Dark Souls Is More of the Same, and That Same Is Great – E3 Preview

Dark Souls was playable at E3 2011, and I’m fairly certain it destroyed more than its fair share of gamers’ egos. For those veteran fans of Demon’s Souls who wonder about Dark Souls’ difficulty, never you mind, because on the back of the box they’ll probably include the bullet point, “breaks controllers”.

There were a few of the new campfire rest points featured in the demo. They act as checkpoints and refilled my health potions, though going back to them caused non-boss characters to respawn. We don’t know how many will be scattered throughout the finished game, but they didn’t take away from the challenge, they only took a bit of the frustration out of dying.

I recommend running away.

One of the first things I noticed about the demo, is that just after you pass a few enemies, which seem like they’re there for you to take some practice swings on, there are two separate paths to take. On the right, a staircase, and on the left, a wide bridge with a large dragon taking up the entire width of the bridge. Wanting to see what would happen, I ran straight towards the dragon. Sure enough, he not only blew fire at me, but at his own warriors too, engulfing the whole bridge in flames. After surviving the first wave of attacks, I ran back inside, but that was not enough. The dragon came up to the building I was safely hiding in, blew fire, and ended my first run.


Player abuse abounds in Dark Souls.

After that, I figured that maybe the dragon wasn’t meant to be passed during the demo, so in going to the right, I found a giant warthog. This time I decided to play it safe and go around him (though on the second play-through I was able to take him down). I found a “lure” item that distracted the warthog long enough for me to pass almost unnoticed. Believe me when I say that when this thing chases you, you will be running for dear life as his repeated attacks can take out more than half of your health easily. There are also regular enemies (knights) that may be a little similar to those found in Demon’s Souls. These knights will hop backwards to avoid attacks, and even hold up their sword, pointed towards the player, and attempt to parry your attacks. You definitely don’t want to run past enemies either, as they will chase and surround you, with your death being not that far behind.


Another enemy I ran into, was a slightly larger-than-normal knight in a church, that had pews and a few pillars. I guess I don’t need to tell you that the mace and shield were also large – I don’t think From Software does silly things like putting small shields in the hands of giant knights. Anyway, he had some tricky timing, testing my armor’s ability to protect my not-so-resilient virtual body. Sometimes he seemed to smash his mace into the ground once, and at other times he would do two attacks in a row, getting the best of me. When my health ran low, I desperately ran through the pews and hid behind pillars to get enough time to drink a health potion. He smashed through them, of course, increasing the tension of the battle. All the while, there was a high priest of annoyance in a balcony, shooting what looked like “soul arrows” at me. After defeating the knight, I made my way up to that priest, killed off his minions, and satisfyingly laid a few sword swipes into him – eat it, priest! I was eager for my next challenge, so I quickly walked outside of the church and found a staircase…and then the Konami rep told me it was time for someone else to play.

As far as the controls go, they are essentially the same. You can still block, perform hard and light attacks, hop backwards and do a dash attack, roll attack, and hold a weapon with two hands for stronger attacks. The magic seems to have been nerfed a bit, requiring more time to cast a fireball. There’s also a strange new jump that occurs when players run and then tap the run button. Unfortunately, I ran out of time before I could figure out if it had a purpose, or if maybe it was just for looks. Other than that, it’s thus far the same game as before, control-wise.

Dark Souls is a game that I was looking forward to before E3, and now after playing it, I will be pre-ordering it to get that free automatic upgrade to the special edition. Demon’s Souls fans, you won’t be disappointed. Dark Souls currently has a release date of October 4th and will be available for both PS3 and Xbox 360. Gamers who pre-order the game will receive the limited edition which includes an art book, strategy guide, digital soundtrack, metal case, and behind-the-scenes videos.

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