PAX: Lords of the Fallen Preview & Impressions

By Published September 01, 2013 at 3:22 am

Following the release of its Gamescom trailer, City Interactive’s Lords of the Fallen has turned some heads with its Dark Souls flavor of action-RPG combat. Having seen a gameplay demo from co-developers CI Games Warsaw and Deck13 Interactive at PAX Prime, we’re excited for Lords of the Fallen’s tactics-heavy, dynamic gameplay, and see it as a next-gen foray worth our time.

“Creator and Destroyer of Worlds, Hear My Vow!”

Lords of the Fallen takes place thousands of years after a war between a tyrannical god’s army and humankind. After defeat, the god fell beneath the earth (think Nordic folklore) but has recently resurfaced – now raising an army of “Lords,” or in-game bosses, more powerful than before.

Players choose between three classes: Warrior, Rogue, and Cleric. The classes only vary in their initial weapon and magical powers, but once you make the path-defining choice, you have a lot of freedom to play how you want; I’ll share more about this later.

Lords of the Fallen is not an open world game. There will be moments in an environment when you can choose which route to take in order to reach a boss, but the game intends to keep you moving through the storyline in a guided fashion. Still, you’ll have the chance to revisit environments and explore, so it’s not entirely linear, either.

No Button-Mashing Here 

If you’ve played other action RPGs like the Elder Scrolls and Kingdoms of Amalur, you’ve probably had a guilty moment or two of button-mashing your way to victory. As Executive Producer Tomasz Gop showed us in his Lords of the Fallen demo, such a tactic will get you killed by just about any enemy.

Similar to timing attacks and cautious movements in Dark Souls’ combat, Lords of the Fallen encourages carefully thought-out reactions to enemy combatants. To succeed in Lords of the Fallen, players must study their enemies and counter with timely, appropriate attacks. Watch your enemy lunge at you, then dodge to the side to catch her off guard; test which of your enemy’s attacks your shield can block, then come back with a three-hit combo. The overall melee combat dynamic is fairly fluid: every enemy has at least three attack types and, depending on your position and maneuver, you will develop different ways to use your attacks in each battle.

Although rooted in melee, Lords of the Fallen breaks up the clanging of swords and shields with spells, which are a permanent derivative of your character class – like a ray of light shot from our demo PC’s cleric.

The Rhogar and their Lords 

LOTF-warrior

One the main ways Lords of the Fallen breaks away from action-RPG conventions is through its boss battles. This is done primarily by information conveyance, battle staging, and preparing the player for battle. For starters, any time there’s a boss battle, there are indicators in your surrounding environment (like a pile of corpses outside a door), conveying to the player that it may be time to re-equip and focus. It’s a small feature, but it makes a huge impact on the player’s experience.

Boss battles are broken down into multiple stages that vary the strengths and weaknesses of each boss. In the demo, the boss lost some of his shield at every stage. Once the shield was completely broken, it wielded a powerful two-handed twirling attack that Gop made sure to steer clear of – and for good reason: You usually want to do that when your enemy’s weapon starts glowing with fire.  

Throughout Lords of the Fallen, you’ll be fighting an army of Rhogar, demon-like soldiers that are captained by Lords. There are several varieties of Rhogar in Lords of the Fallen, but rather than make enemies more difficult by increasing their level and/or HP, Deck13 and CI Games have varied the same enemy types by equipment and abilities. For example, the same Templar from earlier in the game could be much more challenging now that he has learned a different strike or uses a heavier armor. The product of this is heightened planning heading into each confrontation and reduced chance of repetition. You definitely won’t be fighting the same bad guy over and over.

Player Progression and Upgrades 

For class-specific progression, you earn and improve specific spells and abilities through a skills tree (somewhat standard), but the rest of progression is fairly loose. Lords of the Fallen is more about letting you control how you want to fight. After running around as a Cleric in heavy armor, Gop swapped out his Cleric hammer and armor for some lighter Rogue armor and dual daggers. As a result, he moved quicker, struck quicker, and in the case of his sneak attack from behind, killed quicker. Being able to swap gear on the fly is absolutely critical to your pre-battle strategy, and being able to do this at any point during your exploration should keep the gameplay fresh.

More to Come 

CI Games and Deck13 have revealed little about Lords of the Fallen, which is partially due to the game’s appearance on next-gen systems – PS4, Xbox One, and the always next-gen PC. But taking it from Gop, who was the executive producer on The Witcher 2, we’re sure the coming months will reveal more about the depth behind Lords of the Fallen, its dynamic strategy, and its lore.

- Nick "stuBEEF" Pinkerton.

Last modified on September 02, 2013 at 3:22 am

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