In our one-on-one Gamescom 2018 interview with Yasuhiro Kitao, FromSoftware’s PR Manager, and Robert Simpson, Chief Project Administration Section at FromSoftware, we recently learned much more about their upcoming Action-adventure game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. For those of you who have been dying (pardon the pun) to hear more, read on and bask in the information that should make any Souls fan a little more at ease. We have hands-on gameplay impressions / video capture coming soon! Click here for video version of this article.
Sekiro: Sengoku Meets Dark Souls Interview
Sekiro takes place in the Sengoku era of Japan, something that many players have gotten a taste of recently because of the popularity of the game Nioh. This intriguing setting seems to be sweeping the gaming industry as we have seen announcements of games like Nioh 2, Ghost of Tsushima and of course Sekiro. When asked about this particular aspect, and whether or not there is something to it, Kitao simply stated that, “this is From Software’s take on the Sengoku period, and that we aren’t focused or worried about what other developers are doing. This game is a reflection of who we are.”
Weapons and Armor in Sekiro
When asking about weapons and armor, we learned some extremely valuable information. First of all the player will only use the Katana in his right hand, or the Katana on his back as primary weapons. There are no dual Katanas or other weapons to pick up or acquire, which is a huge departure from Souls games. For all intents and purposes players will have to master these two weapons, along with the prosthetic tool in their left hand, and these alone . Another important thing to note about these Katanas is that they do not use “Stances” like Nioh did, which would alter their moveset, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out in the long run and whether it gets repetitive or not.
It was also revealed that there will be no Armor, Clothing or Skins of any kind and how the player looks in the gameplay footage is pretty much how he will look the entire game, with the exception of the tools you gain in your left hand. So if you were hoping for Fashion Sekiro, then you may be a bit disappointed in this regard.
As mentioned above, players will use prosthetic tools in their left hand that will be acquired over the course of the game. These will vary from grappling hooks, to axes, and even explosive projectiles. While Yasuhiro was not able to go into a whole lot of detail on this aspect, he did say there would be a wide variety of tools to acquire, and that players could have more than one equipped at once, and they could be swapped on the fly.
Design, Death NPCs, and World Connectivity in Sekiro
Perhaps some of the most intriguing information we learned during our interview is that the entire world will be interconnected, much like Dark Souls 1 was. Yasuhiro even referenced Dark Souls 1 specifically when making this statement, and the player will be able to choose which way to go from shortly after the very beginning of the game. This level of freedom should set many Souls veterans at ease, as Dark Souls 1 has arguably the best world design of any of the Souls games, with Bloodborne really only being the other up for debate.
There will be shortcuts and secrets, all for the player to explore their heart out, while finding special rewards for doing so.
Bosses will be about what is expected from any From Software game, and there will be at least 1 per level, as is typical. These Bosses will look and feel much like “Souls” bosses, but with perhaps even a bit more refinement due to the fact that every player will have the same load out, excepting tools. This allows From Software to laser focus on the mechanics of each fight because they can design them very specifically, as opposed to the wider range of Builds that Souls and Bloodborne had, making them harder to balance.
For all intents an purposes, Kitao stated that these fights will be as difficult if not harder than Souls bosses.
NPCs will be much the same as in Souls games with cryptic dialogue and quests that can be advanced through certain actions. We did not get the specifics on just how these all work, but were assured they would be there and they would meet the expectations of Souls players.
Death will be handled a bit differently than Dark Souls, however, as the player is able to perform a technique to revive themselves once after each check point. This means that players must die twice in order to actually die, but players can replenish the use of this technique by attacking and killing enemies. This rewards players for success, but adds an element of risk because you must engage in combat if you wish to be able to revive again.
Action RPG and Progression in Sekiro
During our interview with Kitao we asked him what Miyazaki meant in his Famitsu article regarding “light rpg elements” that Sekiro possess. Kitao responded by saying that players will get more powerful after completing certain objectives, but it’s just not in the form of leveling up or equipment. The example was given that you could gain more uses of a particular technique, making you stronger, but what exactly these techniques do he did not specify. He did go as far as saying:
Sekiro blurs the line between Action Adventure and Action RPG, and you could probably call Sekiro an Action RPG if you wanted to.
It was also mentioned that Bosses will reward the player with something for defeating them, but it may not be in the traditional method of loot. One can assume that it may be in the form of Tools for your left hand or even some of these techniques, but it’s really hard to say without more information. Hopefully we learn more about this in our hands on.
Stealth, Blood and Finishers in Sekiro
One really fascinating aspect of Sekiro is the Stealth elements being incorporated into the Souls formula, allowing players more ways to approach each scenario they face. More freedom is generally a good thing in Action RPGs and being able to take out enemies quickly and quietly provides another layer to an already deep combat system. Players can perform a variety of finishers, which change based on action you take. For example plunging attacks have a specific animation, as do backstabs if you sneak up on someone from behind. It was even mentioned you can perform finishers on opponents whose “Posture” has been depleted, much like you can in Nioh or The Surge.
Finishers mean blood, and this aspect will be handled a little differently than it has been in the past of Souls games. Kitao mentioned that their design for blood was getting stickier and thicker with Bloodborne, but in Sekiro they’ve gone with a much lighter blood texture, that sprays more, which is something you might expect from an action game. When asked about decapitations and dismemberment, he stated that’s not something they specifically tried to add to their game, but the game itself has a certain amount of violence due to its nature.
Alpha, Beta and Beyond for Sekiro
During our interview we learned the release date, which everyone knows by now (March 22nd), and we also asked whether there were plans for an Alpha or Beta test before the game’s release in March. While Kitao stated that they don’t have any plans at this time with his words, his entire body expression said “most likely but we cannot say yet“. I believe that it is likely we will see a beta demo of some kind this fall, based on the past trends of From Software, but that is just a gut instinct from his reaction so I cannot say with 100% certainty.
We will be getting a hands on session in the next day or so with Sekiro so we should have even more information then on more specific aspects of the game. We will get to find out just how it feels and be able to say how certain mechanics work like “posture” and “techniques” that I’m sure many players are desperate to know more about. I for one am really curious how the combat measure up to Souls games and whether it will have the same “feel” to it or if it will feel like something else entirely. Stay tuned to find out!
In the meantime, check out the recent Collector’s Edition announcement, Lore reveals, E3 Sekiro Preview, Sekiro To Have Eavesdropping: Famitsu Interviews Miyazaki – Translated, and our Dark Souls Remastered Review. You might also want to go check out the Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Announcement Trailer.
And of course, there’s the Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice wiki.