Souls fans, rejoice. FromSoftware’s newest project has been revealed.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an action-adventure game in a slightly similar way to Dark Souls or Bloodborne, although some key changes have been made (more on which later). At the helm is Dark Souls and Bloodborne head honcho Hidetaka Miyazaki, who also happens to be the president of From Software.
This will be the company’s first game since Bloodborne that Miyazaki has helmed alone (Dark Souls III had co-directors in Isamu Okano and Yui Tanimura). As might be expected from the man who moved away from traditional fantasy in favor of Lovecraftian horror for Bloodborne, though, a change is gonna come when it comes to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and its core mechanics and setting. Here’s what we know about Sekiro so far.
Setting-wise, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will take place in a reimagined version of Sengoku-era Japan. This is unusual for Miyazaki, who usually likes to couch his games in fantasy settings, albeit fairly well-realized ones. That said, the emphasis here appears to be on “reimagined”, with impossibly-proportioned humans existing alongside giant snakes and wriggling centipedes.
The tale which takes place in this world is also radically different from Miyazaki’s previous outings, in that the protagonist is not customizable at all. The story, according to FromSoftware, will be “easier to understand” than their other games, as it’s anchored around a known entity rather than an amorphous player-created protagonist. That said, players can still expect the customary obscure lore and ambient storytelling for which From Software is known; it’ll just be a bit more direct and simple this time around, that’s all.
Things have been streamlined in the gameplay department, too. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will not be an RPG. There are no stat increases, no equipment upgrades, no customizable character classes and no experience points. From Software’s Yasuhiro Kitao uses the term “action-adventure” to describe Sekiro, rather than RPG. This seemingly means more of an emphasis on environment exploration and combat rather than stat growth.
Since the player is a ninja in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, gameplay will be much more focused on stealth and careful observation of one’s environment. Facilitating this will be the “Shinobi Prosthetic”, a limb attached to the main character which is capable of transforming into different tools, one of which is a grappling hook which can be used to help the player traverse the 3D world of the game. That same limb can also be seen in the Sekiro trailer transforming into a shield, a firecracker to stun enemies and a torch, all of which can be used as tools in combat to help the player defeat tough enemies.
The combat of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is much less focused around HP this time and more to do with what From Software calls “posture”. Attacking enemies will wear down their “posture”, which will give players an opening for a finishing move. Miyazaki wanted to capture the essence of sword fighting with Sekiro; the feel of “swords clashing” was important to the overall ebb and flow of the combat.
If you’re looking to avoid combat completely, you’ll be glad to know that Sekiro can accommodate you. Since you’re a ninja, stealth is pretty important; you can hide in long grass, around corners, and behind walls, delivering instant stealth kills to enemies who wander too close to you. If you’re caught off guard and happen to lose the ensuing fight, that’s where the “Shadows Die Twice” of the title comes in. Players can immediately revive themselves after death once, catching enemies off guard and gaining the upper hand in combat. Subsequent revivals will require the player’s resources, with the penalty for death “tuned to keep the game at a good pace”, according to an interview with Miyazaki.
If all of this is feeling too unfamiliar, don’t worry: there’s still plenty Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has in common with its forebears. Miyazaki takes a similar approach to difficulty with each of his games, trying to make them challenging but not hard for hard’s sake. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will be no exception, with the team working hard to fine-tune the difficulty and ensure it’s where they want it to be. The world design will be “similar to [the original] Dark Souls”, according to Miyazaki. Whether this refers to the game’s lauded first half or its less successful second half remains to be seen.
Oh, and one more thing: Sekiro will be an entirely single-player experience, with no PvP combat or online co-op to be seen. There’s no word on whether the message system of Souls will return, but since Miyazaki says no multiplayer, we’re not optimistic. Of course, we still don’t know everything there is to know about Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The game isn’t due out until “early 2019”, so expect to learn a whole lot more between now and then.
Are you excited for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice? Is this the project you want from From Software (ahem)? Let us know in the comments below! If you'd like to recap this year's E3, or you missed some of the announcements and want to get up to speed, check out TechRaptor's E3 coverage hub.