Growing up, I never played Dungeons & Dragons. It was probably a combination of the game looking great with its many races, classes and learning rules, but also because it seemed too Dorky for a kid who was already spending most of his time playing video games — pretty good ones, though. However, and as my eventual career path would prove, I was lying to myself. I found the appeal of Dungeons & Dragons even stronger when I discovered comedy shows like Nerd Poker and more recently Dimension 20. I was just starting to learn the basics of Dungeons & Dragons rules for laughs, but everyone I knew was. Whoever played the game was already very experienced. Who wants to play with someone who is still learning how to deal with modifiers and roll for initiative? Video games seemed like a good alternative, but choosing one wasn’t that easy.

Countless official Dungeons & Dragons games have been released over the years, although not all of them stick to the gameplay style or principles of the tabletop version, and most of them do – Baldur’s Gate 3 being the biggest exception. – Use the old D&D rules. Because they use older rules and often different game mechanics, these other games are much less useful for learning how to play D&D.

Enter Xbox Game Pass and Solasta: Crown of the Magister, a game you probably haven’t heard of, especially if you don’t stay up to date on all things D&D.

It’s one that doesn’t sound as revolutionary as its name suggests. I discovered this on a whim while browsing the Xbox Game Pass lineup. Elevator pitch in detail I was instantly sold. It has held my attention ever since, and I find myself itching to return to my party story every time I do practically anything else.

Chungledown Bim is shaking in his boots.
Chungledown Bim is shaking in his boots.

Using the licensed D&D 5th Edition rules without being an official D&D game, Solasta has almost every feature word for word that of Dungeons & Dragons. Most of the races, classes, weapons, spell types, and possible combat maneuvers are pulled directly from the tabletop game. What this allows is a smooth transition from Solasta to playing D&D, as the game is training you without even realizing it. Learning how to use attacks of opportunity, stun enemies, and best use each class becomes second nature, as does knowing when it’s best to avoid combat and be a little more creative. I got the basics of it from those comedy-centric D&D shows, especially Dimension 20’s Fantasy High, but I was able to see all the crash course knowledge in action because of Solasta.

The aesthetics are also very literal with classic tabletop games. When attempting any type of attack, saving throw, or ability check in Solasta, dice appear on the screen. You even hear the numbers clap before they appear, and you can customize how the dice look if you don’t like the standard option. It’s something that, in terms of how the game plays, literally changes nothing, but it adds to the idea that you’re effectively playing a tabletop D&D game in another form.

It’s not just the combat or the window dressing that really shows how authentic the Solasta experience is. Before starting the campaign I had to choose my four adventurers. Solasta offers a selection of pre-made characters, but you have a lot of fun creating your own, and you can customize practically everything. Choosing character traits affects your squad’s alignment, and I found this reflected almost immediately. My lawful-good paladin Aldrich wanted to mitigate most situations, while the hot-headed fighter Mason preferred more.Anyway, I started blasting“Tactile. He realized mine characters, and their flaws — just like their strengths — in the form of what I can. Sometimes, it just meant avoiding a side mission because my party wasn’t equipped to deal with a certain type of enemy, but surviving is as much about being smart as being strong.

Things can often turn out differently if you try to avoid the fight.
Things can often turn out differently if you try to avoid the fight.

Solasta’s story is nothing to write home about, but that’s hardly a deal breaker for those still getting their bearings. A valuable user creation tool called Dungeon Maker allows you to effectively DM your games, creating areas, encounters and stories using existing assets. Sure, you’re not going to create a John Hughes coming-of-age story with this tool, but it allows those interested in running their own games to see what’s important — and possibly someone. And fail without wasting time. You will not be able to withdraw from your storage. Goofy voices like Brennan Lee Mulligan.but you can keep them in your back pocket when you’re ready to run an honest-to-goodness D&D campaign.

It’s through playing Solasta and enjoying the various shows that I’ve come to understand what Dungeons & Dragons is, and what it isn’t. There are plenty of carefully crafted official worlds like Forgotten Realms, but those exact characters and characters aren’t what define D&D. Instead, its game systems and mechanics do, and in its most basic form, Dungeons & Dragons is a workable framework to which you can apply almost anything you want. I’ve been kicking around the idea of ​​a modern detective setting, renaming weapons and spells without actually breaking any rules. Playing Solasta has given me the confidence that I can actually achieve this. Everyone will be making it. Fraud checking And goes into hiding when an evil mastermind tries to implement a world-ending master plan. May or may not happen Sharks with laser beams on their heads.

When it finally gets out of early access, will Baldur’s Gate 3 scratch the same kind of itch that Solasta does now? Chances are it will for a lot of people, but being able to play it on one sync via Xbox Game Pass made me seriously think about adopting the D&D rules in full and starting my own campaign. . Developer Tactical Adventures has a lot to be proud of, and it will be interesting to see if a bigger budget or development team can lead to an even more authentic D&D gameplay or storytelling system. My intuition test says it is likely.

The products discussed here were independently selected by our editors. GameSpot may receive a share of the revenue if you purchase anything featured on our site.

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