I have never given much thought to Dark Souls, because of how much I disliked Demon’s Souls. However, after thoroughly enjoying Bloodborne, I have a new found respect for this most punishing of franchises. I got to see a pretty in-depth hands-off preview of Dark Souls III when I was at E3 this year, but I really just wanted to play the thing! I finally got my chance last week during a Bandai-Namco event. What did I think? It was pretty brutal… but awesome.
The section of the game that I played took place in the same area as the E3 demo. As I made my way down the worn down, and war ravaged castle, I took in the sights. Despite the fact that the world was coming to an end and everything looked like it was slowly decaying, the game world looked gorgeous. This is of course due to the power of current-gen consoles which have allowed the development team to create the largest world in the series’ history. While this game may be eye-pleasing in a twisted sort of way, I wasn’t able to sight-see very long as I was soon beset by the angry undead.
Like previous games in the series, you can use a shield to protect yourself or to deflect attacks. I had to make sure to pay extra attention to enemy movements in order to know exactly when to defend myself and when I should counter attack. This is not a game where you want to come into a situation swinging your sword wildly. You need to be patient and treat each encounter as if it were a boss fight.
It’s rare when you will face an enemy solo. You’ll frequently have to face off against multiple enemies, some of whom will fire arrows at you from afar. Thankfully, your character can now dodge (and attack) much faster than in previous games in the series. This can no doubt be attributed to Bloodborne which was a faster game than Dark Souls. Although being able to dodge attacks more quickly helped tremendously, this must be done sparingly since you can run out of stamina fast.
The newest feature of the game is something called “Battle Arts.” Battle Arts allow weapons and shields to have specialized attacks and abilities. Doing a Battle Arts attack will leave players open for a little bit as they have to go into a ready stance, but the rewards for pulling off a successful Battle Arts move are great. The game will have fewer weapons than Dark Souls II, so Battle Arts are a way to get more and varied uses out of the weapons and shields the game does have. Overall, Battle Arts are a welcome new addition that will let players come up with their own fighting style. The option to play the game as before is still there of course, but more options are always good.
During my playthrough, I died several times. I died less than I should have, thanks to me knowing to be careful when entering any building, but the aggressiveness of the foes, and their adeptness at defending themselves with shields lead to my demise several times. This is part of what fans love about the series–the trial and error aspect–so dying should not be seen as failure, but rather, a chance to learn from your mistakes so that you can succeed next time. Also, the last foe that killed me was a giant, fire breathing dragon, so I didn’t feel too bad going out like that.
Fans weren’t very happy with Dark Souls II, but now that series director Hidetaka Miyazaki is back at the helm, it means that this game will be every bit as challenging, exciting, and expansive as fans could want it to be. I only got to play a small sliver, but I know that this massive, interconnected world will have many things to discover… and get killed by.
My time with Dark Souls III was short, but it was enough to show me that From Software are making another great entry in the franchise.