Dark Souls 2: 10 Things The Gameplay Demo Didn't Show You
We've spoken to From Software to fill in the gaps the Dark Souls 2 presentation left behind…
Published on Apr 11, 2013
Dark Souls fans have probably seen it by now but if you haven't, IGN has a 12-minute demo of Dark Souls 2 in action. It shows gameplay, enemies, locations and some of the new ways of dying you can expect from the final game.
But there are still a lot of questions - will it be easier? What about the frame-rate? Has Namco Bandai put From Software under any pressure?
We've got a big interview with Dark Souls 2 co-director Yui Tanamura and we've picked some of the more salient points below, to explain what the 12-minute demo didn't manage…
1. Dark Souls 2 Won’t Be Easier Than Dark Souls
Accessibility. All it took was one word by Dark Souls 2 director Tomohiro Shibuya to cause thousands of words of worry from Dark Souls fans. But this doesn’t mean Dark Souls 2 will be easier than its predecessor.
“Yes, so we did use the word accessible – by all means we did not intended for that to be communicated as making the game easier,” explained co-director Yui Tanimura when we ask him about the a-word.
“Obviously the game is not going to become easier. What we did mean by making it more accessible was to try to streamline away all of the tediousness, I guess, and cut away all the fat so we can deliver a lean, direct and pure challenging experience for players out there. So we apologise for casually using the word accessible, but please understand that the difficulty will maintain.”
2. Weather Will Play A Part
It had previously been discussed that weather could have a part to play in Dark Souls 2 and Tanimura told us more about From Software’s plans:
“So in terms of weather, it’s hard to give too much information at this point. We do plan to have players experience and play with the environment. Obviously with Dark Souls I, having players treading through water was slower than on ground, things like that, we plan to implement. One of the other things we want to sort of play with is the use of wind. We will continue to follow with more details of that later on – not necessarily with weather but with environmental [challenges], which will be key to Dark Souls 2."
3. The Frame-Rate Problem Should Be Solved
Although it had a gorgeous art style, Dark Souls wasn’t quite as beautiful in motion, with frame-rate dips punctuating the experience. That shouldn’t be an issue for Dark Souls 2. The engine has been reconstructed and one of the reasons for that “was to cater for that drop in framerate in Dark Souls 1”, as Tanimura explains.
4. Your Dark Souls Save Won’t Carry Over
Not sure why they would, or even should, but it’s been officially confirmed anyway – your Dark Souls save won’t carry over to the sequel.
5. Dark Souls 2 Is Server-Based And That WILL Make A Difference
“Because this game is going to be server-based now, we hope to implement new aspects into the game that can be done only because it’s server-based. We want to utilise that as much as possible to deliver some new experiences to fans.”
6. Lots Of Bits About The Dark Souls 2 Structure That Don’t Fit A Catchy Header
From Software have let lots of little nuggets of info slip about the actual design and structure of Dark Souls II, so here we go. First, From Software is getting rid of ‘orthodox stage structures’ (although Dark Souls was hardly known for its orthodox progression). There will be more focus on ‘3D vertical exploration structure’, which means more descending into the depths of darkness. This is where the torch system will presumably come into play more often. Finally, variation is crucial, as that’s the key to providing the satisfaction that Dark Souls is renowned for.
7. ‘Players Learn From Their Deaths’ – The Bridge Dragon Explained
One of the highlights of the Dark Souls II presentation was the rickety bridge, which sees the player sway as he tries to cross it. That seems like the danger but it’s not. A dragon swoops in, severs the bridge and leaves the players tumbling to his death in the abyss below.
“Killing players is obviously easy – you can make an enemy invincible and make them so strong that you die,” explained Tanimura. “But I think it’s important that players understand the reasons for their deaths, and to make sure that they learn from their deaths, and that’s a fine balance, but we always keep in mind to make sure it’s fair, and to make sure there’s a reason to each of the situations in the game.
That bridge incident is actually sort of a surprise feature, I guess – we want to express the emotions of “oh my god! What do I do now? Okay, no bridge – how do I get past this part?” And what’s behind that is, we want the players to think about what to do next and think of their own ways to conquer that area.
“Obviously we don’t want to do it so every time you go on the bridge, you die no matter what – that’s not the case. We’ll leave hints and clues to allow players to anticipate what’s going to happen. If they try to cross the bridge, they’ll probably die, as you saw, but there’s emotional takeback that we want from each of the situations like the bridge that we’re trying to communicate. So hopefully players, when they play the game, will understand that everything has a certain amount of meaning in terms of deaths of successes that are present in the game.”
8. Namco Bandai Has Not Put From Software Under Pressure To Broaden The Audience
Following on from the accessibility comment, there was some talk that Namco Bandai had put From Software under pressure to give the series more commercial appeal. Not so.
“We feel that the relationship between From Software and Namco Bandai is good,” Tanimura told us. “Namco Bandai gives us a lot of freedom in terms of what we want to create, and we as From Software are really able to pursue what we want to deliver to the fans, so the relationship there is great.
“Obviously From Software as compared to Namco Bandai is a small company – Namco Bandai is a much larger company, so I think a lot of the feedback from the fans and how Namco Bandai can access fan feedback is a lot larger than what From Software can, so that type of input from the publisher in terms of what fans are expecting is very useful for us in terms of taking into consideration and deciding on certain aspects of the game, so the relationship we have between the publisher and developer is a good one in that we have the freedom to create what we want to create.”
9. Dark Souls 2 Will Have Emotional Frights…
From Software will try bringing ‘emotional fright’ into some areas, by using very few enemies. The idea is presumably that tension and anticipation of what lies ahead will strike fear into players, and with fewer enemies showing up, that means players won’t have the relief of then seeing and understanding what the threat is. One such area was seen in the presentation, with the giant lizard-esque locked behind the prison door.
10. …And An Action-Packed Second Half
That header sounds a little bit too football but it's apt - From Software has mentioned the second half of Dark Souls 2 will have a lot more action than the first half. Perhaps this ties into the accessibility point – having a difficulty gradient that’s easier to recognise than that of Dark Souls.