Coming out in early 2016 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, Dark Souls III will be the third and final chapter of the tough as nails dark fantasy franchise. The developers at From Software have once again returned to create a new world for players to discover, after they die a million times of course. The burning embers of a once proud kingdom will set the stage for the concluding adventure, and as expected, players will battle against fearsome enemies and bosses using a variety of weapons and magic while finding secrets throughout the land. Today, we were privileged enough to be the first to speak to Bandai Namco about the game, and here’s everything we learned from the development team during our time with them.
As with the previous titles, there will be a single player campaign as well as online multiplayer (how many players will be able to play together has yet to be revealed). From Software has focused on three things primarily: the sense of world’s scale and immersion, the apocalyptic world and its heroic lore, and the evolution and deepening of the series concepts. Here are a few more details on each of those points:
- World scale and immersion: Full immersion should be increased through dynamic light sources and wind blown ash and cloth effects.
- Apocalyptic world and heroic lore: Dark Souls III features withered beauty such as a faded sun, and its story will be around a character from the series known as the “Lord of Cinder.”
- Evolution and deepening of the series concepts: Dark Souls is known for its formidable difficulty and unique online system; From Software will evolve and improve upon these already existing elements.
- Deepening sword action: New action elements utilizing a feature of weapon/item in depth, as well as more tactical options will be available in Dark Souls III.
After receiving these intriguing bits of information, the official Xbox One demo began with the view of an imposing castle and some impressive wind physics affecting both cloth and wildlife from the jump. Beginning with the image of a sword and shield, as well as a quiver of arrows, this Alpha build of Dark Souls III takes place inside this harrowing building.
Bonfires return as base camps, which longtime series fans should definitely be happy about, as Bloodborne’s lamps functioned quite differently when compared to the traditional bonfire system. After fighting through a wave of skeletons, the ambient interior of Dark Souls III’s flagship castle appears to be lined with the ashes and corpses of dragons from the past. In addition to the return of torches, a hallmark feature of the Dark Souls series that players can use to either fight off enemies or illuminate areas, players can offer sources of light to graves (and then use them to light areas in the future). What’s more, graves appear to reveal some of the backstory, indicating that the hallmark ambiguous narrative design of the Souls series is back in full force.
The combat system that players have fallen in love with has officially returned, with this demo showing use of a long sword that has the ability to destroy enemy shields. Enemies appear to react dynamically to attacks at a level that previous Souls games never have before, as a shielded enemy in this particular demonstration seems to change his stance based upon how the player strikes him. The epic boss battles that many consider to be the highlight of the franchise are back in full force, as an epic fight against a fire breathing dragon not only establishes a sense of scale, but serves to demonstrate that Dark Souls III is officially showing From Software’s new visual prowess.
After this battle, the hero acquires a greatsword, which gives the player a feature known simply as Lunge which allows for a more forceful, direct attack. Our hero then attempts to challenge a knight using Lunge, as a new demonstration can’t simply introduce a feature without showing it in action, but the knight kills him (hey, it wouldn’t be Dark Souls without at least one death, right?). After respawning, this tough enemy is officially thwarted using the incredible power of the Lunge attack, which should be one of the strongest tools in players’ toolbox when the final game is eventually released next Spring. In addition to this dynamic swordplay, magic has made a grand reappearance in the Souls series after being notably absent from Bloodborne. In this demo, our hero uses fire magic to cause an explosion and kill multiple enemies at once.
The area that this demo takes place in is officially known as the Wall of Lodeleth, though it’s worth noting that all areas are connected, much like they are in Bloodborne. On top of all of the awesome combat details that From Software has revealed up to this point, bows and the ability to fight quickly, not unlike what we were able to do in Bloodborne. While the player is being attacked by zombie dogs, another franchise staple, the faster, more Bloodborne-like controls allow him to move quickly and kill the equally speedy dogs. Short bows allow the character to move around really fast and fire shots after rolling, but don’t do a lot of damage, which appears to indicate that players are going to be able to move quicker than in any Dark Souls game before, but at the cost of power. In addition, a new dual-wielding feature has been added to the mix: the spin; this allows the player to slash around open areas not unlike Link from The Legend of Zelda series.
At the very end of the demo, we see the player character moving towards a new section: Mausoleum. This section includes a boss fight in a drool-covered area with an enemy known simply as the “Dancer of The Frigid Valley.” Wearing metal armor, the beast is feminine, a good sign for those looking for a bit more diversity out of the Souls series’ often similar-looking bosses, with a veil and moves like a dancer. Like in Bloodborne, depending on how much health the bosses have, their moves change and often get more difficult. Of course, From Software and Bandai Namco couldn’t show too much to the world, so this fight ends in a gruesome death, signifying that the official Dark Souls III demonstration has ended.
Dark Souls III is set to be released in Early 2016 on PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One.