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E3 2013: Dark Souls 2 (Hands-On)

Posted by: Matt at 6/18/2013 10:09 PM
     I think Namco Bandai was feeling particularly sadistic during E3. You don't just throw people to the wolves in Dark Souls 2 like that. Granted the classes they had available were pretty well equipped, it still felt like a child picking on ants with a magnifying glass. The hands-off demo that gave us a brief intro was handled by a QA lead at Namco Bandai, and even the experienced veteran was dealt a crushing defeat by the demo's boss, the Mirror Knight. It was almost terrifying to watch, his magic attacks rebuffed, the knight easily able to swat him away like an annoying mosquito. After that, we were cut loose, fearful for our own lives. I watched as other journalists left behind pools of blood, and then it was my turn. I think a slaughter might be putting it lightly.

   I'm way out of practice when it comes to Dark Souls, so I had no illusions that I was going to be able to conquer this short demo. But what I did get to play was of the same level of quality of Demon Souls, and its follow up, Dark Souls. And whatever rumors were going around about the game being easier and more 'accessible,' I would say 'hah!' Actually our demonstrator made sure to point out that the difficulty has not been adjusted, so that sense of accomplishment and achievement when you get through this game is certainly still there, and enemies are still tough thanks to the allegedly improved AI. Though I can say that multiple enemies would attack me at the same time without any remorse, compared to most games where all the enemies back off while one comes in weakly, it's refreshing to see a game that makes you pay attention to your surroundings so you don't rouse more enemies.

     Character creation has received a little bit of an upgrade in Dark Souls 2. It's now possible to carry up to three weapons or shields with you on your quest and dual-wielding weapons has been introduced, which means you can be a total bad-ass and dual wield swords, or be the craziest tank ever and carry to tower shields, provided you've got the brute strength necessary to do it. The new engine for the game also makes your characters look better than ever, though you won't really have much time to stop and check out the locales, I made that mistake as I descended in to a tomb and promptly got knocked off a ledge by a skeleton knight, leaving a nice pool of blood that I'm sure someone will try to get to later.

    I don't think I really have to do much to sell you guys on Dark Souls 2, you already knew what you were getting in to when you pre-ordered it, or when you're going to pre-order it, or when you pick it up in stores later this year. I can tell you straight up that it will probably be everything you love about From Software's franchise and more. Personally I think I need more training to complete the first Dark Souls before I even dare going anywhere near Dark Souls 2.