After being inundated with fan demand and online petitions for a PC version of Dark Souls, Namco Bandai let players know that their voices were heard. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is coming to the PC, as a new-and-improved port of the game thats been enthralling masochistic console gamers since last year. At E3, we sat down with Dark Souls producer Daisuke Uchiyama to talk about the design philosophy behind the Souls series, what contents been added, and what the developers expect PC gamers will do with the game.
GamesRadar: So whats new about the Prepare to Die Edition?
[gesturing at the screen] This is a small portion of the new content, but in the original version, when you communicate with other players in the online space, you often used what we called gestures you bow or wave to other characters. Now, weve added a new item called carvings: what happens is, when you drop [these engraved clay pots] on the ground, youll hear verbal representations. Thank you. Help me. [laughs]
GR: Do the new zones and bosses represent areas you wanted to include in the original game, but didnt have the time or resources for?
DU: No the original version on the console was fairly complete, and its what we wanted to provide. But ever since we released the console version, there was that online petition, saying PC gamers wanted the game on [their platform of choice]. So we really took that into consideration and decided to make a PC version but just having a straight port to the PC wouldve been too boring. So we started to discuss what we could add on as bonus content; based on those discussions, there was a bit more than we actually anticipated - so we decided to add on a little bit more to the game. Its not that we werent able to do it [before]; its a result of our plans for releasing on the PC.
GR: Have you been impressed with how willing players are to put themselves through the difficulty of the game?
DU: [laughs] We often ask ourselves: why do people continue to play, continue to torture themselves, when playing this difficult game? The underlying concept when we were first developing this game was, not to make a difficult game, but to provide a sense of achievement, a sense of accomplishment. We want that big sense of satisfaction, and when we were thinking of providing a big sense of satisfaction, we thought, the harder the challenge, the better the happiness when you finally overcome it. The bigger your fist clench when you finally defeat a boss. Thats sort of a result of why people continue to challenge themselves: the rewards you get from being able to conquer these challenges. Its a tough question to answer, but I think thats why people continue to play. Were pretty happy with the results.
GR: Do you think most players will play Prepare to Die using a gamepad, or the mouse and keyboard?
DU: Though we will have minimal support for the keyboard and mouse, because the game has been balanced and tuned to fit gameplay using the gamepad, were hoping that even PC gamers will [be willing] to use and play with a gamepad, just for the full experience.
GR: Of the new bosses, which is your favorite?
DU: One of my favorites is Artorias. Hes a character that were using for the packaging, the reason being: in the console version, you only heard of the name Artorias. You heard that he was this legendary character. But now that were moving into the past, we can actually see how he fits into the whole setting and story, and you can finally see how hard he is. You get the Oh my god sense [of difficulty] when facing Artorias. With all the tie-ins [to the previous game], and because weve only been able to imagine him up until this point, Artorias is probably my favorite.
GR: How many hours will players have to dedicate to get the best new item?
DU: Im not sure if were talking about that at this point but theres actually an item in the gameits not the most superior, its not the most powerful or anything like that, but its one of the more special ones. Its special in the sense that is has a negative influence upon the player. [laughs] How it acts as a negativehopefully, players will try to find out. But in order to get that item, you have to defeat a boss whos unbelievably hard to kill. By defeating him, youll get that negative item. Thats probably one of the harder things to get in the game, and itll probably take the most time to try and find and use it. Were hoping that players will be able to achieve that and use it for themselves.
GR: Do you think youll be supporting players exchanging saves with each other, or trying to mod the game? Or do you want the product to stay as is after release?
DU: With PC gamers, its almost the default that people share save data, or create mods and stuff like that. A game like Skyrim supports that; in terms of Dark Souls, were hoping that people will try to continue to play the full experience the true experience without sharing [saves] or anything like that. We think that players will have the best experience when they play the game the way its designed, so mods, and any of that sort of functionality that PC gamers are used to, probably wont fit within the Dark Souls game design. So were hoping that players will play it as it should truly be played. At the same time, a lot of that stuff is expected; ultimately, itll be up to players [to decide how they want to play it].
GR: Whats your take on games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Kingdoms of Amalur?
DU: Games like Elder Scrolls, even from the time of Oblivion they take on that fantasy world, and obviously theres a lot to learn from them. I think what they create is very true, as well wed be kidding ourselves to try and compare with them. When Miyazaki-san [Hidetaka Miyazaki, director on Dark Souls and Demon Souls] created Demon Souls, hes been inspired by literature from back in his childhood, as well as imagery based on pieces like Lord of the Rings. Theres always that sort of Northern European / Western take [on fantasy]; his interpretation of that kind of world is what we visualized in Dark Souls. I dont think he feels that his world is perfect, or that its what it should be its just his take on it. Theres a lot to learn, and a lot to respect, from other games and media that take on the same sorts of fantasy world.
GR: Out of curiosity, how much of your staff can actually beat the entirety of Dark Souls?
DU: [chuckles, grinning from ear to ear] Its tough to say. Ive personally played over 400 hours of the game, and I still feel that theres a lot more to be played and experienced. But then, on my team, there are other people who have a tough time fighting through the tutorial. A lot of my colleagues get to Anor Londo and find thats where [their wall is], and they cant get any further past that. I think [player enjoyment is based on] the sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction that you get from the actual gameplay, rather than finishing the complete game. There are a lot of replay factors in Dark Souls, and it depends on the style of each gamer. I think that people who like this type of game will continue to play, and people who dont will probably pick up Call of Duty and play that forever and ever [laughs]. Its tough to say.
GR: Thanks for your time, Uchiyama-san!
For more coverage of the Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, check out the latest trailer. Also be sure to check out our list of the 19 most rage-inducing games, which Dark Souls earned a well-deserved spot on. You can play the Prepare to Die Edition when its released on PC this August, or as DLC for consoles later in the year.