Darksiders made War slow and hard hitting. Death, the lead character in Darksiders II, feels more like the Prince from Prince of Persia meets Kratos. Ben Cureton, Combat Designer, explains why they made Darksiders II feel different and has tips on what moves you want to Death to learn.
Compared to the first Darksiders with War, Death is really fast. Why make such a drastic change to the game?
Ben Cureton, Combat Designer: Well, we didn’t just want people to play “Darksiders 1.5,” we wanted people to play “Darksiders 2.5”. We wanted to raise the bar on what they expected from our franchise, and not come in and feel like they were playing the exact same game. So we decided to make Death completely different from War, but at the same time he still feels like a character from the Darksiders universe.
Some of the mechanics feel comparable to Devil May Cry or Castlevania: Lord of Shadows. What games inspired you?
Well, we definitely played every combat game. It doesn’t matter if it’s considered the best game of all time or the worst game of all time. We play ‘em all. Obviously, we had the Zelda inspiration with the puzzles and stuff. But for combat, we are huge DMC and Bayonetta fans.
We didn’t want to re-create DMC and Bayonetta, but we wanted to re-create the feeling of open-ended combat; allow players to come up with their own combos and be creative. In the first game, that was a little lacking. The fans spoke, and we decided to go in a new direction.
Whenever I talk to creators, even when they’ve released the final product, there’s always something they wish they could’ve polished more or added. What would you like to improve for a future Darksiders game with respect to the combat?
I think what we’d really like to do is create even more tools for the player. That’s what we did on this one—created ten or twenty or thirty or forty tools and just let the player go wild. What we want to do is find a way to give them even more freedom to play any way they want. I know a lot of people say that, but I think if you play Darksiders II, you’ll really feel that difference. That’s the same thing we want to carry on in the next Darksiders.
How do you imagine the other Horsemen of the Apocalypse will play?
This is just me—I’m probably going to get in trouble—I see Strife as a wisecracking [Devil May Cry’s] Dante-style character with guns and maybe kicks. And again, we haven’t really talked about this at all. This is just a thing in my own head.
And of course, we see Fury, and see her with an Ivy-type whip [from Soulcalibur]. We don’t know if it would be a sword or a sword-whip or a whip, but when we talk about it in the hallways, we think of characters we want to relate them to a little bit.
Will there be any extra characters as DLC?
Oh, I don’t know about that! (laughs)
One of the qualities of Darksiders II is that you have a loot system. How do you balance that, very high-attack powers, with a skill-based system?
(laughs) It’s actually very hard. We all play the game. It’s not like we give it to somebody else to play. We go in and say, “Wow, this move is very, very powerful. Let’s tone it down.” We also see what’s coming in from QA, like what their saves have, like are they all using Teleport Slash?
Or maybe, since every save from QA is going to be Teleport Slash, it’s a little unbalanced. We look at the numbers, we see where the discrepancies are, we try to bring it down or we try to bring the other skills up. And I think we did a good job. Every skill is very useful. Obviously there are some that are going to be better than others. Unless everything is identical, some are going to be a little bit better.
But it’s up to the players to find out, and you can totally play through the game with any set you want. You’ll be fine.
Are there any moves you would recommend for players to get?
There is a move that you can buy, which is called Meteor Strike. You can get that early. It’s very similar to Lords of Shadow, where you can dash straight down to the ground. As soon as you’re on the ground, you can dash away. So, it’s a way to cancel out of air moves.
That’s a pro-tip from me. The moves you want are Harvester’s Revenge, which is the first move you get for free from Thane; Meteor Strike, which is the move we were just talking about; and then, either of the dash moves for the secondary. Either Painbringer, which is the dash-hammer move or God Fist, which is the dash melee move. All of those are gap closers.
How about ome tips on how to find rare Legendary weapons?
Well, Legendary weapons you can find through exploration, from killing bosses, to killing bosses in New Game+ where you’ll get all new Legendaries. But exploration is a really good one. You can find Legendaries just hiding around in the world in secret places where you have to use your items in the proper sequence of events.
Definitely play New Game+, definitely beat some of the side-bosses that are off the beaten path.
Can you tell us anything about the Wii U version at all?
I can’t say anything about the Wii U. I don’t want to get fired!
Is it still coming out as a launch window title?
Right now, I would say yes, but I’m not anybody who has anything to do with that.
What’s Vigil working on right now?
We’re working on DLC! Our DLC is not on the disc. (laughs) So we’re working on it right now. We want to make sure that it’s just as good or even better than the main content, so it’s a value when players decide to continue their adventures.