Dungeon Hunter 3 Hands-On Preview

If you thought Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter and Dungeon Hunter 2 were shameless Diablo clones, we’ve got some interesting news for you. Dungeon Hunter 3, coming out later this month, will take the series in a brand-new direction, with a freemium model that emphasizes action over exploration.

There’s practically no storyline in Dungeon Hunter 3, so you won’t need to be familiar with the first two games in order to jump right in. Instead of a sprawling adventure, DH3 consists of a series of arenas like Gun Bros or Asteroids: Gunner. At launch, DH3 will have four worlds with 20 levels each, and each level will consist of around three waves of enemies.

Combat is just like in the previous games– you’ll be able to move with a virtual joystick on the left and activate your attacks and spells with buttons on the right. In addition, there’s a new gem button, which will use up one unit of the game’s premium currency in exchange for full health and magic. This premium uber-potion can make the difference in a heated battle, and in our build, when we died we could come back to life for 25 gems.

There are a few other freemium gimmicks you should be aware of as well. When you buy a new suit of armor, you’ll have to wait a bit for the virtual blacksmith to get it ready– we were faced with a two hour countdown clock for one piece of gear. Instead of waiting, you can pay gems to speed up the smithing and get back into the arena.

From our time with this early build, we didn’t think the requests for premium currency were too annoying. For the most part, Dungeon Hunter 3 plays like the previous two games, but with no storyline, side quests, or exploration to break up the hacking and slashing. You are provided with optional achievements, like destroying a certain number of barrels or defeating enemies using a certain skill, but these don’t feel the same as quests.

We expect some fans of the series to be disappointed with this new direction, as Dungeon Hunter 3 is now almost exclusively an action game instead of an epic RPG. You’ll still be able to bash away at enemies and improve your gear, but with paid shortcuts available, some players may not feel as heroic if they buy a new weapon with their credit card. We’ll let you know if DH3 is a Must Have sequel after it launches in the App Store later this month.