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Embracing Death: Vigil’s Fitzloff on Darksiders II

Monday, 3 October 2011 06:44 GMT By Alex Donaldson

The original game might have taken us by surprise, but Darksiders II has a few tricks up its sleeve as well. We talk to Vigil’s Jay Fitzloff about going bigger and better.

DARKSIDERS 2 – Vigil Games

Forsakes the original Darksiders protagonist, War, in favour of his fellow horseman of the Apocalypse – Death.

The second game from Vigil Games, founded by comic artist Joe Madureira and Trade Wars developer David L. Adams.

Expected on PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U in mid 2012.

Darksiders was a weird and interesting beast. Combining elements from games as eclectic as Zelda, God of War, Starfox and Portal to name but a few, the story of War, the first Horsemen of the Apocalypse, was a surprise critical and commercial success in early 2010.

It was a brilliant title that held promise, but with Darksiders II Vigil Games hopes to fulfil that ptoential at last. Vigil Marketing Director Jay Fitzloff was on hand at gamescom 2011 to run us through a hands-off demo of Darksiders II and explain to us why the team has been able to go further with this title than the previous game allowed.

“To be honest, when the guys were making that first game for a little bit they weren’t even sure what that game was actually gonna be – they had to figure out the beats,” Fitzloff tells us when asked why Vigil believes they’re able to do a significant amount more with Darksiders II.

“On top of that the engine was getting built and the game mechanics were being thought through. This time they were able to start right away and they obviously had to work out new characters and locations and ideas and stuff but at least we don’t have to work out these little troubling bits. Thanks to that it’s going to be a bigger game by default because we were just able to go and not worry about thinking that stuff through.”

Darksiders II sees players take control of a new protagonist, Death. Another horseman of the apocalypse, Death is working a different angle to War in the same time period as the first game. This allows for Vigil to explore some new areas thematically, as Fitzloff explains. “Because this isn’t taking place on earth there’s a lot more fantasy elements, which has really let our art team go for it.”

The team have worked to make Death a very different protagonist to War, and one way this has been achieved is to show how Death reacts to events from the first game from a different angle. “It’s parallel to the first game. There’s a little bit of difference – it doesn’t begin and end at the exact same points, but what you’ll see is the same events playing out from a different perspective.”

“In the first game War dealt with being falsely accused of causing the apocalypse on Earth, and everyone is after him because of that. In the meantime, Death is working the underworld and trying to figure out how it all happened, who started this, and how he can clear his brother’s name. There’s a little bit of difference but it mostly takes place in the same time-frame.”

Darksiders II gamescom 2011 trailer.

Taking place in the underworld means that more of the universe of Darksiders will be explained and unveiled than before, too. “We said that if we’re gonna make all four horsemen and explore this world we have to go deeper. When Darksiders 2 is done players are going to be able to say ‘Okay, now I understand this whole cosmos, this whole universe that all these characters live in.’”

“War is honourable, but Death is willing to work with some shady characters in the underworld to find out what he needs to know. Whereas War was a straight warrior type who would rush in and fight head-on, Death is more agile, nimble… he’s fast. He kills people like it’s an art. Death doesn’t even block – he just dodges.”

Death does seem to be a little more speedy in the demo we’re seen. He’s climbing a huge beast, Shadow of the Colossus style, summoning his horse, Despair, to aid him, jumping off and using an ethereal hook to lash to a higher part of the beast. Where War wielded one fat sword, Death here instead chooses to front with two smaller ones at once, giving him speedier, quicker attacks than his brother.

The HUD has been removed from the build we see to avoid spoiling items and the like, but we still see Death engage in a bunch of different combat situations. We see him use that hook again, which we’re told is officially called the ‘Ghost Hook’ – to pull an enemy’s weak spot out, and to close the gap between Death and his enemies. Even when battling a hulking beast, Death seems more combo-heavy than War ever was.

The gameplay feels like a natural expansion on the first game, but all-new elements are weaselling their way in, including a deeper focus on character progression. While the first Darksiders packed some basic weapon and skill upgrading, the second game aims to take that deeper and offer a greater level of customization, as Fitzloff explains.

“I don’t want to go into too much detail, but let me say it this way – if you and I were playing the first Darksiders and we were both about four hours in at the same point our characters would be largely the same. Maybe a little difference, but we’re pretty much the same dude. Four hours in on this game I can guarantee we’d be totally different.”

“If you and I were playing the first Darksiders and we were both about four hours in at the same point our characters would be largely the same. Four hours in on this game I can guarantee we’d be totally different.”

“We may have picked different skills or different equipment or gone different directions. Even when you finish the game no matter how you’ve played or how well you’ve done there’ll still be stuff you won’t have gotten to – you just have to make choices and not go in certain directions. You’re gonna have to forego some things to get certain other things you want.”

The successful borrowing of features and gameplay elements from other successful titles is something Vigil is continuing with Darksiders II, also, though Fitzloff stops short of giving any specific game credit. “Did you see there was gold dropping and stuff? You can now collect items and gold that drop out of defeated enemies and use them. We can say that looks like Diablo or whatever, but that’s another idea we’re adding into the mix.

“It’s not like the guys sit there and say ‘What game shall we grab an idea from?’ – They’re more like ‘You know what’d be cool?’ Is anything original in games anymore? I don’t know – it feels like everything has been done before somewhere. It’s just about taking the game, Darksiders 1, which we loved, and seeing what we can build on top of that. Some of the new ideas for Darksiders 2 are ones that were left on the floor during the first game’s development because we ran out of time.”

It won’t all be bigger builds directly atop of what has already been established in the first game of the series, though. Fitzloff is clear that Vigil understand that some areas of the game were flawed, and they’re keen to find fixes. “I’d agree [that Darksiders could be graphically unpolished in places]. I think graphically we’re getting there; the style is much more refined in this game, and the setting allows us to do a lot more, he admits.

Some players also took issue with some of the level design. “A lot of people complained about how if you had to backtrack in dungeons in the first game you had to walk forever to get where you needed to be,” he adds, admitting another shortcoming.

“We’ve solved that by having more dungeons but making them smaller. If you took all the dungeons and put them together the surface area would be far greater than the first Darksiders, but what we have done is made more dungeons but make all of them smaller. You also get Despair, Death’s horse, a lot earlier, so it’s a lot easier to explore the overworld and get to places faster.”

When asked if more dungeons meant more unique items, as each Dungeon in Darksiders came with its own item required to solve it, Zelda style, Fitzloff’s answer is quite simple. “More weapons, more secondary weapons, more abilities. Absolutely.”

Darksiders II gameplay footage trailer.

One thing we sadly don’t get to see in our combat-heavy demo is any of the bread and butter puzzle solving that makes up a very large chunk of the Zelda-meets-God of War gameplay in the first Darksiders. Despite its absence at GamesCom, Fitzloff promises it will be there, and the team is working hard to ensure the difficulty strikes a balance between what different groups of gamers will be angling for.

“You know it’s funny because earlier – two separate guys in two separate demos – one asked me about the puzzles and said ‘The puzzles were too easy, are you going to step it up’ and another guy said ‘The combat was too easy, even on hard, are you going to improve that’ – and I’m like – I’m getting mixed messages off different people here!”

“If you get stuck but not frustrated it is about right. Like I just finished Portal 2 and there were times where I was just like ‘Screw this game’ – I’d put it away, then come back the next day and say ‘Oh…’ and get it right away. Puzzle-wise, I think that’s the best you can do, so we’re shooting for that.”

While what it is definitely appears to be far more defined than the original Darksiders, Vigil still don’t seem to be afraid to throw more all-new elements into the mixing pot for the sequel after the success of the strange but compelling mash-up of elements and ideas that became that first title. Bigger and better seems like a bit of an cliché, but it certainly seems to be what Vigil is aiming for, and Fitzloff uses those very words.

“It’ll just be bigger, better, more stuff for the player to discover,” he tells us at the end of our time with him, clearly enthused about the game he’s working on. “and more variety, too, because we never want the player to be like ‘Ugh, another puzzle, oh man’… we want people to be saying ‘oh, shit, cool!’”

That sounds like a pretty solid philosophy to have.

Darksiders II is set to launch for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in mid 2012, with a Wii U version planned.

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7 Comments

  1. HauntaVirus

    You fooled me once.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Telepathic.Geometry

    Nice. I’m working on snagging that last trophy right now on Darksiders so I’m really looking forward to playing as Death. :^)

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Talkar

    The first game was awesome, i was pleasently surprised by it. Altough i do have a few problems with them borrowing the story from the bible (i really don’t like religion xD ), i can oversee it since it was so fun to smash enemies x)

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Butcher8

    The first one was one of my fave games this gen possibly ever so bring on the sequel soon please! Not sure about how it shoehorned stories from the bible, the Holy Scriptures deserve better respect than that but still a great story and characters.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. MegaGeek1

    I’m really looking forward to this game. Like Butcher8, the first was also one of my favourite games of this generation, and the best part is that it was a surprise hit. I’m really gunning for the boys at Vigil. In all the interviews I’ve read, and based on the quality of the first Darksiders, they seem like gamers gamers. These are the kinds of guys I want developing the games I play.

    “Because this isn’t taking place on earth there’s a lot more fantasy elements, which has really let our art team go for it.”

    And who better to let of his creative leash then Joe Madureira? The guy has talent pouring out of him. I’d love to hear an interview from him about the game.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Telepathic.Geometry

    Just got my Darksiders plat. Nice coincidence. ^-^

    #6 4 years ago
  7. ManuOtaku

    I will said that if i got to pick a game this gem that i love the most it will be hard, between bayoneta, darksiders and little king story, iam in quite a conundrum, but like previous posters told this game is a relly great game, and the great thing is that it was a brand new IP that nobody saw it coming, i mean in how good it was, now seeing this i really cannot wait, the only thing that do bothers me is that the dev cycle is a little too short since the first one came in 2010, but fingers crossed.

    MegaGeek1 said “And who better to let of his creative leash then Joe Madureira? The guy has talent pouring out of him. I’d love to hear an interview from him about the game”
    I cannot agree more, the man is a talented one indeed.

    #7 4 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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  • Games with Gold offers doubled for April – six games instead of three

    Microsoft’s April Games with Gold collection is being doubled. For the month Xbox Live Gold members will receive six instead of three games free. Here’s what’s on offer: Pool Nation FX: Available all month on Xbox One Child of Light: Available all month on Xbox One Gears of War: Judgment: Available from April 1-15 on […]

  • Pokemon players can grab a code for Shiny Charizard at GAME in April

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire players along with Pokemon X and Y owners can grab a free, rare Shiny Charizard from April 3 at one of GAME’s 320 stores in the UK. The redeemable codes for the character will be made available upon request and no purchase is necessary. Those who pop into one […]

  • F1 2015 will arrive on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in June, includes Mexico circuit

    Codemasters has announced its F1 franchise will make its series debut on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this June with the release of F1 2015. The game was developed using a new engine and contains improved handling and physics for all vehicles and parts attached. This includes: engine, transmission, aerodynamics, fuel tank, force feedback, suspension […]

  • Mortal Kombat X video confirms Liu Kang as playable character

    Liu Kang has been confirmed as a playable character in Mortal Kombat X in the latest video. You’ll also notice Bo’ Rai Cho in there as well. In the Shaolin trailer above you also get a look at Kung Lao and Kung Jin who is new to the series. Apparently, Raiden’s past champions of the […]

  • Short teaser for Star Wars: Battlefront shows the Battle of Hoth

    A short teaser for Star Wars: Battlefront has been posted by EA on Twitter. Well, that speeder isn't going anywhere. Can someone give us a lift to @SW_Celebration http://t.co/srEVrAA0zl #SWCA https://t.co/4W4LG8myke — EAStarWars (@EAStarWars) March 25, 2015 The teaser shows vehicles which we could be using in the game, but it mainly shows the snowy landscape […]

  • Pillars of Eternity releases today – get all the review scores here

    Pillars of Eternity, which still stands as the second most-funded video game on Kickstarter, finally releases today. It’s also getting some rather positive reviews scores, which we’ve rounded up for you. The isometric, party-based RPG from Obsidian Entertainment was one of the first video game projects to take to Kickstarter, and hit its $1.1 million […]

  • Take an in-depth look at Evolve’s Behemoth monster and four new hunters

    Evolve’s fourth monster, the Behemoth, as well as the four new hunters are shown off in new gameplay video. Evolve’s latest gameplay trailer gives everyone a good look at each of the four new hunters and the massive Behemoth monster. The hunters can be bought either separately or though the hunting pass, while the monster […]

  • PS4 firmware update 2.50 causing issues with Killzone: Shadow Fall

    The suspend/resume feature in PlayStation 4′s 2.50 firmware update is causing some issues with Killzone: Shadow Fall. Killzone: Shadow Fall developer Guerrilla has said that the game is experiencing some issues in some instance where the suspend/resume feature is used. The timing of when players put the game in suspend mode does have an effect, […]

  • Bungie on Destiny matchmaking: “We believe there’s no substitute for a pre-made team”

    Crazy though this may seem, it’s possible that Destiny shipped according to plan. History points to community as a crucial component, far from the contingency that many now suspect. Paul Davies spoke to Bungie for clarity. “The community always engineers the best solutions for bringing players together. While Matchmaking is a great resource for introducing […]

  • Bloodborne works with suspend/resume, but only offline

    PlayStation 4′s newly-added suspend/resume feature works with Bloodborne as you’d expect, but only while offline. PlayStation 4 received the long-awaited suspend/resume feature today as part of firmware 2.50, and people are starting to test it out with various games. Bloodborne does work with the feature, but only if you play offline. Playing online is arguably […]

  • This is what Crossy Road looks like in first-person

    Crossy Road is fun and addictive. But in first-person, it’s mostly frightening. YouTube user Andy Front Films likes Crossy Road so much he decided to show off what it would look like in first-person. If crossing roads quickly and watching around for cars and trains, all of this as the camera chases you felt intense […]

  • Take a small behind-the-scenes peek at Mass Effect 4

    BioWare cinematic director Ken Thain has given us a very slim look behind the scenes at some motion capture work from the upcoming Mass Effect game. The upcoming Mass Effect game, whether it ends up being called Mass Effect 4 or not, will most definitely incorporate some form of motion capture work. How do we […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – 8GB day one patch on PS4, 16GB on Xbox One

    Day one patches for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection are pretty hefty. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection require players to download lots of gigabytes to make the experience as smooth as possible. The PlayStation 4 version has an 8.31GB day one patch. The Xbox One version however has […]

  • Get a PlayStation 4 with Bloodborne and The Last of Us for $435

    If you’ve been waiting for the perfect game to get to buy a PlayStation 4, there’s no better time than the present. Amazon is offering a good PlayStation 4 bundle at the moment. For $434.99, you get a PlayStation 4 console, The Last of Us, and Bloodborne. The Last of Us is of course the […]

  • Upcoming Battlefield Hardline patch to nerf the K10, buff battle rifles

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch will focus on weapon balance and a few changes have been proposed. Battlefield Hardline lead multiplayer designer Thaddeus Sasser posted a few of the balance changes that the team is considering for the next patch. K10: reduce bullet damage to 33 Saiga and PTR: reduce recoil to bring more in line […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and a new Resident Evil game coming this year, according to research firm

    According to digital games analyst SuperData, a new Resident Evil game is due this fall and that this year’s Call of Duty is Black Ops 3. In its latest report on digital console games, research and analytics firm SuperData revealed that a new Resident Evil is coming this fall. “We anticipate this month’s downturn to […]

  • Bloodborne: you can add gestures to your messages

    As players get deeper into Bloodborne, they keep uncovering so many of its little new additions, including this one. Bloodborne, like all of the Souls games before it, allows players to leave messages for other players. These messages could be used to point players towards impending doom, treasure, or just be sarcastic and witty. What […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 is now live

    PlayStation 4 firmware update version 2.50 has started rolling out. Reports are coming in saying that Yukimura, PlayStation 4′s firmware 2.50 has been made available to download. The update is clocking in at just 245mb, so get downloading. 2.50 brings with it many new additions, including the suspend/resume feature, backup and restore, accessibility options and […]

  • Harley Quinn DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight is a prequel

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s Harley Quinn pre-order DLC is set before the events of the main game, according to Amazon’s description. Today we learned a few details about the pre-order DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight, namely the Harley Quinn one. According to the description on Amazon, the DLC takes place in the lead-up to the events […]

  • Bloodborne Vicar Amelia summon mystery solved

    Bloodborne players unable to summon near Vicar Amelia: here’s your solution. Bloodborne’s secrets are unfolding by the hour as clever players piece together From Software’s cunning design. Yesterday we reported problems summoning in the Cathedral Ward, before the Vicar Amelia boss fight. It turns out this isn’t a bug – or if it is, it’s […]

  • Steven Spielberg will direct film adaption of Ready Player One

    Steven Spielberg will direct the film adaption of the sci-fi, virtual world, video game themed novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film in June 2010 and hired screenwriter Zak Penn to rewrite the previous draft written by Eric Eason, according to Deadline. The book takes place in […]

  • Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets shouldn’t forget about the custom audio

    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]