Wes Bruce

TGS: Dark Souls 2 Hands-on

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Dark_Souls_II_coverHey everyone, I’m coming to you from the 2013 Tokyo Game Show at Makuhari Messe. I’ve got quite a few pictures coming and more news as well, but since I’m giving my poor legs a break I thought I’d take a few minutes and tell you about the game I just got my grubby mitts on: Dark Souls 2.

I don’t have time to bring anyone new to the series up to speed, exactly, but From Software’s Souls series is known for its bleak, gothic atmosphere, steady, methodical combat, and uncompromising difficulty. You either understand how to properly approach a fight and win, or you make a mistake and die horribly.

None of this has changed for Dark Souls 2, I’m happy to report. The dark, occasionally burning dungeon I dropped into was exactly what I’ve come to expect from the series. Corpse soldiers lay smoking in corners and rose up to attack me as I passed, and unlike a lot of frustrating zombies in games, if you know which ones are which you can usually take a couple out before they all start swinging at you.

I died a lot. I mean, a LOT, which is impressive for just ten minutes. I picked the dual swordsman class, who was appropriately dressed as a renaissance-y duelist. With no shield, I had to be quick on my feet to keep from getting demolished, and quick I was certainly not.  I’ll go ahead and blame it on Japanese PS3 controls switching the functions of the X and O buttons. Sure, yup. That was definitely it. Mmmhmm. I definitely don’t suck at video games. Shut up!

From remains committed to finding new ways to murder me, too. People who’ve been keeping track of gameplay footage already know, but a new heavily armored enemy responds to the old standby of circle-strafe-behind-and-stab-at-every-opening by, uh, laying on you. It isn’t pleasant. And the vision vs defense tradeoff from the original Dark Souls’ Tomb of Giants is back very early, and I had to choose almost immediately between keeping my offhand or grabbing a torch.  Things went pretty badly for the people who went with shield.

Ten minutes is hardly time to get a full picture of a game in progress, so I’ll leave you with this: the game is gorgeous. It puts its predecessors to shame in the visual category, both in art and in graphical fidelity, and Demons/Dark Souls weren’t slouches in that area. March 11th (announced as the North American release date yesterday at a pre-show press event) can’t possibly come soon enough. I’m ready to die.

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