Preview: Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls, the famous franchise of Bandai Namco, gathered a lot of fans since it was released a couple of years ago. Dark Souls brought something back to the industry that was lost for years; true challenge. It looks like the new Dark Souls III, will continue on this path but brings in some needed innovations. We got our hands on it during Gamescom and were very pleased with the result.

The great Bloodborne engine

The first thing we noticed, was the increase in speed thanks to the new engine of the game. This is the first Dark Souls game that has been created for the current generation of consoles only and this comes with a new engine. Fans of the genre will immediately recognize the engine of Bloodborne. Dark Souls III uses the exact same engine as the PlayStation 4 exclusive. This results in the best-looking Dark Souls world yet.


The demo was played in a desolated place called Lodeleth. This environment consists out of old castles bathing in the light of a burning sun. The developers didn’t want to create another ‘dark’ universe. This universe is a lot brighter thanks to its burning sun but the dangerous and mysterious vibe never gets killed thanks to the strange light. Everything you see in the world of Lodeleth is accessible and nothing is just there as background. Since everything is connected, this is the biggest Dark Souls world ever created. The world is filled with hidden rooms and dungeons; the feeling of solitude only gets stronger thanks to the giant world. Too bad we didn’t really got time to discover it all since we soon faced our first enemies.

Faster combat but still challenging 

Aside of better visuals, the engine also innovates the battles. Thanks to the new power of the consoles, the battles are fought in a higher pace. Our playable character (knight or Viking warrior) moved a lot faster than before. The classic dodge and attack moves remained the same but everything felt a lot faster. Don’t be mistaken however, faster combat doesn’t mean it’s easier to take down the enemies. The enemies are faster as well and will attack you at a higher speed. Blocking their attacks is more difficult than ever before and they’ll never hold back. The combat is very challenging especially when you’re fighting the knights.


Just like in the first Dark Souls game, the knights are a big challenge to defeat. Where they were easier to defeat in later episodes, Dark Souls III goes back to its roots and features some hard to kill knights. Fighting a knight one on one isn’t that hard but be prepared to die a lot when you’re facing more than one knight.

Different weapons, different techniques

Another important difference in combat are the different types of weapons and their stances. A stance is a special attack that lowers your defense but inflicts more damage to the enemies. Depending on the weapon you’re currently wielding, the stance attack changes. If you’re using the regular light sword,  you’ll use both hands to deliver a hard horizontal strike. If you’re using the greatsword, your stance attack will result in a devastating, shield-destroying, blow on your enemy. This attack can take down the weaker enemies in a single blow. If you’re wielding dual swords (which can be activated as one now), you’ll use a spinning attack, enabling to inflict damage to multiple enemies at once.


Aside of these new stance move, it’s also possible to use your bow while walking, to break the pattern of the enemies; and you can also use several kind of bombs to take down enemies. Aside of your weapons it’s also important to keep your shield up high in order to defend yourself against attacks. Without the shield, you won’t stand a change.

Unique bosses

One of the reasons why the Dark Souls franchise became so popular was because of the unique boss fights. During the demo we saw a giant dancing boss called ‘the dancer of the frigid valley’. This boss moved really fast and set the environment on fire using a fire sword. The attacks also changed during combat, allowing the gamers to face new challenges and discover new tactics to take it down. Aside of this boss we also saw a huge dragon that was being used to the player’s advantage, by taking down enemies for him. And we also faced an incredible fast monster that consisted out of black mass on the top of the roof. This particular boss was too strong to defeat and send us straight back to our last checkpoint.


A lot to discover

Aside of the bosses and regular fights, Dark Souls III still is a game where you need to discover a lot in order to advance. You need to find the right door and right key by searching several dungeons and defeat several enemies. It’s great to see this exploration is still part of the game and that the answer is never given to you. Just like you would do in the real world, you need to search every room in order to advance. Backtracking and going on the wrong path is still part of the game but that’s also part of the charm. Nothing is just given to you, you’ll always need to work hard to advance.

Magic points make a return

This brings us to the final portion of our hands-on, the magic points. During our playtrough we noticed that the infamous blue bar made a return in the interface of the game. The developers couldn’t share why these magic points returned but we’re thinking that magic attacks are back in Dark Souls III. Too bad we didn’t see any of these in action but we can’t wait to see them return once the full game releases in stores. The story itself remained a big mystery as well. Like always, Bandai Namco doesn’t like to spoil the gamer.


Early conclusion:

Dark Souls III is back in action and everything feels faster, harder and better. The new engine allows players to move faster and creates more beautiful environments. The battles are still challenging but never unfair and the bosses are very unique. Take note that the magic points also return and that the story might be darker than we’re used to. Dark Souls III has everything to give fans what they asked for and even more. We can’t wait to check the final product next year.

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.