San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Death Rides in Darksiders 2

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The original Darksiders was a solid first attempt that never quite took that extra step into greatness. With the sequel, developer Vigil Games is cramming in everything they didn’t have the time or resources to pull off the first time around. And the results are looking great.

The story in Darksiders 2 runs concurrently with the events of the original. This time around you take control of Death, brother of the original’s protagonist, War. After War is falsely accused of triggering the Apocalypse millennia earlier than it was supposed to occur, he’s captured by the Charred Council and forced to answer for his supposed crimes. When Death learns of this, he embarks on a quest to restore humanity and attempt to clear his brother’s name.

The demo I got my hands on at San Diego Comic-Con primarily focused on the sequel’s improved combat. One of the things I wasn’t crazy about in the original was the combat. It wasn’t that it was bad per se, but it was just uninspired and kind of dull. War was kind of a massive, lumbering tank of a character. He could take a lot of punishment, he could hit hard, but he was slow and kind of sluggish. Death is completely on the other end of the spectrum. He’s fast, he’s agile, and he can dodge and weave to evade enemies’ attacks. The basic combat still has a familiar feel to it, but its added speed makes it much more thrilling.

The most exciting thing about this sequel is just how much the scope has expanded in comparison to its predecessor. The original was a fairly straightforward Legend of Zelda inspired adventure. There was some exploration to be done, but it was primarily in service of getting you from point a to point b along a fairly linear path. It was a solid experience that set up an interesting world, but there was just something missing. That doesn’t seem like it’ll be a problem in the sequel.

At its core,Darksiders 2 is structured similarly to its predecessor. There’s an open world to explore, dungeons to discover and puzzles to solve. On top of that, however, Darksiders 2 is also a full blown action RPG. You gain experience and level up. You collect color coded loot. You go to towns and collect side quests from NPCs. Numbers pop out of enemies when you damage them! (!!!) Everything you’d expect from a traditional RPG is present, all while keeping the series’ fast paced, action oriented combat in place.

Much like War’s sword in the original game, Death’s primary weapon will always be his scythes. The arsenal of secondary weapons is, thankfully, greatly expanded in the sequel. Hammers, axes, maces and more will be available to put down Death’s enemies.

Like many classic RPGs, the weapon drops are broken down into a green, blue, purple tier system. People that are susceptible to loot lust will find themselves right at home here. In addition to that, there’s another tier above even above the purples called “possessed weapons.” With these you can take older weapons that you don’t have any use for anymore and feed them to the possessed weapons to enhance their abilities and make them even stronger. If you ask me, that sounds pretty great. Feeding weapons to other weapons to make them even more awesome? Sign me up.

Customization is something that Vigil seems be putting an emphasis on in Darksiders 2. In the original, your version of War would be more or less exactly the same as everyone else’s. There were slight variations here and there, like which weapons you preferred or what enhancements you equipped, but from a visual and gameplay standpoint every player ended up with the same character. In the sequel, no two Deaths will be alike.

First of all, like any good RPG, there are armor loot drops that you can use to change your character’s looks and enhance his stats. There are 12 different armor categories (gloves, boots, torso, ect.) with which to outfit your character and make him your own.

Delving further into customization, there are also two different skill trees that you can put points into as you level up, the Harbinger and the Necromancer. The Harbinger focuses on up close and in your face magic skills, whereas the Harbinger focuses on distance and crowd control. I didn’t really get a chance to get into either of these with any kind of depth, but they both had a ton of skills you can use to customize your version of Death.

The developers promise a campaign that will run around 25-30 hours straight through, longer if you choose to do the game’s bevvy of side quests. On top of that, there will also be a New Game+ option after you’re finished with your first play through.

After the semi-ciffhanger that the original Darksiders ended on, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little disappointed they’re not picking up the story from there. But with all they’re adding, the RPG mechanics, the character customization, the loot, it’s impossible to not be excited for Darksiders 2. The original was a game I wanted to love that didn’t quite make it all the way there. Darksiders 2 looks like the game that I, and Vigil Games, wanted in the first place. The Apocalypse never looked so fun.

Darksiders 2 rides into stores on August 14th for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC with a Wii U release planned for later on.

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Death Rides in Darksiders 2

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