At this year's E3, RPGamer's Zack Webster and Chris Privitere had the opportunity to sit in a demo presentation of the newly-announced Dark Souls III. Both have reported back on their time spent with Hidetaka Miyazaki and the game.
In a small room adorned in the series' dark, orange-and-black theme, From Software President and co-director of Dark Souls III Hidetaka Miyazaki took to the microphone to show us the first footage of the new sequel in action. Even before the demo started, he was quick to emphasize that this title was the first developed explicitly with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in mind, and that the game would take full advantage of the relatively newer technology by creating larger environments and having more dynamic lighting. Along with this, Miyazaki said that the game would feature an interconnected world similar to Dark Souls rather than the more scattershot layout of Dark Souls II.
The main focus for the demo was the expanded arsenal of combat techniques that would be available in the game, specifically several of the more common swords. In an effort to give more options to combat the game's perceived difficulty, both for the combat and role-playing options, each weapon now has an alternate stance, which allows for more versatility in combat. Beginning with the longsword, players will now have the option to enter a "ready stance", which opens up two different attacks, both of which seem to require a charging time but have special properties, like the ability to break shield defense. The greatsword now has a "lunge stance", which also has a long start-up period but has devastating reach and power. The last weapons shown this way were twin blades known as Legion Scimitar, which had a spinning whirlwind attack that could be used continuously, or at least until stamina ran out.
The demo itself was a short bit taking place on the exterior wall of — where else — a castle, complete with series' staples of fire-breathing dragons, undead skeletons galore, and enough creepy imagery to let the player know that something isn't quite right, as if the rest of the game wasn't enough of a tip-off. Some things have changed, I assume for the better. Torches are no longer on timers and seem to have a more prominent effect on the environment, benefiting from some much improved shadows and lighting. The only completely new enemy was an unnamed, writhing black mass that sprouted from an undead's head and promptly killed the player. The short bow has also seen considerable change and can now act as a close-encounter weapon, with Miyazaki citing Legolas from Lord of the Rings as inspiration for the new moveset for the weapon. The longbow will still apparently function as it always has, though it was not shown.
The demo ended with a boss encounter, this one called the Dancer of the Frigid Valley. The boss looked rather interesting, a giant, armored, undead woman with a fire sword that moved both fluidly and unnaturally. We were unable to see the boss vanquished as the player died, but it was a great creature design nonetheless.
During the presentation, Miyazaki said that the game would have more intuitive controls, but it was difficult to grasp if this was the case, the game seemed to play like previous titles. The story for the game will focus on "The Lord of Cinder", though it was not specified if this refers to Lord Gywn, the final boss of the first game, or someone else. Miyazaki also confirmed that the game takes place in the same world as Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, but did not reveal if either Lordran or Drangleic are involved. No multiplayer was discussed, though it was confirmed that summon signs and matchmaking would return.
It's hard to say at this point whether or not Dark Souls III is an improvement over its predecessor, given what little there was to see. However, the additional attacks are welcome and having Miyazaki back on board in a more authoritative role is more reassuring, though it is unclear just how much involvement he has. The game looks well enough, but the bait-and-switch of Dark Souls II leaves me wary of what exactly was shown. For what little there was, it seemed a marked improvement, though final judgment will have to wait until its release, sometime early next year.
Through a fog gate in the Namco Bandai meeting room (no seriously, they had a fog machine running at the door as we walked in so it would be a fog gate), we were ushered in to sit on mock church pews and watch Hidetaka Miyazaki talk us through a demo of Dark Souls III. After rattling off some bullet points from a powerpoint (coming in early 2016, story revolves around the Lord of Cinder, online multiplayer details to come later), we jumped into the game.
The focus during the demo was on new combat mechanics and weapons. First was the longsword with a ready stance that enables what looked to be charge attacks and air juggles. Second was a greatsword that enables RPGamers to do lunging attacks that can break through shields. Third was a set of scimitars. Equipping them let the player dual wield and use a spin attack that turned them into a whirling dervish, slicing through lower tier enemies.
Following the weapon demos and two unintended deaths, Miyazaki answered some questions. First, he confirmed that the areas will be interconnected like they were in the first Dark Souls game and Bloodborne. Also, the game takes place in the same world as Dark Souls and Dark Souls II. He let us in on some details of the game's development. From Software has been working on the game for two years already and Miyazaki joined the team during the prototyping phase. Miyazaki will be focusing on game design and the one of the directors from Dark Souls II will be directing everything else. Apparently, Miyazaki learned when doing the Lovecraftian environments in Bloodborne that he really prefers working with a fantasy world like Dark Souls. Finally, this will be Miyazaki's final Dark Souls game before he becomes president of From Software (this was likely mistranslated as he became president in 2014, so perhaps they meant before he focused more on his presidential duties?). So it seems apparent that the series will change a bit after this.