How Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 attempts to improve upon the original

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 picks off right after the events of the first LoS. And spoiler alert: you play as Dracula.

MercurySteam's Dave Cox, head of development on the game, said the team had three goals when it went in to make the sequel. The first was to remove the fixed camera and offer a 360 field of view to who off the world.

"People really loved the vistas and the art design, but a lot of people found the fixed camera work frustrating," Cox said. "That was a really big decision because that meant going back to look at the engine design, which was created for the PS2 and Xbox. We basically used it for the next consoles without making any improvements."


A key focus for LoS2 was improving the problematic framerate of the first game. "We really took that on the chin, and we really needed to improve that," Cox said. "Right now, the framerate is really solid."

Lastly, the team felt the original game was too linear. "If people wanted to explore, they didn't want to go back and reload levels," Cox explained. "We felt the best way to fix that was with streaming technology. We wanted to have a game that had a heavily scripted element to it, but we wanted players to be able to go back and explore in a seamless way." The engine improvements made it very easy to eliminate loading screens, now allowing players to bounce back and forth between the castle and the city, for example, without limitation.

One of the game's more annoying elements--its over-reliance on QTEs--is also being addressed in the sequel. While they are still present in LoS2, Cox admitted that they were a problem and is working to cut back on them.

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We were allowed to play the game's tutorial, which highlights Dracula's three new weapons. His main weapon is the Blood Whip, which does a standard area attack. However, players can also switch to the life-replenishing Void Sword and the shield-breaking Chaos Claws. Of course, all three of these weapons can be leveled-up.

Cox said they are managing their expectations for how the game will be received, acknowledging there is a lot of competition out there with other action games that have this style of gameplay. "We just want to improve on the first game, which did very well for us. But we feel we have stepped up to the plate to provide a better product that fans will appreciate."