By claybrez 8 Comments
I, like any ravenous Souls fan, watched a lot of gameplay breakdown videos the week of gamescom, in addition to reading every write-up I could. There was a lot to be excited about. The trailer that dropped that week showcased a Bloodborne-esque emphasis on frenetic enemies and swift player movement, hitting all the right notes for me while still implying some pretty interesting changes, such as the new sacrifice mechanic. Following the trailer, a number of the Souls community's most prominent content creators released videos outlining their experiences with a hands-on demo, further confirming some of my hopeful suspicions about the game. Having consumed a veritable cornucopia of Dark Souls 3 information now, here are some of the main reasons I'm left with to still be excited for a new Souls game.
It's taking cues from Bloodborne (and every game up to now)
Dark Souls 3 looks decidedly speedier than previous Souls games. The majority of community members who have played the demo place the game's pace somehow between Dark Souls 1 and Bloodborne, both in terms of stamina regen and the overall speed of one's actions. This marks something of a sweet spot to me. It rewards players who play more proactively, but it's not so fast as to discourage a more reactive playstyle, in fact it's just the opposite. VaatiVidya remarked in his demo impressions that he actually found himself gravitating towards shield usage, despite the game's faster pace. While I don't think some of the bosses and enemies we've seen so far will let you get away with hiding behind a shield (a good thing), I think the game's speed was very deliberately chosen to allow for the tanky builds of yore. Combine that information with what From is calling a "Legolas" style short bow which shoots as quick as a Bloodborne gun (maybe quicker?), and what we've seen of the Legion Scimitars, and you've got yourself the makings of some very different playstyles to tinker with. The build range may be as extreme as Havel monster to full-on Bloodborne hunter!
However, I'd be remiss to say there aren't any restrictions on character builds this time around. The Legion Scimitars are dual swords you actually equip as one weapon, which seems to imply weapons may be locked to either hand like Bloodborne's weapons were. However, just as that was a concession made for Bloodborne's weapon transformations, this restriction I suspect is in service of the game's new Battle Arts system, so while we may be losing Dark Souls 2 powerstancing we may be gaining something a little more interesting and varied.
The Battle Arts system
The newest addition to Dark Souls 3, Battle Arts, is a new limited use ability dependent on your currently selected weapon activated by pressing or holding L2. Uses are replenished at bonfires, similar to Estus Flasks. The need to limit these special moves and abilities is due to their overwhelming power and usefulness in specific situations. Although we've seen scant few weapons thus far (and no spells whatsoever), the abilities provided by this new feature already run the gamut. The longsword's Battle Art triggers a "ready" stance which allows for a completely different moveset with block breaking capabilities. The battle axe triggers a "war cry" AoE and applies a currently unknown buff. The greatsword has the player lunge into an enemy and send them flying with a launching follow-up. The scimitars perform the crowd-shredding spin move we've seen in the trailer and screenshots. All of these abilities work differently from each other and factor more deeply into someone's playstyle than just adding more moves. And while the Bloodborne weapon transformation comparison is still apt, I actually see these abilities as a way of returning to the series' roots as well. The larger weapons in Demon's Souls could reliably send foes flying or make them eat the ground they're standing on, to an almost broken degree. This new system reopens that possibility while still putting something in place to govern how exploited it gets. The overall variety of Battle Arts is akin to the special, durability draining moves of boss soul weapons in Dark Souls 1. Now, every weapon in the game will have the depth and character of those special weapons, without the penalty of breaking the weapon but instead losing the special moves until the next bonfire. It's a good solution to un-nerfing the game's weapons and still maintaining game balance. Also, it's worth noting that Miyazaki has confirmed a similar system will be in place for spells but no details have been disclosed as of yet. Having seen what they've done with the regular weapons, one can imagine that magic spells and boss weapons will become equally stronger. A boss weapon utilizing Battle Arts will truly be a site to behold.
Dark Souls 1 world layout & Sacrifice mechanic
Many fans of the series found themselves lamenting the length of Bloodborne and its general lack of content compared to the Dark Souls series. With Dark Souls 3, there is a good chance those fears won't be realized again. According to the original leak, Dark Souls 3 is set to have the same amount of content as Dark Souls 1. In addition to being content rich, it seems to offer the same degree of variety in terms of build, with 10 starting classes and presumably a whole slew of different playstyles associated with them, and world layout, if the gamescom demo is any indication. From what I've gathered, the early area branches out into numerous paths, some leading to dead ends which may be due to only being a demo, and two others leading to bosses. This may signal a return to Dark Souls 1's large, interconnected world, and the ability to choose the order you attack certain bosses.
However, an interesting aspect to having this Dark Souls 1 style world, is the game's new sacrifice mechanic, which will allow players to enter one another's world by driving a hot bonfire poker into a corpse in a ritualistic sacrifice. These corpses can be dragged around and sacrificing one will also change the location of your bonfire, presumably to some kind of fixed position. Enemy placement, and the likelihood of being invaded will also be altered. This ability to change the location of bonfires, or create entirely new ones, is still extremely vague to us, but the prospect is very intriguing given that Miyazaki has gone on record to say there will be no hub in this game. Perhaps such an omission will force us as players to carefully plan out our bonfire placements? Only time can tell, but the mechanic seems like it will have a profound effect on the game.
I could go on about why I think this game is deserving of hype but I think that covers the main reasons, other than my nutty conspiracy that Ornstein will be in this one and it will be awesome (please, do me the unnecessary fanservice!). Ever since Miyazaki described Dark Souls 3 as a turning point, I've been confident he'll see to it that this series (series meaning this current string of medieval-ish games) goes out with a bang. He's super smart about understanding his audience's expectations and trying to surpass them (just look at Bloodborne). A lot of his recent comments have been very sensitive to players' concerns surrounding a new Souls game. In a recent interview, he straight up said he knows big armor dudes get a lot of flak from players for being lazily designed. Of course, this isn't to say I think he's single-handedly making the game good, everyone at From is clearly talented and integral to their projects, but I think the presence of his guiding hand will definitely be felt for the better in the final product. I think if there was ever to be a game born from the culmination of everything Miyazaki & Co. have learned from making games and listening to their audience, it's Dark Souls 3. From seems very good at evolving their games and I think this next entry will be no exception. It's a great time to be a Souls fan, people!