Dark Souls 2 co-director Yui Tanimura and Namco Bandai global producer Tak Miyazoe showed off nearly 10 minutes of Dark Souls 2 gameplay in a video interview with IGN.
It looks... like Dark Souls, which is no way a bad thing. Allegedly the graphics have been improved, but by and large it looks familiar to what we saw last time out. Dark Souls 2's mechanics and systems seemed to be very similar to its predecessor as well, but there are a few new wrinkles.
For one, you can now light torches to illuminate dark areas. As with the skull lantern in Dark Souls, you wield torches in your left hand and thus can't equip it and a protective shield at the same time.
Look closely at nine minutes in and you'll see the player switches between three weapons in their right hand (a small sword, an axe, then a much larger sword). It's unclear if this will be an option in the final game or if it's only something implemented into this early demo build.
You'll also have what are called "key mouths," which are essentially just locked switches gussied up as creepy faces carved into blocks that require cube-shaped stones to be placed in their mouths to be activated. These will have different environmental effects, such as lighting up torches in the vicinity. The "magic stones" that activate them can be used with any key mouth, so it's up to the player to decide which ones to activate.
We also see an area tentatively called "the mansion of the dragons." It's described as "a place where experiments had been done on dragons in the past" and a giant dragon skeleton comes to life when the player picks up an item in front of it. The colossal skeleton dives at the player and crumbles, which feels a little anticlimactic after the last couple of Souls games allowed you the option to take down these hulking beasts in real-time.
On the other hand, when the player shoots an arrow at an incarcerated cyclops, the beast becomes angry and smashes through the wall, so that element of surprise and consequences for cocky stupidity seems to be in full gear.
Tanimura explained a little bit more about his philosophy towards the game in a 10 minute Q&A video on IGN. Here he noted that Dark Souls 2 will maintain the series' minimalist storytelling.
"One of the spiritual elements to the whole Dark Souls series is the way we storytell. We really encourage and want the player to look into the key - or even small - details that you see throughout the game and really imagine the story for yourself and really try to encompass all the information and create your own story as you play through the game," said Tanimura (translated via Miyazoe).
He also noted that From Software is going to "not necessarily make it more accessible," but rather "make it more clear what we want to express using the underlying concepts of Dark Souls," whatever that means.
The director also said that Dark Souls 2 has spruced up its animations by using motion capture for the player.
In short, the developer basically had to come up with a crapton of ways to say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Dark Souls is a tough act to follow, but based on this first look at its sequel, it sure looks like the Dark Souls we all know and love.
Now check out the first gameplay screen of Dark Souls 2 below (thanks, AllGamesBeta).