Dark Souls 3's E3 Demo Was Kinda Dull. That's Fine, Right?

Dark Souls 3's E3 Demo Was Kinda Dull. That's Fine, Right?

There's always a dissonance when one of the most promising new games you see at E3 is also one of the least traditionally "exciting" ones.

Last Thursday, I smushed myself into meeting-room theatre alongside 30 or 40 other members of the press to watch a demonstration of Dark Souls 3. As someone else played, the game's co-director, legendary Souls maestro Hidetaka Miyazaki, talked us through the demo. He had a surprising amount of energy, given that he'd been performing this exact demo for two straight days.

What did I see? I saw a Souls game. These games never demo all that well — to truly get to the heart of one, you need to go deep, in your own space, on your own time. There is no way to effectively preview the feeling you get when you finally beat a Souls boss at 4AM.

Graphically, it looked more or less like Bloodborne, so, a significant graphical improvement from the last-gen Dark Souls 2. (A friend of mine pointed out that the grass textures seemed like they had been directly lifted from Bloodborne, and after careful observation of the demo, I think he was right.) Gameplay-wise, DS3 was familiar: Dodge-rolls, quick backsteps, shields, Estus flasks, and, though we didn't see any in action, magic spells. (Mr. Miyazaki confirmed that the game would have magic during a brief Q&A after the demo.)

Dark Souls 3's E3 Demo Was Kinda Dull. That's Fine, Right?

The main character started out standing in a courtyard overlooking a labyrinth of densely scaffolded castles and courtyards. He (I'm assuming it was a he) was tall and skinny, wearing plate armour and armed with a sword and a shield. He went up to a bonfire and activated it. The screen read "bonfire lit." He went on to kill some smaller enemies, run past a fire-breathing dragon, and take on a massive, serpentine, dual-sword-wielding boss. Here's some concept art of that boss:

Dark Souls 3's E3 Demo Was Kinda Dull. That's Fine, Right?

The player-character moved faster than main characters in the first two Souls games, making DS3 seem like a slightly faster-moving game in general (though not as fast as Bloodborne). He also had a few new moves, notably the ability to quick-fire a short bow in combat and ready a two-handed sword for a heavy up-thrust that could bypass an enemy's shield.

But at its heart, it was Dark Souls, you know? It wasn't particularly exciting, because there wasn't anything revolutionary going on. All the same, given Miyazaki and his team's track record, Dark Souls 3 will almost surely be, at a minimum, an excellent game. "More of the same" is no bad thing when you're talking about a series as sturdy and widely loved as Dark Souls.

Dark Souls 3's E3 Demo Was Kinda Dull. That's Fine, Right?

Dark Souls 3 may well wind up feeling like a smidge of a backstep from the aggressive quick-dodging and health-regen in Bloodborne. Would it have been nice to see Mr. Miyazaki and his team taking more bold creative steps and, on some level, reimagining what a Souls game can be? Totally. Is it still possible the finished game will be full of the very sorts of surprises that I felt the E3 demo was missing? Of course. Will I play the hell out of Dark Souls 3 anyway, and enjoy it as yet another, better-looking, slightly tweaked Souls game? Almost certainly.


Comments

    Remember when Dark Souls 2 seemed a lot more exciting with blasting winds on a bridge and such? Then when you reach the actual point it's really stiff.

      Strange. I was totally blow away with the Dragon Aerie. One of my favorite areas from all the Souls games. The number one spot probably goes to Ash Lake, purely for the atmosphere and aesthetic.

    Vaati Vidya's description on YouTube was much more exciting!!

    The idea that slower combat is somehow a back step is absolutely baffling to me.

      Yeah, I prefer the slower, more visceral combat. It adds more strategy to fights. I like Bloodborne, but there really wasn't that much variety.

        I prefer slow too, but it's just because I'm a slower player. I like time to think, big fan of turn-based games.

        I don't think one style of game is better than the other, just different.

        The way people presume that their favourite thing is superior to others' choices just annoys me.

        I agree that I could think better about what I was doing in DS.

        But BB still has mostly the same options, and you can make most of the same choices. Your choices just play out way, way faster and you have far less time to think about them. Instinct takes over sometimes, for me, lol.

        Did you know, for example, that the wooden shield is utterly useless against everything EXCEPT the Blade of Mercy? Pretty neat and balanced really. Little things like that make every Souls title strategic IMO.

        Edit: Just want to point out that I too think neither one is better than the other. Just different and a nice change of pace. (I also wasn't happy with my paragraph spacing. -.- Fn obsessive compulsiveness.)

        Last edited 23/06/15 1:06 pm

        I'm in two minds. I think after Bloodborne there's definitely gonna be an adjustment period for me.

          I got all the Soulslikes at the same time & although there is an adjustment period, I've been jumping in & out of each fairly easily.

          3or 4 deaths & you'll remember how to ride the old bike ;-)

            Probably going to find this out for myself when I eventually grab DS2+expansion on the PS4.

              How did you not already get it on pc?

              Alright, who are you & what have you done with the real Transientmind?!

                No games 2015!

                  That still doesn't explain a hardcore master racer choosing a console version.

                  What about your precious mods???!!!

                For DS2? Enh. Once bitten, twice shy. The Dark Souls port to PC was pretty crap, even WITH DSfix. I had a mongrel of a time getting it to work. I have no faith in their porting ability.

                  I heard they took it seriously this time.

          After Bloodborne I went back and did a complete co-op run of Dark Souls (including DLC) and I didn't find there to be much adjustment needed.
          Bloodborne took me ages to learn and get used to, but now it seems like I have the separate Souls / BB skill sets coexisting peacefully side by side.

            Same, initially it took me longer to get used to bloodborne than I thought it would after playing DS. I think that both BB and Souls are great, just needs a little adjustment on the players part when swapping between them.

    I wish the demo had been shown to the general public - instead of a trailer :(

    Garbage! Go and fish for clicks with different bait, shiester.

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