Heading into E3 2015, there were a lot of surprises spoiled ahead of time. Destiny watched its next expansion leak in large pieces thanks to a Red Bull marketing campaign. A trademark for Mirror’s Edge 2 revealed that the game would be subtitled Catalyst. And leaked images and gameplay confirmed that From Software was hard at work on Dark Souls 3.
Nevertheless, the prospect of a third Dark Souls game so soon after From Software delivered Bloodborne left fans reasonably concerned, even more so considering the faults of Dark Soul 2. Thankfully, we are happy to report from our hands-off preview of Dark Souls 3 that the game has been in the works for a while now, and Souls franchise creator Hidetaka Miyazaki is on-board as director.
As part of the Dark Souls 3 E3 2015 preview, Miyazaki walked Game Rant through his bullet point design inspirations for the sequel, in addition to showing off some gameplay. And by and large it sounds like Dark Souls 3 is exactly what fans are looking for – a new, yet familiar game that takes advantage of the modern power of today’s consoles.
Of the key pillars highlighted during the demo, the world scale and swordplay left the most lasting impressions. Without question this is the best looking Dark Souls 3 to-date, capturing the same dark fantasy tone, but with a greater sense of scope. This particular demo focused on a castle area that featured massive ramparts, dragon corpses, and was all fully rendered in real-time.
By Miyazaki’s own admission, the dark fantasy milieu has a greater draw for him, and it certainly shows. Few would call Dark Souls 2‘s world gorgeous in the traditional sense, but it sill looks very impressive. The amount of detail in the environments, the draw distance, and the way flecks of ash, pieces of cloth, or embers move is leaps and bounds ahead of anything in prior games.
Those embers and ash are particularly significant to Dark Souls 3, whose big bad is called the Lord of Cinder. The Lord of Cinder is referenced in prior games, but apparently this giant sword-wielding knight is due for an awakening, and is ultimately at odds with the player character. Miyazaki didn’t say too much about the story, but Dark Souls fans know that’s M.O anyway. From Software likes players to uncover the lore through item descriptions and careful analysis, which Dark Souls 3 supports in spades.
Finally, combat has been greatly improved for Dark Souls 2, afforded players a greater selection of attacks depending on their weapons. The main focus of the E3 2015 presentation was the ‘Ready Stance’ (for swords), ‘Spin’ (for dual wielding), and ‘Lunge’ (for great swords), which act kind of like charge up attacks but can transition into a few different animations. Players are also much faster in Dark Souls 3 – an important change that seems to have been brought over from development on Bloodborne. As far as what other Bloodborne design elements made the jump to Dark Souls 3, Miyazaki wouldn’t say. After all, Sony owns the Bloodborne IP and it’s best not to insinuate any ideas were taken from that franchise.
At the end of the day, though, this was still a very innately Dark Souls product on display. From the visuals, to the combat, to the extreme difficulty, everything that fans have come to expect from the franchise has been brought to PS4 and Xbox One with only slight tweaks. And most of those tweaks seem to be in service of making Dark Souls 3 a better playing game, but not necessarily an easier one. Miyazaki and his translator referenced the series’ trademark challenge several times throughout the demo, presumably to assure fans that they aren’t deviating too far from their formula. For our part, Dark Souls 3 looks like the game fans want, led by the man who gives the franchise its personality. We can’t wait to play…and die…in the world of Dark Souls 3.
Dark Souls 3 is targeting an early 2016 release for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.