The souls at From Software have had quite the success and garnered critical acclaim for the creation of their “Souls” Series. Starting with Demon’s Souls as a PS3 exclusive and expanding across platforms with the release of Dark Souls, the series has seen increasing amount of acceptance and success. The trailer reveal for Dark Souls II set a lot of tongues wagging and internet chatter about what could be deduced from it. With Mr. Hidetaka Miyazaki acting as a supervisor for the sequel instead of director made audiences sceptic about the direction that Dark Souls II would take and led to rumours of a Demon’s Souls sequel in the works (Mr. Miyazaki’s secret project? Might be).
Since the trailer, a lot of details are slowly creeping out with From Software asking fans to vote for the tagline which as of now is revealed to be “Go Beyond Death”. The fact that the original tagline “Prepare to Die” had practical implications of the number of times you die in the game, can it spur another rumour as to what “Go Beyond Death” would implicate in-game?
A previous news snippet on IGN revealed that the story isn’t based in Lordran but in an entirely new place and the fact that the game would feature a morality system could have a lot of implications in terms of how the game plays out. Would it mean more NPCs to interact with? Multiple outcomes and endings? Picking sides? These are some aspects yet not revealed but should still be able to excite fans of the series.
IGN has been very efficient in rolling out news of this series, the latest of which is the 12 minute game-play reveal accompanied with commentary from Mr. Yui Tanimura, Director, From Software and Mr. Tak Miyazoe, Global Producer, Namco Bandai. The game-play reveal was followed up with an interview with IGN which I would be quoting from as the discussion proceeds. I have been able to take multiple screenshots from the video itself in 720p as reference for some of my deductions (Apologies for not including the images here. Ran into some issues trying to include images in the post. You can alternately read the article here). You can access the images in full screen instead of the usual slideshow I use.
First and foremost, the game looks gorgeous!! The skies look amazing making the world feel bleak, meanwhile the environments look incredibly detailed. From Software has definitely upped their game on the visual front and an interview with the two gentlemen revealed that weather effects such as wind would be an integral part of the experience, immersing players into the world. But would it go beyond just the look and feel or have implications on the combat system and tactics as well? How would battles fought in rain or snow feel? Not being able to use fireballs in rain could make things more interesting.
Although the interview revealed that the HUD is still a work in progress but there are some differences from the original. The Humanity count is not present to the left of the health and stamina bar in the top left corner. Meanwhile the equipment display in the bottom left showcases a couple of extra boxes which could mean the existence of new items or equipments in-game. Did I mention the game looks gorgeous? Also, instead of the Estus Flask, the character here is equipped with “Drop Stone of Healing” which could mean alternate healing items since the developers did confirm that the Estus Flask still very much exists.
The Bonfire saves:
Yes the bonfire will still act as a save point, although this time around during the game-play they show the character only activating the bonfire and still managing to re-spawn at the same location upon death. Is it just how the video is edited or does it mean you don’t have to rest at a bonfire in order to re-spawn at that point? That is as of yet unanswered.
The Combat System:
The beloved yet excruciating combat system which defines the core of the series seems to have gained some depth which might make some viewers groan and others excited since it changes the usual tactics somewhat. You can still shuffle through equipped weapon sets like in the original, but during the multiple re-spawns they reveal different weapons being equipped. Could this mean players can shuffle through more than two sets? Possibly. Or it may just be the video editing again where they don’t reveal how the inventory works. But the four observations I made are much more delicious than just how the weapon sets work.
1. The Shield isn’t your best defense: In this particular case, the game-play revealed that the character cannot see what lies beyond an unlit area drenched in darkness and has to light a torch in order to explore the area and thereby give up the use of his shield. Equipping the shield while in such an area would extinguish the torch only to drench players back into the darkness. Players would have to learn dodges effectively if they wish to survive the onslaught of enemies. I feel this is an interesting tactic to mix things from a combat perspective where players give up defense in order to gain vision.
2. Backstabbing won’t be the same again: Equipping lighter armour to swiftly circle enemies was one of the tried and tested tactic in the original. Shoving a sword through the enemy almost became a guilty addiction and a means of survival. Well, not anymore. Enemies can counter even with their back facing towards the player as depicted in the game-play where the mace wielding monster has heavier armour on its back and can slam down backwards on the players crushing them underneath.
3. Destroy the Environment: The video showcases a big hulking brute plowing the battlefield with his mace which can destroy the pillars in the environment. Will players be able to do the same? It would add another dimension to combat where players can use the environment against enemies as an offensive tool or to create cover for themselves? This just might mean there’s more than a simple tactic to destroy your enemies. The vivid memory of the hydra mini-boss in the original comes to mind where you can steer your character towards the right side of the map behind rocks to protect yourself.
4. Ranged Enemies Beware: Using your shield or dodging away from the trajectory of projectiles was the best defense in the original. Players can get bolder now by deflecting projectiles by swiping their weapon if they are skilled enough. Does it mean that deflecting spells is also an option? Oh Dear God please let it be so.
The Mist brings surprises:
This was something interesting. Usually a fog gate more often than not means a boss battle in the original. Out here it just reveals a new area. Was the video just meant to tease us in order to not reveal a boss? The guys from From Software did say that they want players to always be on their toes. Players may come across areas with no enemies at all but still be wary of what might come at the next turn.
What do you mean “Glisten”?
This was something I noticed while I went through the screenshots again. The healing item, “Drop Stone of Healing” changed to “Drop Stone of Healing for glisten” during one battle sequence against one of the bigger monsters. Now now, what could glisten mean? Could it be you can temporarily blind enemies while healing by using this item? Could it mean, that the lighting around the character would make the character glisten, making it harder for enemies to locate the player? Which might also mean that it may work only in certain environments which are slightly better lit up for the “glistening” to work since it did not happen in all encounters.
Environments, Dragons, monsters and Puzzles
The developers revealed that players may come across items which can be used to trigger certain events in-game, but the same items may trigger events in other areas as well. They want the players to “strategize” how they use items – which can mean limited number of such items which may require multiple playthroughs in order to find out all the secrets of the yet undisclosed location.
The game-play also revealed certain enemy types who may not fight until provoked. In such a case, again enemies can destroy environments to reach the player, but my concern here is whether the effects of such destruction on the environments stay permanent. Say for example, you die and respawn and reach the same location again, do these environments stay the same as when you died or everything goes back to as it was? I hope that’s not the case.
And yes there are dragons!! Lots of them by the looks of it. They show quite a few locations, Mansion of Dragons (Working title), Torture Chamber to name a few. And quite a few enemy types as well.
The reveal can make many a fan obsess over what they can further discover in Dark Souls II, but one thing is for sure, even with Miyazaki acting as just the supervisor the series seems to have been handed over to a capable team who understand what the Souls series is. They’ve teased the fans in all the right ways and thanks to IGN, everyone can rest easy and get excited about the game when it is released. Check out the video below and see for yourself.
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