According to Bandai Namco producer Takeshi Miyazoe, Dark Souls 2 will be a lot more transparent in its dealings with the player without sacrificing the capacity for enigma that saw its predecessor become such a cult hit.
The sequel to the critically acclaimed cult classic RPG – Dark Souls has garnered much attention over the past few months as it’s release draws ever closer (11th of March in NA and 14th of March in PAL regions).
One of the most awaited games of 2014, there has been much speculation as to whether it can reach the bar which it’s predecessor set or be a disappointing installment in an otherwise terrific series.
The effects of this transformation in the game’s direction will seep down into every bit of the game.
“In the previous game, the player motions were hand-animated, whereas this time they’re motion-captured by stunt artists.” The result is a combat system that feels more intuitive, more “realistic” – easier to pick up on the cues that advertise a break in a combo, for instance.
The multiplayer, too, is more forthright than the predecessor. With PvP no longer being avoidable by choosing to go Hollow (which now results in disadvantages like a major chunk of your health being taken away).
The covenants also will play a major role and wary players to receive assistance via instant Summons – for example, invaded members of the Way of Blue Covenant get automatic backup in the form of Blue Sentinels.
Given a bit of exploration, many of these mechanics are spelled out with reasonable clearness in the new starting area, Majula, where you’ll also be able to buy weapons, level up and speak to NPCs about the wider storyline.
Much like the age of Gwyn and the Dark, the story will follow a similar pattern in Dark Souls 2. “We feel that having enough space for people to be creative is as approachable as you can get,” Miyazoe noted.
Being Abstract and Vague, pieced together only by the roleplaying element each player partakes in and the clues dropped throughout the game through different items and descriptions is a main trait of the story. There is no ‘true’ singular story.
Each player gets to form their own Narrative and that defines Dark Souls.Speaking of gaps, you might want to be aware of changes in the wind.
“You can feel the wind in certain areas of the game, and the wind itself is going to be a hint,” Miyazoe observed. “If you see a breeze coming in and you see the grass moving, I hope players will catch on that there must be something coming from that side.”
Choosing a gift during character creation is another continuation from the previous game.
As with a certain pendant, some of these gifts may be less useful than others – naturally, Miyazoe was unable to share details. “Pick a gift’ was [series creator] Hidetaka Miyazaki toying with the players,” he said. “It was more like: ‘Don’t worry about it, just pick something and live with it.'”
Players now have torches which they can light at bonfires – replenishment spots dotted throughout the open world. These respawn all the area’s mobs when kindled. At the expense of a shield, players can choose to carry this to guide them through pitch-black caves and dungeons.
They can also light free-standing torches, some of which are tucked away in hard-to-find nooks. It seems probable that there will be some benefit attached to lighting them all, possibly in the form of an achievement, but that’s only guesswork for the moment.
This isn’t the only guess you’ll make of Dark Souls 2, assuming you’re hardy enough not to seek an explanation online. “In terms of tutorials it will be a little more than in Dark Souls I, but we’re not going to explain all the tools you’ll have,” commented Miyazoe.
“We want players to be creative.” You’ll be able to fall back in-game on the cryptically worded advice of other players, however – the old floor messaging system is back, and there’s a greater variety of phrases to choose from, along with the addition of voice chat in co-op modes.
Together with the ghosts of other online players – worth paying attention to, as they’ll often inadvertently alert you to traps or secret routes – those messages also help bring the game’s world to life. Without them, Dark Souls 2 would be a shadow of itself. But for how long will Bandai Namco and From be able to keep the dedicated servers running?
“It’s tough to say,” admitted Miyazoe. “But we’ll keep the servers running for as long as we possibly can – until it gets to the point where it feels like there’s hardly anyone playing at all.
It’s very difficult to keep our game monetised and it’s a cost to keep the servers running, but we think that’s part of the business of being able to release a game like Dark Souls.”
Dark Souls 2 will release on 11th March in the US and 14th March in the UK and other PAL regions. Meanwhile, share your thoughts on your expectations and hopes for the game in the comments below!