At a recent Namco Bandai event, I got a walking tour of the new PC version of Dark Souls, dubbed Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (a name that’s an accurate warning for the tough-as-nails gameplay found inside). Even at level 500 and in full-on God mode, the rep had difficulty tackling some of the game’s new mobs, new bosses, and new areas. Using a debug mode to guide me through the new areas quickly, he clipped through the new Royal Wood, a forested area, and flew through the sky like the dark fantasy version of Neo. Pretty hilarious to watch. Once he arrived at each destination, freakish new enemies like ghostly spirits and weird creatures with their arms akimbo skittered about trying to kill my guide as he swung his enormous sword about. To get to the new bosses, my guide ran as though he was hopped up on 1,000 caffeine pills, legs skittering about in a full-on fast-forward gait. If only this debug mode was a cheat.
The new bosses ought to terrify hardened Dark Souls players. A knight named Artorias gave my guide a beating. Fast and formidable, this slightly-taller-than-the-player antagonist plays a big part in the game’s lore. The other boss, Manus, dwells in a deep, dark pit that my guide floated down to meet with his Debug Powers. He took a little while floating down a while. I cringed at the thought of playing this part legitimately. The anxiety and tension would almost be too much. Finally, at the bottom, Manus grabbed my guide’s armored avatar and dragged him down even deeper. Fully revealed, Manus is … a hulking beast. I struggle to remember his exact appearance, but he had many red glowing eyes that made that blurry line effect as they moved like the brake lights in Akira, and he was fast for his size. Intimidating isn’t even the word.
PvP mode, or rather, the arena where PvP is possible also got some tour time. 1–on1, 2-on-2 and 4-player FFA is possible and features leaderboard support. Since we were playing offline it was impossible to test this part out.
Tech-wise, this is a port of the console version. Same resolution, same textures, same frame rate. Those looking for a version of Dark Souls that takes full advantage of what their fancy rig’s capable of probably won’t be pleased. From my perspective, the game does look exactly like the PS3 version. I wouldn’t have known it was the PC version had it not been for the big laptop connected to a Sony Bravia TV.
But it’s still Dark Souls. On the PC. And even if it’s a “lazy port,” it still has a lot more content than the console versions. Wouldn’t that make it superior to the console versions? Shouldn’t that be something to celebrate than to bitch, moan, and justify illegal downloading?
And “hardcore PC gamers” wonder why no one cares about them anymore.
Paying customers will find out how the PC version of this hardcore favorite fares when it’s released digitally on Steam, Amazon, and GameStop.com tomorrow.