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Dark Souls 3 Hands-On - F#@k the Haters
Post by Joaby @ 03:37pm 12/08/15 | Comments
Our resident Souls expert Joab Gilroy has taken Dark Souls 3 for a hands-on spin and walks away enthusiastic, embattered, guarded and entrenched. Read on for what he had to say...

Creating a preview for a game like Dark Souls 3 must be tough. The developer can't give away too much immediately, because Dark Souls is a series where your progression is directly related to your knowledge -- of the world, the systems, the enemies. So they're forced to create a vertical slice, something which represents the game while still being very different.

That's what the Dark Souls 3 demo was -- you could tell it was a Dark Souls 3 game, but there's a lot being held back. There's no inventory menu; no stats menu available. Weapons are automatically assigned to open slots on your direction keys, and there's never any option to change your armour. So if I'm a tad vague, keep in mind that there is just so much you can't know from this demo.



But there's heaps you can know, as well. The game opens with your hero standing at the top of a hill, having just exited some sort of church. Double doors close behind you, and you're immediately presented with a bonfire. Obviously, you light it. Architecturally, Bloodborne's influence is strong. The spires piercing Central Yharnam's skyline are present here, although the gameplay takes place at dusk -- not the permanent night of Bloodborne. This changes the colour palette, giving everything an orange hue, but you still feel the gothic influence anyway.

Miyazaki has mentioned that he has injected Bloodborne learnings into Dark Souls 3, and they're apparent to an extent. Attack combos do chain together with a fluidity you don't see in previous games, and you do seem faster than normal. But Dark Souls 3 draws on the Dark Souls 2's influences as well.

Weapons have alternate attack animations depending on your stance, which means you can dual wield scimitars the way you would Power Stance weapons in 2. Regular attacks on the righthand side, spinning based two-weapon combos on the left. Once again, we've no way of knowing whether these attacks are linked to stats, but there was no need to specifically hold down the switch weapons button to 'power stance' them, so it seems like a mere influence instead of an actual adoption of the concept.



Other weapons also have modified attacks based on your use of the Left Trigger. Not all shields can parry in Dark Souls 3, so you need the right tool for the job -- but that doesn't mean your shield won't have a Left Trigger-based move. We got to play around with a shield slam type attack on the larger buckler we started the game equipped with (it had 100% physical attack blocking as well, so it was our main shield), and we were able to stun enemies if they were close enough when we triggered it. The Greatsword has what I believe to be a guard break attack on its Left Trigger (only when two-handed) which will no doubt prove handy in PvP.

The small shield seemed to have a huge parry window on it -- I felt like it might have even been too easy to parry enemies as they came at me, especially because you remain invulnerable while riposting. On the other hand, the backstab window felt quite narrow, and I felt a little cheated on a number of what I thought were clear backstab opportunities which turned into normal attacks instead.

The combat really is fast, and the demo wasn't afraid to try to overwhelm me. Crossbow enemies are happy to sit back and ping you while you try to deal with shielded enemies up front, and the AI was particularly annoying when I was trying to draw it into a more protected arena. There were two particularly tough mobs in the demo build, one the actual boss, and I was pleased to see that both had a wide array of combat animations available to them. Regular mobs tend to rely on strength in numbers a little, but the boss and a Smough-sized mob forced me into long, protracted fights each time I faced off with them. Fortunately I was able to run past the fatty on most trips to the boss fog.



The boss itself is gorgeous. The Dancer of the Frigid Valley, the moment you open the doors to her lair you can tell what you're in for. She pours her way into the room during the boss cutscene, and the way she moves is perfect. She sways and swings like a snake, while a tonally perfect orchestral score rises in the background as the fight draws out.

At about 50% health her attack options double as she pulls a second sword out of the nether. I found her quite simple to deal with until she transformed, and it's good to see the team isn't afraid to challenge your ideas of how to play the game -- she was simple because, like most large bosses in Souls games, the trick to beating her is staying between her legs. When she transforms, she relies heavily on AOE attacks to force you to withdraw.

I failed to beat the Dancer in the allotted time. I only really had enough time to try to battle her three times, and the best I could manage was 15%. But that's the essence of Dark Souls, right? I want to return. I want to try again, I want to beat her. And I want to continue afterwards.



Before I wrap this up, let's talk about Dark Souls 2. Dark Souls 2 was a great game. It was a great Souls game. It was challenging and intelligent, it featured a number of marked improvements over the previous game (like the more fleshed out covenants system and the superior PvP), and it did a number of things I genuinely hope return in Dark Souls 3. Like dramatic changes to bosses in NG+ fights, which gives those of us who like their challenge to be more than just 'more health and damage resistance' a reason to actually revisit the game. Already Dark Souls 3 has accepted the reality that Left Thumbstick (or L3) is the best button combination for jump, something Dark Souls 2 introduced.

We should thank our lucky fucking stars that we get a game as good as Dark Souls 2 once in a decade. But people are talking shit about the game and claiming Dark Souls 3 is a 'return to form' for the series, as if Miyazaki is the only person at FROM capable of making a Souls game work. Well bad news, turd burgers. According to an interview with GameSpot, Dark Souls 2 Director Tanimura is already involved with the creation of Dark Souls 3 while Miyazaki juggles duties on both DS3 and Bloodborne DLC. Dark Souls 2 was tight as hell. It was the Aliens to Dark Souls' Alien. Fuck. The. Haters.
Read more about Dark Souls 3 on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!



Latest Comments
Vash
Posted 04:32pm 12/8/15
Dark souls is what every game should strive to be. Not so much the difficulty part, but the mysterious feel about it.
Gaming has lost it's spark because of the hand holding in every modern game. Maps, waypoints, hints, info overload.

We need more games that leave more to the imagination.
notgreazy
Posted 04:42pm 12/8/15
Dark souls is what every game should strive to be. Not so much the difficulty part, but the mysterious feel about it.
Gaming has lost it's spark because of the hand holding in every modern game. Maps, waypoints, hints, info overload.

We need more games that leave more to the imagination.

Agreed, dark souls is damn hard but it does something that I think no other game does: gets you talking to your friends. I've got an odd policy when gaming. I try my hardest to NOT look up a game guide because it's pretty much cheating. I try and ask friends (none these days :() who have played the game and then internet people and then finally a game guide.
Joaby
Posted 04:57pm 12/8/15
I think Dark Souls gets away with giving the player nothing because the gameplay is compelling enough to inspire people to share their knowledge with others. I don't know if EVERY game should be like that though. I sort of appreciate the GPS waypoint navigation in a lot of games these days, because as games get bigger and bigger it gets harder to navigate them without getting lost. That said, I'd never tolerate anything like that in a Souls game.

I guess it's really about what you want out of a game. If I'm playing The Witcher 3, s*** there are some fast travel points that aren't close enough for my liking. But when I'm in a Souls game there are occasions when I don't even jump to different bonfires at all.
Spook
Posted 05:06pm 12/8/15
dark souls are the best. such depth of play, great story, frothin to play the third one
Hogfather
Posted 07:29pm 12/8/15
Haha funny thing about DS, just stumbled across this on the redits

SandySpryArchaeopteryx.gif

nope nope nope I dont have enough sanity fo rthis game
Khel
Posted 12:02pm 13/8/15
Thing is, I hate most games on hard difficulty because 'hard' difficulty usually just means 'cheese' difficulty, where the game doesn't so much feel harder as just unfair and when you die it just feels cheap and like the game is cheating to f*** you over.

I haven't played Dark Souls, but from my experience with Bloodborne, sure it was hard and I died a lot but it never really felt cheap it was usually pretty obviously my own stupid fault or a mistake I made. And yeah it was challenging but the challenges could be overcome and the game never felt cheap or cheesy or like it was cheating you out of a victory that should have rightfully been yours. I don't mind a difficult game when its like that, when the difficulty is a matter of skill and not just a game designer turning some knobs that make everything have more health and hit harder.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 02:23pm 13/8/15
Yeah, 'Hard' modes that just mean more Hitpoints and/or more damage are s*** and lazy.

Hard modes that mean better equipped and smarter AI is much better.
FSCB
Posted 11:34pm 13/8/15
The worst are hard modes where the enemy becomes super accurate. Those are the worst. Simply aimbot.
Joaby
Posted 09:12am 14/8/15
*cough* Xaero on Nightmare *cough*
notgreazy
Posted 09:16am 14/8/15
Some games add more enemies, I think one of the batman games did this and it became a real chore having to fight big groups. I really enjoyed the stealth level though on hard.
paveway
Posted 06:35pm 15/8/15
Haha hoggy that was nothing, that wasn't even scratching the surface of what it can be like

The guy jumped too far from the ledge and basically offered his back up for a back stabbing on a platter

There are some great mutliplayer trolling vids compilations on youtube
natslovR
Posted 08:18pm 15/8/15

Agreed, dark souls is damn hard but it does something that I think no other game does: gets you talking to your friends. I've got an odd policy when gaming. I try my hardest to NOT look up a game guide because it's pretty much cheating. I try and ask friends (none these days :() who have played the game and then internet people and then finally a game guide.


Fark, i can remember doing that. Asking friends how to get passed a certain bit of a game, where i'd been stuck for hours, then wishing the school day was over so i could speed home and try it because it was now so obvious.
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