by Alessio Palumbo I’ve been able to get my hands on both Bloodborne (the highly anticipated new IP by Hidetaka Miyazaki, revered creator of Demon/Dark Souls) and Lords of the Fallen, a new project led by Tomasz Gop, who was Senior Producer on The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. Both games clearly fall within the same genre, being action roleplaying […]
by Alessio Palumbo
I’ve been able to get my hands on both Bloodborne (the highly anticipated new IP by Hidetaka Miyazaki, revered creator of Demon/Dark Souls) and Lords of the Fallen, a new project led by Tomasz Gop, who was Senior Producer on The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings.
Both games clearly fall within the same genre, being action roleplaying games with a focus on 1-vs-1 combat, fairly small environments and a high degree of challenge. While Bloodborne seeks to distance itself from the Souls series mainly through a different setting (it takes place in Yharnam, an ancient city overrun with a horrifying curse) and a more aggressive combat system compared to the defensive one favored by the Souls games, Lords of the Fallen draws as much from the games developed by From Software as they do from the traditional Western RPG.
In Lords of the Fallen, the main character is Harkyn, a convicted criminal who turns out to be humanity’s last hope against the return of a Fallen God. Unlike Souls games (and probably Bloodborne), players will able to make pivotal decisions during dialogue which supposedly change the plot’s outcome, leading to very different endings.
While playing the game, the influence of Miyazaki’s masterpiece is undeniable. However, there are a few differences; while Gop and his team want Lords of the Fallen to be challenging, they also want to alleviate some of the unnecessary discomfort which translates in frustration. As a result, there are checkpoints nearby bosses, and I cannot stress how happy this made me; by the way, in case you think this makes the game “easy”, let me assuage your fears.
It doesn’t. In my 30 minutes hands-on, I spent about 10 minutes making my way towards the demo’s final boss and about 20 minutes trying to kill it; I didn’t even get past half of its Health Points. Jan Klose, Creative Director at Deck 13 Interactive (working on the game alongside CI Games) was giggling on my left side, saying that it was normal for someone who isn’t experienced with the game to be failing this much, and I was actually doing nicely compared to the rest of the press. This didn’t really do much for my self-esteem, though in my self-defence I’ll say that this was a high level area, where supposedly players will have gathered more gameplay experience than I had.
The boss was not only hard-hitting (he could kill me in four or five hits, despite my character being fully decked in plate armor and using a massive shield as a Cleric), but also quite fast for its size, not to mention that he summoned a stream of fireballs coming from all sides that required perfect dodge timing. Perhaps a Rogue character would have had less issues; it will be interesting to try different classes, weapons and skills.
Perhaps the most striking feature of Lords of the Fallen is its graphics, though. I played on PC (with an Xbox 360 controller) and the game looked fantastic, with (almost) perfect image quality, high resolution textures and stunning fire/snow & spell effects. I’m not quite sure of the system configuration, and obviously the PlayStation 4/Xbox One versions might be slightly inferior (speaking of which, it was confirmed yesterday that it will run at 1080P on PS4 and 900P on XB1), but what I’ve seen is certainly impressive, and way more so than Bloodborne.
The PS4 exclusive, which had a way shorter demo on display, didn’t look like it was using Sony’s hardware to its fullest (like Infamous: Second Son or Killzone: Shadow Fall, for example); there was a lot of aliasing on the scene, and the textures seemed to be similar in quality to those in Dark Souls II. There were a few frame rate issues as well, although it should be noted that the game is coming out in early February, so they definitely have time to smooth this.
Overall, gameplay felt like a rehashed version of Dark Souls II; it was a bit disappointing to see that, with the notable exception of the main character’s cloak, environmental physics and animations weren’t improved. Bloodborne’s strongest point is clearly its dark, brooding atmosphere, which gives the city of Yharnam a unique and eerie feel; if the story will be able to match the setting, then the game could still be something special.
Another area where Bloodborne might outshine Lords of the Fallen is longevity. Klose told me that LotF will last about 20 hours (although there’s a new Game+ mode, collectibles etc.), and since games in the Souls are known for their massive longevity, it’s fair to say that Bloodborne should easily surpass 20 hours.
Still, I’ve personally always favored quality over quantity and I can’t help but be more impressed by Lords of the Fallen at this stage of development. At any rate, fans of this peculiar RPG niche will have two great games, and they might be surprised when it will come to choosing a favorite.