Friday, 2 March 2012

Death Becomes You in Darksiders II

The original Darksiders was a fun action game that had a great concept, but was written off by many as a God of War clone. However, the potential was massive, as the deep lore and engaging combat was a blast. In creating the sequel, the team at Vigil opted to include a lot of the elements that they simply weren't able to include in the first game, including a host of surprisingly deep RPG elements, tons of loot, and more fleshed out NPC characters to interact with. Darksiders II is shaping up to be another awesome take on the Apocalypse, but one that feels quite different from its predecessor.

Death Eternal

Instead of revisiting the original game's hero, War, the sequel puts you in control of his brother, Death, for a parallel storyline occurring during the same timeframe as the original Darksiders. As War has been framed for starting the Apocalypse, Death must investigate the allegations and find those responsible by going through four distinct areas. In our time with the game, we were shown one of the game's areas, the Maker's Realm.

The Makers are a race of large human-like beings that have been around as long as creation. You'll meet up with a few of them, and even enlist the help of one, Karn, that will fight alongside you and help you move onto new areas and solve environmental puzzles. There are other Makers throughout the realm that will act as shops to buy new items and skill upgrades. The landscape is an interesting contrast from those in the original game, with more ancient looking ruins and wooded areas as opposed to the desolate, wrecked cityscapes of the first game. There is quite a bit of ground to cover between the areas, and you'll be able to use a horse to get around quickly.

Death will have AI buddies help him in his quest.

The first Darksiders had some character development options and fit into a Metroidvania vein in the way that you explored and unlocked parts of the world, but Darksiders II takes this much farther with some very thoroughly developed RPG features. You're able to gather all manner of loot, weaponry, and armor as you progress through the game's worlds, each one has their own specific benefits and weaknesses. The weaponry is pretty diverse as well, ranging from fast scythes to heavy, slow hammers. Aside from weapon and armor, you'll be able to equip talismans, acting as specific stat boosts for your character. The amount of loot that you'll be able to pick up is pretty impressive for such an action-heavy game, and the whole experience appears to have more in common with action-RPGs like Kingdoms of Amalur than it does with the original Darksiders.

Depending on how you choose to fight, you'll be given skills that can be allocated to a few different skill trees, or you can either branch out and give your skill points to several different areas, or instead beef up one skill tree for a maximum effect. By design, you're not able to max out every skill tree through the course of the campaign, requiring you to be judicious with what points you dole out.

Your horse will be handy in getting around in the expansive environment.

However, even with the added focus on RPG gameplay, the action is still fluid and fun. Playing as Death has some real noticeable differences from playing as War, as he is not quite as heavily armored and is thus a lot more nimble. There is no block button, meaning that Death will have to actively dodge to evade his enemies' attacks. As in the original game, the game will mix a blend of melee combat and ranged attacks, as you'll have the aforementioned melee weaponry joined by ranged weapons like a gun with different ammo types to add some variety to the combat.

Darksiders II looks like a completely different beast than its predecessor. The team at Vigil tells us that the game will be anywhere from 20 to 40 hours depending on how in-depth you play, as there is plenty of areas to explore and loot to grab. The switch from a mostly straightforward action game to an action-RPG is one that the Darksiders series definitely benefits from, and we can't wait to finally to get our hands on it.


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