New graphics, classes, and engine are making Dark Souls 2 look far better than the original.

Dark Souls was declared by many as one of the hardest games of all time. When Dark Souls 2 was announced back in December, gamers were strangely delighted that they’d once again be met with the familiar YOU DIED screen hundreds upon hundreds of times. At E3 2013, From Software was showing off the latest iteration of the action role-playing game behind closed doors, and I got the chance to die a few dozen times myself.

Fans of the series will be happy that Dark Souls 2 looks and feels similar to Dark Souls with a few significant upgrades. From Software have developed a new engine for Dark Souls 2 that runs at a full 60 frames per second. Not only does this mean that the game won’t chug like the original, but the new engine also features impressive lighting effects, allowing you to see shadow effects better than ever while you’re getting the crap beat out of you. The new engine also brings upgrades to the sound quality and graphic fidelity of the game, making the sequel a more smooth experience overall.

In addition, the character select system has gone through a complete overhaul. While in the original Dark Souls you’d simply select a pre-made character and change his attributes depending on your playstyle, Dark Souls 2 will introduce a new character generation feature. With character generation, you’ll answer a series of questions and set parameters based on how you want to play. Depending on your answers, you’ll then be backed in to a specific class that fits your answers.

From Software showed off four classes at the event: the Warrior, Sorcerer, Temple Knight, and Dual Swordsman. These classes aren’t confirmed for the game yet, but I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet we’ll see them. The developer also mentioned that there will be more than four classes in the game, which isn’t surprising considering Dark Souls had 12.

The most interesting of the classes shown off was definitely the Dual Swordsman. Dual wielding is another new feature of Dark Souls 2. In the original, you could hold a weapon or shield in your off hand but couldn’t actually use it. In Dark Souls 2, you’ll now have the chance to use weapons in both hands. The Dual Swordsman was able to – surprise – wield two swords at once and attack with them simultaneously. He was quick, agile, and dealt a medium amount of damage to enemies. If the enemy managed to get in even a few swipes on him though, he was done for.

There were also a couple of new items shown off during the demo as well. The first was a life gem, which allows the user to regenerate a little bit of health over time. Estus healing flasks are still in the game, but life gems provide an alternative to getting your precious health back. There’s also a green blossom which increases your stamina, allowing you to attack more or run longer.

Another new implementation is persistent bonfire warping. To reduce the amount of time players are tediously wandering around, Dark Souls 2 will allow players to warp to and from any bonfire in the game.

From what was shown, Dark Souls 2 seems to be progressing very well. From Software was able to tell us that the game will be about 40 hours long once it’s complete, and that they’re happy with the level of difficulty they’ve managed to maintain. They’ll be showing off multiplayer at a future date, but for now you’ll just have to live with the latest trailer.

Dark Souls 2 will be available for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC in March 2014.


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