Darksiders II First Look Preview

With Death as our guide, we embark on a guided tour through the scenic Underworld.

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"We didn't really know what Darksiders was until the end," says Marvin Donald of Vigil Games. "A lot of it was just an idea." By contrast, the director of Darksiders II sounds far more certain about the direction of his studio's upcoming sequel. It's a game with a quicker, more agile main character. It's a game with less of a focus on Earth and more of a focus on a stylized demon underworld. And, perhaps, most important of all, it's much more of a role-playing game than its predecessor.

Playing as Death, one of the other Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, you're on a quest to free your brother War from imprisonment and restore his good name. As we mentioned, Death is a nimbler protagonist than War--Donald goes so far as to describe him as "feral" in his movements--and that's a trait you see in a few different areas. Death's journey has him fighting swarms of demonic enemies and traversing a twisted landscape, so whether it's skittering up a vertical surface before you actually latch onto a handhold or instantly morphing your standard weapon into something altogether different in the heat of battle, Death is a far less lumbering character than the protagonist of the first game he's out to save.

So, yes, Death is very much his own man. Carrying on with that theme, he's also a much more customizable man. According to Donald, Darksiders II is the beneficiary of more time and leeway for creative pursuits, specifically the game's vastly expanded collection of role-playing elements. Key among these elements is a loot system that allows you to customize your battle attributes, as well as your appearance. Things like armor, gloves, boots, and weapons are all there to be dropped by fallen enemies--each with its own set of stats--and you can mix and match these various bits of equipment to suit your preferred play style. Whether you're fond of relying on magic spells or just smashing things to pieces with the biggest hammer you can find, Donald says the loot system is designed with role-playing class archetypes in mind.

Meet Death. He's not such a bad guy once you get to know him.

Hearing Donald talk about the effect of this customization on the game, you begin to understand why the original Darksiders was a much more straightforward action game. "We're big RPG fans at Vigil, and we would have done this with Darksiders if we had the time and bandwidth." But, what's so time consuming about mixing these genres? In a word: balancing. "That's one of the biggest challenges ahead of us," says Donald. With all the various equipment you can pick up, the wildly different enemies you'll encounter, and the skill tree you can navigate, it's going to take a lot of work for Vigil to make this all work within the action-game template established by the first game. There are a lot of opportunities for a player's set of choices to break the game, but Vigil seems more than willing to take on the challenge.

All of this occurs in a landscape quite a bit different from the first Darksiders. Whereas that game was largely set against the backdrop of a postapocalyptic urban metropolis--with a few notable excursions to more exotic areas--Darksiders II is a game that resides in more fantastical locales, like the demon underworld. It's clear the artists at Vigil have used this opportunity to get a little more creative with their designs. Case in point: In our demo, Death had to meet with a gentleman named the Lord of Bones. Rather than search out his throne room in some sort of building or fortress, though, you need to leap from a cliff overlooking a massive abyss and land on a floating ship made of skeletons and wings that look not entirely unlike a pair demon electric eels. The enemy design is more than a little batty as well, including a boss fight against a hulking golem cobbled together by the bones of its fallen enemies. Naturally, it attacks you by ripping off its own spine (including its head) and whipping you with it.

The world design is a bit more outlandish this time around.

Though Darksiders II is taking a step forward from its predecessor in many areas, it still has a few strong ties that go back to War's journey. The original game was, to put it mildly, heavily inspired by the flow of Nintendo's Zelda games, with the way shiny new pieces of equipment often acted as keys to previously inaccessible locations. Death appears to be every bit the lover of new gadgetry that War was because we were shown a tool called the ghost hook that essentially allowed Death to extend his platforming abilities, grappling across wider gaps and wall-running across longer, well, walls than he normally could. Not to say that this structure is necessarily a bad thing--it's just a holdover from the original game you should expect to see make a return.

Overall, we're very intrigued by the direction of Darksiders II. We like the way the more fantastical gameworld is adding to the already strong personality of the series and the way you can add your own personality through the customizable loot system. Hopefully, Vigil can resolve the technical woes that plagued the original game and perhaps even do something about the byzantine control system as well. At any rate, we're looking forward to seeing more on Darksiders II before its 2012 release.

Discussion

174 comments
leoansa2
leoansa2

......"go and try to disprove death. Death will disprove you...." if this game is half good than the first one, we have a winner.....

Defsolidus
Defsolidus

@pai-may You had to bring Zelda into this. As i said in my last comment:"you are indeed entitled to your own opinion". To put it simply and hopefully as clear as possible, Dante's Inferno for me was more immersive than Darksiders as far as the story, the gameplay or the graphics in that category of games, i haven"t had that since GOW 2. So let's agree to disagree. As to the competition being created on the game development level by having exclusivity rights on some games, i don't think there's that much effect on game development in any said category since the competition is already there to begin with (FIFA vs PES...etc whatever the console). To my mind the only real effect it has is on the buyer's level when it comes to chosing a console, even then exclusive games are but one criteria, could be the most important depending on the person.

pai-may
pai-may

@Defsolidus, I neither inferred you are a fanboy nor do I wish to draw out an argument with you as to which console is best, that's one that's been going since the days of the nes and master system and is frankly pointless. However I'd like to point out that GOW has less influence over this style of game than many care to consider when they call it out as their trump card. Perhaps we should all consider Legend of Zelda, especially Ocarina of Time the daddy of this style of puzzle plus combat game. Joe MAD does and he was creative designer on Darksiders ;) Why is it that THAT great game gets overlooked in such discussions I wonder?

Defsolidus
Defsolidus

@pai-may I expressed my opinion and i stand by it, i'm no fanboy, the fact that i played and finished either franchise games is proof enough (and i'll be playing Darksiders 2), you say uninspiring while the existence of Darksiders and other games are based on an inspiration from GOW so yeah you are indeed entitled to your own opinion.

pai-may
pai-may

@Defsolidus, I quite like the idea of console specific games, it creates competition. I never owned a PS2 so no I've not played GOW1 or 2. I've watched my housemate play through both though and I stand by my statement of finding those games uninspiring. As the first in a series, clearly giving a nod to GOW, Darksiders was a very good attempt at a game and very enjoyable. I dont have to be a fanboy of one console or the other to have a preference in game, I simply prefer the style and story of Darksiders to GOW. My opinion is no less valid than yours so please treat it as such.

Defsolidus
Defsolidus

@pai-may I didn't play GoW's third installment since i don't own a PS3 but you should've at least played the first two, that franchise is a reference, if there was no exlusivity BS going on, you wouldn't even be comparing Darksiders to GoW, at least not the first Darksiders.

pai-may
pai-may

Well though PS gamers I know say this franchise is inferior to god of war, I've never really played that brand, nor been interested enough to do so. Darksiders however drew me in with its really pretty graphics engine and solid playable game core. I for one can not wait for the sequel, though as others have mentionoed, I think death looks a lot like Azrael from the Soul Reaver game. (No bad thing btw, the character design for death is damn awesome.)

kenthuss
kenthuss

seems better than WAR . I Will Buy it. But the Graphics hasn't changed !!!!!!!!

Wensea10
Wensea10

the loot system in the game leads to more weapon variety

mini_specs
mini_specs

@couchtater12345 , you say Darksiders was like a Zelda spin-off, I reckon it felt more like Legacy of Kain: Defiance. If you haven't played any of the Legacy of Kain games, you should. Pretty fun and a cool story =)

mini_specs
mini_specs

@kaem79 yeah, using the word pathetic twice, and so close to each other, really shows your superb grasp of the English language. But I digress. Sorry for the late reply, I was busy playing DARKSIDERS. lol. I'm no fanboy, I'm simply approving of an entertaining piece of software. Just because your standards are obviously high (and all those shiny red votes against you can back me up on that), doesn't make it bad. Remember when games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders were bad-ass and cool? Release them now exactly the way the were back then, and people like you might still say "That sucks!", but the fact is, games like that don't have to be works of art or intricately detailed or complex to be great. It's all about the entertainment value. I'm not just talking about Darksiders anymore, but every game that ever was. Darksiders itself, however, is quite fun in my opinion...and my opinion is apparently shared well enough for Vigil to now have the capability create a sequel. So now I blow my nose at you and say good-day.

ziadpayne
ziadpayne

Darksiders is an amazing game which I'll always remember and I hope Darksiders 2 will be even better.Hopefully they'll release the PC version at the same time with the XBOX and PS3.

filipmgaliza
filipmgaliza

I wish more games would take this turn. The FPS stuff has been fun but its so oversaturated these days... This is a rare breed. Yup, agree with others that first was a blast.

raith616
raith616

first was great this should rock

jnw93
jnw93

gotta gotta get this

monster637
monster637

Hahahahahah you can tell by being the head of a studio , he been up for 24 hours with stress

Twin-Blade
Twin-Blade

I played about an hour of the first & didn't really get into it before my brother traded it in. He loved it but it never really stuck with me. I saw a few things for Darksiders 2 & was put off by the character design.. Not a big fan of dark, gothic, undead skull-masked sort of looking things. But then it started to click with me. Now I'm really digging the design.. Then I heard how you can tailor Death to suit your playstyle, & saw a few gameplay clips... So I went & picked up a new copy of Darksiders today & I'm really looking forwards to Darksiders 2. Also, off topic, why aren't paragraphs working in my post (sorry about the wall of text)? I can only get this to be its own paragraph.

sorin_ro
sorin_ro

i don't think it's gonna be better than DS 1.i liked War a lot,he was such a badass,so tough and powerful,they should have continue with him in the second game.I don't like the design/looks of Death and i disagree it will be better than the first one(even with all the improvements).

skyvongola13
skyvongola13

never played the ds 1 but maybe il try it and then buy the second one

skyvongola13
skyvongola13

i got a question is ntsc and ntsc j is the same or different

Amaury_J
Amaury_J

Just finished the 1st one. Hats off to Joe Madureira!

method115
method115

@lyncer777 I can't comment on the game in general cause I only played the demo. I just know that games like this are always very similar. Which I honestly don't have a problem with because I love the genre but it's the little things that can turn me off of some of them.

fend_oblivion
fend_oblivion

Those demon eels are the epitome of pure win! The original Darksiders was a great game but this game is shaping up to be even better! Can't wait :D

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

Death looks like Kasey from TMNT.

kaem79
kaem79

@couchtater12345 Read again, read right.

bandarman
bandarman

Is this game a parallel story to Darksiders or a sequel? If its a sequel I don't know how far this game will go to match the story of the first one. Frankly speaking, the clearing of the name and the war against the bigs sounds more like a story for God of War... and that game was epic!

Aerognome
Aerognome

@tom_cat_01 I thought it was meant to be Conquest, War, Famine and Death (in that order)?

Morbissus
Morbissus

Please no blue bar issues this time. Death looks like a beefed up Skeletor... ha

gamingnerd121
gamingnerd121

@tom_cat_01 You didn't read what i typed. Vigil Games chose to use these names, and those are not the only names for the horsemen.

ganesh69
ganesh69

Day 1 purchase of the PC version!

khimeron13
khimeron13

What I think would be cool for them to do is to make the 3rd one so that you will be able to switch between the 4 horsemen and all their powers. They all go in a group and the ones you are not playing will be AI-controlled or you could play co-op. I actually was hoping they would do something like that with this one due to the ending of the first one which was AWESOME.

tom_cat_01
tom_cat_01

@gamingnerd121: 'Fury or Strife'????? The 4 horsemen are: Death, War, Pestilence, Famine.

tom_cat_01
tom_cat_01

Really don't like the design/look of death.

dstv
dstv

Just bought the first tday ...cant wait to beat it

imsosickofyou
imsosickofyou

Fine everyone so be it!!! enjoy your kiddish looking legendary warrior in darksiders 2 and 4 and 5 and so on....

buft
buft

I kinda wanted co-op maybe 3 will have fury and strife going side by side to pick up late night fast food for war and death since they will be tired from their respective adventures. sure it might sound boring but have you ever seen a McDonalds car park after midnight

gamingnerd121
gamingnerd121

People seems to be at a loss with the names Vigil Games will use. Darksiders 1 - War Darksiders 2 - Death Darksiders 3 - Fury or Strife Darksiders 4 - The remaining character. ''and perhaps even do something about the byzantine control system as well.'' Where did this appear in the game? I guess the control system was too much for the average gamer.

ANUBISZER0
ANUBISZER0

Darksiders was a great romp! I have high hopes for the second romp.

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

Darksiders was great!! 2 will probably be amazing

sayondas4
sayondas4

darksiders was inspired from every action adventure game i know and evolved the idea into a gr8 game. darksiders 2 seems artistically gorgeous.

rasputin177
rasputin177

Was not very interested in the first game but this one has grabbed my attention.

pokecharm
pokecharm

the trailer looked pretty impressive, but this is all big talk until it gets released ;)

Crash_WL
Crash_WL

Hm, for what I'm sure of is that the game will have 4 installments at least xD No kidding though, the first was a great game but had some technical issues, I'm sure that now that they've been pointed out, developers will fix them this time around and the game will be even better than the first one.