Bringing the essence of D&D to video games
I recently looked into a game called Sword Coast Legends. Let me tell you something, it looks amazing. I am a late bloomer in Tabletop RPGs, but I have enjoyed every second of them. I love being able to interact with my friends and play in a world of imagination where nothing holds a player back, save a DM bent on your destruction. With the tools available in the upcoming game, the joy of D&D can be brought to the virtual realm in an entirely new way.
While most DMs use real-life images or fantasy art to depict the layout of the world, it's an entirely different thing if you can actually set the atmosphere, and play in a landscape that is fully rendered in 3D. There's a world map that the DM can place markers for locations the PCs can travel to. Outside locals can be populated by characters to interact with as well as monsters to slay. Instead of imagining the world somewhat differently between each person, it will look exactly the same to everyone so that nobody will get confused by longwinded explanations.
The Player Characters
While there isn't a lot of information out there, if you pay close attention, you can find some things out. For instance, there will be five races(elf, half-elf, human, dwarf, and halfling) and six classes(fighter, cleric, rogue, wizard, ranger, and paladin) which I found in an interview on Venture Beat. In some of the livestreams that they have done, which can be found on their YouTube page, you can see a glimpse of some of the character creation in one of their videos. From those brief moments you can see a little view of the abilities and character page.
From the looks of it and they way they tallk about character creation I have faith that it will feel similar to rolling up a character for the table. They have also stated several times that they plan on adding more characters post-release, which is always a good thing to hear.
This, this is the coupe de grace, this is what will take up the majority of my time in the Sword Coast. It works the way you want it to, at least from what I know. You can set up the campaign so that people can play your campaign while you're at work, or school, or wherever and be a DM that way. But the other thing you can do, which is really exciting, is that you can live play as DM as well. Not only can you have the session fully ready ahead of time, but you can change things on the fly while other, real people, play through the story you've crafted. You can add more traps if the ones you have placed are too easy, you can add more monsters, take away monsters, lock or hide doors if they're speeding through the dungeon and don't want the adventure to end quite yet.
There are nearly endless possibilities. The feature that makes it is that you, as the DM, get a pool of Threat Points, which can be spent on all the above mentioned things, and you are rewarded same as the party. When they do well, you do well, so that you can make the encounters more engaging and entertaining. You can even go so far as to control creatures and fight them with all the abilities that NPC has.
This is definitely a game I will be keeping an eye on in the coming months, and very much look forward to playing when it is released for PC and Mac on September 8th, and PS4 and Xbox One later this year.