Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Dark Souls 2: Everything We Know and Can Expect
What started as a game confined to Playstation Japan has now blown up into a cloud of international hype. Demon’s Souls was such a success that Dark Souls (its unrelated sequel) was developed for the Xbox 360 and later the PC as well.
Almost two years after the release of Dark Souls, we are edging closer and closer to the sequel. Although unrelated, they are set in the same universe but in completely different eras. Do not be fooled by the dragons and the undead! Our hero from Dark Souls is not the same hero in Dark Souls 2.
Primary concerns over what to expect in Dark Souls 2 are rooted in the fact that the developer of Demon’s Souls and Dark souls, Hidetaka Miyazaki, will not be returning. However, new lead developers Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura have taken a similar approach to the story. Our hero’s story revolves around his search for a cure to his affliction, encountering seemingly impossible battles on the way. Much like the general gist of the story, the gameplay mechanics will stick closely to the ones we are accustomed to.
It seems that Shibuya and Tanimura are attempting to combine all the best elements of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls to create the ultimate Souls game. First off, we know that covenants will be returning to give players the option to align themselves with a specific faction. These factions will lead to specific rewards, quests or activities. They claim that it will be easier to understand and more accessible to the players. That said, I didn’t even know what covenants were until I stumbled upon Dark Souls’ version of the Cheshire cat in Darkroot Wood. So, that’s a good sign.
Dark Souls 2 will reportedly be twice the size of the first game, presumably to accommodate some kind of vehicle. We know that a “reaper” character will ride around on a chariot to mow you down if you have committed evil deeds. There is speculation of being able to take boats or ships, but unfortunately a player controlled vehicle “is not in the works”, according to Shibuya. Within this massive region will be an area dedicated to lay the groundwork for new players, acting as a tutorial area. To me, that’s quite puzzling, seeing as the introduction in the first two games was on par with my understanding of a tutorial.
Setting wise, the huge world will include a main “coastline” area, which will be (allegedly) accompanied by snowy areas. Undead soldiers alongside dragons and other strange beasts will be returning as well. In the concept art available, we saw dwarf-like characters wielding huge axes, despite the developers emphasizing that they were not dwarfs but akin to stumpy men. Which is really just a dwarf, right?
To the relief of many fans, the game will not include an easy mode. Instead it will stay on course with the challenge and difficulty that we love in our Souls games. Fog doors, bonfire saving points and souls (for upgrading your character) will all make a return. We can only assume that the character development will stay the same in terms of the attributes you can upgrade, giving you the option of melee, ranged or magic. Health, stamina and directional pad item mapping mechanics will remain the same in order to preserve the series’ real time feeling.
In the 12-minute gameplay demo by IGN, we see that in place of the Estus Flask is a “stone of healing”. The option that the game gives you is to “drop” it, and whether this means it’ll act as a way of getting Estus flasks or a kind of “healing well” is unclear. In any case, the player is allowed to carry 20 of them.
In terms of the graphic engine, it has been upgraded to avoid frame rate drops like we experienced in Blighttown. It will also allow the developers to create much more fluid animations for blocking, attacking and dodging. Edge Magazine described it as “on par” with the likes of Watch Dogs.
Also, judging from the gameplay video, we can expect a lot more suspenseful areas, such as dark alleyways where enemies can come charging out of any of the linking hallways. Also worth noting is the ability to antagonize imprisoned NPCs, such as the giant in the cell (around 8:30 minutes into the video) who breaks down the wall when you shoot him in the face.
Finally, you can expect to die in style. Well perhaps not in style, but at least in a wide variety of ways. Environmental interaction is also a big thing that the developers are trying to include. Expect to be pushed off cliffs by charging enemies, or impaled against walls by enemies with horns or swords.
Unfortunately, a release date has not been announced yet. However, on the Dark Souls 2 website, only the current generation of consoles are represented, leading me to believe that we’ll start seeing a lot more of Dark Souls 2 in the coming months.