Sword Coast Legends struggles with identity; at times it feels like a solid dungeon master tool and campaign creation kit, others it feels like a decidedly mediocre Dungeons & Dragons single player experiences. When looking at Sword Coast Legends solely as a game it lacks character, however if you look at it as a creation kit, Sword Coast Legends brings out the creative dungeon master in me and drudges up memories of hours spent in Neverwinter’s creation tools. This is not a bad thing.
The biggest issue I have with Sword Coast Legends is not actually with the software itself; it is with the user-created content. While there is a single player campaign, the better aspect of SCL is its creation tools. You can build your own scenarios, or even campaigns, and then share them with the community (accessed via an in-game menu) where others can download and rate the module. Where I struggled is that content creators are, at this time, simply not good.
The majority of the modules that you can find start off quite strong yet no more than 15 or 20 minutes in you begin to find that the creators became rushed or impatient and the modules devolve into slug-fests and grinds with no real “story” to go by. Admittedly it is still early in SCL’s release so the better dungeon masters have yet to release any content, but when I consider the various user-created campaigns for the Neverwinter games then I look at what is available here it is quite depressing.
On the topic of the creation tools … I personally love them. There are hundreds of maps, doodads, traps and decorative terrain pieces that you can use to populate the pre-built maps as you work to create your campaign modules. Where the editor really shines is in the NPC creation tools; you can literally create any type of character that you want. From a vendor to a quest-giver to a random stranger just hanging you, you can create absolutely anyone that you want (complete with back stories!). The downside to it all? Time. Creating even a single module takes a ton of time (which is likely why there are few if any good user-created modules yet).
The single player campaign is relatively cut-and-dry and could be copied/pasted into any number of D&D-based games. In some ways that is a great way to do things, especially for fans like me that have been playing D&D for decades. New gamers though, will find it difficult to really connect with the campaign and may miss out on the subtleties that really show that this is a D&D-focused game. Though the campaign is actually quite long it is rife with bugs; case in point one of the first quests has you searching for mushrooms and though the quest giver says they only need one, they make the offer that they will give you more gold for extra mushrooms.
After running through a dungeon you get just over a dozen mushrooms (if you are so inclined) and when you go to turn it back in … the quest giver only takes one and leaves the rest of the quest items in your inventory. The trouble is that you cannot get rid of the quest item so they will sit there taking up precious space (as there is no stash mechanic, you must carry everything you want). This is just the first instance of poor quest designs or bugs and can be found throughout the entire campaign.
Even though there are plenty of bugs in the campaign and occasional, if unexplained performance hits, Sword Coast Legends hits the mark in all the right places. For those like me that are looking to *create* worlds, you will want to pick this up as soon as you can so you can begin the long process of creating your campaign. On the other hand if you are looking to spend more time exploring a deep and rich world, I would recommend sticking to Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition or Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut.
Article by Robert