Dark Souls II Director Discusses How Improved AI And Dual-Wielding Help The Game

By Matt Hawkins . June 17, 2013 . 7:00pm

At E3, in Los Angeles, Namco Bandai showed off a number of their upcoming titles to members of the press, behind doors. Arguably the most anticipated of the bunch was Dark Souls II, and one of its directors, Yui Tanimura, was on hand to field questions, one-on-one.


Can you please explain what has changed since you last showed Dark Souls II back in April?


Yui Tanimura, Director: I guess it’s only been two months since New York, so there hasn’t been that drastic of a change. But what we’ve concentrated on is the battle system and the actual battle mechanics, plus the tuning for them. Also, the last time we weren’t about to have hands on, but now, you guys can play it, feel the actual game.


[Catch up with our impressions of Dark Souls II here.]


One aspect that the E3 demo emphasizes is the dual wielding system. Can you please explain a bit more about that?


In Dark Souls, you were able to hold a weapon in each hand, but you were simply holding a weapon in each hand. For Dark Souls II, we’ve actually implemented dual-welding specific motions, animations. So if you switched to dual welding mode, you’d be able to do certain combos and moves that involve fluid motions with both hands.


Obviously, dual-welding involves doing away with your shield and not being able to guard yourself. At the same time, it will increase your attack abilities. So it’s more of an advanced fighting style used, instead of just having double the offense. Once you get used to it, it might be a preferred method of play.


I also understand that enemy AI has been enhanced.


We strived hard to make sure that enemies are fully aware of the player’s actions. For the most part, and this is for the majority of action games, while engaging a boss, it is often common to simply replenish energy on the spot, even in the midst of a confrontation. The player would simply identify the right moment in which the boss is not an immediate threat, sometimes due to following a predetermined animation or AI behavior.


In Dark Souls II, bosses are always aware of the player, always keeping an eye. So if he or she thinks the boss has eased up a bit for whatever reason and tries to heal himself, the boss will use that opportunity to charge forward. Enemies will also be able to identify and anticipate a player’s behavior. If the player prepares to unleash to a devastating attack, the boss will recognize this and step back and prepare himself, just like human players do when the roles are reversed.


At the beginning of the presentation for members of the press, we were reminded that there has been misunderstanding, that Dark Souls II will not be easier. Are you seeing, despite all the constant reassurances to the contrary, that people still believe it will not be as grueling and unforgiving as Dark Souls?


Coming from Japan, it’s hard to fully comprehend why and how much the North American and European audience keeps thinking it’s going to be easier. With that being said, if you take a look at the demo, and also played the demo, it’s going to be pretty clear that the difficulty will be just as high as necessary as before.


We have been constantly repeating this, because we did start off with a misleading comment earlier on. But at the same time, I’m not too worried about expressing the difficulty of the game. I’m sure players will see the footage, see the B-roll, and start to understand that it’s going to be just as challenging or even more so.


Again, it’s only been a little while since I last saw Dark Souls II. But during this short time, similar games have arrived on the market, or are on the horizon, which all share the same tone. And interest in darker, more mature form of fantasy is at all time high. You also have the popularity of Game of Thrones. Do you think Dark Souls has been a contributing factor in the rise in popularity of this bleaker variant of fantasy? Also, it had any impact on Dark Souls II development?


In terms of game creation, From Software doesn’t like to be very affected by what happens in other games or other types of media. Even before Dark Souls, the company had been really concentrating on creating the genuine game that From Software strives towards. So, from our perspective, we will continue to craft games that we think best fits the core audience, who crave a rich and engrossing gameplay experience.


Now, in terms of the current level of popularity of dark fantasy you mentioned, we believe it’s a good thing. And hopefully it will work in our favor as well. As much as the market for this genre gets saturated, we From Software have put a lot of effort into delivering a game that provides the satisfaction of overcoming incredible difficulties, one that will stand on its own.


We are currently at the end of the very start of the next generation of gaming. Yet Dark Souls II is the reason why many have stated that they will be sticking with the current generation of hardware. At the same time, I would imagine players have asked about the possibility of Dark Souls II appearing on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, or the possibility of a Dark Souls III. I know it’s too soon to state definite plans, but is there any inkling in the back of your mind, regarding the future?


Realistically speaking, eventually there will be some kind of development on next gen. So there will probably be Dark Souls III. But at this point, for Dark Souls II, there is not intent for any ports. It’s specifically for the current generation.


And like you said, as much as the next gen has been announced, the fan base is probably the biggest on PS3 and Xbox 360, obviously since they have been around for such a long time. And we obviously want as many people to try out Dark Souls as possible. For Dark Souls II, we are fully confident that we will deliver something that will last for the long-term, and to the best of its potential.


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  • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

    Support Dark Souls II and show some good faith. We’re watching From Software. Come on Namco Bandai! http://www.change.org/petitions/dark-souls-ii-for-the-nintendo-wiiu

    • ChiffonCake

      Does the Wii U gamepad have R2/R3/L2/L3, though?

      • Ferrick

        it has the L2 and R2 but not the 3’s

        • Kelohmello

          It has R3 and L3.

          • Ferrick

            it does ?

          • Kelohmello


          • Ferrick

            ah, i didn’t know about this because it was not listed in the button mapping, i need to have a wiiu first i guess, thanks for the info!

  • Ferrick

    alright, dual wielding on first playthrough it is

  • meiam

    Hum good, most of what I’ve been hearing lately have calm my fear about DS2 (dunno if it’s that it was a misunderstanding or they changed course after the backlash). I’ll probably still wait for good review before buying (epicnamebro, I trust you).

    Dual wield seems nice, but probably something I’ll try on future playtrought, it’s seems much more suited for big armor, which I generally tend to stay away from. I just hope they don’t go overboard with combo, DS combat was always about positioning and stamina management rather than pulling off big combo.

    • Ferrick

      i think it was more of a tweak to the attack system for dual wield, like in DkS, even if you dual wield, L1 or LB would block while L2 or LT would be a normal attack, my guess is that they will change L1 into normal attack and L2 into parry

    • EverEndingStory

      I’d go light armor all the way – strip myself down to as little as possible, focus on endurance and dexterity, and dual wield some katanas.

    • Xerain

      The misunderstanding was when they said they woudl make teh game more accessible. This is very vague term that western developers often use when they are making the game easier and don’t want to say so. However it can also mean other things.

      For example Demon’s Souls had runes to represent all of your stats. You could push select on the menu to highlight them and find out what they represented, but most players were clueless about this, or didn’t like the extra effort. Dark Souls used standard naming conventions for the stats, and thus was more accessible.

      However Dark Souls is also a little easier. I Demon’s Souls armor was kinda useless. So the game was a lot harder for people who didn’t want to wear only light armor and learn to roll through everything in the game. By rebalancing the armor and adding things like poise, they made the game more accessible to people’s who’s natural instinct is to wear armor to protect themselves. Thus for people who play the game in this way, Dark Souls became much easier than Demon’s Souls.

      Though really I think it’s hard for many western gamers, myself included, to figure out what other kind of accessibility changes could be made while keeping things essentially the same….

  • MrTyrant

    Dual wielding? oh yess!!

  • Solomon_Kano

    Legit dual wielding sounds good. I think I might go for that.

    • Ferrick

      lol when you’re going for dual wielding, then i’ll be a spellsword and invade you with my huge spell blade ;D

      • Solomon_Kano

        You bastard. ;_;

        • Ferrick

          [insert evil laugh]

    • badmoogle

      I prefer to play it safe and keep my shield. :p

      • Solomon_Kano

        I’ll probably end up doing that once something absolutely destroys me, so… shouldn’t take long lol.

    • Raharu95

      I second that~

  • hyperbomb

    I hope they make the whip better to use.

    • Xerain

      Whip needs a strangle hold to replace back stab.

  • AntonioPeYangIII

    As a practitioner of arnis, a martial art that lends itself to a lot of dual-wield drills, I look forward to seeing how they pull off the dual-wield mechanics :D

  • Will John

    wtf bosses are aware of your actions?….. fuck

  • badmoogle

    I’m really glad they focused exclusively on the current gen.No cross gen BS thank you very much.
    With that said i hope DS3 will be exclusively for next gen consoles.


    If Tanimura and his team at From Software are puzzled by the paranoia surrounding the game being neutered I guess they must be blissfully unaware of what western developers have done to gaming ever since the beginning of this generation.

  • Göran Isacson

    I am intrigued by his statements regarding the AI- if bosses become so intelligent that WE have to trick THEM into pausing just to create breathing room or buy us some time to heal up, that… that could make for some very interesting challenges.

  • J_Joestar

    sounds interesting, I keep hearing that I’d like this series since I like Monster Hunter so i might try and keep an eye on this.

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