Way back in the realms of 2017, FromSoftware teased a brand new game, and that game turned out to be a little title called Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Now, this is a brand new game from the developers of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, and it's on its way for an early 2019 release date. It's got nothing to do with the other FromSoftware games in terms of story and setting (this is a distinctly samurai affair) but it steals some of the gameplay elements that have made FromSoftware's other titles so iconic. It's being published by Activision, and will arrive in early 2019, bringing katanas, stealth, combat and more.
There's already so much to discuss with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and we've got all the important information collated below for your perusing pleasure. Read on to find out what you can expect from FromSoftware's latest adventure.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice release date is next year
Sekiro may have debuted at the Xbox E3 press conference, among several other E3 2018 games, but the fact that it's published by Activision means it is going to launch on PS4, Xbox One, and PC when it releases in March 2019. Specifically, on March 22, 2019, which is a lot closer than you think.
The studio has, historically speaking, been pretty good at sticking to its original launch goals without major delays, so we can be mostly confident that Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will be on target for that March release.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice gameplay is a familiar hack-n-slash experience with some added extras
Although this isn't Bloodborne 2 or anything to do with Dark Souls, this is still very much a FromSoftware game. Directed by Dark Souls' creator, Hidetaka Miyazaki, this is a samurai game inspired by the mythology of feudal Japan, with an aesthetic not too dissimilar to Sony's own new IP, Ghost of Tsushima or last year's ironically souls-like RPG Nioh.
But it's not all hack and slash, as the unnamed protagonist (perhaps the "Sekiro" of the title) is able to equip a range of prosthetics, similar to those found in Bloodborne. There's also a grappling hook that you can wield alongside the traditional Japanese arsenal of katanas, bows, and shuriken, plus some kind of umbrella shield that looks amazing, and totally channels Kratos' shield in God of War.
"The right-hand katana is fixed, that will be your primary weapon for the whole game," said Miyazaki in an interview with Polygon. "That will allow us to [deeply explore] what it means to master that katana as your single main weapon. We obviously lose the customisation and some breadth, so in the left hand, we're compensating for that. Having various prosthetic tools, having these be upgradeable and having this element of user choice and freedom, how they want to strategise and use these two weapons in conjunction."
"There's also what we're calling the shinobi deathblow, which is a kind of instant fatal attack. There is a way to activate a deathblow technique, which is sort of like a devastating special skill that you'll be able to acquire and choose throughout the game. These are going to provide extra options for how to you want to change up the battles as you're playing."
From getting some hands-on time with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, it's a brilliant blend of the hack 'n' slash gameplay you know and love from FromSoftware, but with elements of stealth. You can hug walls, hang from ledges, and deal aerial and ground-based stealth attacks. And as for the combat, it isn't quite just the old hack 'n' slash. You actually need to focus on your posture. No, not quite shoulder back, chest out kind of posture, but instead it's an enemy's posture. You have to perfectly time your parries to land just as the two blades would meet, decreasing their posture. It's only when their posture is lowered enough that you can get in some attacks that deal serious damage, and the result is a beautiful, brutal, dance that keeps you constantly on your toes, and also forcing you to be patient.
"When you hit enemies you will take away their health, but if you run them out of posture they'll be more vulnerable and you'll be able to do a death blow," explains Activision producer Robert Conkey. "If enemies have full posture you're not going to be able to hurt them very much. They'll be blocking you left and right, they're going to have lots of energy to be able to stop you from doing what you want to do. When you run them out, then you can start hurting them big time."
Plus, in a complete twist on FromSoftware's traditional obsession with death and player consequence, you can actually choose to resurrect yourself upon death as part of a tactic to confuse your foes. It's not clear at this point what the penalties, or cost, of doing so is - because of course there will be - but it is definitely an interesting mechanic.
"We're not intentionally trying to create Sekiro as an antithesis to the Souls games," said Miyazaki in an interview with Polygon, "or turn the whole company direction of making games on its head, or trying to pull the rug out from under people. We love the Souls games... I loved creating those games. Sekiro is just going to be something fresh, and different, but it's going to have things that are familiar to players of these old games. I want to keep that intact because I enjoy the aspect of those old games, but new components and mechanics as a way to keep it fresh. And keeping it fresh - providing something new - is what's going to lead to a better game."
The stealth mechanics are particularly interesting, as you'll be able to move undetected if you're careful. While you're in hiding, you can eavesdrop on your foes to gain information about enemy weaknesses
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice could secretly be a Tenchu reboot (but it isn't)
You might not recall the Tenchu series from the PlayStation 1 era, but it was a stealth focused action-adventure set in Feudal Japan that sadly never found firm footing after its 1990's peak. The IP has changed hands many times since those days, but was sold to FromSoftware by Activision in 2004.
Not only that, but "Shadows Die Twice" is a direct quote from the Tenchu series... could Sekiro be a spiritual successor, reboot, or direct sequel to this classic Japanese franchise? If it is, we probably won't know about it until the game itself comes out, as FromSoftware is notoriously cryptic when it comes to the story details of its RPGs, but here's hoping Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice pulls an M. Night Shyamalan on us with some surprise connective tissue to a long lost IP.