PAX13 – Lords of the Fallen Preview
You may have seen the above trailer for upcoming action-rpg game Lords of the Fallen, built by City Interactive in Warsaw, Poland. It evokes some of the central themes of the game by showcasing medieval high fantasy and defiance against a higher power. However, it doesn’t say much else about the gameplay. We’ve been given a tentative estimate that a gameplay trailer, although coming this year, won’t be out for a while.
Fortunately for you, we got a peek at some live gameplay today, and the game looks fantastic. Their own proprietary engine looks beautiful (as one would expect for a next-gen title). Looking at the apparent polish of the demo, you wouldn’t guess that Executive Producer Tomasz Gop describes the current state of the game as a “pre-alpha prototype”. That being said, he was seeking concrete feedback on the future of development, which I appreciate.
The Witcher 1 and 2 veteran makes no claims about Lords of the Fallen being trailblazing. It uses a number of tried-and-true elements, and you will see influences from games like The Witcher, Darksiders, Warhammer 40K, and especially Dark Souls. The style is informed by those prior 3 games, and the gameplay is informed by Dark Souls. However, this sort of gameplay was never exclusive to those titles, and City Interactive seems to be giving the game a unique style of its own.
Some 8000 years ago, legend has it that people rose up in defiance of an angry God, and were able to defeat him (at least temporarily). Now the followers of this God are returning, and it’s your job to defeat them (and one would guess, eventually the God himself). Although Gop says that story is not necessarily the emphasis of the game, rather than playing as a faceless champion, you play as Harken, a defiant, tattooed warrior. You will also have access to dialogue options when talking to NPCs, adding a bit of depth and personalization to the plot.
Fans of Dark Souls will appreciate a fairly complex action-rpg combat system, where equipment and weight make a huge difference. We’ll see the return of the classic health, mana, and stamina bars. There are several classes in the game, including your standard sword-and-board tank warrior, a quick and nimble rogue-like character, and a magic user. Each class levels up and has access to their own skill trees with unique abilities. However, you can mix and match the classes and gear, so you could have a magic-user who wears rogue gear, for instance. Certain enemies will encourage a character to change their gear for an upcoming fight. Some Warrior-oriented magic that we saw are the ability to create distracting clones of the character, and send a projection hurtling towards the enemy, knocking them down (EXPECTO PATRONUM!).
The level design is familiar, as well with those medieval towers, often with a choice of paths. This non-linear design lends itself to sneaking up on enemies and stabbing them in the back, or choosing a path laden with traps over a direct route with powerful enemies. At the end of each level (and often peppered within) are powerful bosses, and the concept of “learn by dying” seems to be a healthy part of the process. Bosses come in all shapes and sizes, small and large, each with their own move set. The major boss we saw was a giant armored demon with a fiery sword that evoked memories of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings. He has several notches in his health bar that represent phases of battle. When you take his health down far enough, he may shed armor, power up, or otherwise change his fighting style. Our boss began as an armored tank with a shield, and ended the fight as an almost-nude whirling dervish of fire.
I am anticipating this game more eagerly than any I’ve seen so far at this event, and although assets are scarce, I hope I’ve gotten you excited as well. Lords of the Fallen will release for the PS4 and Xbox One in 2014.