Lords of the Fallen is a "challenging" PC and next-gen consoles action RPG

UPDATE: Main character revealed, resembles Max Payne.

Update 2: CI Games has revealed the lead character in its upcoming action-RPG Lords of the Fallen.

Pictured below, Harkyn here is "hated and marked by society," and "the only one capable of ending the long battle of the Fallen God believers and those that have abandoned him long time ago."

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My name is Bronso- er, I mean Harkyn.

I wouldn't want to run into him in a dark alley.

Update: CI Games has formally announced Lords of the Fallen in a press release. There's little new information about the game besides a new piece of art and some story blurb. It will be at E3.

"Set in a richly created fantasy world where the Gods have failed mankind, players will take on the role of a human named Harkyn who sets out on a quest to stand against an apparently unstoppable supernatural force. Players travel across a world that is deeply dived by those that follow and others that resist the Fallen God. Along their journey they will be faced with a series of decisions that will alter both the world and their character thus dramatically impacting the storyline."

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Original story: Lords of the Fallen will be "a challenging game" - an RPG a bit like Dark Souls but for PC, PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox.

CI Games, the company behind Sniper: Ghost Warrior, is in charge, although it's a separate team doing the honours - most of the work is being done by experienced German studio Deck 13.

Promisingly, Lords of the Fallen will have been in development for two years come September. "It's a hardcore game, so we spent a lot of time prototyping it," executive producer Tomasz Gop - once the face of The Witcher 1 & 2 - told me at Polish event Digital Dragons.

The aim is to get it out at some point next year.

"It's a challenging game, action RPG, which means a lot of advanced combat," he explained. "When you walk through a location, and you have to fight 10 enemies, that takes around an hour.

"When you fight in Mortal Kombat, when you fight in Tekken, that's why it takes so long - Dark Souls is probably a strong reference as well. But we've done a lot of things differently. For example, we have a skill tree. I would call Borderlands here, because we're gonna have something like action skills in the game, so classes, stuff like this.

"I would say Dark Souls, I would say Borderlands in terms of the experience of developing your character."

Yes that means trial and error-style gaming, yes that means skill-based gaming and yes that means the game will be hard.

"Yes. Yes. Yes, yes," Gop emphatically stated on that latter point. But harder than Dark Souls? He's not sure, apparently it's a game that needs to be played to be understood. "It's one of these games that feels way better than it looks," he said, "not that it's going to look bad".

Not at all; working on a multi-platform PC and next-gen console project has been "way better" than a PC and current-gen project, he said. "It's way more comfortable." And the new machines can achieve more. "The specs are pretty much known," he said. "It's gonna have a lot of things the previous generation didn't have: all those eye-candy elements like DX11, tessellation, anti-aliasing," and at no cost to gameplay.

"I can't talk too much about the next-gen Xbox," he added, "but I don't think a lot of people [are] going to be surprised. I don't think it's going to be huge news what's inside, no - seriously."

He could talk about what 8GB of GDDR5 RAM in PS4 meant for Lords of the Fallen, though. "Way more richer detail on all of the assets," he said. "For example, I couldn't even imagine making a tessellated game on the current generation of consoles. It might even be one of the biggest gaps. And on the next ones [consoles] it's going to be standard, in my opinion. And you just can see more on the screen right now, because it's gonna fit and the memory's gonna be fast."

art

Counter-balancing that, however, is his first-hand experience that next-gen game development "means longer development times for really blown up games".

"Yeah," he continued, "because you not only have to produce more assets if you want to have a rich world - who doesn't? - but also these assets take more time, more money, more iterations. The assets that we're already doing for Lords of the Fallen are more expensive and take a bit longer to produce because they are better."

A next-gen game is "probably doable" with a current-gen-sized team, he reckons, "but I believe if you want to take advantage of the hardware it's going to take longer".

Increased raw power aside, it's the new features like video sharing that Gop thinks Sony and Microsoft will use to excite the public. "I really believe the breakthrough here is in the ability to record and share. If you've done something and you want to make a sort of guide out of it, you don't have to go to a forum, you can just record it and show it," he said, alluding to its potential for a "challenging" game like Lords of the Fallen.

"And this is just one tiny detail out of many of these [new features]," he added. "This is probably the thing that defines this new generation of consoles more than the hardware itself."

Gop couldn't talk about the online features of Lords of the Fallen but said the team was looking at "some of the functionality that could be called online-ish". "It's definitely going to be primarily a single-player game," though.

Right now, the Lords of the Fallen team numbers around 40. There are 30 at Deck 13 in Germany, 10 at CI Games in Poland, but the team will grow now full production is under way.

Deck 13, incidentally, has been around since 2001, and is responsible for the Ankh and Jack Keane adventure games, and 2010 multi-platform RPG Venetica, although none of them were brilliant. There's a Vampire action RPG in development called Blood Knights, too, but an apparently impending release date still hasn't materialised, so I'm not sure what's going on there.

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