As I arrived at Bandai Namco’s office in Hammersmith, I went in with the expectation that what I was about to play was going to be brutal. Of course, I am a massive gamer, but Dark Souls and Bloodborne are different beasts altogether and have not been kind to me in the past! These are hard, brutal games, and while I play a lot, I’m not very good most of the time! This time I had Dark Souls 3 at my disposal and I was not ready for what it threw at me.
I sat down, started the game and was given lots of information to prepare me for what I was about to play. However, It was not and will never be enough! I died for the first time within the first few minutes of my time with Dark Souls 3. Of course, in true Dark Souls fashion, that was followed by more deaths than I have ever experienced in my gaming experiences. More on this later!
As I went in to Dark Souls 3, I was given the chance to create my own character with an impressive suite of creation tools. In the interest of time I didn’t spend too long delving into it but I can see players spending plenty of time and effort in order to create some awesome looking characters. The game generally works similarly to Bloodborne, but much more strategic. In Bloodborne you could hack and slash to a degree, but if you even attempt to do that in DS3 you will be punished. I went in and starting swing my sword around against what seemed like low tier enemies and just got absolutely wiped out. Timing is everything, know the right time to attack and defend and you’ll be okay, do it any other way and you will die in an instant.
I have to admit, I did not get very far. What I did get through however showed me that the game plays very well if you can master or at least get to grips with the controls. The inverted camera control system did throw me off guard but once I had that down it was much easier to control and this helped me manage my distance with enemies. Also the combat is quit intuitive in a sense that the game will punish you for trying to button bash, forcing you to plan each move very carefully. I managed to defeat the first boss after a lot of trouble but the second boss just absolutely destroyed me. The first boss was huge and seemed to be able to guess my every move. Whilst the AI is superb, do not go in expecting it to be anything less than insanely difficult. It’s a blessing and a curse because you are forced to be tactical and think through every step you take (like I mentioned earlier) because if you don’t, you’ll be crushed over and over again.
It may very well overwhelm some, but the feeling you get when you finally manage to defeat him makes the grind worth it. I ended up having to come up with a game plan to attack, block and roll in order to get in and out without getting punished on my little mistakes. Also, using and managing your health potions is crucial, an absolutely a must if you want any chance of getting further than the first 10 minutes. You have three and can replenish them over time when you get to one of the games checkpoints. This is Dark Souls though, checkpoints are few an far between and if you don’t use the potions appropriately you’ll find yourself in a lot of trouble very quickly!
What really did impress with me was the visuals. Graphically the game was stunning, with beautiful environments and character models. Nothing you wouldn’t expect from a game in a series as illustrious as this and honestly, any AAA game these days should be hitting this standard for visuals regardless. On top of that the sound does a brilliant job of setting the tone depending on what you are doing and where you are.
To be honest, it’s hard to judge a game on three hours of game time, but I have to say I did thoroughly enjoy what I played. The difficulty may be a big factor in some deciding whether or not to get the game but don’t let my death-filled experiences put you off. If you have the time and patience to learn and master the mechanics, Dark Souls 3 is definitely a game you should look to pick up when it is released next month.
A big thank you to Bandai Namco for inviting us to the preview event.