The lights are on
Namco Bandai describes cqc analyst Matt Warner as a Dark Souls expert. Warner was on hand to show what changes are coming to Dark Souls II. Warner was quick to defend the use of the word “accessibility” used to describe Dark Souls II recently. The game is still hard. Warner says, “It will kick your a**.”
The demo starts with a character selection screen showcasing Warrior, Sorcerer, Temple Knight, and Dual Swordsman classes. These choices are presented this way for the demo, but in the final game, you select your stats first, instead of your class.
The engine for Dark Souls has received a hefty upgrade since the previous game, and Dark Souls II looks nicer as a result. There is better light and shadowing, and more impressive blackness when there is no source of light. The most noticeable new element, however, is the animation. The developer motion captured performers for the animation this time around and everything looks more naturalistic and fluid, but without sacrificing the perceived heft of swinging a sword.
Some new gameplay tweaks are demonstrated like the use of multiple stances, which affects how you use your assorted blades. The dodge roll now takes you further than before, but the window of invulnerability is smaller. Heavy attacks properly used in the middle of a combo use less stamina, effectively rewarding players who master the art of swordplay. Life Gems are also shown, which is a new health item. They are more abundant than health potions, but give you less health, and slowly restore your health. It’s not something that should be used in a dire moment in the middle of a battle.
The Dual Swordsmen class was selected by unanimous vote from those watching the demo, and Warner starts by showing off the improved AI. Enemies are smarter for Dark Souls II, and use better tactics than simply mobbing the player, and they can and will back-stab you. Warner travels down a dark hallway, which quickly turns pitch black. A torch is lit, which means he is down to one sword. Luckily, the torch can be used as a weapon, and a few enemies get lit on fire after getting knocked down. We also see an enemy playing dead who only springs to life when Warner gets close.
We see a few skirmishes with weaker enemies, and then we see what the team has nicknamed Turtleneck , who looks like giant bi-pedal mutant turtle with armor. Warner doesn’t have much luck attacking him head-on, so he tries to rotate behind to stab him in the back. His plan fails spectacularly when Turtleneck, sensing an enemy behind him, jumps backwards putting the full brunt of his turtle shell on top of Warner killing him instantly.
Warner restarts the demo again, this time selecting the Warrior. He walks up to a campfire which now allows you to warp anywhere, which cuts back Dark Souls’ necessary backtracking significantly.
Warner decides to run past all the enemies for his second run after getting killed by Turtleneck in order to show off a boss – a huge Knight in Silver armor, twice as tall as the player. He has a shield with a mirrored surface which weaker enemies appeared from. Warner was not able to defeat him, and as of 10 AM Pacific time on the second day of E3, no one had been able to beat the boss during the playable demo. Hong and Warner are offering a free t-shirt to anyone at E3 who can beat him.
Dark Souls II is coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 March of next year.
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