Amongst all the talk about CES 2019 and other things going on in the industry (like Metro Exodus’ new story trailer and Anthem’s PC specifications), Game Informer published Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice as the featured game for February’s cover. So with this comes all the juicy new details regarding From Software’s upcoming action RPG title. Without further ado, let us get into it:
How character progression works:
Unlike From Software’s previous works with the Dark Souls series and Bloodborne, you won’t have a fully customisable character, as The Wolf (your character in Sekiro) is a Shinobi through and through. So whilst you can’t really pool your experience into stats like in the Soulsborne games, you can still tailor the character to suit your needs and wants in terms of playstyle. Another thing to separate the game’s design from FS’ previous works is that the experience is no longer tied to currency, meaning that gold and experience are two separate things now. To complement this, you don’t drop either of those things when you die, so it will interesting to see what Director Hidetaka Miyazaki has in store for us as he claims death will have a detrimental effect but shared no further details.
Experience and progression will come in a more linear form, being akin to more traditional action RPGs, with experience gained filling a meter and once the meter has been filled the player will be rewarded with a skill point which can be spent in a skill tree. However, you have to unlock a given skill tree before you can even begin investing points into it and to unlock it you have to find a particular item as you explore the world. Naturally, you can’t just allocate your skill points anywhere you please. Sekiro’s take on bonfires, Sculptor’s Idols, are required to allocate skill points, so understanding the layout of areas is still quite an important thing (or just accidentally stumbling on a new one). The folks at Game Informer were only shown a few skill trees for the wolf; one being based around shinobi arts, one around samurai arts and another based on building up the prosthetic arm. In addition to all this, you can unlock special moves called “combat arts” and by the sounds of it, they more or less behave as like a super move. They are designed to point players in a direction to certain playstyles, behaving as a periodic reward “just to give you something to make you feel like you are roleplaying in a certain way.”
Each tree is designed very differently and allows for enough flexibility and variety to let the payer experiment, it seems.
Why it does not have multiplayer:
A staple for From Sofware’s games since Demon’s Souls is an integrated multiplayer which also did not compromise the design of the game. Sekiro has done away with this and the game will be strictly singleplayer. Why is this? Well according to Game Informer there are a few reasons, beginning with having an actual pause button. This is great for those moments where you have to go to your front door downstairs because your UberEATS order has arrived but you are busy fighting a boss like Black Dragon Kalameet but since the pause function doesn’t exist you have to sit there and make your UberEATS delivery person just wait there because god dammit this thing just won’t d- oh sweet, I died. Now I can go my food up. What was I talking about? Oh right, yeah pausing in critical moments to go take care of something is a nice touch.
It also allows From Soft to mess around with their level and map design a little more, as they don’t have to design around the fact that different players are going to interact differently with the environment with multiple people around meaning they don’t have to balance map design to not allow for cheese spots that make PVP unfair or unbalanced.
It allows us, again. to hone in on the player experience, and really captilise on that lakc of restriction that comes with creating a multiplayer-based game, and let our imagination run wild inthese places. – Yasuhiro Kitao, manager of marketing and communications at From Software
This is also not to mention that it allows players to not walk around with such tension as an invader can really ruin things, especially those bloody twinkers. The lack of multiplayer benefits bosses as well, as because they cannot be co-operatively played, it means that bosses can be more finely tuned for a single player.
Sekiro’s hub area:
Whilst Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice sees a departure from FS’ more common design, an aspect where it doesn’t depart is the hub area. In Sekiro you have the Dilapidated Tower and according to Game Informer, players of previous FS games should feel a sense of familiarity with this hub area. However, unlike previous games where the hub area was available almost immediately after the tutorial area, it seems as if you will need to progress through an unknown amount of the game to gain access to it. I can’t imagine that you will need to progress far, however, as with what Game Informer have stated, it is integral to your character’s progression and power climb.
The tower also offers a number of NPCs like Emma, who basically behaves as the Fire Keeper in the first Dark Souls game, meaning that when you collect an item called a “Gourd Seed” you can give it to her to increase how many uses you get out of your Healing Gourd (Estus Flask) between rests at the Sculptor’s Idols. In many ways, the Dilapidated Tower behaves similarly to previous hub areas in FS games, with NPCs that you meet throughout the world often making their way back to the hub area and becoming a variety of vendors and questline NPCs.
It really seems like From Software are giving Sekiro their all, so hopefully, when it releases on March 22nd, it will be as good as it looks.