If there's a game series out there meant to test your determination, it's From Software's Souls titles. Originating with Atlus' Demon's Souls and then shifting over to Bandai Namco for the Dark Souls saga, each game represents a challenge for anyone who plays them, requiring split-second timing and a lot of devotion as you attempt to conquer large bosses and other enemies. Of course, that didn't stop gamers from dying multiple times, but at least those campfires are nice to come by.
Now we come across the latest and perhaps last chapter in the series, Dark Souls 3, which is over a couple of months away from release. Like the previous entries you're a mere mortal in a world filled with ominous creatures and devastating forces, but that isn't about to stop you from trying to survive. The Lords of Cinder are ripe for resurrection, and it's your job to make sure they're cut down to size before the world suffers their wrath.
There are some minor changes to the game that will make it a little more accessible this time around, although the meaty challenge will remain intact. The game will offer a new fast-paced combat system, where you'll have to dodge attacks while wisely utilizing your sword and shield to eventually chip away at your foes and bring them down.
In addition, you'll come across a variety of battle arts, which enable you to use more powerful moves against enemies, such as preparing yourself with a devastating strike (known as the Ready Stance), or dual-wielding a pair of blades and spinning around for a second, instantly slicing anything nearby. There are various skills that will open up in the game, although you'll only be able to use them so many times, so you won't rely on them too much; you can restore these with the help of bonfires.
Learning a lesson from its previously released Bloodborne for PS4, From Software will also throw various weapons into the mix, so you can change what you use with your combat style. Although a full weapons list isn't available, you should expect plenty of swords, shields and gear, allowing you to change things up if something doesn’t work.
These new battle skills will come in handy, as the bosses found in Dark Souls 3 – particularly the Lords of Cinder – will pose an immense threat. The team at From Software changes the patterns for some of them so they aren't predictable this time around. So just when you think they're going to zig, there's a good chance that they're going to zag and you'll have to learn something new in order to finish them off. This will add a new degree of challenge to the game, something die-hard (and often-dying) fans will love.
Magic abilities will also be re-introduced to the game, which players of Demon's Souls are likely to recognize. With these, you can make your character more powerful for a limited amount of time, though you'll need to consume what's known as an Ash Estus Flask in order to refill your energy. Otherwise you'll have to rely on your wits before you can find one.
Along with encounters with enemies, Dark Souls 3 will also provide greater context to the overall story, which this particular chapter should wrap up the current arc. These will be in the form of small gravestones, which provide additional backstory for the game, whether it's about a knight trying to make up for mistakes or something else along those lines. These will add further context to the game, especially for those looking to get 100 percent completion.
You don't have to suffer by yourself. Dark Souls 3 will have online support for up to six players, using a number of dedicated servers to make sure the action stays up to speed. This will replace the previous peer-to-peer connections, providing a smoother end game – and it'll make all the difference as you try to carve a nearly impossible boss down to size. There's no word yet on how this mode will work, but it's nice to have a friendly ally providing support in a world filled with darkness.
Dark Souls 3 is said to be the final chapter in the series, although anything's possible when it comes to its revival down the road. Still, if this is it, Bandai Namco and From Software loaded it with plenty of possibilities in terms of combat, open-world exploration and online compatibility. We'll see how the final product delivers when the game arrives April 12.