E3 2013: Prepare to Die Once Again in Dark Souls II

There’s nothing that gets your blood boiling more than a good dosage of Dark Souls. From Software seems to have their formula down perfectly in offering a challenging yet rewarding experience many developers fail to capitalize on. We were able to get some hands on time with the sequel, along with checking out a behind-the-scenes presentation that only increases our excitement for next year’s game.

It was strongly emphasized that all the concerns of Dark Souls II being made “accessible” or easy are not only overblown, but completely false as this is shaping up to be even more challenging than the last game. Monsters dish out quite a bit of damage and there were a couple times when the demonstrator perished under the weight of multiple enemies. The customization for a character has been slightly modified, allowing the ability to add even more starter sets. As one would expect, these classes are different from one another and come with unique starting gear. So for example, the knight class has more endurance and can take more damage whereas the new dual-wield class is nimble and deadly. This doesn’t mean you’ll be limited to only specific weapons or attributes, though; as the player, you’ll have the ability to spec how you want.

BattleWithStatueKnights

The build we were able to see was running on a good, but not too powerful PC, and it was evident From Software has found their footing in the foreign development space. While the last game was rushed out the door, this looked absolutely beautiful with fluid animation and vibrant visuals. This might be thanks to From Software’s new engine, allowing weapons to feel like they have more weight to them and overall an enhanced gameplay experience.

If you’re familiar with Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls, you’ll be right at home here. There hasn’t been too much added, but what From Software has enhanced goes a long way. For one, parrying attacks are no longer quick easy hits, as they will only knock down your opponent, allowing for a follow up shortly after – which will be good for multiplayer. Additionally, there will be various enemies who cannot be backstabbed or can avoid it all together, leaving you vulnerable to dramatic attacks. The AI just seems much smarter this time around, drawing you into unsuspecting traps both in combat and around the world.

Each weapon will also have its very own backstab animation, enemies can play dead and there will be a stronger focus on multi-hit combinations. Additionally, while Estus Flasks will make their return, monsters will now drop life gems which can be used to slowly regenerate health. These are plentiful but not great in jams or when facing off against bosses that may take you down in one or two hits.

Surrounded

Speaking of bosses, we were luckily enough to see the Mirror Knight, a ferocious opponent that very few people were able to clear during E3. This is because he can take you down in a swing or two and even call to the field enemies who are trapped within his shield. This mirrored opponent trapped in his shield can actually be real people around the world, a throwback to Demon’s Soul’s Old Monk boss, adding a hidden layer of PvP many may not even realize.

Dark Souls II was one the best games I saw at E3 this year, offering an extravagant adventure that is unmatched in the RPG genre. It revitalized my anticipation, not to mention showed how far the series still can go. From Software constantly improves on testing their fans’ ability to break the game and capitalize on the smallest opportunities. They have sowed up so many holes from the last game that it’s going to be a challenge to relearn many of the new and modified mechanics. Dark Souls II will be out in March of 2014 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.