The sequel to the Rage inducing yet rewarding phenomena of a game that was Dark Souls, has had some light shed on it, as well as a release date announced. The announcement of the release date was given out during the Tokyo Game Show conference yesterday, and the changes have been outlined by director of From Software, Yui Tanimura at a conference as well.
Dark Souls 2 is scheduled to release on March 11 next year in North America for the Xbox 360 and PS3, From Software has also confirmed that they are building the game in mind with better controls and optimization for the PC, instead of just porting it over this time. No information was given if PC is releasing at the same time as the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. There is a beta for DARK Souls 2 that will be starting sometime in mid-October for Playstation 3 users and will be available in North America, Europe and Australasia.
Dark Souls is personally probably the best game I have ever played in the past 19 years. There is very little that is wrong with the game in my eyes, it is an extremely challenging game that puts you on edge almost every second that you are playing. There is no shortage of enemies lying in wait behind a corner, enemies falling from the ceiling on your head and devouring you, the items and stats you have don’t even make sense either. The game challenges you in stupid ways and the controls on PC are absolutely terrible, the stats are nearly useless excluding 3 of them, but it somehow creates a very rewarding and fun experience. If any other game had these qualities I would immediately stop playing it, and move on to another game. But Dark Souls manages to find a harmony within its terrible controls and complete lack of direction or explanation, where players may find themselves lost most times in the game, they can rely on phenomenal level design and their own SKILL to find their way. Dark Souls becomes a test of what your breaking point is as a gamer, and allows you to rely on nothing but your ability to solve problems and to simply, play a video game.
With the sequel coming out, Yui Tanimura has gone into a lot of detail as to what will be changing in the game and how they are opening it up to more people, as well as improving the experience. Yui says the leveling and the stats of your character will have a bit more explanation than in its predecessor, not very surprising as there was essentially no explanation at all in the game. The environment and monsters will also be smarter and react to your, and their environment more than before. For instance in the E3 demo trailer we saw an ogre get shot in the eye through a window of a jail cell, and he just burst through the wall to kick your ass and flatten you. Enemies that you backstab can also just fall on their back and crush you completely, forcing you to come up with a new strategy on the fly just to react to an enemy reacting to you.
Yui also claims the online play will be better, which is no surprise either as the online play was fun, albeit pretty clunky and very annoying in Dark Souls. If a player is invaded while playing, they can call on a fellow covenant member to help them. A great addition to the game as most new players will get bombarded with high level players assaulting them over and over if they have the misfortune to play online when starting out. In order to break from undead status and become human again, you must now expend a “Human Effigy” item rather than the games previous ‘Humanity’ that was used. On top of that, while playing with a summoned friend, (Or two!) your partner is no longer kicked from the game after the defeat of a boss, rather there are different sized soapstones (used to summon characters) that will allow a longer allotted time in another players world, with that time decreasing per number of monsters and bosses killed.
The game will also feature something that might infuriate people, invasions are allowed in undead form. In Dark Souls you had to use ‘Humanity’ to change from undead status over and become a human again, this allowed you (if connected to online) to be invaded and to invade other players as well. With this change, this means that being undead is no longer safe and there may truly be a real threat around every corner, you are no longer safe in game at all. Consequently, if a player dies while being undead, their HP limits will decrease with each death, until another ‘Human Effigy’ is used to raise it back up. These changes all indicate that From Software is really introducing being human as a heavier need in Dark Souls 2, compared to the previous where it wasn’t needed at all if you didn’t want to play online.
We’ve been hearing plenty about the changes to the multiplayer and the co-op system but very few mentions of the single player campaign, my guess is that From Software wants it all to be a surprise. I can only hope that the single player and the storytelling will be as incredible as the first, I hope the game grows and expands but they stay true to the roots of how the original was played. The story in Dark Souls 1 was beautifully presented in my opinion, it was so subtle that if you wanted to hack and slash things over and over, you could. There were rare any cutscenes save from walking into a new area or walking into a bossfight. But if you dug deeper and really caught on to some of the hints given, some of the deeper underlying meanings to your surroundings and actions. The entire game was built on the premise of human choice and free will, and the ability to do whatever you wish with it. The story of Dark Souls is one of the saddest and depressing, yet refined and beautiful, thing I have ever experienced, I can only hope it will be the same in Dark Souls 2.
Save a few of the snippets of gameplay they have given us, because you’re going to need it. Remember not to ask for help from friends, and Prepare to Die.