Dungeon Defenders: Awakened from Chromatic Games is the epic return of the multimillion-selling co-op tower defense action RPG series. After being in early access, the 1.0 PC release went live on May 28 with an arsenal of fresh content, including new bosses, game modes, difficulty settings, and more. While the game is fine by solo, its Dungeon Defenders: Awakened co-op that really makes the game shine.
The 1.0 PC release features 15 maps, new Mixed and Pure Strategy modes, additional boss battles to overcome, and shiny mountains of loot to collect. As a tower defense game, players build defenses to thwart armies of goblins, dark elves, demons, and dragons. In Dungeon Defenders: Awakened co-op you and each of your teammates battle as one of four playable heroes, unleashing powerful attacks and teaming up with co-op partners across a time-traveling story with a range of modes and challenge levels, including the imposing new Massacre Mode with its devious unique enemies.
While we already have a solo review of the game, we wanted to explore what the game has to offer when it comes to co-op play. For many of us, Dungeon Defenders: Awakened co-op was a better game experience overall.
What are some of the big differences between playing solo and playing co-op?
Adrian: For me, the difference between solo and co-op really fall into how leveled up your character is. Early on while trying to play the monk solo, I struggled being able to get through some of the harder waves because I didn’t have access to certain abilities. As I leveled the monk through co-op play, I was able to go back and solo those maps with ease. On the flip side, it didn’t seem to really matter what level each of our characters were. The map I struggled on solo with the monk was cleared pretty easy when three of us got together at a relatively low level. I am not sure how much of the game I would be able to clear solo but it certainly is the more challenging route if players are looking to test themselves alone.
Matt: I had trouble playing solo in this game, not really because of the challenge but because the really designed to play with other people. This accounts for both just being able to play with friends and also for strategy wise.
Kate: There isn’t much variation on map or enemies when you play solo vs when you play co-op. This means that while some waves can be relatively easy on a team of three or four, they can be nearly impossible alone. This pushes people into co-op, but with that said, Dungeon Defenders: Awakened co-op is where the game is the strongest.
Rashaad: Playing solo feels empty because you don’t have someone to interact with or help you with strategies on how to overcome the challenge set before you. Playing in co-op has a much more lively feel, even if you’re just with randoms because you will have the extra support on the more difficult rounds.
What’s your favorite class?
Adrian: My favorite depends on what I am playing. During co-op games I tend to be the one who fills roles so in Dungeon Defenders I gravitated to the monk. The monk lets you buff other player’s structures in some capacity as well being able to lay down your structures that can more or less hold their own if needed. When playing solo, I enjoy the mage. The mage has a lot of variety in the towers he can place which coupled with the road blocks makes clearing waves a breeze. However, if have the four classes already made, they all share experience so it is pretty easy to bounce between them and find out what works best for you.
Matt: Huntress is my favorite class. I love any character with a bow and she just looks awesome. Her traps are very useful, but they definitely benefit from the other players shields and wall placements.
Kate: I thought that I would be pulled to the Squire, the tank class in the game. That said, because I have never played a Dungeon Defenders title before I chose a character that was labeled as easy to use: The Mage. Not only was he adorably illustrated – like the rest of the – but he was also versatile with ranged attacks and larger attacks that helped me get out of situations where the mobs had advanced past my traps.
Rashaad: Huntress for sure, she’s who I’ve played since I first played Dungeon Defenders on the Xbox 360 with my girlfriend.
What are some of the challenges that come with co-op?
Adrian: Resource management is huge. You only have a limited amount of what you can place down between four players. If you aren’t careful, you can easily place a structure from one class on top of one from another class that basically does the same thing which obviously translates to wasted resources. This requires plays to at least have a basic understanding of what other classes do. However, once we got down who does what, it was much easier to compliment each others structures while still having things to deal with the final bosses.
Matt: Communication and managing of buildings/traps. Communication is key as to need make sure everyone can defend a certain area and all areas are covered. This is also vital when comes to shared building mechanics to you need to not only place traps in proper places to cover all areas, but if someone builds too much then other players can’t build their traps. Each character has their own unique traps that have their benefits and some combo well with others so managing the right balance and communicating with your teammates is key to success in this game.
Kate: While you get to call all of the shots when you defend solo, in co-op you need to coordinate not only your hero choices, but also where and when to put traps down. This puts a focus on communication or at the very least forces you to analyze the map and see what is placed before placing your own. Some trap and barrier combos work better than others and being aware of your partners are playing is necessary as you progress through the waves and they get harder. This adds a great level of challenge to what could be very easy.
Rashaad: Would definitely have to be trap management. When you don’t have a plan and everyone does their own thing, it can be chaotic. Another challenge would be playing with randoms who don’t communicate at all or refuse to help with the wave.
How does the game compare to others tower defense games?
Adrian: Admittedly, I am not big into tower defense games with Dungeon Defenders being the exception. While games like Plants vs Zombies and Clash Royale are staples in the genre, neither of them of games like give you the control Dungeon Defenders gives. Seeing an ogre walk down the lane is much scarier when you are in its face compared to a top down view. It really is that in your face action that makes Dungeon Defenders stand out from other tower defense games. The level system and the differences of classes really gives the player the ability to make each class their own based on their strategies to attacking each map.
Matt: I am not a big tower defense player so don’t have a long list of games to compare Dungeon Defenders: Awakened with. Saying that, if you do like tower defense games and have been a fan of the franchise then I really think will enjoy Dungeon Defenders: Awakened. I know the developers are trying to be bring back some of the original Dungeon Defender’s vibes and all the special things that made Dungeon Defenders a big fan favorite.
Kate: I love tower-defense games, but I am not good at them. That said, the way the maps progress in this game and the length of the tutorial all help to welcome newcomers to the game. The only many issue or difference is that this game benefits largely from co-op which is great for players like me who rarely play alone. That said, it may be difficult for solo players.
Rashaad: Dungeon Defenders: Awakened compares to other games, including those in the series, quite strongly. It has the needed constructs in a tower defense game, and also has a decent selection of traps amongst the heroes.
What are some improvements you would make to the co-op or game in general?
Adrian: Dungeon Defenders: Awakened has made a lot of strides to bring back the nostalgia of the original while improving on aspects of the sequel. However, if I had to change one thing I would certainly have to go with item management. While it is easier to see what is an upgrade and what isn’t, there is still so much to sort through which slowed down the game a bit for me. You can certainly just let the gear disappear between rounds for gold but when are playing with people who want make sure they have the best gear on, the abundance of gear can become a nuisance during the downtime. Further, if you are someone who wants to wait until the tavern to equip new gear, then you are stuck with inventory full of gear that you might not even need requiring you to go through the tedious process of selling it off.
Matt: I believe this could be something that happens at launch, but having to go through steam for inviting friends isn’t the easiest option so hopefully more in-game ability to jump in and jump out of matches would be nice. This isn’t really co-op related, but adding full controller compatibility would be something that needs to be done. Being able to play with a control and do all the basic controls is great, but not being able to navigate UI or even leveling up without having to switch back to a keyboard is a real pain. There is some optimization issues especially navigating windows and UI that could be improved. Overall, the game is still lots of fun and quite enjoyable especially with friends, but there is still plenty of places for improvements. This isn’t the final version of the game and Dungeon Defenders: Awakened will be receiving support for quite awhile so I believe these changes and improves will happen over time.
Kate: Dungeon Defenders: Awakened co-op is great and overall, gameplay is solid. That said, there are quite a few quality of life updates that can help the game find a wider audience. Making item management easier is one of the top examples namely because the amount of the gear that drops is extremely high and as you fill up the inventory slots, it becomes incredibly hard to understand which gear is better in relation to what you have equipped and what you have in your inventory. This has led me to just hit the “sell all” button out of frustration many times. But, the most frustrating issue is the lack of full controller support, as mentioned above, the game prompts you to press controller buttons in the menus but they don’t work. Because the Dungeon Defenders: Awakened co-op experience is so fun, making these small adjustments will for sure increase replayability.
Rashaad: For the game in general, just some simple “Quality of Life” changes, having a more lively hub, possibly add in some NPCs who over quests to help promote replayability. I would also like to see them possibly bring in some of the heroes from Dungeon Defenders II and also loop them into the story.
While Dungeon Defenders: Awakened co-op isn’t perfect, the four of us solidly recommend this game for anyone with a squad looking for a game to play together.
Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is currently available on PC via Steam and is set to come to console later this year.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.