Early today, IGN.com correspondent Marty Silva sat down with From Software’s Yui Tanimura and Namco Bandai’s Tak Miyazoe to get the world’s first view of the much-anticipated Dark Souls II.
“One of the first things we immediately tried to do was improve the graphical quality,” Tanimura tells us through the translation of Miyazoe. This is certainly clear from the second the game play is shown. The nameless protagonist stands before great doors, surrounded by scenery that seems decidedly more Demon’s Souls than anything featured within Dark Souls’ world of Lordran. The world looks ominous while retaining a sort of gothic beauty that FromSoft has captured before in previous games.
Keying off of the graphical improvements are Tanimura’s promises that, in keeping with the tradition of past Souls games, there will be a strong involvement between the player and game, both emotionally and physically. Perhaps the best part of Dark Souls was the level of detail put into the game’s world, from the understated themes to the brilliantly written item descriptions, and it seems that this is will continue in Dark Souls II.
As the game play continues, we see that bonfires will make their return. Similar in design to the bonfires of the previous game, we can still only assume that they will play the same roll as rest areas in Dark Souls II.
Tanimura states that one of the hallmarks of Dark Souls II will be ‘simple controls and trial-and-error game play’. Since the announcement of Dark Souls II, the series loyal (if not obsessive) fans have been up in arms that DSII will be a departure from the tried and true formula of the previous titles. Tanimura’s comment on the control and game play style will surely belay some of those concerns.
Combat seems to be fairly similar to that of the previous Souls titles. While it was only a demo build that was shown today, and therefore a beefed up character that was being played, the series’ brutal combat seems to take all the best parts of Dark Souls and make some great additions to it.
First and foremost, combat animations seemed even smoother. Coupled with the improved graphics engine in DSII, combat will have a brutal and elegant flow that will look great to boot. When fighting one enemy, the player executed a much quicker roll dodge that is sure to make even the staunchest supporters of the ‘flipping roll’ of Dark Souls excited. Many fans speculated that dual wielding would play a bigger role in this entry, as it was featured prominently in the CGI trailer, and they stand correct.
During the demo, the player was able to effortlessly switch from traditional ‘sword and board’ fighting to dual wielding with the press of a button. Ranged combat also seemed to be reworked. At one point in the demo, the player was able to slowly move backward while still firing his bow. One of the criticisms of Dark Soul’s combat was the lack of versatility when trying to use a bow-oriented character.
While fighting the various enemies in the demo, it seemed that enemy AI has received a welcome overhaul. Lumbering humanoids seem more, well, undead than the previous titles. Their shuffling seems more in tune with traditional fantasy tropes. Gone, it seems, are the leaping undead of Dark Souls past. Another enemy shown is an armored turtle of sorts. Combat against this opponent was certainly one of the most interest points in the game play reveal.
One of the largest criticisms towards Dark Souls was the backstab mechanic. While it rewarded players for their skilled maneuverability around combat areas, many players thought it was a cop out in the sense that virtually ever single enemy could be wrecked with a few well placed backstabs. These turtles, however, seem to fight in a way that acknowledges that. When the player attempts to swing around the enemies rear, the turtle responded in kind by simply falling backwards, allowing his armored back to crush the player at no risk. I found this mechanic to be interesting, and certainly it will certainly frustrate those that are unprepared.
While not much has changed for combat, except for a few great tweaks, the way the player moves throughout the world seems to have received a great overhaul. At one point, the player attempted to descend down a pitch black hallway, where visibility was impossible. Turning around, the player grabbed a torch from a nearby stand, and used it to light his descent. While this may seem inconsequential to newcomers of the series, the added need for light in certain areas (a la Dark Souls Tomb of the Giants) goes miles for adding a sense of immersion. From one white knuckled fight to another, knowing that the torch you are so desperately depending on as your only guiding light can only add a new level of tension that Souls Fans will be thrilled to see it used in DSII.
Another new feature in DSII is the inclusion of stones that are used in ‘puzzle’-esque areas. While Tanimura didn’t expand fully on the idea, it seems that the player will acquire various stones throughout their journey. These stones will be placed at select locations that seem to be able to alter their path throughout the area. One cannot help to wonder if this will lead to more branching areas in the game world. This is a new concept to the Souls series altogether, while DS offered a pseudo-open world, these puzzle blocks seem to imply that the player will have absolute control over where they go at any given moment.
Perhaps the best looking inclusion in the game play was a scene in which the player navigated through a decrepit torture chamber. Stopping at one of the cells, the player looked inside and saw what appeared to be a hulking Cyclops peering back at him. A second later, the players bow was drawn, launching an arrow into the Cyclops’ eye, prompting him to become enrage. The resulting action was easily the best part of the twelve-minute video. In a rage, the Cyclops began hammering at the wall, shattering through it in an effort to get to the player. Tanimura promised that this would be something of a common occurrence in DSII, and certainly something that fans will love to see. While everyone knows that you are never really safe in the Souls world, the idea that enemies will actively destroy walls between you and them is a wonderfully terrifying idea.
All the statements above do not even begin to scratch the surface of what was shown in the twelve-minute demo, which you can watch for yourself after the break. While countless fans of Dark Souls have been anxious and suspicious of the DSII development, it seems that Tanimura is making good on his promises to keep the renowned gameplay intact, while adding changes and tweaks that will allow for a wholly better game experience. Stay tuned for more updates and they continue to roll in, and of course, prepare to die.
Author Bio: Hailing from West Chester, Pa, Ray is a Communications major whose love for writing has lead him down some very interesting paths. From attempts at screenplays, graphics novels, and everything in between, Ray finally has settled on finishing his first collection of short stories. With a passion for the entertainment industry, especially the video game industry as a whole, Ray aims to keep you informed and entertained with every word he writes.
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