In October, Wizards of the Coast, the games publisher responsible for D&D — among other tabletop titles and collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering — acquired Montreal studio Tuque Games. For approximately three years, Wizards of the Coast had been collaborating with Tuque on Dark Alliance, eventually deciding to make the studio an in-house developer with the goal of publishing multiple D&D games.
Tuque Games and Wizards of the Coast remain tight-lipped on details surrounding Dark Alliance’s narrative, revealing just that it will be about “surviving the harsh wilderness in the land.” It will take place in the icy tundra of Icewind Dale in Forgotten Realms, a classic D&D setting from the mind of fantasy author R.A. Salvatore. The story will follow Drizzt Do’Urden, the well-known dark elf character from the series, along with his companions Catti-Brie, Bruenor and Wulfgar.
“We saw the passion, and we saw how [Tuque Games], at the time, was a small team that we built up quite a bit larger now, was starting to bring to life one of the iconic characters of our IP," Wizards of the Coast president Chris Cocks said in a phone interview with The Post. “We decided, hey, it’d be great to actually pull this independent developer in-house and really let them focus not just on Drizzt, but on Dungeons & Dragons and build something special, not just for the first game that we have coming out, but hopefully for multiple games over time."
Tuque Games has shipped one previous title, Livelock, which combines a cooperative, top-down shooter experience with role-playing mechanics. Dark Alliance will have co-op too, both locally and online, so that the campaign can be played solo or with friends. Because playing as a group is a core element to D&D, Cocks believes that Dark Alliance’s co-op mode will be a big hook for players.
“Having co-op play that’s online, where you just meet up with friends, and then in person where you have the old school couch co-ops split screen — [those experiences] really drive that face-to-face authenticity and connection with your friends.”
The story and co-op gameplay go hand-in-hand as well. “From just a pure canon, lore, and brand awareness perspective, Drizzt makes a great character,” Cocks said. “If we think about the broader universe of games, Dark Alliance is one of probably about a half dozen or so games we have developed for D&D. And he represents kind of the iconic Level 20, top-level character. He and his companions are like the iconic party and the iconic heroes.”
For Tuque Games studio head Jeff Hattem, building a D&D video game is a dream come true. He grew up on R.A. Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms novels, and both played and took on the role of dungeon master for D&D campaigns as a kid.
“Drizzt particularly is just an amazing character for the kind of game that we want to make,” Hattem said. “The character fits with the gameplay that we’re putting forward, which is very visceral action."
In the last couple of years, a handful of developers have used the D&D license as well, including mobile title Warriors of Waterdeep and the MMORPG Neverwinter.
How Dark Alliance all comes together, though, remains to be seen. It will launch on PC and consoles in fall 2020.