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EB Expo 2014: Lords of the Fallen Hands On
When I rocked up at this year’s EB Expo, the last thing I expected to be thinking of as I wrapped up my day was how excited I am for a game that falls into the same niche of action RPG as Dark Souls. Lords of the Fallen is the name of this highly-challenging dungeon crawler and after spending some time both playing the game and chatting with a member of the team behind it at this year’s EB Expo, its well and truly leapfrogged its way onto my most wanted list.
Lords of the Fallen sees you take on the role of a convict-turned-demonslayer by the name of Harkyn who must fight to redeem himself for his sinful past by turning the tide of a demonic invasion. Lords of the Fallen is a game that clearly comes from fans of Dark Souls who have a deep understanding of what makes that style of game work – not to mention the insight required to improve upon its foundations.
Upfront, the game feels like a more polished Dark Souls. It’s that same methodical but rewarding action RPG where each enemy is hard as nails and an achievement to overcome. The biggest difference between Lords of the Fallen and the games that’ve come before is that it’s a product of a slower but more polished Western-development model – and this is a characteristic that’s sure to win it more than a few fans.
While I initially struggled during my time with the game, things quickly changed after I ran through the game’s tutorial. It does a great job of simply and swiftly conveying the tenets underlying the games combat – striking an effective balance between preparing you for the game’s high difficulty level and getting you involved as soon as possible.
The game’s visuals and production values are gorgeous to behold. The whole thing feels very polished and has a distinctly gothic look to it. Environments possess stunning detail – as do both enemy creatures and Harkyn. Furthermore, it’s the kind of game that I can’t wait to see the PC crowd push to its technical limits.
I spoke with Blazej Krakowiak of CI games to learn more about what the final game will have to offer.
Fergus: So the game plays and feels a lot like Dark Souls, was a big inspiration? Did you start developing it before the series success really hit home or was an inspiration for Lords of the Fallen?
Blazej Krakowiak: Inspiration is too strong a word. It’s definitely Dark Souls represented something that we really like which is an action combat RPG that offers a challenge and approaches every enemy with respect you cannot just skip fights or button mash. but its also the barrier of entry is very high. It’s very difficult/. Some people just they would like to play something like that but they may not always be able to. So we went into a slightly less dark direction.
How about weapons? What kind of options will players have when it comes to combat?
Blazej: There are about 100 individual weapons in 11 distinct classes and each class of weapon has a completely unique animation set – all motion captured. Our motion actors would use weights to simulate how a great hammer would be used versus a small sword
Can you offer any insight into the characters customization options in the game? Will players be able to customize their characters appearance or will it be locked down?
Blazej: Our hero/protagonist character is defined. You cannot change the fact that this is Harkyn – the guy with tattoos on his face – but everything else is customizable. The combat is very visual so if you are strong and wear heavy armor you can still roll and dodge and so on but if your character is not strong enough he will only be able to walk but not roll or jump.
In what ways are you building on Dark Souls formula and making it more accessible to new players?
Blazej: On top of using spells, we also have something called the Gauntlet. This is a very important story item but also a magical gun of sorts. You can load it with different elements, ice fire and so on, and this can be sued for different purposes.
I love the visual style and detail in the game, were there any particular inspirations?
Blazej: That’s a difficult question because if you look closer you can see similarities to many things. Lets say Warhammer fantasy or some of Blizzard’s work. We definitely like, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Warhammer fantasy concepts – those impressive paintings that sometimes appear in White Dwarf. Those gothic, heavy, intimidating knights in armor, things like that. Another pretty obscure inspiration is the polish painter Beksinski who used a very unique style where he combined very surreal landscapes with some very organic plant like elements.
How big is the game?
Blazej: It really is up to you how much you do. Let’s say a typical playthrough of the main story is twenty hours but then we have new game plus, new game plus plus..
When you start new game plus you keep your old skills and can pick and level another school of magic. can keep acquiring new ones. There are also legendary items that you can only collect if you play the second or third time.