If there’s one feature the Solasta community has been clamouring for since the Dungeon Creator DLC dropped last year, it’s multiplayer. The ability to take this DnD RPG on with a group of friends to get as close to the tabletop experience as a game has ever gotten is finally here, thanks to the Lost Valley DLC. After several hours with the multiplayer, as well as the new campaign, I can confidently say that this is Solasta at its best.
My multiplayer Lost Valley session with developers at Tactical Adventures focuses on two encounters, one of which features a new enemy type, the spritely dryads. There’s nothing functionally different about the combat in co-op compared to single-player, outside of the fact that you can’t make decisions for other characters. You can, however, see what they’re thinking about doing, thanks to a tooltip that reveals what they’re hovering over or which menu they’re digging through, but the decision is always theirs.
The communication between our party was solid since we were in a voice call, but without native voice or text chat, this mystery can be far more consequential. TA are hoping to add a ping system so you can signal your intentions to other players, but without a robust in-game way to communicate, you’re really just relying on trust or a third-party program like Discord. This decision was made out of necessity, community lead Emile Zhang tells us – there are so many restrictions tied to console certification that the studio had to omit the feature altogether.
There’s also no matchmaking in co-op Solasta, meaning you’ll need to come to a lobby with your own premade party, open a lobby up for randoms (which is mayhem), or venture into Discords or Reddit to find members for pick-up games. As Zhang put it, it’s a very “Warcraft 3 custom servers” approach. The benefit of all this is that it’s very reminiscent of old-school DnD, where your gaming group either consisted of tight-knit friends or an ever-changing table of relative strangers united by a common interest.
You’ll be able to play co-op in any of the new and original campaigns, like the base Crown of the Magister story, from start to finish. Custom campaigns, which are adventures made up of several custom maps put together in the Dungeon Creator, can also be played in co-op, so despite there being no real GM role it’s still possible for one person to create a tabletop style funhouse to trap their friends in.
Speaking of being a good pal, DLC goodies sync with the host player of a game. So if the host has all the DLC, then players who play with them in their sessions have access to all of that content for as long as they’re playing together.
The Lost Valley campaign itself boasts roughly 20 hours of fresh adventuring for your favourite characters to sink their teeth into from level one, especially with the addition of nine new subclasses, which add plenty of extra layers when it comes to honing your character builds. For instance, the new Swift Blade subclass makes my ranger stronger when fighting with a weapon in each hand, giving them added protection in close-quarters brawls and letting them slip in and out of combat without getting walloped.
Beyond the new subclasses, locations, and enemies, Lost Valley is also a very different type of adventure. The story sees your party getting trapped in an isolated valley ruled by a charismatic tyrant, with the ultimate goal being to find a way home. After an exposition-filled opening hour, the rest of the campaign is as nonlinear and sprawling as the best RPGs, especially as you start interacting with the various factions of the valley, who are each vying for control and require your help to secure it.
Each faction, like The Rebellion, can help you meet your goals in different ways, so long as you don’t mind doing their dirty work, and many of them are in direct opposition, so you have to choose your allegiances carefully.
There are many more opportunities to wander away from the critical paths and into spontaneous adventures. Oftentimes, I find myself just choosing a direction and seeing what stones I can turn over. By open-world game standards, this might seem rudimentary, but it’s a massive change compared to the subterranean confines that make up most Solasta adventures.
It’s also designed to make the most out of some of the RPG’s underutilised mechanics, like interpreting foreign languages – I’ve already cast the Comprehend Languages spell twice in a few hours of play, whereas I hadn’t used it all during my 20-hour run of Crown of the Magister.
If you’ve been waiting to drop into Solasta, then now is the perfect time to make the jump. Multiplayer makes the prospect of tackling the tricky main campaign a lot less intimidating, and getting groups together to play around in community created adventures is a great game night activity. For those already invested and looking for more, the open-ended structure of the Lost Valley campaign lets you plumb the depths of your spellbook to find solutions that feel truly unique, imbuing the dungeon crawling experience of the main game with the creativity encouraged by its tabletop inspiration.