E3: Dark Souls

E3: Dark Souls

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The follow-up to Demon's Souls is hard as hell and it doesn't care about your feelings.

The game that a dedicated few once begged Atlus to bring over to the States has since become a main inspiration for recent releases, including The Witcher 2 and The Dark Crusade. Now developer From Software have created a sequel with a larger audience in mind, but that doesn't necessarily translate into an easier game. A more accessible game? Sure.

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.

After picking your character (more on that later), the demo places you at the entrance of a castle. Two zombie-like enemies stand lifeless, waiting for you to attack and collect their souls. Just around the corner, however, is a giant dragon that will kill you in one hit. A leveled, skilled player could perhaps beat it, but it's meant mainly as a reminder of the game you are playing. It's a game where death is always around the corner and it can come from the smallest mistakes.

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.

Dark Souls might be an incremental sequel, but it's a welcome one, nonetheless. It's a quick reminder of how much From Software got right the first time out, but it's also an example of how to change and improve a sequel beyond graphical flourishes.

Both Xbox 360 and PS3 owners can look forward to dying and dying again when the game is released October 4.

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See all our coverage directly from the show floor.

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My problem with demon souls was explained in the Zero punctuation review of it and i can imagine it will be the same for this.

Dark Souls is not a sequel to the Demon's Souls universe, it's a 'spiritual successor'. Takes the same gameplay mechanics in Demon's Souls, expands on them and changes some of them, but it takes place in another universe entirely that has got nothing to do with Boletaria or the events of the first game.

Other than that, I'm loving the monster designs, but I wonder what the main objectives will be this time around, if it has got something equivalent to the Nexus.

Pyromancer?!?!?

These guys are reading my dreams, I just KNOW it!

These games sound arbitrarily hard. Like trial and error, if you dont know whats coming you are screwed hard. And thats not for me.

What I really like is how upfront the game is about it and it definatly has its niche market of people who (I dont know why) WANT THIS. So it seems everyone who plays it loves it, because the only people that play is are insane.

bombadilillo:
These games sound arbitrarily hard. Like trial and error, if you dont know whats coming you are screwed hard. And thats not for me.

What I really like is how upfront the game is about it and it definatly has its niche market of people who (I dont know why) WANT THIS. So it seems everyone who plays it loves it, because the only people that play is are insane.

To be fair, it's pretty hysterical to just be walking down an empty hallway...then suddenly take three arrows to the back and die horribly because you stepped on the wrong tile.

All me and my friend did while playing Demon Souls was laugh at all the random deaths he incurred.

Kopikatsu:

bombadilillo:
These games sound arbitrarily hard. Like trial and error, if you dont know whats coming you are screwed hard. And thats not for me.

What I really like is how upfront the game is about it and it definatly has its niche market of people who (I dont know why) WANT THIS. So it seems everyone who plays it loves it, because the only people that play is are insane.

To be fair, it's pretty hysterical to just be walking down an empty hallway...then suddenly take three arrows to the back and die horribly because you stepped on the wrong tile.

All me and my friend did while playing Demon Souls was laugh at all the random deaths he incurred.

I can almost see it. But I dont want to backtrack all that. If the game had a much more forgiving save system maybe.

I guess I just like a different type of hard. I enjoy skill challange. But you stepped on wrong tile and blew up the universe---permadeath, and your ps3 just got bricked. Not for me.

I wish I could play it but I know I dont have the stuff.

bombadilillo:
These games sound arbitrarily hard. Like trial and error, if you dont know whats coming you are screwed hard. And thats not for me.

What I really like is how upfront the game is about it and it definatly has its niche market of people who (I dont know why) WANT THIS. So it seems everyone who plays it loves it, because the only people that play is are insane.

That's not the case, though. If you observe your environment and your enemies, you won't die. Every death you incur in Demon's Souls is entirely your fault.. except maybe the tutorial death (that's just there to prove a point). It's not even that difficult if you stock up on magic and move slowly through the levels (well, until NG+ anyway).

I wish people would focus on a different aspect of the game, tbh. The level design and combat is some of the best I've ever seen in an RPG.

Demon's Souls isn't hard, it's mostly ridiculously time intensive: not dying requires you carefully observe everything, which most people can't be bothered to do.

bombadilillo:
These games sound arbitrarily hard. Like trial and error, if you dont know whats coming you are screwed hard. And thats not for me.

What I really like is how upfront the game is about it and it definatly has its niche market of people who (I dont know why) WANT THIS. So it seems everyone who plays it loves it, because the only people that play is are insane.

They actually aren't though. It was, to me anyway, a very balanced game in that it was hard, but it payed off in the end and felt worth while. It wasn't hard just to be hard, it was just a game that required lots of care when you played. Also, the game was completely skill based, more than anything. Not that better gear didn't help, it did, and having more life and all that, but you could tackle any boss with right weapon and just your crazy skills.... well, not the Flamelurker, he was just ridiculous. But pretty much all the other bosses you could build a strategy to beat, and you could essentially handle anything from the first moment as long as you knew how to play your character.

bombadilillo:
These games sound arbitrarily hard. Like trial and error, if you dont know whats coming you are screwed hard. And thats not for me.

What I really like is how upfront the game is about it and it definatly has its niche market of people who (I dont know why) WANT THIS. So it seems everyone who plays it loves it, because the only people that play is are insane.

This I have to disagree with. Demon's Souls isn't a game of 'trial and error', like a number of 'hardcore' flash games are. It's simply the type of game that requires you to have some minimal attention to your surroundings and stay alert.

Heck I went through a few levels without dying at all, or barely. And no, I wasn't moving slowly either. Pay some attention to what's going on around you, don't panic because everyone said 'OMG zis game is supp0sed to be so hard' and you'll be just fine. Although yeah, if you refuse to use a guide, you're pretty sure to miss out on some useful items, but some of them are blatantly in your way on purpose.

Not to say that it isn't without its difficult moments, sure, but I get slightly irked when I see claims that this game has 'faux difficulty', essentially boiling down to a game you get good at only by memorizing levels. That's not true. It's a game that requires skill, not necessarily a good memory.

I'm glad they aren't changing too much. Why do I like these widow maker games?

Already on pre-order. Hope my wife likes this one....

I played Demon souls. I tried my best to like the game, but the amount of times it just punished me for one slip up and the fustration of having to begin a level over again... not to mention people randomly dropping into my game and killing, turned me off the game.

If this game is much the same or worse, I may avoid it. Not my type sadly.

Dark soullllsssssssssssssssss. *ahem* where was I? Oh right. Yeah so I'm quite looking forward to this game.

No PC version for this or the first one makes me a sad cookie D:

Graphically identical is kind of some bad news. As much as I enjoyed Demon's Souls it was ugly as sin.

October 4th? Damn, I don't think I'll have enough money for this...
*cries*
I'll probably get it at a later date if I don't have the money.

Also: I never had a big problem the the controls in Demon's Souls, but if the controls in Dark Souls are supposed to be smooth, that's always a plus!

Hmm, the most interesting part about playing Demon's Souls was when you realized that the game actually wasn't /isn't hard.

On your first play? You'd better believe that it'll make you bemoan the day you purchased it but, after a while, you adapt to the difficulty curve. The Flame Lurker and Maneater, though, might cause tears.

For all the talk about DS's tremendous difficulty, the game becomes extremely manageable once you learn a few things.

1.) Whenever you regain body form, suicide in the Nexus. Dying in body form mid-level turns the world tendency black and makes the game even harder.
2.) Find or buy a spear and a decent shield as soon as possible. This combo trivializes a lot of encounters and makes learning the tough ones more bearable.
3.) Rolling is better than blocking, especially when it comes to bosses and anything magical. Shed armor until you can quick-roll.
4.) Pay attention to fire and magic. Some enemies are extremely vulnerable to one or the other. Some enemies use one or the other. Be ready to take advantage.
5.) Pay attention to your surroundings, especially with respect to environmental hazards like cliffs. Always leave yourself room to roll.

Once you understand these basic principles, the game isn't nearly so hard.

FieryTrainwreck:
For all the talk about DS's tremendous difficulty, the game becomes extremely manageable once you learn a few things.

1.) Whenever you regain body form, suicide in the Nexus. Dying in body form mid-level turns the world tendency black and makes the game even harder.
2.) Find or buy a spear and a decent shield as soon as possible. This combo trivializes a lot of encounters and makes learning the tough ones more bearable.
3.) Rolling is better than blocking, especially when it comes to bosses and anything magical. Shed armor until you can quick-roll.
4.) Pay attention to fire and magic. Some enemies are extremely vulnerable to one or the other. Some enemies use one or the other. Be ready to take advantage.
5.) Pay attention to your surroundings, especially with respect to environmental hazards like cliffs. Always leave yourself room to roll.

Once you understand these basic principles, the game isn't nearly so hard.

Good advice thanks :D

I never quite got that World tendency thing...didnt research it much either...maybe I'll pick it up again now :P Fantastic game and a good vision of what the gaming world would have been with this graphics 10-15 years ago :P

I wish they would talk more about character progression here. The character progression decisions in Demon's Souls were purely passive, which made pumping souls into my various stats a lot less interesting.

Change the looting procedure. I know the game is hard, but if you pick up some armor and find you can't lift it, putting it back and coming back later should be a viable response, and removing the ability to do that is just outright bullshit, especially if the player is not warned.

How about some non-hostile NPCs that are likeable? With the exception of that one guy who stored all your stuff for you and the knight from the first level, everyone you met was an utter prick, or just plain not interesting. Fighting demons would be far more interesting and entertaining if you felt an attachment to the people you were fighting for. Furthermore, make the world you're trying to restore an objective that the player has an emotional connection to. In Demon's Souls, I didn't actually give a damn about the places I was in; in fact, they didn't seem like they had ever housed people in the first place. Most of the worlds seemed as though they had always had demons in them, like it was simply natural.

Most importantly, put a proper tutorial in the game. Yes, the game is supposed to be challenging, but throwing the player to the wolves without spending the time to teach them proper techniques is a cheap shot. I didn't even know how to use magic until I was at least 15 hours into the game because no-one bothered to explain it to me.

this news has made me soooo happy
i loved the challenge of the first. Although I wouldnt want every game I play to be this unforgiving (notice "unforgiving" not dificult) I really loved having the option of an intense game in my collection

never beat NG+, maybe i should try before Oct

ultrachicken:

Most importantly, put a proper tutorial in the game. Yes, the game is supposed to be challenging, but throwing the player to the wolves without spending the time to teach them proper techniques is a cheap shot. I didn't even know how to use magic until I was at least 15 hours into the game because no-one bothered to explain it to me.

A lot of people say that, but i hear a lot more people enjoying the not-beeing-pampered by the game. To be honest i think so, too. I pretty much dislike the whole concept of tutorials, cause it seems to suggest that people would get frustrated or bored if they didnt get everything about a game served on a silver plate beforehand.
Exploring everything your character can do is a lot more fun and creates real connection betrween you and the pile of polygons youre playing.

Other than that:
I thought i read that they abolished classes altogether. I think it was in edge magazine where they wrote it in an interview.
So are the classes only for the demo, or do we have to pick one?
I wouldnt mind it, but it kinda confuses me.

volX:

ultrachicken:

Most importantly, put a proper tutorial in the game. Yes, the game is supposed to be challenging, but throwing the player to the wolves without spending the time to teach them proper techniques is a cheap shot. I didn't even know how to use magic until I was at least 15 hours into the game because no-one bothered to explain it to me.

A lot of people say that, but i hear a lot more people enjoying the not-beeing-pampered by the game. To be honest i think so, too. I pretty much dislike the whole concept of tutorials, cause it seems to suggest that people would get frustrated or bored if they didnt get everything about a game served on a silver plate beforehand.
Exploring everything your character can do is a lot more fun and creates real connection betrween you and the pile of polygons youre playing.

Other than that:
I thought i read that they abolished classes altogether. I think it was in edge magazine where they wrote it in an interview.
So are the classes only for the demo, or do we have to pick one?
I wouldnt mind it, but it kinda confuses me.

I don't think being taught the basics of how to play is equal to pampering. Tutorials exist to allow the player to understand the controls and how to manage your character properly. Demon's Souls did neither of those things. I agree that tutorials shouldn't present everything about the game on a silver platter, but they should at least give you sufficient knowledge to get started properly. The game needs a contained tutorial segment that actually goes over what needs to be known, and then the game should throw you to the wolves.

ultrachicken:

volX:

ultrachicken:

Most importantly, put a proper tutorial in the game. Yes, the game is supposed to be challenging, but throwing the player to the wolves without spending the time to teach them proper techniques is a cheap shot. I didn't even know how to use magic until I was at least 15 hours into the game because no-one bothered to explain it to me.

A lot of people say that, but i hear a lot more people enjoying the not-beeing-pampered by the game. To be honest i think so, too. I pretty much dislike the whole concept of tutorials, cause it seems to suggest that people would get frustrated or bored if they didnt get everything about a game served on a silver plate beforehand.
Exploring everything your character can do is a lot more fun and creates real connection betrween you and the pile of polygons youre playing.

Other than that:
I thought i read that they abolished classes altogether. I think it was in edge magazine where they wrote it in an interview.
So are the classes only for the demo, or do we have to pick one?
I wouldnt mind it, but it kinda confuses me.

I don't think being taught the basics of how to play is equal to pampering. Tutorials exist to allow the player to understand the controls and how to manage your character properly. Demon's Souls did neither of those things. I agree that tutorials shouldn't present everything about the game on a silver platter, but they should at least give you sufficient knowledge to get started properly. The game needs a contained tutorial segment that actually goes over what needs to be known, and then the game should throw you to the wolves.

I don't think Demon's Souls was aiming for a progressional level with its tutorial: it was acting on a more spiritual level. Its objective wasn't to see the player firmly understand all of its techniques - it was to prime the player mentally for what kind of journey was ahead of them.

Case in point, the Vanguard. He ends the tutorial by killing you, in a fight beyond your level of skill against a boss fight who is truly but a sign of things to come. What kind of way to build confidence is that? It's a blow to the ego, and any notion that it'd be a simple ride. With that kind of tutorial ending, the developers are saying "This is serious. You need to find out how to survive."

For a game as atmospheric, proud and challenging as Demon's Souls, imparting this mindset is far more valuable than any amount of time spent explaining the mechanics that come naturally like blocking and stamina. For with that mindset comes the resolve to understand the game naturally.

(Though you have a point if you're speaking about the game's interface: that thing was just ridiculous.)

Dark Souls, huh?

Really pulled out all the stops on creativity thinking up that name, didn't they?

Regardless, very much looking forward to this game, Demon's Souls is one of my favourite games ever.

Speculation: I wonder if they'll add a co-op mode where you can actually choose a friend to play with, that'd be fun.

Ickorus:
Dark Souls, huh?

Really pulled out all the stops on creativity thinking up that name, didn't they?

Regardless, very much looking forward to this game, Demon's Souls is one of my favourite games ever.

Speculation: I wonder if they'll add a co-op mode where you can actually choose a friend to play with, that'd be fun.

I believe an article came out about the naming process: it wasn't the name they wanted at first, but with the other (three or so) titles they chose, they were either copyrighted or wouldn't go down well abroad. For instance, the first name they chose was Dark Race.

Penitent:

Ickorus:
Dark Souls, huh?

Really pulled out all the stops on creativity thinking up that name, didn't they?

Regardless, very much looking forward to this game, Demon's Souls is one of my favourite games ever.

Speculation: I wonder if they'll add a co-op mode where you can actually choose a friend to play with, that'd be fun.

I believe an article came out about the naming process: it wasn't the name they wanted at first, but with the other (three or so) titles they chose, they were either copyrighted or wouldn't go down well abroad. For instance, the first name they chose was Dark Race.

Oh Dear, I can see why they didn't use that name. ><

I don't really mind the name though to be honest, it helps it keeps it's ties to Demon's Souls intact.

Penitent:

ultrachicken:

volX:

A lot of people say that, but i hear a lot more people enjoying the not-beeing-pampered by the game. To be honest i think so, too. I pretty much dislike the whole concept of tutorials, cause it seems to suggest that people would get frustrated or bored if they didnt get everything about a game served on a silver plate beforehand.
Exploring everything your character can do is a lot more fun and creates real connection betrween you and the pile of polygons youre playing.

Other than that:
I thought i read that they abolished classes altogether. I think it was in edge magazine where they wrote it in an interview.
So are the classes only for the demo, or do we have to pick one?
I wouldnt mind it, but it kinda confuses me.

I don't think being taught the basics of how to play is equal to pampering. Tutorials exist to allow the player to understand the controls and how to manage your character properly. Demon's Souls did neither of those things. I agree that tutorials shouldn't present everything about the game on a silver platter, but they should at least give you sufficient knowledge to get started properly. The game needs a contained tutorial segment that actually goes over what needs to be known, and then the game should throw you to the wolves.

I don't think Demon's Souls was aiming for a progressional level with its tutorial: it was acting on a more spiritual level. Its objective wasn't to see the player firmly understand all of its techniques - it was to prime the player mentally for what kind of journey was ahead of them.

Case in point, the Vanguard. He ends the tutorial by killing you, in a fight beyond your level of skill against a boss fight who is truly but a sign of things to come. What kind of way to build confidence is that? It's a blow to the ego, and any notion that it'd be a simple ride. With that kind of tutorial ending, the developers are saying "This is serious. You need to find out how to survive."

For a game as atmospheric, proud and challenging as Demon's Souls, imparting this mindset is far more valuable than any amount of time spent explaining the mechanics that come naturally like blocking and stamina. For with that mindset comes the resolve to understand the game naturally.

(Though you have a point if you're speaking about the game's interface: that thing was just ridiculous.)

Or you could just kill the Vanguard in the tutorial, get a bunch of nice loot, then get Falcon Punched by the Dragon God.

Atheist.:

Penitent:

ultrachicken:
I don't think being taught the basics of how to play is equal to pampering. Tutorials exist to allow the player to understand the controls and how to manage your character properly. Demon's Souls did neither of those things. I agree that tutorials shouldn't present everything about the game on a silver platter, but they should at least give you sufficient knowledge to get started properly. The game needs a contained tutorial segment that actually goes over what needs to be known, and then the game should throw you to the wolves.

I don't think Demon's Souls was aiming for a progressional level with its tutorial: it was acting on a more spiritual level. Its objective wasn't to see the player firmly understand all of its techniques - it was to prime the player mentally for what kind of journey was ahead of them.

Case in point, the Vanguard. He ends the tutorial by killing you, in a fight beyond your level of skill against a boss fight who is truly but a sign of things to come. What kind of way to build confidence is that? It's a blow to the ego, and any notion that it'd be a simple ride. With that kind of tutorial ending, the developers are saying "This is serious. You need to find out how to survive."

For a game as atmospheric, proud and challenging as Demon's Souls, imparting this mindset is far more valuable than any amount of time spent explaining the mechanics that come naturally like blocking and stamina. For with that mindset comes the resolve to understand the game naturally.

(Though you have a point if you're speaking about the game's interface: that thing was just ridiculous.)

Or you could just kill the Vanguard in the tutorial, get a bunch of nice loot, then get Falcon Punched by the Dragon God.

So you beat the Vanguard on your first try? No guides or anything?

Penitent:

Atheist.:

Penitent:

I don't think Demon's Souls was aiming for a progressional level with its tutorial: it was acting on a more spiritual level. Its objective wasn't to see the player firmly understand all of its techniques - it was to prime the player mentally for what kind of journey was ahead of them.

Case in point, the Vanguard. He ends the tutorial by killing you, in a fight beyond your level of skill against a boss fight who is truly but a sign of things to come. What kind of way to build confidence is that? It's a blow to the ego, and any notion that it'd be a simple ride. With that kind of tutorial ending, the developers are saying "This is serious. You need to find out how to survive."

For a game as atmospheric, proud and challenging as Demon's Souls, imparting this mindset is far more valuable than any amount of time spent explaining the mechanics that come naturally like blocking and stamina. For with that mindset comes the resolve to understand the game naturally.

(Though you have a point if you're speaking about the game's interface: that thing was just ridiculous.)

Or you could just kill the Vanguard in the tutorial, get a bunch of nice loot, then get Falcon Punched by the Dragon God.

So you beat the Vanguard on your first try? No guides or anything?

Nah, I did on my second run, though.

I actually got 100% completion on the first game. It took a few months but I did it. I'll probably wait to get this one until after christmas.

Well, I was thinking whether Dark Souls had anything in connection with Demon Souls since both the games had similar ethics, graphics, plot and moreover, the gameplay. Anyway, I am surprised to know that Dark Souls is not a sequel but rather a spiritual successor and having played that game, I do agree with that title since Dark Souls is far better and realistic than Demon Souls as it focuses on a sci-fi entertainment rather than a fantasy one.

 

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