From Software is designing the latest entry in the Dark Souls series around three core tenants: an apocalyptic world, a grand sense of scale, and the evolution of the franchises’ mechanics.
In order to fully realize these three core tenants and craft the most engaging Dark Souls title yet, From Software has reevaluated everything that the franchise has done well and done poorly in the past, in an earnest effort to make Dark Souls 3 the biggest and most engaging title yet. During the Dark Souls 3 media briefing, it instantly became clear that when it comes to this game, From Software — along with publisher Bandai Namco — is not pulling any punches.
The world of Dark Souls 3 can only be described as a withered beauty. This term was used during the briefing and is nothing short of accurate. Dark Souls 3 – even in its alpha state shown at E3 – is an example of sublime world design. According to From Software, focusing on the current-gen consoles as their primary development platform is the key to making Dark Souls 3’s world as hauntingly majestic as possible. By developing from the ground up for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, From Software has attempted to focus in on crafting a world that feels massive in every sense of the world, as well as crafting dazzling dynamic lighting effects.
Dark Souls 3 will carry on the franchise’s signature brand of implicit storytelling. While it has been revealed that Dark Souls 3 will center on the Lord of Cinder – a name that is sure to excite the Dark Souls faithful – players will be able to uncover the story and general lore of the game through a unique method – the burning of graves.
Souls veterans can expect the same melancholy thematic elements in Dark Souls 3, which fit the atmosphere of the game world. Dark Souls 3, for all of its beauty, is still a game set in a world that has been passed over. Lodeleth is a land of apocalyptic destruction and mesmerizing decay. There’s a sense of tragedy that hangs in the air that feels natural with the traditions of the Souls games.
The combat of Dark Souls 3 is an interesting nut to crack. It seems as though Bloodborne has been a key influence on Dark Souls 3. While DS3 retains its more methodical approach to fighting, subtle changes have been made to create for a more dynamic experience. On the most basic level, combat has a certain fluidity to it. Even watching, one can tell that while combat in Dark Souls 3 is slow, it flows much better than previous entries.
The gameplay demo reinforced that idea that Dark Souls 3 is all about the evolution of the franchise. Watching Dark Souls 3’s main character – who happens to be exceptionally detailed – traverse the Wall of Lodeleth, is a visual treat. He moves swiftly and seems to control well.
Aiding in this sense of evolution is Dark Souls 3’s promise of accessibility in the form of diverse playstyles. Each Souls game has been balanced in such a way that certain builds will almost always make for an easier game experience. In Dark Souls 3, From Soft is intent on putting roleplaying at the forefront of the player’s experience. In order to do this, Dark Souls 3 will cater to any playstyle, ensuring that players can experience the game however they see fit.
Dark Souls 3 allows player to utilize a “ready” stance in order to pull off special moves. The gameplay demo during the media briefing showed the main character use one special attack that was a massive, formidable uppercut. Players are given some agency as to when they would like to use these kinds of attacks, furthering the sense of player control and choice.
During the demo, it was clear that Dark Souls 3 will present players with a constant challenge. Knights have made a return and destroyed the character. They are formidable, well programed and undeniably deadly.
Similarly, players can expect plenty of ambushes and surprise enemy attacks. During the demo, a dragon reared its dangerous head. The beast’s fire breathing attack took the main character’s life and felt similar to one of Dark Souls’ most infamous moments. The attack also opened a new path, leading credence to the idea of Dark Souls 3 giving players plenty of options when it comes to navigating the game world.
The crowning moment of the Dark Souls 3 demo was the boss fight. The boss, a well-designed and intimidating spirit, wielding a flaming sword. The boss’ moves were methodical, creating a sense of tension with each step. The excitement of the fight was palpable, with different phases coming with different moves from the boss. Each and every Souls game has been all about the boss fights and it seems that Dark Souls 3 will push this concept even further.
Dark Souls 3 is one of those games that, even in its early stages, clearly has a strong vision. From Software’s three tenants ring out and there is little doubt that Dark Souls 3 will be the best iteration of the series yet. With a release window set for early 2016, it would be wise to start preparing, because Dark Souls 3 will hold no prisoners.
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