Gamescom 2013: Lords of the Fallen Preview - How to Kill a God
Written Friday, August 30, 2013 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
What would life be like if you overthrew your own God? Lords of the Fallen aims to find out by thrusting players into a world where a rather ticked off deity is trying to make a bit of a comeback and is certainly not in a forgiving mood when it comes to his former flock.
Developed by Deck 13 this game has clearly been heavily influenced by the bevy of third person RPG titles that are currently making waves on current gen machines. The debut trailer shows our hero going toe to toe with a bevy of impressive foes, dismantling them with his weaponry and some impressive magic skills. All of that is merely a prelude to the main event, as his display of wrath stirs the interest of a nearby beast of colossal proportions, presumably the aforementioned God in question. It’s a flashy CGI set-piece but one that sets the tone perfectly for a game that could well be a bit of a surprise package.
The background story goes back over 8,000 years, as the people of the world rose up against their own God and finally succeeded in driving his forces back into the abyss. The God himself tried to escape from his prison and thrust his hand through the earth itself, forming a gargantuan mountain range that looms over the land. Obviously the story soon faded into myth and legend, with mere tales remaining about the foreboding mountains and the old ways. Unfortunately it seems like the former overlord is keen on ruling once again and, as he old armies stir from their slumber, it’s up to our hero to take up arms in a bid to thwart him.
In truth it’s a novel approach to the typical RPG genre clichés, and certainly the prospect of facing off against towering foes and a no doubt epic battle with the Fallen himself is something to look forward to. The game starts out with mere rumblings and rumours, as our buff, well-armoured, warrior rocks up at a monastery in a bid to see why they have failed to communicate with the outside world for so long. He has a partner to watch his back, though no mention was made of whether or not the game would allow for co-op play, and his chum soon vanishes when our first villain shows his face.
Obviously the place has been overrun with bad guys and it is here that we get our first glimpse of combat. Enemies use clever AI and tactics to take you on, and the developer is keen to stress that this game is not a mere hack and slash affair. Deck 13 wants players to use weapons to their full extent, and to actively punish them for just bashing buttons with a swift death. Enemies hide around corners to ambush you, take up positions with the sun to their backs and work in tandem to make your life as difficult as possible. They are all given a range of skills and abilities to test your mettle, so slower enemies require a totally different approach to nimble attackers. Clearly it has taken a feather from Dark Souls’ cap, as combat is a more strategic affair relying just as much on blocks and dodges as it does on strikes.
Combat strikes vary depending on which weapon you choose to utilise, and certain implements have unique abilities and attacks that you can take advantage of. You can also upgrade and craft the majority of the weapons you stumble across, to give you unique buffs and bonuses. The idea is that players can tailor their own combat style as much as possible. You can also use a range of magic attacks, including psychic blasts and the creation of character doubles to distract enemies and solve puzzles. As an example, a clone did the job of distracting a nearby foe long enough for our hero to move around and finish him off. While long range attacks can keep pesky foes at a distance. These skills are tied to each of the main classes, so your choice at the start of the game will tie you to specific skill sets, though the team didn’t want that to hinder your choice of weaponry and armour so all of those items will be available to every player.
After a brief skirmish we see a scuffle with one of the game's boss characters, the titular Lords, who blasts into combat from another dimension. As the fight progresses, his armour is chipped away, his massive shield is shattered and his attacks grow in fury and damage. The idea is that each boss has unique stages to the fight so that players can feel a sense of progression even in defeat, learning their foe's strengths and weaknesses in a bid to overcome them. Again, this feels like a game where even taking on one enemy at a time becomes a challenge and the mix of magic and melee attacks means that you can approach enemies in a variety of ways.
The world itself is not a massive open-world, but rather one that grows organically as you move from place to place. With players free to return to earlier locations in a bid to uncover secrets they may have overlooked, or use that suspicious key they may have just found. You can use hidden doors and shortcuts to bypass enemies, or to loop behind them for a sneak attack, so it makes sense for players to explore every avenue of opportunity. The developer was keen to emphasise that it wanted to reward exploration and discovery as much as possible, so that players who went out of their way would have a distinct advantage. Yet again it seems like a further nod to Dark Souls in that the world itself is large, brooding and cleverly interlinked so that even previously conquered locations may hold objects of interest.
Certainly this is a title that looks the part, with magnificent architecture, towering foes and sweeping vistas. The only real question is whether it can hold its own when it comes up against similar, and more well-established rivals when it launches next year. We already have superb looking sequels to The Witcher 2 and Dark Souls on the way, and Lords of the Fallen will have to do extremely well to match them. The main concern is that it may come across as a watered down version of what has come before, which would certainly be doing the game a disservice.
At first glance Lords of the Fallen is certainly heading in the right direction, and if it can mix a well-crafted combat experience with a compelling story and a rich, intriguing world, then we may well be looking at a very tough choice for RPG gamers in 2014.