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Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance beginner’s guide, tips, and tricks

Battle your way through Icewind Dale

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance beginner’s guide and tips Image: Tuque Games/Wizards of the Coast

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance lets up to four players take on classic roles to battle through enemy armies. It’s a pretty straightforward hack-and-slash adventure, but there’s still advice we wish we had starting out.

In this Dark Alliance beginner’s guide, we’ll give you our seven best tips for your adventure through Icewind Dale.

Playing with friends unlocks new moves

Playing D&D: Dark Alliance solo is a hack-and-slash adventure without a lot of subtlety. Playing with friends is a little different. Pulling off certain moves like parrying or backstabs will trigger Team Attacks. These attacks make managing your enemies much easier and make those moves a lot more meaningful.

Characters are classes

You’ve got four characters to choose from in D&D: Dark Alliance: Dirzzt Do’Urden, Catti-Brie, Wulfgar, and Bruenor Battlehammer. These characters roughly correspond to classes.

  • Drizzt is a ranger (who plays like a rogue). He’s good for running around enemies and landing Backstab Attacks.
  • Catti-Brie is a fighter (who plays like a ranger). She’s your only viable ranged option.
  • Wulfgar is a barbarian (who plays like a barbarian). He’s great for high-damage melee attacks in a straight line (as opposed to a sweeping arc for crown control).
  • Bruenor is a fighter. He’s great for close combat and crowd control.

Any character works well in melee. That’s going to be your only real option if you play Dark Alliance solo — sometimes you just have to get in close to fight. Everyone has ranged attacks, but Catti-Brie is the only option for dealing meaningful damage from a distance.

Button mashing doesn’t work

Dark Alliance’s combat isn’t rhythm or timing heavy — you’re hacking and slashing your way through your enemies more than you’re worrying about perfect combat. That said, combat is pretty directional — you’ll keep heading in the direction that you start an attack or series of attacks in.

What this means is that your button mashing has to be directed and limited. If you get too carried away, you’ll get, well, carried away and keep attacking nothing in a straight line away from the action.

Explore to find chests for gold and gear

Dark Alliance’s levels are pretty straightforward and linear for the main objective(s). But you should always take the time to explore the branching paths and dead ends for rewards. Usually, that reward is a chest that contains gold and gear. Sometimes, it’ll lead to an optional objective that’ll earn you some extra XP.

You only swap gear between adventures

The gear you pick up as loot from chests and enemies isn’t yours yet. It all gets sent to the Loot Chest back at Kelvin’s Cairn. After you complete a level and you return, you’ll be able to collect everything you’ve … collected. At that point, between adventures, you’ll sort through it and equip the better gear.

The same goes for leveling up, improving stats, unlocking feats, and buying moves. All of that happens back at camp.

That means all you have to worry about during a level is smashing your way to the end. Don’t worry about your stats until you’re safely back home.

Set Bonuses matter, so don’t sell your gear

All of the gear — weapons, armor, and jewelry — you collect (and only worry about back at camp) is part of a set. The set will be the first part of each piece’s name. This matters because sets come with Set Bonuses. Once you equip three pieces of the same set, you’ll get a perks like damage bonuses or resistances. Set Bonuses can make up for less powerful (lower level or rarity) gear.

Instead of selling stuff right away, keep an eye on those Set Bonuses and hoard that gear. (You don’t get much money from selling it anyway.)

Spend money on moves

In your Player Menu, the third tab is where you’ll unlock Moves. These expand your options in combat and make every character more versatile. You’ll unlock things like Bruenor’s Grind Launcher uppercut or Wulfgar’s Elk Stomp area attack. Spend your money here first.

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