Gameloft takes the dungeon out of Dungeon Hunter

If you’re a fan of Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter series, chances are you’re in for a big surprise. The developers haven’t completely tossed away the series’ hack-n-slash formula, but the meat of the experience has seen some significant changes in Dungeon Hunter 3.

For starters, Dungeon Hunter 3 no longer takes players on an actual adventure. Rather than explore dungeons, leveling up and collecting loot along the way, Dungeon Hunter 3 is arena-based, essentially removing the “dungeon” from Dungeon Hunter altogether.

Additionally, DH3 is a freemium package, complete with in-app purchases. Not surprisingly, this new formula has been met with strong reactions from loyal fans. However, setting aside the notion of what Dungeon Hunter 3 perhaps “should be” and considering it on its own merits, the game works…well, mostly.

At the outset, you’ll create a character based on one of four classes. The warlord is your typical melee class; there’s an astromancer who focuses on magic; the trickster is a master with bows but can easily switch to short swords; and the shaman balances his strengths between magic and hand-to-hand combat.

Cosmetic customization is limited to the selection of either a male or female character; however, each new piece of gear you equip your character with is reflected on their in-game appearance. There are four worlds to play through, each with four unique arenas with five levels of difficulty – there’s a huge chunk of content here. Tack on new equipment, faeries and other collectibles, and Dungeon Hunter 3 has the potential to keep you busy for a good, long while.

Dungeon Hunter 3

That is, of course, if you either enjoy the grind or are willing to invest in IAPs. Though Gameloft hasn’t tweaked the game’s difficulty to be quite as obnoxious as the typical Glu game, arenas offer a substantial challenge, even at the very earliest parts of the game. Translation: you’re not going to get far fast without purchasing better gear, and arena challenges can get pretty repetitive.

Dungeon Hunter 3 also suffers from poor targeting. There’s no real lock-on system, and handling ranged units can be quite finicky. The shaman class is listed as a great choice to “support the party” and boost allies, but the game currently has no multiplayer component. That leaves us with just the warlord as a viable option.

In spite of these shortcomings, Dungeon Hunter 3 has some solid incentives to you coming back. You’re allotted a number of keys each day, which can be used at the end of arena battles to unlock additional gold and experience. Though the process of building up your character can be slow without investing in IAPs, the charm is still there.

Dungeon Hunter 3

DH3 is also quite an attractive game, with loads of variety and detail. Animations are fluid, and each arena has its own unique look and feel. In addition to an onslaught of dangerous foes and bosses, each level is littered with traps that help to keep things interesting. The music is powerful and effective, though the sound effects don’t quite lend enough weight to the action.

If I had my druthers, Dungeon Hunter 3 would be more like its predecessors, offering meaty exploration and loot to lust after. Nonetheless, Gameloft’s new approach comes together admirably, even if the gameplay requires some tightening up. As a freemium option, Dungeon Hunter 3 is definitely worth checking out, but the slow pace and poor targeting make the game more of a bump in the road for the series than a worthy successor.