It feels like an age since our last visit to From Software’s gothic world of immortal, determined heroes facing a chain of ageless monsters just waiting to be put to the sword. No, not Bloodborne, the other one.
But in fact it’s hardly been any time at all. Dark Souls II, strange as it may seem, only came out this time a couple of years ago, with the full-content Scholar of the First Sin edition arriving about a year later. And yet there’s no shortage of eagerness amongst From’s dedicated, masochistic cult following. Show me a Souls fan and I’ll show you a gamer that’s not just fiercely loyal to what appears on the surface to be some kind of mediaeval-themed self-abuse simulator, but always, always yearning for more. So what’s there to be excited about?
Souls has always been a series perfectly happy to let you meander from start to finish without a clue of what you’re doing or why, but for the determined player there’ll surely be a rich and fascinating tapestry of lore to unweave.
Well first and foremost what you’ll notice from the promotional footage and screenshots that From Software have been using very generously to whet our collective whistles is that Lothric, the setting for Dark Souls III, is more than living up to the series’ reputation for stunning environmental design. The distinctive fusion of Gothic and Baroque architecture is on full display in the form of sprawling castles and battlements, populated by familiar yet distinguished enemies. And speaking of enemies, there’s some new ways to fight them in the form of Battle Skills. Taking a leaf from Bloodborne’s Trick Weapons, these skills are unique to each class of weapon and modify the way your attacks function. From the gameplay video it looks like this new (yet also familiar) feature promises to change the way you think about builds and in fact your strategies for enemy engagement as a whole.
Storywise, it looks like we can expect more in the way of environmental storytelling. Souls has always been a series perfectly happy to let you meander from start to finish without a clue of what you’re doing or why (this, in fact, was the state in which I completed Bloodborne) but for the determined player there’ll surely be a rich and fascinating tapestry of lore to unweave. Concrete details are scarce, but the recurrent images of maddened, immortal lords and fading flames are ubiquitous as ever. Unlike Dark Souls II’s Drangleic, however, Lothric looks like it’ll be a little more familiar to players of the first game in the series, with promotional material teasing locations and characters returned from the first game. All in all, everything we’ve seen looks as promising as FromSoft have led us to expect, and I for one eagerly await the torturous pleasures Dark Souls III has in store.