Dark Souls Hands-On Preview

Dark Souls

Unlike its predecessor, Demon’s Souls, From Software’s Dark Souls will not benefit from the element of surprise when it arrives on Xbox 360 and PS3 on October 4th of this year. Demon’s Souls came out of nowhere in 2009 and shocked critics and fans alike (even earning GamerNode’s 2009 "Biggest Surprise" Nodie Award) with its unique online component, crushing difficulty, and depth of play. Dark Souls, now with publisher Namco Bandai and much more marketing muscle behind it, aims to expand on everything that made Demon’s Souls great, as well as bring a few new features and a wider array of options to the table.

Dark Souls, for the uninitiated, is an action RPG that places the player in the shoes of a single, custom-made character whose growth is dictated entirely by the player; from basic attributes, to spells, to equipment and items, all drastically affecting play. Nothing about a character is out of one’s control as the game progresses. It is very much a western RPG in that regard, despite the game’s Japanese origins. The player-character must traverse massive and oppressive environments full of formidable enemies in a slow creep toward each area’s boss character. Unlike Demon’s Souls, which operated off of a hub world that allowed the player to choose where to go next, Dark Souls will feature a more focused progression, with definite starting and ending points in a seamless world, and will incorporate a checkpoint and recovery system along the way.

Dark Souls

According to the developers, Dark Souls will be even more difficult than Demon’s Souls, which was known for killing players frequently. The goal during development is to emphasise the sense of accomplishment for completing each difficult task the game throws at the player, and because character development is so open, there will be many different ways to conquer each challenge. There will be one and a half to two times the total number of weapons, armor, and spells in Dark Souls as there were in Demon’s Souls, allowing a wider array of options in doing so.

One example, and a primary focus in the demo, was a giant boar, fully encased in armor, except for the area around his tail. One way to defeat the creature was to dodge his charge and then turn and plunge a sword into his small, vulnerable spot. There was also a lure item in the vicinity, which could be thrown to distract the animal before attacking. Another option would be to run to the nearby stairs and attack from a catwalk above with arrows, magic, or firebombs. The demonstrators said this was but a nominal example of choice in combat.

Dark Souls

Dark Souls‘ online component will once again incorporate the messages left by other players on the server that show up in the local game, apparitions of those players in the current area, and the ability to invade other players’ game worlds. The latter is governed by an oath or faith each player must choose at the outset of the adventure. Although few details were available at E3, this choice will in some way dictate how players interact with one another — either cooperatively or competitively — and will be very important to network play, as will the bonfire checkpoint system, which seems to have replaced the Eye Stone method of bridging players’ Dark Souls worlds.

Beyond what is new about Dark Souls, players can expect nervous walks through huge-scale environments, dangerous enemies, immense bosses, tons of character customization, a unique online multiplayer component, and long hours trying not to die.

GamerNode will continue to deliver more information about Dark Souls as it becomes available.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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