Shadowrun Dragonfall: Gameplay and Review: Page 6 of 10

Shadowrun Dragonfall
Is the Second Return Better than the First?



Blitz, the decker.

Most closely resembling the Fallout and XCOM games in execution, the combat in Shadowrun Dragonfall consists of using action points to have your units perform actions and move around the battlefield. Simple cover mechanics come into play, as do various penalties or bonuses for flanking opponents, attacking from the optimal range for a given weapon type, and so on.

Where Dragonfall does differentiate itself from the competition, though, is in the unique ways in which it allows a savvy player to use the environment to their advantage. Mage characters can be positioned on “ley lines” to greatly enhance their spellcasting power, while Shamans can find hidden weak spots in the walls between dimensions that allow them to summon powerful demonic creatures. 

Perhaps the most interesting, though, are the many uses for the Decker class. Depending on the type of environment where the fight is taking place, a Decker can hack into all sorts of computerized systems in order to benefit the rest of the team. Sometimes the hack might only result in earning a few extra credits, but other times it can be the key to opening restricted areas filled with powerful weapons, or turning the enemy’s own turrets against them—guaranteed to be messy. More critical hacks trigger battles of their own, fought by the infiltrating Decker in cyberspace, which makes it even cooler.

To be perfectly honest, though, the combat in Dragonfall plays a very distant second-fiddle to the roleplaying portion of the game. Unlike its predecessor, Shadowrun Returns, Dragonfall is big on having paths that branch away from (and back to) the main storyline. The player is constantly presented with options that impact the storyline, as well as the characters around you, in ways both minor and major. Turning on the charm to let a security guard allow you into an abandoned silo might only exert a minor impact—perhaps your companions will think that your tongue is just a little too silver—but using your skills as a medic to save the life of a character who would otherwise have died can have a profound impact on later events.


Dietrich, the shaman.

The majority of Dragonfall’s roleplaying mechanics are strictly text-based; which means a lot of reading. There are no cutscenes, and there is very little in the way of animation, so much the game relies on text to convey a great deal of the details that are not apparent from the games visuals. For example, an orkish enforcer type might approach you with a stern, disapproving expression, his right hand hovering just above the gun holster at his side; the game has no way of conveying this other than using—thankfully excellent—written descriptions.

At times, the reliance on text can make the game feel like a visual novel wrapped around turn-based RPG combat, but when the writing is as strong as what’s on offer in Dragonfall it doesn’t personally bother me one bit. If you don’t like to do a lot of reading in your games, though, you should consider whether Dragonfall is really the game for you.

Raconteur of the RPG scene.
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: The Witcher III
Top 3 Favorite Games:Fallout: New Vegas, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

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