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SAO photo

New Sword Art Online announced for PS4, Vita

Hollow Realization coming next year
Oct 04
// Kyle MacGregor
Today at the Dengeki Bunko Festival in Tokyo, Bandai Namco revealed Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, the latest role-playing game based on Reki Kawahara's popular light novel series. The story takes place within "Sword Art: Origin," a new MMO modeled after the world of Aincrad.
One Piece mobile photo
One Piece mobile

One Piece: Thousand Storm is a new free-to-play mobile game

Coming to Japan next year
Sep 28
// Chris Carter
When I was in Japan, One Piece was absolutely everywhere. From ads on trains, to stores full of Tony Tony Chopper figurines, to a host of Pachinko machines, you couldn't avoid the Straw Hat Pirates. Now they're about to ...
Disney Magical World 2 photo
Disney Magical World 2

Disney Magical World 2 is pushing the Frozen property pretty hard

Much to my chagrin
Sep 19
// Chris Carter
So, Frozen. I must be one of the only people on the planet who doesn't like it. I mean, I love Elsa -- it's about time Idina Menzel and her amazing voice got the respect she deserves -- but the rest, including most of th...
Project X Zone 2 photo
Project X Zone 2

Nintendo characters join Project X Zone 2 cast

Chrom, Lucina, Fiora, oh my!
Sep 19
// Kyle MacGregor
Project X Zone was a nice bit of fan service, and the sequel seems to be taking things up a notch. In addition to featuring a procession of familiar faces from the vaults of Sega, Capcom, and Bandai Namco, Project X Zone 2 wi...

Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

Get in on the Dark Souls III beta

You'll need a PlayStation 4 and PS Plus
Sep 18
// Jordan Devore
My favorite part of this beta sign-up page for Dark Souls III is that you can shake the guy by wiggling your mouse from side to side. Life's a lot more fun when you treasure the little things. Anyway, the actual beta registra...
Dark Souls @ TGS photo
Dark Souls @ TGS

Dark Souls III looks good at Tokyo Game Show

Albeit familiar
Sep 17
// Jordan Devore
I'm with Chris in that I don't see myself getting tired of From Software's action-RPGs anytime soon. Fatigue hasn't set in yet. That said, the opening areas of Dark Souls III aren't exactly fresh. See for yourself! This footage from TGS 2015 covers the same stuff Steven and Chris previewed.

Star Wars Battle Pod is an immersive, flashy, and elaborate arcade cabinet

Sep 17 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]310990:60396:0[/embed] It's not just the game that impresses here -- the actual cabinet itself does, too. Blowing air vents and rumble features that are synchronized with the action add to everything. The overwhelmingly large convex screen taking up the entirety of your peripheral vision certainly helps too. For the third time in this article, I'm using the word "experience" because Star Wars Battle Pod is more that than a game. Unfortunately for me, I'm kind of bad at it. Giving it a few different shots, I couldn't manage to clear any of the (approximately) three minute missions. Everything was going smoothly enough until "Mission Alert" flashed across the screen, meaning that there's an objective to fulfill -- defend a transport, blow up the Death Star...that sort of thing. I failed here each and every time. Oh well, it was still a hell of a ride. My go at Star Wars Battle Pod was at Bandai Namco's headquarters in Tokyo, where a free cabinet was set up. Those in the United States can give it the old college try, as it's in several Dave & Busters locations. That won't be gratis, of course; online reports seem to indicate that it's $4 per play. Steep, but maybe worth it for Star Wars fans to at least check out. There are likely diminishing returns across more runs, as Battle Pod shows its hand immediately. But hey, if the force is strong with you, who am I to stop you?
Star Wars photo
And fans will probably love it
While everyone's waiting for that one Star Wars game this fall, there's another new(ish) experience meant to transport you to a galaxy far, far away. It won't scratch the same itch, but it's immersive, flashy, and unabas...

Digimon photo
Presentation's mega-slick, too
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Tokyo, make it rain yakitori. That was my modus operandi at Bandai Namco's office. Rather than strangely assaulting passersby with a meat barrage, I limited my chicken chuckin' (cluc...

Fumbling anime fighting with Saint Seiya: Soldiers' Soul

Sep 17 // Steven Hansen
I think my favorite thing about Saint Seiya is that I can say its title to the tune of Outkast's "Hey Ya!" Also it looks pretty pretty. Not quite as clean as some of Namco's other anime games, like the current One Piece and Naruto titles, which look gorgeous. But still good. Has that Killer is Dead extreme sheen and mild grunge to it. BRETT: I guess my favorite part about it is how I beat you at it. By the skin of my teeth in the final round, but a W's a W. I'm not quite sure how I did it. It probably has something to do with the fact that neither of us had a real clue how to play. A pre-fight intro screen was gracious enough to share all the controls, and it was convoluted enough to make me say "Hahaha, fuck this" out loud. I don't consider myself well-versed in fighters, and that goes doubly so for 3D fighters. In my layman's opinion, I thought it felt slow, but not in a bad way -- more of a moving chess match kind of way. The pace is likely the reason I was able to string together a few nine hit combos, which were satisfying even though I have no idea if they were impressive or not. Probably not, to be honest. It felt good when my golden boy blocked your dumb Kratos chains, too. STEVEN: Yeah, I was using a pink lady with green hair who, actually might've been a very pretty and slim man, according to pre-fight dialogue. Regardless, she had these Ivy Soul Calibur whip things going and I spent the first match just ranging Brett because it was easy to do and exploit, but that proved pretty boring so I tried to figure out other things to do. Figuring out the block button was essential, but I'm still confused about the supposed throw combination and also the specials. I do enjoy that 3D fighter running style -- "like chickens," you noted -- which is very anime-like (and definitely faster than something like Tekken). That general style of fighter (I lump Gundam Versus and Dissidia types in there, too) is interesting me, but not something I ever got into. I last spent notable time in a fighter with vanilla Street Fighter IV (I later tried to get into Persona 4: Arena, but not even Persona love could hold me). I'll mess with more Samurai Gunn, Towerfall, Duck Game, Smash Bros. these days. Had a bunch of stages, though, Saint Seiya. And a pretty good roster. I feel like a lot of fighters skimp on that recently, probably for DLC (Mortal Kombat X comes to mind). BRETT: Who knows if that roster is a blessing or a curse. For all we know, it's unbalanced as all get-up and there are glaring exploits. Probably not though, right? The meta's something that people can figure out when it releases very soon. We had fun, got a few chuckles, and ran around like chickens. Chalk that preview experience up as a success, I say.
The Fighting Animes photo
PS4, PC fighter
The Saint Seiya series has been going strong for nearly 30 years in Japan. Those elsewhere might know it as Knights of the Zodiac. Brett Makedonski and myself don't know it from Adam, though the maintained '80s anime art styl...

Project X Zone 2 is more of the same, with new faces

Sep 16 // Chris Carter
To be clear, Project X Zone 2, so far, seems to be more of the same. Although Bandai Namco has promised advancements when it comes to the combat system, it's still very simplistic, and more style than substance. That's not to say that there's no strategic depth involved in general though, as the decision to employ defensive options at the cost of SP is alive and well, in addition to the general placement of your characters in each mission's grid. It just isn't nearly as nuanced as a lot of other SPRGs on the market. During my hands-on time with the game I was able to play a full level, which followed the mundane task of "killing all enemies," an objective typically found in the first iteration. Having completed the original it was an all-too familiar sight, albeit with the typical rush of playing as some of my favorite video game characters. During the demo I had access to Dante/Vergil, Chun-Li/Ling Xiaoyu, Strider Hiryu/Hotsuma, Kazuma Kiryu/Goro Majima teams, as well as the solo units of Captain Commando, Phoenix Wright, and and Ulala. As expected, the flair didn't disappoint. Dante/Vergil were a joy to play as, and the ninja team of Strider/Hotsuma (Shinobi) was just perfect. Seeing Captain Commando was also a treat, as he doesn't get nearly enough respect these days. Every single character is represented well, even the ones that can merely be called in by core units. It may be fanservice, but developer Monolith Soft is handling it in stride. Series producer Kensuke Tsukanaka was on-hand to talk about the game, and noted that in particular, they want people to know that this is a character-focused game, so the opening animation will not only feature every playable hero, but will clock in at just over two minutes in length. Tsukanaka went on to state, "We're aiming to look for new fans with an even bigger cast. We want people to see a new character and ask 'what game is this from?' We want them to become even more involved with the industry as a whole." The team is also stepping up the original animation with the sequel, as there will be more artwork than before both in and out of combat. I noticed this particularly during my demo session, as supers and abilities had a bit more visual flair than usual. When asked how this collaboration was even possible, Tsukanaka replied that "all of us have a mutual respect for each other. We've also collaborated for years with one another, so it wasn't too much of a stretch to create this project. The rivalry still exists, but it's a friendly one." Project X Zone 2 is still set for a November launch in Japan, and a February 16 date for the US was just announced.
Project X Zone 2 photo
Your mileage will vary
Based on the reception to Project X Zone 2, it's clear to see that it's a "hate it or love it" affair. Fans seemed to really take to the idea of playing as a cavalcade of heroes from some of their favorite franchises, but oth...

Project X Zone 2 dated photo
Project X Zone 2 dated

Project X Zone 2 will arrive overseas in February

2/16 for the US, 2/19 for EU
Sep 16
// Chris Carter
Today at TGS, Bandai Namco announced that Project X Zone 2 will arrive in the US on February 16, and in Europe on February 19. This isn't too far off from the Japanese release, which is still on track for November 12, 2015. I'll have my first hands-on impressions to share soon.
Dark Souls III date photo
Dark Souls III date

Dark Souls III gets April 2016 release date

In the Americas and Europe
Sep 16
// Steven Hansen
Bandai Namco announced here at Toyko Game Show 2015 that Dark Souls III will be releasing in April of 2016 in North and South America as well as Europe. That puts the latest entry in the Dark Souls series just a year after th...

Tokyo Game Show 2015 press conference schedule

Sep 16 // Steven Hansen
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 Sony Japan press conference @ 4:00PM-5:30PM JST (12AM-1:30AM PDT)YouTube stream, Niconico stream Here's a list of what Sony will have on-hand at TGS. This does not include unannounced games. The Sony Japan conference should have some announcements (and better have Gravity Rush 2). PS4 Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir Star Wars: Battlefront Street Fighter V Arlan: The Warriors of Legend Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky Call of Duty: Black Ops III Destiny: The Taken King Tearaway Unfolded The Tomorrow Children Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 God Eater: Resurrection Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven PS Vita Airship Q Minecraft: PS Vita Edition Tokyo Xanadu God Eater: Resurrection THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 Okay, now we're into detailed, fan-centric company streams, stage shows, and the like. Here is where we're most likely to find tidbits about things, which may be interesting, and a tidbit about a bigger release is even closer to news. But completely new games? Doubtful. Credit Gematsu for many of these individual publisher itinerary translations. There are more things scheduled at the aforelinked page, but I've removed re-runs and less news-worthy events. (See: Atlus' three-day Persona proceedings -- and no, it's not playable) 11AM-11:50AM JST (7PM PDT, September 16) Sega Title Presentation (Niconico stream) -- Title Presentation by Sega Group’s Development Manager – Featuring Osamu Ohashi, Takaya Segawa, Kikuchi Masayoshi, and Naoto Hiraoka 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 16): Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Special Stage (YouTube stream)  -- Focus on Side Ops and Forward Operating Base Online (a prelude to the later Metal Gear Online demo) 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 16): Hyrule Warriors Legends (Niconico stream) -- Gameplay stream and news from the producer, Yosuke Hayashi. 12:40PM JST (8:40PM PDT, Sept. 16): News for Konami's Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball series. (YouTube Stream) 1PM JST (9PM PDT, Sept. 16): "Coming Soon" from Sega (Niconico stream) -- idk 2:00PM JST (10:00PM PDT, Sept. 16): Romance of the Three Kingdoms 30th Anniversary and Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII Special Stage (Niconico stream) -- Producer Kou Shibusawa on XIII and a 30th anniversary commemorative project. 2:40PM JST (10:40PM PDT, Sept. 16): Metal Gear Online (YouTube steam) -- "Playable debut," not sure if publicly or just a live demonstration, but if the former, we will play the hell out of it. 4:00PM JST (12AM PDT): Arslan: The Warriors of Legend (Niconico stream) -- Producer Shigeto Nakadai introduces gameplay. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 11AM-11:40AM JST (7PM PDT, September 17) Sega TGS 2015 booth lineup (Niconico stream) -- All of this stuff. 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 17): Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Ignition New Character “Shiba Tatsuya” Gameplay Introduction (Niconico stream) 1PM JST (9PM PDT, September 17): Attack on Titan (Niconico stream) -- Producer Koinuma Hisashi and director Kitamura Tomoyuki unveil first gameplay for new Attack on Titan game. 3PM JST (11PM PDT, Sept. 17): Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Media Tournament (YouTube stream) -- Gaming media versus soccer media in what is effectively a promotion for Pro Evolution Soccer, hmm, weird. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 10:30AM-11:30AM JST (6:30PM PDT, September 18): Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (Niconico, YouTube) 11:15PM-12:05PM (7:15 PM PDT, September 18): Just Cause 3 Summer of Chaos at TGS & Extreme Edges New Titles Introduction Broadcast (Niconico, YouTube) -- Will include Hitman and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. 12:00PM JST (8PM PDT, September 18): Final Fantasy XIV Official Producer Letter Live in Makuhari (Niconico, YouTube) 12:30PM-1:00PM JST (8:30PM PDT, September 18): Square Enix's "secret" (Niconico, YouTube) 1:45PM-3:15PM JST (9:45PM PDT, September 18): Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report at TGS 2015 (Niconico, YouTube) - See you in Japan!
TGS 2015 photo
What to expect when you're expecting
Lord on a skateboard, Tokyo Game Show 2015: Hey, There's Something to This Whole Mobile Gaming Thing is here to wash away industry sins with a waterfall of hype airdropped upon the unwashed masses. It tastes of Mountain Dew ...

Summer Lesson photo
Summer Lesson

Tekken team's Summer Lesson returns for TGS

VR demo for PlayStation 4
Sep 15
// Jordan Devore
Summer Lesson is a "VR character communication demo" for Project Morpheus (now simply PlayStation VR) developed by the Tekken team. There's a new trailer out of Tokyo Game Show. Unlike Josh, I will probably never interact wit...
Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III launches in Japan March 24, 2016

No western release date just yet
Sep 12
// Kyle MacGregor
Dark Souls III is debuting on March 24, 2016, at least on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in Japan. From Software has yet to reveal release information regarding the PC or international versions, but the developer has promised to ...
Digimon World: Next Order photo
Digimon World: Next Order

Digimon World: Next Order has some new screenshots

How many Leomon will die this time?
Sep 11
// Joe Parlock
Dang, Digimon World: Next Order is looking really pretty. Bandai Namco has released a whole load of new screenshots for the upcoming (currently Japan-exclusive) Vita game. The screenshots show off the two lead protagonists an...
Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

Here are some ways Dark Souls III is a-changin'

Fast travel, hidden walls return
Sep 08
// Zack Furniss
Steven and Chris both tried their hands at Dark Souls III last month. Despite the increase in overall speed and the addition of the Battle Arts mechanic, they both came away with the opinion that it felt like m...
Namco photo

Bandai Namco trademarks 'Slashy Souls'

What if? Nah
Sep 08
// Jordan Devore
The Internet has caught wind of several trademarks filed by Bandai Namco, some more curious than others. In Europe, there's one for "Burning Blood" and another for "Sky Kid," while in the United States, there are trademarks f...
Tokyo Game Show photo
Tokyo Game Show

Bandai Namco teases new game ahead of TGS

I like the art!
Sep 04
// Jordan Devore
We're a couple weeks out from Tokyo Game Show and pre-show news is starting to slip in. Bandai Namco, which I'm only now realizing I've gotten used to calling "Bandai Namco" after years of typing "Namco Bandai," has opened a teaser website for a new game titled City Shrouded in Shadow "Granzella." The lone image depicts a horse, a sword, and a castle. What's in that castle? Nothing good, I'm sure.
PlayStation 3 game ending photo
PlayStation 3 game ending

Namco shutting down Soulcalibur: Lost Swords

'Gods, please forgive me'
Sep 02
// Steven Hansen
Roughly a year and a half after its launch, Namco is ending its free-to-play PlayStation 3 experiment Soulcalibur: Lost Swords. It was apparently not great and coupled with a bad microtransaction scheme.  Namco even mad...

Review: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3

Aug 28 // Chris Carter
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Vita)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Bandai Namco GamesRelease: August 25 2015MSRP: $59.99 Pirate Warriors 3 is a reboot of sorts (within the confines of the Pirate series that is), taking us all the way back to the beginning. Players will get a recap of Gold Roger the Pirate King, and how his death sparked the search for the great One Piece treasure, ushering in the Great Age of Pirates. After briefly showing us a Young Luffy, stoked by the fires of adventure, the game jumps 10 years into the future as our hero begins to gather his crew, starting with the ruffian Zoro. It's ambitious, starting over like this, but it's a great starting point for players who enjoy Warriors games, and have no prior knowledge of One Piece's narrative. You'll even get all caught up with the Dressrosa arc, the most recent bit of story (albeit with a different ending). With all that in mind, this is a very brief recap indeed, with entire arcs condensed to a single mission. In that way it spreads itself thin in many ways, not to mention the odd design choice of starting all over on the third game in the series. Battles still follow the same Warriors beat 'em up formula you know and love, with light and heavy attacks that can be chained into combos. What's crazy this time around though is the introduction of the Kizuna system, which lends itself well to One Piece's insane over-the-top style. Here, you'll be able to call out teammates for attacks on a constant basis, as well as unleash gigantic supers with multiple crew members, culminating in an explosion that usually kills hundreds of people at once. It's a mixed bag though, because while said explosions look really cool, they're ultimately all the same despite what crew members you have in the mix. So while it's entertaining for the first 100 times, it loses its luster eventually. Also, the regular Kizuna attacks are a bit clunky, as there's a half second delay for your party members to jump in and do their thing. It's not a huge deal, but it definitely could have been handled better. [embed]308138:60166:0[/embed] As for the rest of the combat mechanics, they're rather on point, and as usual, I like to make the point that the system is much deeper than the "button mashing" scheme non-fans accuse the Warriors series of. For instance, Luffy, your first playable character, starts with 14 combos, all of which have a purpose when you're playing on higher difficulty levels. Plus with nearly 40 playable characters in all, the amount of variety on offer is nothing to sneeze at. You'll want to play on a higher difficulty too, because without it, the actual story scenarios will likely start to wear on you. Without a local partner to play with enemies tend to blend together throughout stages, and despite the mixing up of themes (military, rural), they all function basically in the same manner, with the same types of weapons. The dialogue is also poorly written at times, and doesn't do a great job of drawing you into the world beyond the out-of-mission cutscenes. But hot damn, is that world beautiful on PS4. The only time I ever saw a framerate hit was when Kizuna moves were being done in local co-op, but other than that, it's silky smooth. No matter how many enemies are on-screen the game is relatively stable, and it's easy to dash around an entire map and lay waste to hundreds of enemies at a time. While the mission objectives aren't innovative in any way, they nailed the hectic feel of the anime. The story follows the typical Warriors format of roughly 15 hours of gameplay, with 50 or more to try to max out every character. Of course, there's more modes available, including free play, and "Dream" mode, which is basically a remixed version of the story. The latter sees you jumping from island to island, fighting off enemies in unique scenarios and gaining new characters and bonuses in the process. As a note, online play is only available for story mode, but local co-op is enabled for every game type. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3, from a gameplay standpoint, is simply "more Pirate Warriors 2." It doesn't really do anything new outside of the slightly different Kizuna system, and veterans will likely favor the Dream mode instead of the retreading story. Despite its Frankenstein-esque shortcomings, Pirate Warriors 3 is a beautiful game, and still a lot of fun to play locally. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
One Piece review photo
From Straw Hat to Dressrosa
I haven't kept entirely up to date with One Piece, but I do read the summaries, and have caught most of the earlier arcs. It's a daunting task (the series has been running since 1997) in terms of the anime, and there's lots o...

Lost Reavers photo
Lost Reavers

Project Treasure on Wii U is now known as 'Lost Reavers'

Still looks up in the air
Aug 28
// Chris Carter
I could go either way on Project Treasure, which has recently had a name switch into Lost Reavers. Shooting mummies with machine guns in a dungeon crawling format looks awesome, as do the Souls-esque boss fights, but the fre...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

What's your take on Twitch Plays Dark Souls, and its shift to cheating?

It still has the modded pause feature
Aug 27
// Chris Carter
When Twitch Plays Dark Souls managed to get to the first boss of the game, there was quite the commotion. Sadly, it seems as if they just couldn't manage it amidst all the chaos, and thus, they decided to cheat. How did they ...
Pac-Man 256 photo
Pac-Man 256

Pac-Man 256, from the developers of Crossy Road, is out now

On Android and iOS
Aug 19
// Chris Carter
Developer Hipster Whale hit it big with Crossy Road, and for good reason -- it's a fantastic little mobile game. Now they're back with Pac-Man 256, which sees the iconic character in an endless runner format, wacka-ing his wa...
 Evangelion photo

Neon Genesis Evangelion invades Super Robot Wars X-Ω

Shinji Ikari returns
Aug 12
// Chris Carter
Before you get too excited, note that Super Robot Wars X-Ω is a mobile game. Ok with that out of the way, Bandai Namco has announced that Eva Unit 01 will be joining the cast of the game, complete with pilot Shinji Ikari. He joins guests from 28 properties, including Code Geass, Star Driver, Zegapain, and Full Metal Panic. Uh, this is enough for me to check it out at some point!
Humble Bundle photo
Humble Bundle

The Humble Namco Bundle bonus games are, uh, yeah

Star Trek and Beware Planet Earth!
Aug 11
// Jordan Devore
I said I'd hold off on the Humble Bandai Namco Bundle until the bonus games were announced, and that was for the best. The package now includes Digital Extremes' middling Star Trek and a tower defense game called Beware Planet Earth! for folks who pay more than the average. No thanks! If you don't own Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+, strongly consider chipping in for that.
Bandai Namco photo
Bandai Namco

Bandai Namco might be localizing Tales of Link

Trademark filed in Europe
Aug 09
// Kyle MacGregor
As spotted by Gematsu, Bandai Namco filed a European trademark for Tales of Link last week. The free-to-play role-playing game launched on iOS and Android devices in early 2014, but only in the Japanese market. Given the publ...
gamescom trailer photo
gamescom trailer

Pac-Man 256 turns infamous glitch into gameplay

Namco not using Pac-Man inappropriately?
Aug 07
// Steven Hansen
Namco has finally managed to do something with Pac-Man that is not hopelessly sad. Here's an extended look at Hipster Whale's (Crossy Road) Pac-Man 256 out of gamescom. It's coming this summer to iPhone, iPad, Google Play a...

Panic! Dark Souls III is so easy I didn't die by the boss once

Aug 05 // Steven Hansen
[embed]297197:59811:0[/embed] Site Souls-expert Chris Carter reckons this slice of Dark Souls III was about five hours into the game, so it's no first boss gimme that I took down casually and without a sweat. Also, henceforth, I am Destructoid's resident Souls expert. Chris was the first to beat the boss out of everyone (I came in a close second), but not even he managed to do it first try and so he is usurped. In fact, I almost made it all the way to the boss without dying until I got stuck investigating a corner and some malnourished dogs attacked me. My attacks got caught on the shelves and wall on either side, interrupting the animation, and I was pinned. Streak nixed, I explored a bit more, fought a black tendril-y roof monster, and so on. My natural investigative nature is probably the only reason Chris beat me to the boss, if you think about it. Even to a handsome newbie like myself, Dark Souls III was instantly familiar. Despite matching Bloodborne's speed, it doesn't have that same novelty learning curve that came with playing sans shield, with a giant transforming axe scythe thing and a gun. The big new addition, Weapon Arts, are activated by holding L2 and then doing attacks for alternate strikes, but I never put them into play during combat. The skill went from unlimited to a cap of 20, refueled at bonfires, which should help undercut my joking fear mongering regarding the difficulty level of the game. All of this could change and likely will. We were shown a stage and system that feels completely final (art, animation, etc.) save for the most important thing: balance and tuning to feel. [Disclosure: Bandai Namco provided local travel to the event, as well as dinner.]
Dank souls photo
Hands-on preview
When I wrote about why Souls games are not that hard earlier this year, I told you all that I was neither expert (under 30 series hours total) nor savant (not skilled at anything). And yet, this lumbering galoot, after quite ...

Dark Souls III wears its Bloodborne influences on its sleeve

Aug 05 // Chris Carter
Our demo started out in an era called the "Wall of Lodeleth," which to me, looks like a mix between the Undead Burg and Boletarian Palace. The layout was fairly linear, but offered up a ton of surprises like the standard "dragon guarding loot" offshoot, and a mini-boss of sorts. Lodeleth was multi-tiered, and featured a number of side rooms accessed by way of ladders, as well as some rooftop shenanigans. It was par for the course, but still felt right. Combat as a whole is quicker, which is likely a direct response to Bloodborne changing the game. Rolls and dodges are faster, and enemies as a whole feel faster, too. It's not quite "fighting game" fast, but it's a comfortable medium between Souls and Bloodborne, which I'm more than okay with. One big addition is "Battle Arts," which are basically super moves triggered by different equipment combinations. "Not all shields parry now," I was told by Bandai Namco producer Brandon Williams, and you can see that distinction by way of an icon on the item itself in the lower-left equipment corner. A shield icon denotes a defensive action, and a sword icon is more aggressive. In this instance, it allowed my axe to power up for a short period, granting me a damage boon, which was depicted by a glowing aura on my weapon. In essence, it's a more "on-demand" spell system for folks who prefer direct combat -- I say bring it on. My personal style for Souls games involves using the shield as blocking insurance, but not necessarily for parrying, so I'm all for this change. As a note, these are limited-use abilities, and will recharge at a bonfire much like flasks. As I made my way through the demo, I eventually encountered the only boss, the Dancer of the Frigid Valley (1:45 in the trailer). Based on my experience, it was very similar to Bloodborne's Vicar Amelia fight -- for the most part attacks are easy to dodge, but if you get caught up, you're going to get punished, and possibly one-shotted. The boss also sports a flaming sword, which produces chip damage even if you block, forcing you to be more aggressive. It was a standard but fun fight. [embed]296887:59812:0[/embed] One problem area I noticed during my hands-on session however was the frame rate. There was often times a lot of enemies on-screen, but it chugged on all of those occasions. Bloodborne was 30fps as well, but it's high-time that the series moved on without needing a re-release to bring us into higher territory -- Scholar of the First Sin is incredibly smooth at 60fps. For reference, the build we played with seemed to be PC-based, using an Xbox One controller. Another sort of more personal issue I had was the fact that it felt a little too samey. As I mentioned above, Lodeleth felt like an amalgamation of existing areas in past Souls games. Even something like Huntsman's Copse in Dark Souls II, which is for all intents and purposes a "forest area" that had been done before, felt like something completely different. Bloodborne was a breath of fresh air, providing a unique perspective with a harrowing blight and a darker tone in general. With Dark Souls III, I'm distinctly getting the feeling of "more Souls," which for the most part is a good thing, but did wear on me a bit even during my brief time with the game. It took me roughly 30 minutes to make my way through the demo area and defeat the Dancer -- of which I was the first in the group to do (though Steven beat the boss in one shot!). At the end of it all, amidst the claps from my colleagues and the Namco Bandai reps, I felt that sense of accomplishment that I've felt since downing the Phalanx boss in Demon's Souls. I think Dark Souls III will be fine. [Disclosure: Bandai Namco provided travel to the event, as well as dinner.]
Dark Souls III preview photo
I also see a few problem areas
It's crazy to think that we're on the verge of yet another Souls game right after Bloodborne and Scholar of the First Sin. From Software doesn't seem to rest, and as soon as the studio has wrapped up one project, it's on...

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