Baldur’s Gate is a well known ARPG, Dark Alliance is a spin-off released in 2001, and it went on to becoming an instant hit and winning a lot of awards for the various platforms it was released on.
Like previous entries of the series Dark Alliance was based on Dungeons & Dragons rules, specifically the third edition. Although many follow-ups were planned, they were all scrapped when Interplay went bankrupt and Black Isle Studios closed their doors.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance featured an isometric perspective like its previous titles but added real-time hack-and-slash combat inspired by Diablo. Games like Dark Alliance are often referred to as Diablo clones; while this is not unfounded, it doesn’t mean that they are not good games.
Dark Alliance plays like most RPGs of its time. There is an overarching main story in which players can progress by accepting quests, but side missions help players with the grind and level up. Dark Alliance also allowed a couch co-op gameplay where two players could play the game simultaneously.
The isometric perspective allowed both players to exist on the same scene limiting their movement, so neither went out of the camera. There were several balancing changes around this playstyle as well, including balanced XP distribution that allotted 60% XP to the player who delivered the killing blow to the enemy, and the rest was awarded to the other player.
Dark Alliance recently received an updated 4k port for the newer console generations, so if you’re looking for your fix of hack-and-slash, don’t forget to check out the remaster.
Without further delay, allow me to present other games like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance.
1. Champions of Norrath
Champions of Norrath is a series consisting of two games that Snowblind Studios built on a reworked engine of Dark Alliance. The game plays very much like a traditional ARPG, with players venturing into dungeons filled with hordes of enemies and typically a boss at the end, slaying the boss rewards players with unique items and loots, which are essential to power up the character and progress in the game.
Champions of Norrath also allows importing and exporting the characters, making it viable to play as the same character in the sequel and other game modes such as the multiplayer mode.
The game also has a formidable skill tree that allows players to invest ability points into a particular skill to enhance stats and new abilities. This gameplay loop is standard across all RPGs as it will enable progression, making the player more powerful and allowing them to clear previously impossible dungeons.
Champions of Norrath was a PS2 exclusive; however, in 2021, it can be enjoyed on a PC using emulation, and it is one of the most fantastic spiritual successors to Dark Alliance.
2. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Before the Ironman movie skyrocketed Marvel’s popularity and before the Spiderman games took the PS community by a storm, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance was the best media to enjoy our favorite superheroes battling it out with our favorite bad guys.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance features three games that follow Marvel heroes taking on the bad guys with an isometric camera and hack-and-slash combat style.
The game allows players to select up to four characters from a range of superheroes, enabling players to find synergies; bonus points are awarded to those who compile a team close to the source material (making the team with only X-men members, or Avengers etc.)
While the game doesn’t hold up in comparison to the more recent superhero games, Ultimate Alliance is a fun hack-and-slash game that doesn’t fully embrace RPG mechanics or their complexity making it a linear dungeon crawler. It’s still a fun game, but I’d recommend the newer titles if you’re looking for a superhero fix.
3. Dungeon Siege
Dungeon Siege is a series consisting of three titles that follow similar ARPG gameplay. The first game was released in 2002 and developed by Gas Powered Games. However, the game was different from other RPGs at the time.
For example, Dungeon Siege featured no loading times instead allowed players to traverse one continuous world. Furthermore, the game did not allow players to control all party members; instead, players were allowed to set a tactic which the AI-controlled companions then carried out.
The game also doesn’t differentiate in classes; instead, players must use a weapon to increase their proficiency. I cannot stress enough how much better this type of system is; rather than forcing a playstyle on you at the start of the game Dungeon Siege encourages players to experiment with different equipment and find the most optimal playstyle.
The game is quite old now, and the entire series is available for a relatively modest price from time to time and if you enjoyed Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, be sure to give this one a go.
Diablo – The legend, the unchallenged king of hack-and-slash ARPG. It’s no surprise that many ARPGs that came out after were labelled Diablo clones, even Dark Alliance, and there’s good reason for it. Diablo is the game that was used as a blueprint and still is to this very day.
Diablo’s gameplay never gets stale or boring, and players still play this game after almost twenty-five years because the game is just that good. The series has three mainline titles with tons of DLCs for each of them.
Diablo features an isometric top-down view like most hack-and-slash games. Players can move in a point-and-click fashion exploring the world and its procedurally generated dungeons. The game’s overall aesthetics felt very doom and gloom, which is in line with the story and lore of the world.
The game also offers a random number of quests different in each playthrough; these quests are not essential to progress the story but contain potent items that can make the end-game a lot smoother.
While the first game didn’t have a lot of variety in classes (therefore the gameplay), and the third one isn’t liked by the community as much as the second one, which is considered the best. This is because it offers enough playstyles while keeping the core gameplay intact from the first title.
Diablo 2 would be a no brainer if you enjoyed Dark Alliance. However, there is a remake coming out soon that doesn’t change any of the gameplay and enhances the graphics—a testament to the fact that even after all these years, Diablo gameplay remains strong.
5. The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest
There are two different versions of this game. The PS3 version featured a third-person perspective and played more like a modern RPG; the PS2 version featured an isometric top-down camera and played more like a hack-and-slash but gave up on the co-op mode and free roam aspects of the game.
The PS2 version is very similar to Dark Alliance and offers traditional RPG mechanics like stat levelling and experience points to invest in the character. It also featured an Arena mode and some levels that were exclusive to the PS2. Aragorn’s Quest features tales of Aragorn during the events of The Lord of the Rings saga. It is a more tame version of the story making it friendly for all ages.
Again like Champions of Norrath, I’d recommend using an emulator to play Aragorn’s Quest.
6. Torchlight II
Torchlight II is a dungeon crawler ARPG that has achieved a classic status through the years. The game was developed by Runic Games and released in 2012; it is perhaps one of the first titles to use P2P connection for multiplay, making the game everlasting as long as people are playing.
P2P is a sound choice for games like Torchlight since they do not need low latency to enjoy the game and make the game not tied down to the life of its servers.
Torchlight II offers randomly generated dungeons for players to explore and conquer, like Diablo; this allows players to obtain new and unique items to increase their power level. The gameplay is very much like its predecessor but offers multiple hub towns and an expanded campaign to keep gamers hooked for hours.
The game offers various playstyles with up to four unique classes and three different skill trees per class, making replayability a valid option in a content-filled game. Torchlight II is a great title to enjoy a polished ARPG experience that is a bit more modern in its gameplay.
Outriders is a third-person shooter with elements of RPGs People Can Fly developed and released in 2021. The game offers four distinct classes, each with their own abilities and skill trees; the game offers many elements akin to RPGs, for example, different kinds of loot and weapons and hub-towns where players can talk to NPCs and acquire side quests.
While the gameplay might seem detached from the hack-and-slash genre and offer a third-person cover shooting mechanic, I find that it is the best translation of Dark Alliance’s gameplay to a shooter game.
My only gripe with Outriders is that its story and characters are not as compelling as other titles on the list. But if you can overlook that, Outriders is a lot of fun and offers a competitive game mode where teams of two compete with each other.
Outriders is a fun title, and while it doesn’t play like Dark Alliance, it is a more modern take on the genre, ditching the isometric perspective for a more personal one.
I enjoy games where players grow exponentially more powerful over the course of the game, and nothing displays this better than Dark Alliance, it is always fun to take control of a rather squishy character and soon overtime after learning the game’s mechanics and the best upgrade path for your player’s character they turn into a literal superhero.
It’s a rewarding journey that I wish more games tried to replicate instead of just giving more shinier weapons over the course of the game that just produces bigger numbers on hit, I’d rather visually see my character getting more powerful thank you very much.