E3 2015: Prepare to Die All Over Again in Dark Souls III
Some people shudder just hearing the name Dark Souls, so I can imagine their reaction to the trailer for Dark Souls III presented during the Xbox E3 2015 Media Briefing. The game that thrives on killing its players again and again with supreme difficulty and incredibly hard bosses is returning in a big way, and an in-depth presentation in the Bandai Namco meeting room at E3 showed just how insane this new game is going to be.
Let's start off with this: the dev team deliberately toned down the difficulty of the demo so the driver could make it through without issue, and he still died twice during our presentation. Anyone who might have hoped for an easier go this time around should temper those expectations, because it's just not going to happen. The demo starts just outside a giant castle, and our knightly hero must head right to it in order to proceed. This is a world of apocalypse, Armageddon and its "withered beauty" being a major theme of the entire game. The skies are orange like fire and the world is dusty and broken, a slight wind blowing over the scene as the knight makes his way through. This adventure will not be a pleasant one.
I am then introduced to a few of the game's weapons, and I couldn't decide which one I liked best. The standard straight sword allows for a "ready" stance that can break defenses before doing damage with two special attacks that can be launched right from ready. The giant Greatsword, inspired by Guts' Dragonslayer sword from Berserk, is a massive blade with a lunge stance that also hides two powerful special attacks. Finally I see the Legion Scimitar, a sword made more for quick strikes that can be dual-wielded, and watch as the knight performs a multi-hit spin attack that clears a few enemies from his path. While weaponry will be in no short supply, that can only mean that adversaries will be plentiful as well.
As the demo proceeds I'm presented with a choice: do I tell the demo driver to take the lower path swimming with enemies or the upper path that seems to be clear? Of course I chose the upper path, and of course I immediately regretted it when a giant dragon swooped down, latched onto the side of the castle, and blew fire breath at me with reckless abandon. I then realized that I made the wrong choice and told the demo player to turn around, but my errant choice had an unexpected benefit as the enemies in the lower path all fell victim the fiery outburst and the path was cleared. These branching paths are a big part of Dark Souls III, and we'll never know what really lies ahead until we try them for ourselves.
The demo ended with a boss fight against a massive and scary-looking creature called the Dancer of the Frigid Bounty. It wielded a flaming sword that laid massive damage on the poor knight with every hit, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. As the knight gained an advantage and started to overwhelm the monster, it quickly changed tactics and surprised the knight, showing off the boss' ability to adapt and change its approach as death neared. As if the bosses of Dark Souls weren't difficult enough, now they know when to change things up mid-battle. This is not going to be a fun ride, I can already tell.
I only got a small glimpse of the full Dark Souls III experience, but it showed me everything I've come to expect from the series in that short time. The game is crazy difficult, the enemies are massive in scale and destructive power, and the available weaponry is quite powerful in capable hands. Adventurers looking for another masochistic jaunt through a dangerous world now have a new game to look forward to with Dark Souls III, and it looks like the wait won't be much longer.
Dark Souls III is scheduled to launch in early 2016 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.