I’m standing on the Wall of Lodeleth, with the fear of facing the Dancer of the Frigid Valley sitting like a ball of nerves in my stomach. I’m not a true Dark Souls player – I’m not built with patience in my trigger fingers – but I can still appreciate the well-crafted and painstakingly difficult gameplay.
I got a solid hands-on session at Gamescom, following the Dark Souls 3 announcement at E3 2015, and even though I didn’t make it very far, it was enough to give me a good sense of what the game will offer when it’s released.
And it’s safe to say that it’s definitely a Dark Souls game. The graphics might have taken a turn for the better, but this isn’t a Bloodborne-style shake-up. There’s no massive changes or challenges to the series’ name.
The demo only showcased a small section of the Wall of Lodeleth (the guy next to me finished it twice after all in half an hour) and it was all yellowing skies, crumbling walls and grey enemies.
In fact, even developer From Software is finding it difficult to differentiate between Dark Souls 2 and Dark Souls 3. So far all it’s said is that movement speed is faster, attacks chain together more quickly and shield no longer always parry.
But the one thing that is new is Weapon Art. It’s a new system that gives you a certain number of weapon-specific special moves that you’ll only be able to use a certain number of times per bonfire. For example, if you have a character that wields an axe you’ll be able to charge up before combat, giving you enhanced damage on each swing — which you just might need in Dark Souls 3 or other Dark Souls games generally.
The Weapon Art isn’t a massive change to the Dark Souls gameplay though, seeing as you only get one new move per weapon and it has limited-usage.
That’s because it’s not about major changes with the Dark Souls series. It doesn’t need major revamps with every realise, because it’s fans like it just the way it is. True Dark Souls players already know that any slight change in weapon attack speed, shield behaviour or the addition of a weapon move will be a major impact on the gameplay.
This was evident watching other people play Dark Souls 3. Like I mentioned earlier, one player defeated the Dancer of the Frigid Valley twice, while another two players managed to get from the bonfire to the boss in just over 15 minutes. I couldn’t get much farther past the first corridor, so it just shows how the community has learnt how to play Dark Souls and master its complexities.
From Software doesn’t need to mix up the Dark Souls 3 gameplay massively to keep its appeal. It might add slight tweaks to keep things fresh for the diehard fans, but that won’t ever make “it’s more Dark Souls” sound like a bad thing to them.
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