Since Gabriel Belmont is now Dracula, Siliconera asked Dave Cox, producer on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, about his newfound vampire powers. In this interview, Cox explains how MercurySteam changed the combat system from using Light and Shadow magic in Lords of Shadow to a multiweapon combo system in Lords of Shadow 2.
Gabriel Belmont is Dracula in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, aside from the Blood Whip what new vampire powers does he have?
Dave Cox, Producer: The Void Sword and the Chaos Claws work very similar to the Light and Shadow magic in the previous game. Unlike the demo you player in E3, you have to fill the focus bar. You fill the focus bar by hitting enemies, doing damage, but not taking damage. When you become focused enemies drop blood and you can funnel blood into either your Void Sword or Chaos Claws. But, you cannot use the Void Sword or Chaos Claws if you are not focused, so you have to play well in order to use those weapons.
What we’ve done with this game is we’ve given each weapon its own set of combos, it’s own combo tree, if you like. You have abilities linked to that particular weapon. For example, the Void Sword has about 35 additional combos only for use with the Void Sword. As you use the Void Sword, and you buy specific combos for the Void Sword through experience, and you use a particular combo it will become mastered. It’s like a little gauge. The more you use that combo, the more you become mastered. When you become mastered that gauge becomes full and you can siphon that mastery power into the weapon itself and make it much more powerful. It gives you extra abilities in terms of doing more powerful moves, doing more damage, etc.
The Void Sword itself also has the ability to do other things. One of the things, you can do is freeze enemies with it. This is an ability you get as you play the game. During combat, you can target an enemy, fire a projectile at an enemy, freeze one, and deal damage to the other. While you fight that enemy you can wait until the other enemy unfreezes. You can constantly do that, even with boss characters you can freeze them. In the previous game, we just had the Combat Cross had its combos that was it. Light and shadow magic supported that, but in this one we have three separate weapons that can be mastered.
What about those vampire powers?
One of the other things Dracula has is what we call the Bat Swarm ability. The Bat Swarm ability is a distraction. Basically, you can throw a swarm of bats on enemies and they become distracted. If you’ve got multiple enemies coming at you, you can distract a few of them and then dish out the damage on the other ones you can deal with.
One of the things we do in this particular game is we have mini-bosses and support characters. You might have five enemies that come towards you and one of them is a mini-boss. You’ve got to deal with either the mini-boss or the support characters first. Using the freezing ability or the Bat Swarm ability allows you to manage the combat. There are a lot more options around in the previous game.
Can you tell us more about the weapon switching system, I believe you can switch weapons mid-combo.
You can switch weapons mid-combo. You go back to the Blood Whip if you run out of focus. The other thing is if you’re fighting an enemy with a shield and you’ve got no magic – how can you break that shield without the Chaos Claws? We give the player other abilities. One of the abilities is the somersault. You can literally somersault over an enemy and then do a reverse follow through, that allows you to build up focus that way. We’ve got the dodge ability, which lets you dodge past enemies and dish damage. Obviously, the enemy will turn around and block. You can build up focus that way. We give players lots and lots of options in order for them to build up focus and use their more powerful weapons.
Really good players they will be able to come into a fight, dish out damage, and be able to constantly use their weapons all the time because they’re playing well. They are buying the combos, using the combos, and using all of the tools we give them. They can be a real badass. Basically, the more you play the more of a badass you become.
Speaking of options, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 has different exploration routes. How do these work? Will there be different rewards? Will some paths feel more platform oriented or combat oriented?
We’ve done a bit of both. The game is told in a linear fashion and it starts off very linear as well. You start the game and it feels like the original Lords of Shadow. As you go through, as the world grows more organically and you explore more areas you start to realize I can go back, I can go wherever I want. What we tried to do is give players things to find. There are a lot more items in this game than there were previous game. There are a lot more relics, secondary weapons, and a lot more abilities and secrets you can find scattered in the world.
We want players to realize, and you do realize very early on, that you can explore and there are things you can see that you can’t get right now. Especially, with the free camera. It allows you to go, "what’s up there? what’s over there?" A lot more of that goes on than in the previous game. Making it interesting for players is the key. When you come back you don’t want to keep facing the same enemies. You want to have a different challenge. It might be a puzzle this time. It might be as you said more platforming elements. With exploration, you will even get more story elements that weren’t there the first time around.
I remember the story in Lords of Shadow 2 was a linear story since you have a tale you want to tell players, but there are story scenes you can miss. Can you give us a little example.
Yes, you can miss story scenes. Well… I can’t because that would be spolier-ish, but there are certain enemies you may not face in the first playthrough. These enemies will have story elements that will help fill out the story. Most players finish the game around 50% to 60% their first time around. That’s what we’re finding right now. Then they go back through, re-exploring, and finding new story elements that add to the story that they didn’t see before.
How many of the Belmonts will we get to fight?
[Laughs] There is a Belmont in the game intent on Dracula’s destruction.
They’re all intent on Dracula’s destruction.
[Laughs] Yeah and for good reason! [Gabriel] is their shame. He is their ancestor, essentially. That’s the reason why the Belmonts have to go after Dracula. Alcuard plays a role, as well. Alucard is a character that is very important to this particular game because he’s Dracula’s son, but he is not the Belmont that’s going after Dracula. It’s a whole new Belmont. I can’t really tell you now because that would be spoilery.
Is it someone that we may have seen before at some point?
Mmmm… that would be spoilerish!
Can you tell us more about the boss fights? Like the Titan battles?
One of the ones you saw in the trailer is Medusa. Medusa is a classic enemy from the Castlevania series. We’ve given her a European twist because the Gorgon is three sisters. We have the three sisters and the three sisters, without giving too much away, become the Gorgon and then you have to fight the Gorgon. You’ve seen the Gorgon in the trailer where she blows fire and she looks at you and turns you to stone. She’s also a Titan boss, like the Titan we have in the demo and you face lots of perils. You will be attacked while you fight on her.
We wanted to make the titan fights a bit more interesting than last time. Last time, you kind of followed a set path and break the ruins. It was a bit limited. This time we want people to allow players to fight on Titans. We want players to be able to platform properly. Like you saw with the Siege Titan in the demo, there are more things to do. The same with the Gorgon, it’s a really interesting fight.
Will we get to fight Death? He seems like he would be a cool Titan.
Who knows? [Laughs.] You know Zobek is Lord of the Dead and he is one of the key characters in this game. That’s all I’m going to say.
Yeah, in the epilogue Zobek said he is going to rid Gabriel from the immortality he’s cursed with.
There is a weapon Gabriel once had that is able to end his life. Remember in the DLC, he broke it.
When you run around the city, will you be able to rampage the city as Dracula as well?
Kind of. The game takes place mostly in the city. We only showed mostly castle stuff because we’re not ready to show the city. The game takes place in one night, it’s a night when Satan comes back to the Earth. A night of chaos, a night of the apocalypse. Dracula is the only one that can defeat Satan because he has done it before. So you need to re-acquire his old powers in order to do that and part of that means going through the city. There will be people, things going on in the city for sure.
Can you do vampire stuff while you’re in the city? Like, I don’t know bite people?
Yeah, well vampires bite people. I don’t want to spoil things, but yeah. It’s a living breathing city. There are cars, there are people. Although it’s not a city like New York, it’s a imaginary city, so it fits the universe. So there will be a lot of places to go, to explore, lots of fights, and a lot of cool things to do for sure.
With Lords of Shadow you continued the story with those extra DLC packs. Since this is the conclusion of the Lords of Shadow series how can you expand on the game because I guess Dracula has to be freed from immortality somehow.
Does he? [Laughs.] What does he want? Seriously, what does he want? Is he evil or is he looking for redemption? Or is he looking for revenge? I mean this storyline is not going to deliver what people are expecting. We want to surprise people. We want to give people something memorable for them to remember, something that is really unique. This is a Dracula I don’t think people have seen before. I think Lords of Shadow 2 ends, and don’t get me wrong, it does have an ending. Don’t get me wrong there is a satisfying conclusion, but I think people will be surprised.
How will you do DLC for Lords of Shadow 2? Will players be able to play as different character like Alucard?
Maybe. [Laughs] Maybe.
What do you think that will surprise people the most?
I think the story is going to surprise people the most. I think there are a lot of interesting aspects to the character and the things that happen. I think a lot of things will become clearer of what our intention was with Lords of Shadow 1 and to a certain extent Mirror of Fate. I think people will be surprised by scale of the game, it’s massive. It’s a much bigger game than the previous game, not just in size or in terms of gameplay, but in terms of the epicness of it. The whole game just feels really huge in terms of story, characterization, gameplay, combat, exploration, platforming, art direction, art design, it just feels so much more polished than the last game.
So, I think it’s really an achievement of team at our size to deliver something like this. What I’m really hoping at the end of it, once the game is out, the critics have had their say, and the fans have played it. Like it or love it, I hope people will look back at the series and quote Lords of Shadow was really cool. It told Dracula story and it made sense. It felt cool and it surprised me and it did new things. I hope people look at it with kind eyes.