Dark Souls

Apr 17, 2009
San Diego, CA
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Preorder: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004NRN5EO/?tag=hidefnin-20
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Apr 17, 2009
San Diego, CA
Dark Souls Q&A: Variety is the Spice of Death

Fans of 2009’s PS3-exclusive RPG Demon’s Souls are sure to have questions about Dark Souls, which is being produced under the watchful eye of Demon’s Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki. Though the game was formally revealed just days ago, I had a rare opportunity to speak directly with Miyazaki about his plans for Dark Souls. We discussed the game’s soul-crushing difficulty (it’s going to get harder, not easier), his favorite new feature (a new form of “emotional communication” via Beacon Fires), and the games he’s most excited to play in 2011.

Sid Shuman: Would you describe Dark Souls as a sequel to Demon’s Souls, or a spiritual successor? Does Dark Souls reside in the same universe as Demon’s Souls?

Hidetaka Miyazaki, director, Dark Souls: Dark Souls is not a sequel to Demon’s Souls by any means. However, it’s created by the same producers and director and so the ideologies, concepts, and themes have carried over and are similar. It’s a totally new game with similar concepts.

SS: Demon’s Souls is infamous for its difficulty. Will Dark Souls be as difficult?

HM: Yes, Demon’s Souls was known for its incredible difficulty [laughter]. With Dark Souls, there is no intention to decrease the difficulty at all. Actually, we intend to increase the difficulty of the game. (Sid: !!!) But not simply by making the game more difficult, but by giving players the freedom to strategize freely and conquer that difficulty, and to be rewarded accordingly.

This is an analogy we often use: We are trying to create a game that is spicy. And we want to make it as spicy as possible. But it’s edible and tastes good and leaves you wanting more.

SS: How do you keep a difficult game from becoming punishing, and drive the player to quit in frustration?

HM: Good question. We can’t tell you all of our secrets, but there are a few ways we prevent users from drifting away. Number one, the difficulty is not dependent on the skill level of the user. We have not created a game where players who react faster or press buttons faster are better than others. Second, when a player dies, we try to leave a sense of “maybe if I try a different strategy I can succeed.” Things that you lose in death can be outweighed by what you gain by trying again. We try to give players lots of freedom to design their own gameplay style, and we’ve implemented enough content to enable users to continue challenging themselves and continue making progress.

One more aspect is the difficulty based on repetitiveness. We don’t want users to have to constantly carve away health from enemies. We’ve created all characters — including enemies and the player — to have high attack power but low defense. We don’t want users to hack and hack and hack away to defeat an enemy. It’s more strategic. We want users to think, “if I avoid this enemy, maybe I can overcome him.” We don’t want players to be frustrated by doing the same things over and over.

SS: Death was a part of life in Demon’s Souls. But it required that you replay the entire level from scratch with enemies in identical locations. Will Dark Souls force players to restart levels? Will levels be less repetitious to replay?

HM: The main concept has not changed: You try something, die, learn from your mistakes, and eventually overcome those mistakes. In Dark Souls, we’ve added the ability to players to choose their recovery point — essentially respawn points. If you die, you won’t be taken back to the beginning of the level. And as you explore the world, you can carve out your own territory and retry quests you failed. That’s a big difference. It’s an aspect that we want players to use to strategize their approach to the game.

SS: Will Dark Souls have a less intimidating control scheme than Demon’s Souls?

HM: In Demon’s Souls, when you finally get used to the controls, it feels pretty good. So for Dark Souls, the controls and feel won’t change too much. However, we are adding a tutorial so players don’t have to fight to learn how to play. We don’t want to take the players step-by-step, we just want them to get past the first step.

But generally, for Dark Souls, learning commands and controlling your character is probably a little bit easier. But to counter that, we’ve added a lot of aspects that users must learn beyond the controls. The amount of magic, the number of weapons, the types of weapons, the moves attached to the weapons…there is a lot more that players must learn in order to conquer the challenges.

SS: Does that mean we can expect a lot of new weapons with unique functions?

HM: The simple answer is yes. But we’re not just increasing the number of weapons; we want to improve the uniqueness of each weapon. Each weapon will have characteristics that are vastly different from other weapons in the game. As an example, the player starts with a Long Sword. Eventually he might find a Holy Sword, which is far more powerful but is used very differently. Some players will choose to continue using the Long Sword simply because they’re more comfortable with it.

We want to give players many options, even if that means they use the sword that ‘fits best in the hand.’ We want you to become emotionally and physically attached to the weapon you’re using. Perhaps the Long Sword, after you’ve used it for so long and taken such good care of it, is the real Holy Sword. [laughter] The real Holy Sword, though, might be very hard to master despite its power. And some players will say, “This is difficult to use? Leave it to me, I’ll master it!” [laughter]. The mind games and strategizing — that’s the most fun aspect of the game to me.

SS: How will dual-wielding two weapons impact combat? Is dual-wielding a successful strategy, or more of an “expert’s mode”?

HM: Dual wielding is an option, but it’s a very difficult choice for novice players. The default fighting style is holding a shield in one hand, a weapon in the other. And the shield adds a lot of protection, it’s quite effective. If you see another player dual wielding, we want you to think, “Oh my god, this guy is special!” Dual wielding is a way to challenge yourself, but it has a lot of downsides and makes the game much harder. When you’re in trouble, you’ll want to return to your shield and sword. We want to keep dual wielding special. It’s a very unique strategy that will hopefully give a new experience to the player as well as those watching him.

SS: Like Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls will include online co-op and competitive play. Are you planning any broad changes to the multiplayer?

HM: Yes. Throughout the game, there will be both cooperative and competitive play with other players. Each user will enjoy a unique single-player game; at times, they will cross paths with one another. Depending on the situation, the time, and the players’ goals, those players may cooperate or compete against each other. The multiplayer system we’re creating will envelop the single-player mode. Multiplayer will enhance single-player, make it more unique, compared to other games that emphasize traditional multiplayer co-op or competitive play.

SS: What’s the single addition to Dark Souls that you’re most excited by?

HM: Probably the Beacon Fire. It stands for a lot of things. It serves as a recovery point; when the player’s health is low, the Beacon Fire helps you recover. It serves as a respawn point as well. So it’s powerful from a gameplay perspective. Secondly, the Beacon Fire will be used to share experiences with other players. It’s a place where players can gather together and communicate — not verbally communicate, but emotionally communicate. Third, it’s probably the one place in Dark Souls where users can relax just for an instant. In this cold, dark world, the Beacon Fire is a place of warmth. It’s one of the few locations in the game that is heartwarming. It expresses this dark fantasy world I’m trying to create.

SS: How will character creation work? Are there still classes? How can I augment and customize my character?

HM: The basics are quite similar to Demon’s Souls, but you can customize the physical build of your character now in addition to his face. There’s a lot of customization in terms of gameplay styles and parameters. It’s very open, and there are many more options than in Demon’s Souls. You can create any type of character you’d like to create.

SS: What’s your philosophy regarding monsters in Dark Souls? Are you going for really grim, grotesque creatures?

HM: Calling it a “philosophy” is probably overstating it a bit [laughter]. I want to expand the range and variety of all the enemies, whether they’re hideous or beautiful or strong. I don’t lean towards any particular type, but [high-level enemies] will be pretty disgusting. And you might not believe this, but all the monsters I design — from Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls — are “beautiful” to me, no matter how gruesome their appearance.

SS: What games are you looking forward to playing in 2011?

HM: Politically this is sort of a difficult question to answer! [laughter] I’m a big gamer. But to be honest, right now I absolutely love Magic: The Gathering Online. For 2011, I’m really looking forward to UNCHARTED 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Apr 17, 2009
San Diego, CA
Dark Souls content given the chop as it was "too difficult"

Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s revealed that his team has already had to apply a bit of nip and tuck to the gritty RPG, due to some of the game’s content being deemed “too difficult” for players.

As the spiritual successor to the notoriously tricky Demon’s Souls, the game’s inherent hair-pulling qualities shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans of the original. We've already heard that the game will be even more difficult than its precursor, for one.

Miyazaki noted that the studio has certain rules that must be followed when calving out an appropriate difficulty setting. As such, anything that doesn't adhere to these guidelines must be given the chop -- and it seems that's already been the case for some of the more "spicy" content.

"Yes, actually there was a lot [of content] that was too difficult and we had to pull," he told CVG. "You may not believe it but there are things that are a bit too spicy, aspects that prevent you from eating (laughs), we're trying to avoid those."

"We have some set rules that we use to define difficulty, anything that doesn't abide by those definitions isn't included," he explained. "This is to stay with the core ideas and philosophies relating to the difficulties of the game.

"A good example is the player's skill level, reflexes and control, which is something we don't want to make a large factor that contributes to the difficulty."

Dark Souls brings a boatload of new additions to an already polished paradigm, such as increased field exploration, more complex level design, fresh weapons, items and spells, and much more.

The game’s out in late 2011.
May 14, 2009
Richmond, VA
Im all for a difficult game. Demons souls was fun, but I quit because it got so damn repetitive, not because it was hard. Repeatedly dieing was fine, but the checkpoint thing (or lack thereof) was ridiculous. Then, even after you beat a level, you had to go back in multiple times - and die multiple times - to get the materials you needed for weapon increases. It got extremely boring waiting for the same mobs to come at you from the same spots. If this is going to be similar, I think I'll skip
Jan 29, 2009
If there's one element that stands out from Demon's Souls (apart from its often maddening difficulty), it was its overwhelming sense of claustrophobia. Even the open-air environments felt like they were pressing in from all sides -- usually in the form of enemies looking for your head. It's a natural feeling to have when death is around every corner.

For its spiritual successor, Dark Souls, director Hidetaka Miyazaki and company plan to give players a much larger (and more open) world to explore, but it will doubtlessly be every bit as claustrophobic as before. In this quick email Q&A, he talks about some of his plans for that world, and drops a few hints on what kind of new weapons and online features fans can expect for the sequel.

1UP: Probably the biggest change is the introduction of a seamless world. Will players find unique bosses guarding different parts of the map like in Demon's Souls? Are they divided into multiple sections?

Hitaka Miyazaki: To clearly pose a sense of achievement to the players, we will most likely maintain the "one map plus boss" format. However, the game will not completely be structured in this way.

1UP: Just how big do you expect the map to be?

HM: For simplicity of explanation, as compared to Demon's Souls, the map will be approximately 1.5 times the size. It may feel even bigger to the players.

1UP: What sorts of things will players be able to do while exploring the map? Are you planning to include hidden areas and sidequests?

HM: Not so much hidden maps, but there will be areas that are hidden away that are not critical to game completion. In regards to side quests, they won?t be stated as specific quests, but we will implement small events to encourage players to create their own mini objectives.

1UP: Weapons customization has been identified as one element that needs to be made clearer. How do you intend to streamline it?

HM: We do plan to make changes to the weapon customizations, but we unfortunately can not release very many details at this point just yet.

1UP: What kind of weapons are you planning on including in this version? Scythes? Whips?

HM: We unfortunately can not release information regarding specific weapons at this time. Please look forward to more updates to come. However, the "Scythe of the death god" is a favorite motif. Personally I would definitely like to use it for Dark Souls.

1UP: Some of the classes were very powerful in Demon's Souls, such as Royalty. Will there be many new classes in Dark Souls, and what steps will you take to ensure that they're balanced?

HM: We unfortunately can not release very much information regarding classes at this point in time. Please look forward to more details to come. Further, for Dark Souls, we will most likely not call the initial character settings and equipping "classes."

1UP: The Demon's Souls story gave us a glimpse of an interesting world, but never went into much detail. Will that change with Dark Souls?

HM: I wanted to create a game where, ideally, the player's game play would, "become a story in itself." Hence, there is little difference in terms of approach to the concept of a story from Demon?s Souls.

1UP: Will Xbox Live being a subscription-based service have any impact on the online components in Dark Souls?

HM: Hmmm, this is a difficult question, and it is difficult for me to answer. However, we will make sure we create the game to be enjoyable offline as well, and so even if players can not play online, this should not be an issue.

1UP: With the "Soul Tendency" feature being removed, are you planning on creating something new to replace it?

HM: For Dark Souls, we will be implementing several new online features, but there will not be one aimed specifically to replace "Soul Tendency." This game will use a new network system which does not utilize a specific server. We plan to provide a new online experience using this new method.

1UP: Can we expect any enemies as powerful as the Mind Flayers from Demon's Souls? Because those things were terrifying.

HM: Of course!
Apr 17, 2009
San Diego, CA
Dark Souls Beacon system

Eurogamer’s reporting that Dark Souls will feature a Beacon Fire checkpoint system.

According to the site, the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls allows you respawn at these areas once you’ve spilt your guts all over the shop, as we expect will frequently happen given the fact the game’s going to be just as brutal as its precursor.

The Beacon Fire system also acts as a handy spot to take a load off with your fellow co-op mates, and allows you regain precious health to boot.

Unlike Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls ditches the level-based template of the 2009 cult hit and integrates a sprawling, seamless world to explore to your heart’s content.
Apr 17, 2009
San Diego, CA
Why Dark Souls Could Win Game Of The Year 2011

via: PSU

Dark Souls, the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, due for release later this year — and with Namco Bandai steering the marketing wagon in North America and Europe — there’s no danger of anyone missing out on the marketing hype this time around. And with each droplet of information, and every screenshot and trailer we see, we’re getting more and more excited about its release.

If it does hope to grab a few Game Of The Year awards this year, Dark Souls is up against some tough opposition in the RPG genre. With the likes of the award-winning Mass Effect 2 debuting on PlayStation 3 in January and with Dragon Age II and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim coming up — not to mention big PC titles such as The Witcher 2 and Guild Wars 2 — it’s a tough genre to compete in. But Demon’s Souls was a great game, and Dark Souls already looks like it will offer something different to the others that could make it stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

This is where Dark Souls looks likely to excel…

An Appealing Game World Full Of Fantastical Beasts

The dark fantasy setting in Demon’s Souls was an enticing and dangerous place to explore, and Dark Souls looks even more ominous, yet appealing to any suicidal RPG enthusiast. Judging from screenshots and trailers, the game will offer an open-world steeped in both dark fantasy and high fantasy themes, with a heavier focus on exploration and rewards for having the guts to stray where angels fear to tread.

Furthermore, you can now seamlessly move from one area to the other completely free from load times. Any open-world game that doesn’t have load times always makes for a more immersive experience, so there’s high hope that Dark Souls will have that ability to suck you into its game world. The screenshots released so far show familiar RPG locales, such as forests and castles, brought to life with clever lighting effects and solid design, while the creature concept art showcases the creativity of the team at From Software incredibly well.

Dark Souls is a PlayStation 3 exclusive in Japan — and Demon's Souls was a proper exclusive — so there’s no doubt that it’s a game developed specifically to take advantage of the console’s hardware. We firmly expect the PS3 version to knock the socks off the Xbox 360 release.

Groundbreaking Online Features

Since the announcement of Dark Souls we’ve heard a lot about the “groundbreaking online experience” we can expect, but very little has actually been revealed. We know that they’ll be cooperative and competitive play with other players. We also know that the recently announced Beacons, which will also act as safe havens and respawn areas in the game, will come into play, run alongside and merge with the single-player experience.

Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki talks about a multiplayer component that distances itself from traditional multiplayer gameplay by offering some unique twists. We know, for example, that players will be able to leave messages for each other when they die, perhaps revealing the failed strategy that caused them to die prematurely. If multiplayer turns out to be a solid evolution of what was produced in Demon’s Souls, then we’re in for a real treat. One thing’s for sure; multiplayer and co-op play is going to be something very different to the norm, and if it’s as “groundbreaking” as Miyazaki suggests then it could make other developers think twice about their own RPGs.

Pulsating Battles: Button-Mashing Just Won’t Cut It

From Software isn’t going to make it easy for you; Miyazaki has made that crystal clear. The creatures that you will face will make you work hard to beat them. Miyazaki recently outlined his cunning plan by saying: “My goal is to kill all players who think there is a safe zone in Dark Souls." Part of his strategy is to create A.I. that has high attack powers but low defences. That means you’ll be faced with a strategic battle as you frantically try and work out the best way to kill monsters before they kill you.

Judging by some of the concept art, there’s going to be some tough battles against some fearsome looking creatures. If the developer can make these battles against the likes of armoured rhinos, minotaurs and fire-breathing dragons as intense and exciting as the concept art and screens suggest, then we could be talking about these tough opponents for years to come. Furthermore, straying off the beaten track in search for loot is going to be made all the more exciting by not knowing what’s around the corner, and what you’ll have to fight to get it. All of these ingredients, if put together in the right order, could make for a deliciously satisfying combat system that challenges RPG fans to their limits.

Getting Rewarded Well For Being So Clever And Tough

From Software plans to make Dark Souls tougher, but hopes to repay the blood, sweat and tears that you put into the game by giving you plenty of rewards. There’s always a feeling of satisfaction to be gained from competing hard, winning and being rewarded for your efforts. It’s clear that button-mashing won’t get you through, that trial and error might occasionally, but where the winners will prevail will be through the knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of weapons and opponents. And the sweet loot gained from working out what you need to do to get it, should make the challenge well worth the while.

Satisfying Character Development

Any good RPG has a good character development system, and it does look like From Software has learned some lessons from Demon’s Souls to deliver a more flexible system in Dark Souls. The class system has been ditched in favour of an open development system where you can completely define your own play styles and play to your strengths and try as you will to avoid your weaknesses. That doesn’t mean that Dark Souls will be any less in-depth than its precursor, though. The developer claims that there will be still be hundreds of weapon types in the game and part of your development will be to try and understand and utilise their various attributes. The key to unlocking Dark Souls’ challenge appears to lie in developing your character cleverly and strategically. This is further testament to the fact that Dark Souls is a game that really does want to challenge RPG gamers in a way that many others do not.

In the same way that some gamers hated Demon’s Souls, some people are going to shy away from Dark Souls’ tough battles and steep challenge. For those hardened RPG enthusiasts up for a serious and rewarding challenge, however, this could be the game you’ve been waiting for. It’s a massive and speculative prediction on our part, but mark our words: come the end of 2011, Dark Souls will be taking home its fair share of gaming awards.
Apr 17, 2009
San Diego, CA
Dark Souls release date announced

Hotly-tipped to be one of the top games of 2011, Dark Souls has today received an expected launch date.

Namco’s action role-playing game will be released in October 2011 on PlayStation 3. The news comes from Namco’s ‘Level up’ event held in Dubai this week, where a spokesperson confirmed the target release window.

A Limited Edition Collector’s Edition can also now be pre-ordered for $59.99, which incidentally is the same price as the standard edition. The collector’s edition includes a strategy guide, behind-the-scenes videos, the official game soundtrack and a limited edition art book.

Dark Souls is the sequel to From Software’s Demon Soul’s, which received critical acclaim for its challenging yet incredibly rewarding gameplay and appealing dark fantasy aesthetic. For those hardened RPG enthusiasts up for a serious and rewarding challenge, creator Hidetaka Miyazaki has confirmed that Dark Souls will be even tougher than its predecessor.
Dark Souls is a difficult game. It takes time—days, weeks, sleepless nights. That is, unless you're player twilightRTA. Then you can apparently finish the game in under ninety minutes.

The game's spiritual predecessor, Demon's Souls, was also subject to incredible speedruns. One dude beat it in about an hour.

In the Dark Souls speedrun, twilightRTA races through the game as a necromancer, not stopping to smell the roses and making quick work of seemingly every foe thrown his way.

Check out the videos below. There's lots of running, lots of killing, and lots of badassery.

I finally got Demon's Souls for PS3, but I am not sure when I'll get to it. These two games seem to be incredibly difficult so I am saving my time before I get all frustrated with it.

90 minutes is ridiculously fast time to beat a game. I am almost positive that he rant through it once before attempting to beat it fast.
Feb 20, 2012
Anybody else been playing this? I've been hooked for sometime now haven't played a game so much for a while haven't even touched my other games, saying that never got so annoyed at people invading me just before a boss and killing me and me losing everything!