Miyazaki is a busy man. Most thought he took a break from Dark Souls to work on Bloodborne, but that’s only half true. Dark Souls II was indeed headed by a second team, however Miyakazi has returned to his baby for Dark Souls III. In development for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, with a release window of early 2016, the man himself took us through a guided demo of the latest build to see if good things do come in threes.
Before jumping in Miyazaki explained that Dark Souls III is built around three highlights: a sense of world and scale, the map now more complex and featuring dynamic lighting, ash, and cloth. An apocalyptic world with heroic lore, the world itself facing a doomsday, withered beauty, and a narrative centered around the Lord of Cinder. And finally an evolution and deepening of the series concept, such as the unique online system, formidable difficulty, new sword actions, and abilities.
Our gameplay demo began in an expansive castle, featuring lots of towers and buildings, all of which can be explored. First thing we noticed was the framerate, smoother than previous titles, Miyazaki explaining they that on consoles they’re targeting 1080p @ 30fps, but this will naturally fluctuate on PC.
Fighting began quickly, the demo showing the main character attacking some corpses praying to a little shrine of corpses hanging from a tree. Nearby is a huge dragon skeleton, dragons dying out at this point in the lore. As with previous games, encounters are build in a way that you’re expected to die a few times before figuring out the best approach. During this encounter we were shown a new combat feature known as “ready stance”, here applied to the long sword, which can be used to initiate special moves such as a shield break.
Dark Souls fans will find the base combat system quite familiar, though it did all seem to move a bit faster, more like Bloodborne. Scimitars can be dual wielded, unlocking a spin attack, useful against weaker opponents. With faster dodge the short bow can be used to avoid attacks from larger enemies while landing quick hits.
During out demo the player was swamped by a hoard of enemies, and in retreat chose to go down a secondary path, which is quickly torched by a dragon. Not an unfamiliar scene to Souls veterans, Dark Souls III will encourage this kind of exploration and sequences where bigger enemies can be used to weaken mobs. It ties into the narrative, too. The game world features hidden graves to be discovered, after which can be lit to read their epitaphs and learn more about the story.
Towards the end of our demo we saw two new enemies. One that manifests as a giant snake made of black mass, very powerful, and able to attach itself to corpses. And finally a boss, a tall lanky knight called the Dancer, with long limbs and a wispy veil.
To the surprise of no one both decimate the player. And so ends our wonderful journey through Dark Souls III.