When the good folks over at Bandai Namco fired up Dark Souls III, my first thought was: “This reminds me a lot of Bloodborne.” And that’s a good thing. This time around, the inspiration forDark Souls III comes from the concept of armageddon and the coming of a doomsday. Game director Hidetaka Miyazaki also explicitly states that he aims to convey a sort of “withered beauty” with this installment. The decrepit castles and structures of Lodeleth stood weary under the faded sun of this fantasy world; it became clear that despite being centered around such a sullen concept like the apocalypse, Miyazaki is still very determined to continue his quest to reveal the beauty that lies within darkness.
The Dark Souls III hands-off demo starts at the Wall of Lodeleth, where we got our first look at the protagonist, who was armed with a sword and shield. The first big change that comes with Dark Souls III is the ability to enter a ‘ready stance’ with your character. When you’re in this stance, you’ll be able to perform certain special attacks, depending on the type of weapon you have equipped. For instance, you can perform a lunge that breaks your enemy’s guard if you have a sword equipped. Not every weapon will allow you to perform special attacks in ready stance, but it does add a layer of complexity to the already deep combat system of Dark Souls.
In the demo, we also found out that there was a dragon acting as a guardian of the castle. Once you reached a certain point in the game and encountered the dragon, it would swoop down and start breathing fire in your direction. However, this also opened up a new path for our protagonist to explore. As the dragon continued its fire breathing from the top of the stairs, the multitude of enemies that was previously present at the bottom quickly dispersed to avoid the dragon’s flames. It was also stated that there will be instances in the game where certain events affect the movement patterns of your enemies.
Knights also make a very unwelcome return in Dark Souls III. Any Souls fan would instantly recognize the threat posed by these shield-bearing assholes, and they’re just as powerful as ever in Dark Souls III. However, you do have more options in choosing how you want to deal with them. You could either resort to the tried and true method of rolling away and going in for cheap hits, or using your ready stance special attacks to break their guard and land critical hits.
The game’s protagonist also looks a lot faster on his feet, almost as if Dark Souls III had drawn inspiration from the incredibly fast-paced nature of this year’s Bloodborne. Rolls feel faster, attacks feel swifter, and Miyazaki promises a viable range of character builds to accommodate different play styles. I haven’t seen enough of the game yet, but this gives me hope that the game will allow you to freely choose between being a slower, armored soldier with a shield and a more nimble character like the hunter in Bloodborne.
Collectibles have also been introduced in the game. There will be multiple graves hidden throughout the game, and lighting them up will allow you to unlock bits and pieces of the game’s lore and backstory – perfect for anyone looking to delve into its incredibly rich and detailed story. Miyazaki has also mentioned that this game shares the same world as the first two games, so it’s probably a safe bet to say that the game’s lore will be deep as hell.
The demo ends off with a fight against the Dancer of the Frigid Valley. The boss takes on the form of a very large, skeletal ghost that wields a flaming sword in one hand. Boss fights will consist of multiple phases where the bosses change up their attack patterns, depending on how much health they’ve got left. With the Dancer, she whips out an ethereal-looking sword and starts coming at you with two swords. Boss fights have always been the highlight of theSouls games, and the fight with the Dancer was as epic as you’d expect.
The demo didn’t really show off the game’s HUD, but it’s also been mentioned that the HUD will be very similar to the ones we’ve seen in the first two Dark Souls games. In contrast toBloodborne, Dark Souls III will be returning to its roots and will feature a large array of weapons for you to choose from.
From the fading sun to the ghostly Dancer you face at the end of the demo, Dark Souls III is dedicated to Miyazaki’s ongoing mission of conveying the idea that beauty transcends our superficial understanding of the word. Dark Souls III looks like everything you can expect from a Souls game, with just a touch of Bloodborne‘s swiftness. The game won’t be out until next year, but From Software seems primed to take the gaming world by storm once again in 2016.
Dark Souls III will be made available for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC in spring 2016.