Darker Than Ever
This E3 gave me a chance to check out Dark Souls III , the latest Souls game from Bandai Namco and From Software. The concept behind Dark Souls III is the world is about to end. The sun has gone pale, and the scores of undead are praying into the final night for their salvation. Rising from the ashes are the Lords of Cinder, ancient apocalyptic powerful beings. The story follows a dark hero who is attempting to kill these lords and, maybe save the world. I don’t know. I think the story is a lot darker than that, and Bandai Namco has said they will reveal more story details soon.
The Lords of Cinder are giant armored ghostly or demonic beings with ashes and smoldering embers lining their bodies. That giant you saw in the trailer? That’s a Lord of Cinder. All Lords of Cinder are huge, ranging from something a mere 5 times your size to something that will tower over you Shadow of the Colossus style. You may have also noticed that the Lord of Cinder in the trailer was dressed as a knight and carried a knight’s weapons. This is a recurring theme for each Lord of Cinder. They will all use one of the fighting styles from the game, just blown up and exaggerated for a boss to use it. For example, in the demo we were shown, we saw a Lord of Cinder that fought with two blades, one of ice and one of fire.
Dual wielding is a huge addition to the combat engine of the game. In the demo we were shown, the dark hero fought with two scimitars as one of his weapon systems. Dual wielding allows you to dish out an incredible amount of damage, but as a result you have very few defensive options. You essentially need to dodge and dive out of the way of attacks instead of defending, making the game more of a Bloodborne experience. As a plus, you gain access to a spin attack when dual wielding, which his on all sides multiple times. This is a great way to clear out crowds of enemies with no defenses, but if your spin attack hits a shield, you will be left open for an incredibly long time.
Each weapon in Dark Souls III has been tweaked to have unique abilities, making each weapon class even more unique. Nearly all weapons, for example, can now be wielded in either one hand or two, meaning you can equip a shield almost all the time. However, depending on the weapon you choose, this may cause your character to fight incredibly awkwardly. Equipping a great sword that is several times the length of your body and swinging it with one hand causes your character to be widely open after every swing. However, you do have a lot of range and you still have your defensive abilities when you aren’t open.
Long swords and other middle length weapons like hand-and-a-half swords, excel at switching back and forth between two handed and one handed wielding. As a one handed weapon, they allow you to use the classic sword and board style of defense and sticking your opponent. In two hands, however, you can choose to take on two different stances each with their own attacks. For example, from a high stance (your sword raised up) you can perform a shield beaker swing, which is a slow swing meant to destroy enemy shields. From a low stance, you can more effectively parry your opponent.
Great swords have the ability to lurch and launch when held in two hands. We were told that this was designed based on the character Guts from Berserk . Your character will jump into enemies and perform strikes so powerful they knock them into the air. There, they are defenseless and you can easily chain together very powerful strikes. Just be careful, however, because if you overuse your strikes and are defended against, you will be left wide open. It’s worth noting that whenever you fight two handed with a weapon, you can still carry a shield on your back, which will help you defend from strikes from behind.
Short bows have been completely reworked. They can now be fired while moving, dodging, or rolling. We were told that this ability is based on Legolas from Lord of the Rings . This allows you to easily dance around the enemy at mid range, pelting them with projectiles while keeping yourself safe. Long bows, on the other hand, have to be fired from a standing position, but are more powerful and can cover much longer distances.
Weapon styles can be swapped in and out on the fly, allowing you to try on a number of different styles and see which one is to your liking. If no weapon styles strike your fancy, you can always let the environment do your work. The terrain is destructible at points, which will allow you to do things like drop rocks on enemies or throw a torch into a powder keg to blow up a group of knights. You can even lure enemies into fighting each other. For example, in the demo we were shown, a boss encounter with a dragon was purposefully triggered so that the dragon’s fire breath would torch our enemies as we ran from them.
Finally, Dark Souls III is being designed with one statement in mind: everything is explorable. If you see a tower, you can explore that tower. If you see a mountain, you can explore that mountain. If you see a rooftop, you can hop on that rooftop. Nothing is just aesthetic and there are no invisible walls. The team is encouraging you to go to any place you can see and explore to your heart’s desires.
Dark Souls III will include a lot of elements from previous Dark Souls games, from bonfires to multiplayer. However, a lot of the game is still being planned. We were told to bear in mind that the game was in alpha and changes are still being made to all of its systems. Dark Souls III is slated for release on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One in early 2016.