Dark Souls 2's director on being lost in translation and honoring a predecessor

There's a boss in Dark Souls 2 who's probably 20 feet tall. Covered in knight's armor thick as a forearm, he has a sword that seems as long as he is tall. He's angry, and he wants you dead.

Also, his sword shoots lightning. With a powerful slash, he produces an arc so deadly and accurate that the only way to avoid it is to wait for it to rush at you and then, at the very last second, jump away. And this is not his most notable feature.

He's called the Mirror Knight because the side of his shield that faces players is an enormous pristine mirror. In the Dark Souls 2 demo Polygon saw at E3, the Mirror Knight took a knee and summoned a regular sized bad guy out of his mirror.

In the retail version of Dark Souls 2, which is due out on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in March 2014, that won't be the case. In the retail version, the Mirror Knight — the 20-foot humanoid tank with the plated armor and the magical lightning sword — will not eject an AI-controlled enemy from his oval mirror shield. He will eject a human-controlled character.

In Dark Souls 2, you will fight a monstrous boss and, at the same time, engage in PvP combat with a human enemy hellbent on your destruction and the spoils your death will bring.

Publisher Namco Bandai revealed Dark Souls 2 with a trailer at the Spike Video Game Awards last December, where it was announced for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC. It's set for release in March 2014.

The worry about a denatured sequel arose shortly after the trailer's release, when co-director Tomohiro Shibuya said that the follow-up to the obtuse Dark Souls would be "more straightforward and understandable." It was compounded after a subsequent interview in which Shibuya said that a goal is to make the sequel "more accessible to players." Dark Souls fans enamored of the game's balance of punishment and reward worried immediately "accessible" was code for "easy." Would Dark Souls 2, which had also lost Demon's Souls and Dark Souls mastermind and director Hidetaka Miyazaki, sacrifice its core for "accessibility."

'Those are things we want to sort of streamline — to sort of cut away a lot of the fat...'

Based on our time with the game and an interview with co-director Yui Tanimura, those worried about a watered down, unduly "accessible" sequel can rest easy. From what we've seen and heard at E3, Dark Souls is back in all its masochistic glory and even offers improvements on the original.

Shibuya's statement may have been lost in translation, he told Polygon.

"What we meant by that was, based on feedback we got on Dark Souls, we got a lot of feedback that said that it was challenging and that the satisfaction was there, but there were a couple of areas that were a little bit tedious or a little bit time-consuming," Tanimura said through a translator. "Those are things we want to sort of streamline — to sort of cut away a lot of the fat, to make some revisions and enhancements so that we can really deliver the pure essence of the challenge in the Dark Souls experience."

As an example, he offered Dark Souls' penchant for forcing players to traverse large areas multiple times to do simple tasks. With Dark Souls 2, Tanimura and Shibuya want to "get rid of all the tediousness and the time-consuming stuff so you can actually get into the game and not worry about having to do certain tasks like this."

In other words, "accessibility" in this context is not about difficulty but about streamlining the parts of Dark Souls that some players and the Dark Souls 2 development team agreed were detrimental to the experience.

For more on the game, be sure to check out Polygon's hands-on impressions of Dark Souls 2.


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