At first glance, it might not seem like Dark Souls 2 is very different from its predecessor. It's still dark, dreary, and full of death. Still, sequels are meant to be bigger and badder, a point that that developer From Software tried to emphasize, all whilst staying true to the original game.
Yui Tanimura, the game's new director, talked up the sequel's new graphics engine, for example. A lot of attention went into the lighting, it seems, with dynamic light sources becoming even more vital to gameplay. There are areas of total blackness, which can only be illuminating when carrying a lit torch.
The levels also feature a three-dimensionality that hasn't been seen in previous games. For example, in one part of the demo, the player looked down from a walkway, seeing a group of fire-breathing dragons collecting in the passage way below. In an outdoor area, the player had to walk across a rickety bridge, whilst fending off flying beasts, circling above.
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But there's a lot that hasn't been changed. Although Tanimura was quoted as saying he'd like to make the game more "understandable," it doesn't mean he'll do it in a hand-holding way. "I doubt we'll create more tutorials," he said. "I personally like Nintendo titles which give you a good sense of learning as you play the game."
If there's one "concession" to make the game easier, it's his increased "flexibility" in the amount of items he gives players. Whereas you could only hold two items in each hand in the previous game, you'll be able to hold three items in the sequel. But it's "still being discussed and thought about," Tanimura advised. He also said that the relationship between HP and Stamina will be "revisited" to "enhance the experience," but wouldn't elaborate on how. Finally, the relationship between weight and movement and speed will be "maintained," with Tanimura pointing out that it was "faster than it should be for the sake of the demo."
Tanimura also backtracked on his comments that the story would be "more clear," saying that he plans on "continuing how it was told in Dark Souls."
I couldn't help but wonder if Dark Souls 2 would take advantage of one of the more fascinating features of From's first Souls game. When asked about the return of world tendencies a la Demon's Souls, Tanimura told us that DS2 returns to the server-based multiplayer of Demon's Souls, but that "we're not going to mimic Demon's Souls." The covenants system will also return, but once again, it may "not necessarily be the same" as in Dark Souls.
One thing that's definitely not going to change: the platforms Dark Souls 2 will release on. Although PC will get a proper version at launch this time around, From Software has no interest in working on a Wii U version of the game. Tanimura said that "it's more of a business decision," but the lack of yet another high-profile game for Nintendo's console should prove to be a bit disappointing.