After completing Dark Souls II platinum trophy and waiting a few days, I finally met up with a friend to try the first few hours of Dark Souls 3.
These are my first impressions.
Spoiler warning: I will spoil everything in the opening cinematic, tutorial area and the first boss.
I found the opening cinematic very interesting. It seems as we're down the road in time, from first and second game. We got enough information to reveal this wasn't a prequel to the first game, and we could clearly see giants as they were in the second game.
So a few iterations have passed since Dark Souls 2 and clearly the flame is about to die. The bells are sounding across the land to tell us so. We need to find the old lords of cinder so they can sit on their thrones and ... I assume link the fire once more.
The old lords of cinder could be a reference to the old lord souls, Gwyn, Nito, Four Kings, Seath, but I think of it more as a reference to Gwyn, the lord of cinder and every player in the iterations coming that has sat the throne in order to link the fire.
You start off in a graveyard. I think this is a nice touch. You died and was buried, but now you're alive because you're cursed, or unkindled as it is called in this game.
Your loved ones was even kind enough to bury you with some fire bombs. (or another gift) I guess you have a lot of use of fire bombs when you're dead.
This area really reminds me of the starting area in Dark Souls 2, Things Betwix. It is quiet, desolate and you meet only a few easy enemies. You get to try out your weapons and the mechanics in a few simple configurations. Then you get to your first bonfire and now the game starts for real. The cemetery stretches out on the cliff side and you can't even see the ground if you look over the side. Here you fight several enemies at once, and there is also a hidden path where you will find fire bombs which will become handy with the boss.
When you get to the boss room you know it immediately. It is a big circular arena with a petrified statue in the middle. This reminds me of the first boss in Dark Souls 1, where you open a door and enter a big room. You don't know it yet, but this is a typical boss room and you will learn to recognize it.
You activate the boss by pulling out a big sword from its side, and the fight begins
Boss: Iudex Gundyr
If you're observant you will notice that this is not a normal statue-boss as you're used to them. It has some crap on the back that will reveal itself halfway through the fight.
The first part of this fight is an ordinary big guy fight with big weapon. My thoughts goes to ruin sentinels and mirror knight. You just need to learn the timings and you will be able to dodge all of his attacks with no sweat.
His second phase is trickier. A large oilery creature comes out of his back and the boss become much harder to read. Its movement becomes erratic and both reach and speed is much increased. In this new phase he becomes sensitive to fire, so those firebombs that you picked up earlier comes in handy.
As a first fight in a game, this is pretty darn hard. I don't know how I would've dealt with it unless I had a lot of souls experience from before. I think it is much comparable to Father Gascoigne in Bloodborne, but that fight is far in to the game when you've had time to learn the mechanics and level your character quite a bit. Here you're stuck with the class you chose and the stats of that class until you beat the boss.
I played this first as a warrior and then as a Herald, and when playing as a warrior I found the game and the mechanics clunky, and the framerate pretty shit. But that is of course because I recently spent 100 hours in 60 fps Dark Souls 2 with a character <30% equipment burdon.
When I played as a Herald I found the mechanics much better and I got used to the framerate. The game looks gorgeous, but this first part is a bit too much Bloodborne. Sure they spring from the same engine but they don't need to have the same aesthetics as well.
The boss was too hard for a first boss, even for a souls game. I compare it to
- Demon's Souls: Phalanx
- Dark Souls 1: Asylum Demon
- Dark Souls 2: The Last Giant
- Bloodborne: Father Gascoigne
The first three are a piss in the park, where this is much more comparable with Bloodborne in terms of difficulty, but I would claim that this is even harder as you've had no chance to upgrade and customize your character yet.
These are my impressions from the first part of the game. I'll see if I continue to write these for each area or if I just play the game and upload some videos. There will be a full review when I've completed the game.