Is the online multiplayer in Heroes of Ruin functional and/or fun?
After spending some time with friends and randoms playing Heroes of Ruin online, my biggest takeaway is that, by golly, it works. n-Space crafted an extremely functional online multiplayer experience, complete with easy-to-use voice chat that works quite well.
The last part is kind of weird. I've never experienced good voice chat on a Nintendo system. This feels like a landmark achievement, as my experience with Wii Speak was one fraught with frustration, and outside of salivating over the cancelled Gauntlet DS game with voice chat, I never experienced it on DS (though I've heard it usually was okay).
In Heroes of Ruin, voice chat works fine, though. You can have it always active, so you can basically just keep up a conversation while playing, or you can have it activated by holding the L button. Either way is fine, and my conversations were always clear enough to make sense of.
The game is fun to play co-op, though it doesn't feel to be vastly different from the single-player experience. The game does increase in difficulty depending on the amount of players, with enemies doing more damage and entering battle with increased health. Unfortunately, the game is generally pretty easy, so even with the increased difficulty, the game doesn't feel wholly challenging with a full boat of players.
Probably my biggest beef with the online is that there is no crucial gameplay benefit for co-op, outside of your Alliance. You build your Alliance level by playing with the same person for a long time. You get bonuses that include better loot and more gold. Aside from that, the multiplayer doesn't appear to add anything to the solo campaign. It is great that it is there, but it's just not engaging. Honestly, I'd rather just play the game by myself in the long run.
n-Space seems to be emphasizing replaying levels and reliving boss battles as a selling point of the multiplayer. Maybe I'm just not a certain breed of gamer (I don't have much interest in Diablo III), but that doesn't appeal to me as much. I'm also not into the item trading, which is another big component of the online experience.
So that's where I'm at with Heroes of Ruin's online co-op. It works wonderfully, but I don't know if I ever want to go out of my way to play it. The game is fun to play through by yourself, and with no grand benefit to playing with a group, the multiplayer doesn't really its hooks into me.
However, if you are a fan of Torchlight or Diablo-style games and love your 3DS, you owe it to yourself to go check this game out. It's a sincere and wonderful effort that replicates a lot of what makes those games click and makes use of the portable experience. The multiplayer might not have bagged my playtime, but give it a shot. At the very least, you've got a solid single-player experience to go through.
Our full review of the game should be out soon from News Editor Patrick Barnett. Heroes of Ruin is already out in Europe, and is coming out in North America on July 17.