Weíre back in the underworld with Darksiders II, and this time around weíre giving Death a chance to shine as he journeys to rescue his Apocalyptic brother War from certain doom (how can you doom a Horseman of the Apocalypse, I wonder?). The tasty-looking adventure sequel is also a sign of THQís commitment to serve core gamers.
I sat down with the publisherís creative manager for the core games division, Daniel McGuffey, to learn more about the intentions and development attitudes behind this latest title, and where THQ may take the series further.
SPOnG: You guys are adding a few RPG-style elements into Darksiders II, key of these being the numbers that appear when you attack an enemy. I just wanted to get your opinion of the role of the traditional RPGs in todayís market? Do you think that action RPGs are the way to go now?
Well, just speaking about Darksiders
and not to the industry as a whole - itís hard to pinpoint where other developers have tried to go - whatís important for us is that we provide a real experience of progression. That the player is something much more powerful after ten hours of gaming investment. One of the ways you can show that is from some of the RPG elements in the game.
You mentioned the numbers that are being dealt in combat - youíre seeing those numbers grow exponentially throughout your gameplay experience, and getting immediate feedback. You know that the weapon you just equipped does greater damage because youíre seeing more numbers. Youíre seeing more of an effect on the world around you. That kind of thing is important to the player.
And I think thatís just part of the cultural mindset of gamers right now. Whether youíre playing something super-casual like a Facebook game or something like a Modern Warfare
title, progression and experience is a valuable feature. Itís becoming more and more... I donít want to say expected, but I think itís made gaming more mainstream and palatable to a lot of people.
Being able to get that immediate feedback - that something youíre doing has an effect on the game world - is almost universal. I donít know many people who donít like to get feedback from the game theyíre playing that theyíre doing good, and that their effect is being noticed.
SPOnG: Speaking of feedback, what kind of things did you look at from the original Darksiders to try and improve upon for this sequel? Did you react much to fan feedback from the first game?
The studio already had a lot of features in mind to implement into Darksiders II
from ideas left behind in the originalís development. That was Vigilís first game, and... you know, thereís always this grand epic vision. The Ďletís go here, do this and make thatí attitude. Then you have to rein things in and say Ďalright, letís get this right first and we can iterate or expand in the sequel.í So you always have to be a little conservative the first time around.
There were definitely some things that we knew were going to be improved or overhauled this time around. Some things weíre not talking about right yet. But youíve already seen a few today, like the RPG elements. The skill tree that was alluded to in the presentation allows for a more immersive experience too. In the first Darksiders game, almost everything was kind of exposed to you. You knew about the Wrath powers you would get, you knew about the combat moves you would get.