Darksiders 2 First Look Comic-Con 2011 Preview -- Even Death Enjoys Leveling UpBy Kevin Kelly - Posted Jul 27, 2011
There's a schism in the halls at G4, and you're either on one side or the other. Either you love Darksiders, or you hate it. We all know where former G4 employee Abbie Heppe came down on that line. After all, why do you think she's a former employee? Okay, that's entirely not true. We love Abbie, even though she left us for the hallowed halls at Respawn Entertainment. But still, I have to disagree with her lock, stock, and two smoking barrels about Darksiders. I loved the take on the Four Horsemen that Vigil Studios unfolded, and I'd probably follow anything Joe Madureira designed straight into hell.
Which is why I'm extremely excited for Darksiders 2. At this year's Comic-Con, we were taken into the game by Joe Mad! himself, where he pulled back the curtain on the epic scope of this installment, while narrating a showdown between Death and some unfortunate skelethugs. The first thing that was clear to us was that this isn't Darksiders as you know it. And if you don't know it yet, you need to get out there and take War for a spin. But this time around you're playing as War's brother Death, who plays a bit differently, has an entirely different attitude, and has been dipped in a steamy, hot bath full of RPG.
The original Darksiders was a mixture of God of War and Zelda, with combat and platforming puzzle elements borrow from both, and Darksiders 2 follows that same path while adding a heavy dose of role-playing. Madureira stopped short of calling the new game an RPG, but said it comes pretty close. He also said that the team was nervous about changing the protagonist from War to Death, especially since the first game was a success. Joking that they did it "just to be annoying," Madureira and team overhauled much of the interface and gameplay in the process. This time you'll get armor and weapon drops as well as cash when you defeat enemies, and those equippable items will be visible on Death, and will affect his stats.
Where War played like a tank, heading in and bashing his enemies with a ginormous sword, Death plays more like a rogue or an assassin, pun intended. He can run on walls, use a ghost hook for grappling, and is more aggro and "badass" than War. And where the last game took place mostly on a destroyed Earth, the sequel takes place in the Underground, which gave the developers free rein to take things to the fantasy realm and beyond. The "town" we visited in our demo level was being pulled along by by a gigantic serpent, which only hints at the scope of this game. Madureira told us that this time they've built the size of the game based on horse travel, which was underutilized in the last game, despite the amount of attention they put on War's mount Ruin.
Since the game is "much, much bigger" according to Mad, Death will come to rely a lot on his mount Despair. Like Ruin, you can summon Despair on the fly, with Death leaping into the air to have Despair blink into existence beneath him. Death is also differently armed than War, and comes equipped with a pair of deadly scythes slung on his back. Like War, he can wield many different weapons, including a massive hammer, claws, axes, throwing shards, and more (and yes, guns will be back as well), but the scythes are basically Death's staple, so they had to make an appearance in there.
Madureira also promises that puzzles will be back with a vengeance, and that "we have way more puzzles this time around." You'll also learn much of the Darksiders 2 story through questing, rather than having it told to you through multiple cutscenes like the first game. You'll also hear Death talk a lot more than War did, with Michael Wincott (the bad guy from The Crow) providing his voice. You'll also learn about Death's secret shame, and how the disembodied souls of his entire race are kept locked inside a glowing green device embedded in his chest. This changes death from the traditional image of a cowled, skeletal figure into someone with a story to tell.
The level we were shown has Death trying to gain an audience with the king that sits on the Eternal Throne, but Death first has to get past his lackey to speak with him. He's told there's no possible way... unless he visits the Gilded Arena and defeats the champion there. If he brings back the champion's head, he'll be granted an audience with the king as a boon. Death accepts, and battles his way through multiple skeletal foes before being confronted by a menacing "Scarab Hulk" that looks like a junebug on steroids. It has an eerie cry as you do battle with it, and although he seems extremely huge, he's not the champion. Madureira said the game will be filled with "mid-level bosses" like this.
That's all that we saw, but just that small amount teases what looks like a huge game that will provide hours of enjoyment. Little touches like having ghostly hands appear and yank doors open for Death rather than having him simply open the doors himself show the attention to detail that will be peppered through the world. The "Eternal Throne" level had hundreds upon hundreds of skulls littering the scenery, and Mad quipped that Darksiders 2 will have more skulls in it than all other games combined. That's a lot of skulls.
Darksider 2 will be release some time in 2012, and we look forward to finding out more about Death, and possibly the other horsemen of the apocalypse. This game happens concurrently with the original Darksiders, so perhaps there's a chance that we'll see War, or the other two horsemen, Strife and Fury. Look for more Darksiders 2 info coming soon.