You Are (Already) Dead
Sitting in a posh hotel room in the heart of Las Vegas, I get my first look at Dark Souls: Prepare to Die—the upcoming PC release of From Software’s brutal-yet-beautiful adventure game. The striking (and almost sinister) black armor I see on the character isn’t something I recognize, nor is the weapon he’s carrying—yet other than that, it looks very much like the Dark Souls that I know and love.
That point will no doubt be one of the first sticking points for this effort to bring Dark Souls to a new platform: Will it be different in the ways that players want, and will its other differences cause tension in the game’s fan community?
One of the first things Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki stresses to us—the various members of the press gathered there in the hotel room to sit in on a quick presentation and Q&A session for the game’s Prepare to Die Edition release—is that this is an “almost complete” port of the console version of Dark Souls. The idea isn’t to drastically overhaul what already exists—it’s to bring the game to PC players along with a small selection of additional content.
At the center of that new content is Artorias, a character who previously was only known in Dark Souls lore via weapons, items, and descriptions. (It was his armor we were being shown during this presentation—armor that is still being worked on, but which players will be able to obtain in the final game.) Certainly his tale is one of interest to those players who paid close attention to the various clues given during their journey through Lordran. For example, we know that the great gray wolf Sif is not only guarding his grave, but also his sword. We know that without Astorias’ ability to abysswalk, we’d never be able to reach or defeat the Four Kings.
The expansion of this character and his story really adds a new dynamic to what From Software not only did in Dark Souls, but also their previous title, Demon’s Souls: Directly giving players the chance to further experience and understand elements of the story that were only told in passing before. It stands to be a very interesting litmus test for the franchise—will players enjoy that expansion of the lore, or will some of the mystery be gone once we’re handed more answers?
In that exploration of the legacy of Astorias, we’re told that we’ll be getting introduced to new bosses, areas, and NPCs. At our Q&A, we were only told that details were “TBD”, and given unspecific counts: 2~3 new maps, 4 new bosses, 3 or more new NPCs. Surprisingly—and frustratingly—more details were given out in the game’s press release about these additions than we were told when directly speaking to the game’s director.
The details of that release were as follows:
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition will include an untold chapter in the world of Lordran where the player must stop the spread of darkness at all costs by facing and defeating the Dark Knight Artorias.
- New Bosses – Including Artorias of Abyss, Chimera of Tomb, and more
- PVP Online Matchmaking System – Quick matching for co-op or PVP
- New Areas – Including Oolacile Tomb, Old Ruins and more
- New Enemies – Including Abyss Guard, Chained Prisoner and more
- New NPCs – Including Hawkeye Gough and more
- New Weapons and Armor – Equip some from the new bosses, enemies, and NPCs
One of my media colleagues seated at the table asks what everybody else was already wondering—will these new elements of content be coming to the console versions of the game as well, perhaps as DLC? Miyazaki states that at this point, nothing can be said on that matter.
I jump in with a follow-up: Even if he can’t answer, he has to know that there may be console players—the very people who made Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls the success that they are—who are going to be extremely frustrated hearing about this new content with no simultaneous announcement that they’ll also be getting to experience it.
“Personally? Yes, I think there might be. But, unfortunately, at the moment it’s complicated. I hope people understand.”
Miyazaki also brings up the new online-only battle royal stage that’s going to be included in the Prepare to Die release. Of course, player-vs.-player combat will still exist in this PC version of Dark Souls just as it does in the current console versions. However, now there will also be a specific area to help facilitate that PvP—potentially standing in for the unofficial locations in the game that already serve as fan-designated dueling areas. At the same time, this addition doesn’t change the focus of the game, nor the overall spirit of what Dark Souls is supposed to be.
“I don’t want players to take this wrong—we’re not thinking about making Dark Souls into just an action battle game,” Miyazaki says. “The main focus is still on the story, and the additional new content such as the bosses and NPCs. So, please see this just as a bonus feature.”
In talking about the new bosses, areas, NPCs, and PvP arena, my final question for the Q&A session becomes clear. Miyazaki and his team made it a point to stress that the original release of Dark Souls was a complete game—one that didn’t need DLC or additional content to be so. How does Dark Souls: Prepare to Die change that, if it even does? Was this new content based on content that originally couldn’t be finished for the game’s launch? Or are they all-new elements thought up after Namco Bandai came to From Software asking for a PC release of the game?
“We presented the original Dark Souls on consoles as a complete game, so it was actually hard to find ways in which we could add new content,” Miyazaki answers. “There were some elements that we couldn’t include in the original, so we went back to those elements for the new content.
“So, when we were planning development of the original Dark Souls, it was true that we wanted to make the game disc a complete version. Now that it has been almost six months from the release, it’s time to think of new content. So, we didn’t lie.” [laughs]
Want to know more about Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition? Head over and read the exclusive interview I did with From Software’s Hidetaka Miyazaki by clicking here.