After watching a heap of footage at E3 and being able to see the amazing statue they had on display I’ve finally been able to get my hands on Dark Souls 3. A lengthy demo has been on offer at EB Expo and I have been lining up at the Namco Bandai booth to play it as much as possible.
The demo featured a set of 4 stock characters with their own different strengths and weaknesses. The variety was definitely there from the get go and I found myself getting back into the rhythm of dodge, block and attack with the small selection of weapons I was able to pick up along the way.
The visuals are similar to the games predecessors and to me it feels like Dark Souls 3 grabs a few combat notes from Bloodborne. The combat seems faster than Dark Souls 2 and you really have to time your attacks and exploit the weaknesses in each enemy’s defences. With a mix of agile and destructive enemies to deal with it really helps to keep two different weapons on hand as I felt I needed to constantly switch between them to stay alive.
According to director Hidetaka Miyazaki, the game’s gameplay design “follows closely from Dark Souls II.” But the more I play it, Dark Souls 3 gives me vibes from Bloodborne (with an added shield) as well as the previous games in its own series. The grim environments and gothic setting blurs the lines between the two games which makes for an interesting experience and one that definitely keeps me coming back to play.
While making my way through the new world within the Wall of Lodeleth, I still checked every corner with a quick leap back in case something was to come and poke me full of holes. The fear of instant death is still very much present in Dark Souls 3 and the bosses seem to be no exception. My first encounter with the Dancer of the Frigid Valley boss had me grabbed and one shotted faster than you can say ‘holy crap the flaming sword is bigger than I am.’ But I continued in my struggle and eventually after multiple queues and deaths I was back in the groove and finally got the boss down.
Even in the demo there were alternative routes to explore, mini bosses to encounter and extra items to acquire which would help in killing the boss. I was able to stock up on firebombs and with a few trial attempts, open up a few shortcuts to make my experience easier. The evolving level design and promise of loot keeps up that drive to explore the world and look in every nook and cranny for the next reward. This only helps to extend the gameplay and make the world feel so much bigger.
It looks like From Software may have listened to the players and some items have changed, most notably is the addition of the Ash Estus Flask which allows the player to refill their MP bar. I guess this is a balancing tactic to defer spell/hex users from spamming at range. I haven’t yet picked a character that used spells so I was unable to test how much of an effect they would have on the gameplay.
I’m really liking the subtle changes that have been made along the series of the Souls games and I think From Software has learned a lot from its previous games. If the full game is anything like the demo I have been coming back to then I can’t be more hyped for it. It’s one of the only games that really challenges the player on a level that most games can’t while keeping you immersed the entire time.
Look for Dark Souls 3 as it rolls onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in early 2016.