Release Date: October 4, 2011
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Demon's Souls was known primarily for its brutal (unforgiving, unrelenting) difficulty and grim world, and any successor will need to maintain a similar level of intense cruelty if it's to be respected as worthwhile. Thankfully, Dark Souls appears to do just that, giving tighter control to the player in order to make the combat even more challenging this time around.
The first thing you'll notice about Dark Souls are the controls that have been slightly tweaked. The original had sluggish controls that could be mastered once the timing is memorized, but combat feels much more intuitive in Dark Souls. Movement, strong attacks, rolls and parrying all feel more responsive. Good thing too, because this sequel's combat encounters are harder than anything in the previous game.
Graphically, the game looks identical to Demon's Souls but the scale of the world is much larger. Everything in the player's sight can now be explored, from distant towers to caverns. There is no confirmation whether the hub world of the original will return, but the new addition of bonfires will help players survive a long journey. Bonfires are essentially check points that heal you and replenish your potions. However, you are limited in the number of bonfires you can ignite unless you sacrifice souls (xp) you've collected. You'll find these checkpoints throughout areas, but the game still retains its challenge. Replenishing at a bonfire not only requires extensive backtracking, but it also respawns all of the enemies you just defeated.
In the E3 demo, Namco - the series' new publisher - showed off the new Pyromancer class. With a focus on fire-based magic, the Pyromancer is skilled at taking down larger enemies from a distance. The Pyromancer also has the ability to summon more enemies into other players' games, showing up as red versions of demons in their games. This makes the Pyromancer griefers' class of choice. From Software are still balancing the game, figuring out ways to inconvenience the caster as well.