“You will die. That much is certain.” Not only are these the opening lines of the launch trailer for Dark Souls 2, but they are also one of the most accurate representations of the experience that permeates the Souls franchise. No matter how skilled a gamer may think they are, From Software’s masochistic hits have a way of stopping them in their tracks and humbling them.
Dark Souls 2 looks to be no different from the series’ past iterations in this respect. From death-by-cleaver, to death-by-chariot, to death-by-amorphous-blob, there’s no shortage of ways to die. This is an aspect of gaming that most players tend to gloss over, but in the Souls universe this humiliation is an essential part of the experience, in turn making the feeling of success that much sweeter.
As evidenced by the game’s launch trailer, it’s clear that the developers at From Software have embraced the Sisyphean nature of the Souls franchise. Rather than highlighting new features or changes to past mechanics, it instead opts to simply mock the player. Do you see that seemingly strong hero? One wrong dodge and it’s curtains. It’s that ever-present struggle to progress forward, only to be swatted backward like a fly that has drawn so many challenge-seekers to the series.
Looking past the trailer’s mocking nature, it’s clear that gamers have a good reason to be excited about Dark Souls 2. Despite opting to not make the jump to next-gen, it’s clear that From Software’s latest is pushing the current hardware to its limits graphically. The series’ last iteration wasn’t exactly hard on the eyes, but the quality of the enemy models looks superb. While there are the standard “big, scary, armor-clad knight” enemies, the trailer also shows off some potentially interesting encounters like the speeding chariot and the masked maniac with bound hands. There should be no shortage of terrifying creatures to kill and be killed by.
The fluidity of the gameplay also looks to be something that will please the gamers who were turned off by the arguably “clunky” feeling of the series’ past games. The developers seem to have nailed the balance between feeling fluid and giving characters a sense of weight. For a series that prides itself on it’s combat, this could be a change that some love and some loathe.
No matter how you spin it though, Dark Souls 2 looks like it will be an absolute joy/nightmare to play. It may appeal to a somewhat niche market, but attempts to make it more accessible could help the game to make a big splash. This, along with talk of potential Vita and Wii U ports, and the game’s already-stellar reviews are sure to cement the game as one of the biggest releases of the year.
Have you managed to complete Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls? Which enemy are you most excited to be brutalized by?
Dark Souls 2 is available now for the Xbox 360 and PS3 and will be seeing a proper release on PC on April 25, 2014.
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