Using E3 2013 knowledge to compare Dark Souls 2 gameplay to Dark Souls
You’re mad if you think Dark Souls 2 will be easy. That rumor buzzing around has been shot down when Namco Bandai’s Matt Warner told me that it was all a misquote. Not only won’t it be easy, he said it should be more difficult than Dark Souls.
By the time I saw Dark Souls 2 at E3, it was late on the final day. At that point, only one media member has beaten the boss of the demo. The guy playing the demo only beat him five times the entire week. So essentially, this new Dark Souls will be even more Dark Souls than previous Souls games.
That boss, the Mirror Knight, is a big dude, probably about Smough size – not in girth. He’s whole deal comes with his mirror shield. During the fight he’ll make a near copy of your character who breaks out of the shield and becomes an add to the fight. He can do this multiple times during the battle.
So what? Big deal, you say? In the completed version of this game with online connectivity, this add can be a red phantom. That’s right, during this boss fight another player can come invade you adding a whole new layer of f@#$ to your experience. I both love this and am terrified by this. To add insult to injury, each time you die, a new candle is lit in the bonfire room before the Mirror Knight. You can imagine how lit up this room was on the E3 showfloor – it looked brighter than the 4th of July.
One of the major updates to DS2 is enemy AI. If you even consider trying to heal in reach of your foes, they will punish you. This is all part of enemies being less predictable and following less pattern strains. No longer will the "lock on, circle strafe, backstab" trick work on nearly every enemy. In DS2, you don’t automatically teleport behind the enemy when you backstab. Actually, your backstab can whiff, which leaves you open to frames of vulnerability. The good news is that enemies can whiff on their backstabs as well. From Software did this to stop experienced players from clearing entire rooms with invulnerable backstab chains.
Parries will no longer leave your foe with vulnerable frames, instead knocking them on their backs. You have to follow through with another attack to kill them in a similar style to a straight sword and the Hornet Ring. Larger weapons will also cause more knockback. This change was to make “Havel Trolling” less of a thing for PvE and PvP. (While Warner credited EpicNameBro on this video, I think he was refereeing to vageta311’s parrying guide. Watch that video, it’s hilarious and amazing.)
The enemies in Dark Souls 2 are just generally going to be a@#holes. Some of them will be playing possum and will only react to you if you strike at them. Similar to the Mimics in Dark Souls, if you wait and look carefully, you can see them breathing. These guys want to give you false sense of security. Their AI has them only stand up once you move past them. Once up, they will follow you and wait to engage until you are engaged in other combat. During the demo when I came across the first turtle knight, two of these jerks swung on me the moment I back-rolled away from the turtle. Yeah, I died.
A quick note on those turtle knights, they are designed to shake up your gameplay strategies. Since they are slow and hulking enemies, the logical approach is to backstab them. Unfortunately, if you go for the backstab, they just trust fall back on top of you. For you roguish-dexterity types, you’ll have to face this foe from the front. JUST MAKE SURE THERE AREN’T A#$HOLES BEHIND YOU!
While there will still be Estus Flasks that you’ll rely on for big and slow heals, there will also be life gems. These crystals are consumables that drop of enemies and do not refresh at bonfires. The pros to the health crystals are that they can be used while moving. The cons are that they don’t heal as much and heal much slower. Hey, more options though, right? We’ve all been at that awkward/frustrating battle where we swear we would have won if we just had ONE MORE Estus Flask.
Jumping is completely different. No longer is it attached to a sprint and roll. Now you just, you know, click in a stick, and your character jumps. I say it’s an upgrade, although it’s definitely something you need to get used to. You can have three weapons for each arm now. While I was unable to learn anything about if this affects equipment load, there are different rolls. While the rolls look quite similar between the knight and the duel-wielder, there are different amounts of frames of invulnerability.
While duel-wielding isn’t necessarily new, the functionality has completely changed. Not only can you swing with your left arm, but there are new combos you can perform with it. The "duel-wield" approach is believed to be the highest way to do deal the most damage the fastest – a sort of risk/reward system. If you hold the triangle/Y button, you actually enter a higher damage stance while duel-wielding. In this stance you’ll swing both weapons at the same time instead of one after the other. This attack is slower but more punishing to your enemies.
It appears as if sorceries and "pyromancies" have been thrown together. I put pyromancies in quotes because they are cast with a catalyst and could possibly be just fire sorceries, which have never been known to exist. Also, the magic user had a specific shield that should be used as a catalyst; I found that to be pretty groovy. The Temple Knight still used some sort of talisman different from the catalyst to cast spells.
On this topic, your beginning class is going to going to play a larger role in your gaming experience. In Dark Souls, your class was more of a starting package that by end game didn’t matter whatsoever. In Dark Souls 2, there will be some sort of character generator followed by a preset class. I’m assuming you’ll be able to divulge off the beaten path, but this is how it was explained to me.
Other improvements include the ability to bonfire teleport as soon as you discover them, no need for the Lordvessel anymore. The graphics got an extreme overhaul, your character’s movements are the results of mo-cap, 4 players can be in the same world at a time, and the game will be out for PC on day one.
The entertaining part of this E3 meeting was that the Namco Bandai representatives weren’t told a whole lot about the demo by From Soft. Instead of having no comment about some of my questions, I could tell they really just didn’t know – they wouldn’t confirm if the game is a prequel or sequel to Dark Souls or which county the game takes place in.
Typical trolling, From Soft…