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The next big D&D videogame is a survival-life sim from the makers of Disney Dreamlight Valley

 Concept art for Gameloft's D&D survival-life sim - three fantasy characters gazing at a distant castle.
Concept art for Gameloft's D&D survival-life sim - three fantasy characters gazing at a distant castle.

Wizards of the Coast parent company Hasbro hinted very strongly in February that more D&D-based videogames are on the way, which makes sense given the massive success of Baldur's Gate 3. I have to admit, though, that I didn't expect the next one would be a co-op survival game developed by the team that made Disney Dreamlight Valley, but yup, that's what it is.

It's not just a survival game, mind you. The unnamed project now in the works at Gameloft promises "unique cooperative gameplay built around an innovative hybrid of survival, life simulation and action RPG" set in the world of Forgotten Realms. "Players can expect an adventure where the rich lore of this legendary franchise meets real-time survival in a unique campaign of resilience, camaraderie, and danger at nearly every turn."

That doesn't say much, does it? At first blush that mix of genres—survival (don't get killed by owlbears), life sim (get a job killing owlbears), and action RPG (kill the owlbears)—sounds a lot like a straight-up game of D&D. But if that were the case, I imagine Gameloft would simply call it an RPG, or a D&D game, or something less pointedly "unique." Of course, that would put the new thing squarely up against Baldur's Gate 3, and nobody needs that kind of headache.

But separate from the risk of getting demolished by Larian is the fact that doing something different with the D&D license is a good idea in its own right. A D&D survival game could be brilliant, especially if it was set in one of the more exotic worlds like Dark Sun or Planescape (although that's probably a step too far for mainstream audiences, hence the decision to remain in the familiar Forgotten Realms)—take the focus off high-powered adventuring and instead just tell players, "Hey, you live here now, good luck. Probably don't go into that cave."

The life sim angle has possibilities too. As colleague Harvey Randall put it, "Imagine if they just put Karlach in there as a romanceable NPC. People would go apeshit for it." I don't think he's wrong, folks.

Hopefully Gameloft has learned lessons from Disney Dreamlight Valley, a "dreamy life sim" that was tainted by steeply-price DLC and "egregious microtransactions." It'll be a while before we get to see how it all comes together: Gameloft is still hiring for the new game, and there's no sign of a possible release date.