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Hammerwatch II
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This old-school RPG is the perfect Diablo IV antidote - Hammerwatch II Quick Review

This old-school RPG is the perfect Diablo IV antidote - Hammerwatch II Quick Review

3K View2023-08-15

SHOULD I PLAY HAMMERWATCH II?

Definitely play this if you’re a Diablo IV fan who’s feeling a bit burned out by the nerfs and endless grinding plaguing Blizzard’s big hit of the summer. Hammerwatch II is a cute-looking pixel-art action RPG that doesn’t look all that notable at first glance. Give it a chance, though, and Hammerwatch II opens up to reveal a massive world full of cool dungeons to explore, classes to experiment with, and big bosses to defeat in single combat or alongside friends in co-op.

TIME PLAYED

I’ve played three and a half hours of Hammerwatch II, which is just scratching the surface. I’ve explored the initial tutorial area, which includes a village and surrounding island countryside, a cave full of wolves, and a big pirate hideout. That pirate fort was actually a sprawling dungeon with multiple levels that culminated in a boss fight, and now that I’ve defeated him, I’m free to set sail to the mainland to continue my adventures there.
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WHAT’S AWESOME ABOUT HAMMERWATCH II?

• Beautiful retro pixel art. Not only does Hammerwatch II use a colorful and gorgeous pixel-art style, it also has settings to give the whole screen a glowing CRT appearance, adding extra throwback charm. Regardless of whether you use these settings though, all the characters and environments look great, with dynamic lighting casting sunbeams through the clouds as sea foam curls along the beaches.
• Huge dungeons. I’ve only finished the first dungeon in Hammerwatch II, the pirate hideout, but it took me multiple trips and several attempts to take out the boss. In all, that single dungeon accounted for two of the three hours I’ve spent playing. It’s huge! There were all kinds of caverns to explore, secrets to find, and loot to pillage as I worked my way through the list of quests I’d picked up in the village. Each time I went in, I’d find new gear for my rogue, or discover new mechanics like cooking and fishing.
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• Fun twin-stick combat. Hammerwatch II works on either controller or keyboard and mouse; I used the latter. I moved around with WASD, aimed and attacked with the mouse, and hit the spacebar to use my tactical dodge/dash. Each character class gets a main attack and a secondary, as well as special abilities and gear unique to that profession. Playing as a rogue, I had a nice double slash with my main weapon, as well as a throwing knife attack on the right mouse button. For crowds, I could lob a grenade, which recharged on a timer and used my mana. It’s simple, but that’s what you want when the action is this quick.
• Modding. Hammerwatch II is big on its own, but when I started a new game, I saw that the included scenario is handled as if it’s just one of many adventure files on your PC. Pair that up with deep Steam Workshop integration (also accessible from the main menu), and you’ve got the makings for unlimited hacking and slashing for as long as players want to keep creating and sharing new dungeons.
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WHAT SUCKS IN HAMMERWATCH II?

• Hard to see sometimes. The lighting effects in Hammerwatch II sure are nice, but when things get dark, it can be extremely difficult to see important elements in the world, like staircases, obstacles, and clues that point to secret passageways. Scenes are nicely cluttered with objects, plants, and other elements to make them feel lifelike, but these details can obscure crucial paths and make it difficult to navigate.
• Unclear directions. The official scenario does include some tutorials, but it’s lacking. The quest journal is pretty unhelpful too—I ran into issues trying to remember which NPC had given me a quest, and the journal doesn’t include that information. Since all the characters are rendered in tiny 16-bit style sprites, they’re not distinct enough from each other to be able to tell them apart at a glance. It would be good to have a bit more help when it comes to completing quests and knowing who it is I’m supposed to talk with next.
💬 Will you be heading out for this old-school action RPG adventure, or is Hammerwatch II going to have to wait for a couple seasons of Diablo IV to pass? Let me know what you think in the comments.
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