Dark Souls Remastered
Dark Souls, it can be argued, defines an entire genre of games at this point. When the game originally released in 2011, fans of Demon's Souls were excited for the spiritual successor, but a lot of others were baffled putting their hands around the Souls formula for the first time. The game stymied some, charmed others, and created an experience that has yet to be truly paralleled in exactly the same way.
When Dark Souls Remastered was announced for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC, there were a lot more questions than answers. Bandai Namco has been fairly mum about details, but we finally had the chance to go hands-on with the game and find out whether Dark Souls Remastered could end up as the definitive version for the games.
In terms of graphics, Dark Souls Remastered will offer you different features depending on the platform you play it on. While PC will of course be native 4K and 60 frames per second if your hardware supports it, PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X will have upscaled 4K and 60 FPS. Base versions of those consoles will be 1080p and 60 FPS. The Switch version will also be 1080p when docked, and 720p in handheld mode, but will be 30 FPS regardless of whether it's docked or handheld.
The developers of the port say they have avoided some of the 60 FPS issues that have plagued both makeshift and official framerate solutions in the games in the past. There's no worry about falling out of world when sliding down a ladder in this release, an unintended consequence of mods that fixed a lot of the original PC release's problems. If a fallen enemy is ragdolling on the ground, hitting it with your weapon does not massively affect its durability like in the official PC release of Dark Souls II. While we did not get to see it ourselves, we were assured Blighttown now runs at at a framerate consistent with the rest of the game.
A few textures are being cleaned up, but by and large most textures are being left the same. Some still look a little grimy and low-resolution, but a lot of Dark Souls' textures were originally more detailed than their 720p resolution really allowed, making the game still look great in most spots.
As far as gameplay changes go, there is a host of small and large changes. For online multiplayer, six players can now be in a world at once, up two from the game's original release and now in line with Dark Souls III's number. In order to get access to six player worlds, players need Dried Fingers, which have been moved from the Painted World of Ariamis to the Undead Burg Merchant to make that easier, with the former Dried Finger location now just being Twin Humanities. Players can now meet up with friends using a password match system, which syncs levels so significantly stronger players don't just carry friends.
In order to keep PVP fights from going on too long, estus is the only healing item allowed to be used by invaders, and is halved for all phantoms. If you defeat an invading phantom, all your estus flasks are restored. Additionally, the game is no longer based on peer-to-peer connections and now all players connect to a dedicated server.
Other changes include the ability to use multiple consumables, like Soul items, at once where the original release forced players to use them one at a time. Full button remapping is available, including changing jumping to L3 like Dark Souls II and III. Items are no longer automatically added to the item bar upon picking them up and holding up or down on the D-Pad brings you to the first item on the bar. A new bonfire has been added near Vamos the blacksmith so players don't need to run through the entire zone to get to him every time. Finally, covenants you've pledged an oath to can be switched at bonfires without needing to physically visit the covenant keeper to switch again.
Dark Souls fans have a lot to look forward to with the remaster and hopefully it lives up to the promise of a better running, more modern version of the original game. Virtuous is porting the game to Switch and QLOC for the consoles and PC, but FROM Software is overseeing both teams and approving the changes, which should mean it keeps the spirit of the game intact. Souls fans will have a chance to find out when the game releases on all platforms on May 25.