March 7, 2014
Normally, I leave video game reviews to Gamer’s Corner, but in the case of Dragonfall I felt it was worth it to make an exception. The first major expansion to Harebrained Schemes’ Shadowrun Returns, Dragonfall takes what was already a phenomenal game and makes it even better. Whereas Shadowrun Returns threw you headfirst into the Sixth World of Shadowrun, Dragonfall shows you what it really means to be a shadowrunner.
I adore Shadowrun, and while I had high hopes for Dragonfall, they have all been blown out of the water by this one. Rather than starting up where the previous campaign left off, this expansion is basically an entirely new game – and it is an entirely new campaign – where you create a new runner (or a different version of your same one if you are me) and join a team of runners in the city of Berlin, 2054, and that marks the first major change as well as the greatest improvement of Dragonfall: you are part of a team. Shadowrun, like all tabletop role-playing games, is about teamwork and that was something I sorely missed in the Shadowrun Returns campaign of Dead Man’s Trigger. In that, you hired on a team of runners for each job, paying their fee, and getting them to help you out. In Dragonfall, this option is still available to you, but you also have your core running team that are always there to back you up, each one being a fully fleshed out character with interesting back-stories and connections to the lore of the Sixth World. I am tempted to go into more detail here, but that would be too spoiler heavy.
Another thing that Dragonfall does right is that for the majority of the game, you act like a runner. While Dead Man’s Trigger had a great story, there were few times that I actually felt like a runner. In Dragonfall, you have a fixer, you meet the Johnson (or “Schmidt,” as they call them in Berlin), you take or decline the job, you carry it out, and you get paid. That is Shadowrun. All the while, Dragonfall delivers on narrative as well, providing a very well thought-out campaign with huge overarching themes that drive you and your team forward.
Now to talk about decking, or “hacking,” as is the more common term for it. Some of the largest complaints about decking in Shadowrun Returns is that there was not enough for them to do and that they were all but useless on the final mission. In Dragonfall, I would not dream of going on a run without a decker in my team. I am already planning on playing one myself for my next play-through. I hesitate to call having one in your team a necessity, but it would definitely be a harsh ramp in difficulty.
Finally, my favorite part of Dragonfall is the lore. Shadowrun Returns did a very good job in showing off and teasing at a lot of the things going on in the Sixth World, and even made you a part of one of the biggest events in the history of Shadowrun, and Dragonfall does the same only with more of it. I have not even finished the entirety of the campaign and already I have encountered a cyber-zombie, ghouls both feral and not, Lone Star HTR teams, Aztechnology blood sacrifices, and an honest-to-goodness true A.I. All things that players might encounter in a table-top session of Shadowrun, and thins that make the game iconic.
So, if you are looking for a great shadowrunning experience, then look no further than Dragonfall.
As always, thanks for reading and I wish you all good gaming, be it pen and paper or computer.
Image Credit: Harebrained Schemes