes or characters amongst the ranks of the NPCs, and most of them hold still and wait for you to approach to have a natter, give you a quest, or what have you. Standard fare, but what remains is the almost oppressive air that undergirds the Warhammer franchises, the sense of hopelessness in all but a precious few that have chosen to stand and fight despite the odds. Maybe there’s the small glimmer of hope in there, but mostly it’s just fatalism. Dark, gritty reality has set in, and they’re determined to make that demon over there pay dearly for its snack.

I spent my time with Grim Dawn playing a Shadowblade, a combination fighter-rogue thing that, when wielding two blades, resembles a Cuisinart than either of the archetypes that make up the character’s skillset. Here’s where I run into my first real gripe with the game. You get three skill points per level, and the skill tree for each class is not only expansive but there are several levels of each skill you have to buy if you want the maximum effect out of them. With some skills having as many as twelve levels to them for complete mastery and so many things to buy, you can imagine how quickly the one hundred and fifty points you have available between the start of the game and the level fifty cap can disappear in the comparative ocean that is a single class tree. We don’t talk about the multiclass setup, where on the same total hundred and fifty skill points, you can add new stuff to eat up the same budget. Needless to say, that got old in a hurry.

Never mind the way gear drops work. There are several different types of weapons, not all of which will work for your particular build (most won’t, at least not well), whether single or multiclass. Then add a prefix and some number of suffixes randomly from a monstrous pool, and sprinkle liberally throughout the game. Come level twenty; I was still using the same pair of swords I was at level four when I got a drop of a shiny new Sword of Actually Useful, and then not another one until the end of Chapter three, more than twenty levels later. Bad luck for me, I suppose. I think there could have been some drops that were tailored for the class or classes the player had selected across the game, especially when you run into a (seemingly) random boss that turns out to be a gear check beasty that wants nothing more than to eat your face. Maybe the rest of you, too. Not the pointy bits, though. Those tend to stick in the hard palate. Truly annoying.

For all my griping and complaining, it’s not a bad game. It is a solid port to console for a well-loved game from days gone by, including the extra bits that were released as (really expensive) DLC later on. I found it a bit bland when it wasn’t utterly frustrating. The engine is showing its age, even updated to the 64-bit executables and libraries that the Xbox One requires; the performance isn’t what I’d call great. That said, if you want that old-school feel, you could do worse than Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition on Xbox One. It does what it set out to do and even manages to pull it off (mostly). A faithful port of an older game, if you don’t like the sticker shock of getting the complete experience on PC, the Xbox One version is definitely an option.

Pros:

  • Nice hand-built environments with hard-coded maps make exploring easier.
  • A faithful port of the original game.
  • Includes the DLC from the original game.

Cons:

  • Random loot drops are often useless.
  • Not enough skill points to experiment with builds.
  • Lack of character customization options.

Lord Crocosquirrel gives Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition a Drastik Measure of 7.0 out of 10.0 (70)