As a follow up to the last game from Soldak Entertainment (see review of Kivi's Underworld) they have begun beta testing of their new game Din's Curse! If you played any of their games before (Depths of Peril or Kivi's Underworld) you should be able to jump in this game and get started pretty quickly. Unlike the games before, there is more opportunity in Din's Curse to branch out and choose how you play. There are 6 classes you can choose from, each one having 3 build or tech trees, for a total of 141 combinations, so everyone can find a class that suits them. You can also choose to dual specialize which lets you take the best (well most of it) of 2 character types. If you choose to go this route you only get 2 of the 3 tech trees however, so choose wisely. You start out by choosing one of the 6 classes (or choosing 2 by going hybrid) out of: Priest, Rogue, Conjurer, Wizard, Ranger or Warrior. As I said each have 3 different sub-specialties if you will, allowing you to tailor your character to what you like to play. Do you like to play a ranged character? Try a Ice mage (Wizard), Fire mage (Wizard) or Sorcerer (Conjurer) or an Archer (Ranger). Are you into more close combat? Try a Paladin (Priest), Druid (Ranger) or a Weaponsmaster (Warrior). Want to try your hand out at both? Try a hybrid like a Ranger/Warrior! I enjoyed being able to get an Archer to take out enemies at long range, and the Weaponsmaster to easily take out anyone who manages to survive long enough to get into close range.
There are some other fun aspects of the game, such as hardcore and cursed play. Like other games that use a hardcore mode, you play until you die. Once you die, that's it, game over with that character. I usually don't play that type of game, as I tend to get into the killing and forget about my health until I realize that I just died and am like, oops, ok rez and continue where I was. In hardcore mode, you don't get that luxury.
There's also a cursed mode. You can't play that until (at least right now) you have a level 25 character. I'll leave most of this to the actual review but lets say that while it isn't hardcore, it is pretty hard.
In Din's Curse, the worlds are randomly generated and you have different quests with each world. You start out in town, with quest givers (some who also have a dual role as vendors) who get you started into your dungeon. Each dungeon is also unique, having a random design when you start out on that world. I have to say that sometimes the pace of the town getting killed attacks take away from my dungeon crawl but so far, that really is my only criticism of the game. There are a few tweaks I might suggest, such as if the quest giver gets killed you are stuck with a quest you can't turn in right away. You'll usually get a quest that has you find a new town's person to replace the one who died, but it can take time. The fact that you're limited to the number of quests you can get, which isn't a real problem but you get some higher level dungeon quests at the start and if you take them, you'll end up dropping them when you find ones your level while playing.
While playing the beta, it's easy to forget the game isn't out yet, as it really is that well polished. In the short time I've been playing, there have been several smaller patches put out to fix any bugs that are reported which is nice, since the patches are on the order of 500k or so, rather than the ones that most of us are use to in MMO's that range in the 500M or more. Soldak Entertainment is quick to fix things, and they really do listen to their customers. I reported a bug and it was fixed in a patch the next day... How's that for service? I'd like to think that I had something to do with that, but after reading the patch notes, there were several things in the patch that were corrected, I just happened to get mine in in time to make that one =)
There is also multiplayer (co-op) play, so you can play with your friends to see how far you can get (co-op hardcore anyone? lol).
I'll keep this short, as I was reminded that this is a preview, not a review (man, with the game the way it is, it really is hard not to write a review of the game now - I know it's not done, but barring any major changes, it's more polished than a number of games I've done actual reviews on several weeks after being released) but I'll sum it up by saying that if you pre-order Din's Curse now, the game is WELL worth the $19.95 they are charging, not to mention the benefits like early inclusion into the beta (you get to play the game now!) as well as add input into the game, report bugs (and get your name added to the list of people who report the bugs!) etc.
Keep an eye out for the review once they have released the game!