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The strange case of Darksiders III combat system

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I recently played Darksiders III, and I want to discuss with you the curious case of this game that received a massive patch that radically changed (well, added actually) the gameplay paradigm, a case very rare in the videogame industry. What I want to discuss is, basically, why almost all the players mislead the gameplay of this title at the point that the developers had to release a “classic” combat system that made the CS flat and boring, as the previous title.

Look, I’m not trying to do an apologia of this game, it has many problems and I think it received the right rating (around 7): the plot is ridiculous, most of the level and enemies are artistically uninspired (even though The dept and the scar is notable, IMHO), the quantity and quality of the environmental puzzle are far from the quality peak of the first Darksiders. Thus, I don’t want to defend the game, rather I would like to discuss why the game’s CS was misled SO badly, regardless of the other aspect of the game.

I will briefly explain why I disagree with the two major criticizes that the player moved to the game.

1) The game is too difficult. This definitely led to the release of the classic version of the CS. I think the majority of people thought this game is difficult because they approached it wrongly. This would have been a game’s defect if the game itself had been unclear, but it actually isn’t. I think the game has a clear direction in the gameplay mechanics, and like most of the game if you do the thing correctly after half or ¾ of the game you are definitely overpowered, for a combination of player’s skill and character skill tree development.

The game heavily rely on dodging and counterattack, that can be challenging for the first 4-5 hours and can give trouble even after that, especially considering that some of the enemies can kill you in 2 hits. But besides that, the player skills scale very well, and there is almost no ambiguity on what skills are the best, or the possibility to build a very weak build (unless you put all your souls in health, of course). With the normal exploration (i.e. explore everything with the power you have at a given moment without back tracking between levels) and without buying useless consumable you will end up to a level so high there is no need of convenience to upgrade due to the price of the skill points. Plus, there are two ridiculously powerful enchantments that you can max since the half of the game, one give you back health from hits, the other one charge chaos really fast. Just to give an example, in my first run at 3/5 difficult (the default one is 2/5), I struggled a bit at the beginning, find the maximum difficult at Lust boss (nothing extreme, just half an hour try), then the game became absolute a piece of cake and the last 3 boss were ridiculous. I hadn’t to use chaous form, the dodging was almost perfect at the time, and I completely ignored the many consumable (to be honest I ignored them for all of the game, since is difficult to select them and there is a need to keep the nephlim health restoring always equipped). All of these mechanics are clear and honestly if people interprete these bad is not game’s fault.

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Also, even thought there are a plenty of combo, the game suggest you to rely on dodging and do short attack, since there is no animation cancelling, so if you start a long combo the enemies can hit you in the middle if you don’t time the combo correctly. But, again, for most of the game the “signs” the enemies (including boss) give when they are about to attack are clear and with a large timing, so it’s absolutely not difficult to dodge them or to perform a long combo in the right moment.

To be honest, my experience in terms of difficult ramp was similar to the one experienced with GOW 2018, with an initial struggle but as soon as one master the skill and use the upgrade profiency, the game is more than manageable.

2) The souls-like difficulty: checkpoints and losing souls. This is another thing I disagree. Sure, if you watch it superficially, losing souls when you die, checkpoints and shortcut are elements taken by souls, but in depth the mechanics are so different that for me is very difficult to associate them. First, the souls aren’t missed if you don’t collect them before a second death. They simple remain there, you can die several times and the souls remain in the same place, ready t be collected. Secondly, the checkpoints are really dense. If you are worried to lose souls, you can backtracking for a very short path to return to a near checkpoints and feed vulgrim with the souls. Indeed, another main difference is that you don’t need the exact amount of souls for a level up to get rid of them: you can patially fill the meter, so Vulgrim serves also as a bank for your souls. These three elements make the game very far from the difficult of the souls game, where the bonefire are distant.

The players lamented that the mob respawned, but what is the difference between this and a normal game made by checkpoint, when you die before reach the next checkpoint? This is, honestly, ridicoulous, considering what I said in point 1 and considering also some of the strongest enemies doesn’t respawn at all.

I already wrote too much, so what do you think about the gameplay of this game, and why it is considered so difficult at the point the developer released a classic mode combat system, almost an unique case in the game industry?

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