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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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 years ago
  6. Telepathic.Geometry

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

    #6 3 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 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    More Dragon’s Dogma Online screenshots have been released, and this batch is just as lovely as the last gallery we posted. Since this game will likely never leave Japan, the images are a bit of a salt rub for fans of the IP, but hopefully another entry in the series will be released at some […]

  • Action-RPG Death’s Gambit has a classic-Castlevania feel to it

    How would you like to become an agent of Death and rid the world of immortals? Then Death’s Gambit may just be the game for you. Announced by LA-based studio White Rabbit, the action-RPG with platforming elements tasks players with fighting gigantic enemies on an alien, medieval planet. Players will also encounter formidable beasts, knights, […]

  • Modder adds offline co-op into Resident Evil: Revelations 2

    PC users lamenting the lack of local, offline co-op in Resident Evil: Revelations 2 will be pleased to know a modder has remedied the omission. The mod, created by FluffyQuack, adds offline co-op mode to Episode 1 but the only caveat is players will need to use gamepads instead of mouse and keyboard (via Gamespot). […]

  • Number of Steam accounts with Dota 2 installed hits over 42 million

    Dota 2 has seen its installation rate jump 85% year-over-year, resulting in the MOBA now having close to 43 million installations worldwide. The figures were published via a report from video game research and consulting firm EEDAR, which studied Steam accounts daily to better understand the service’s player behavior and title performance. According to statistics […]

  • Nintendo issuing Eon Ticket codes for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

    Nintendo is handing out an Eon Ticket to Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire owners which will allow them to visit the Southern Island. Once a player arrives, depending on which version of the game they own, Pokemon Latios and Latias are able to be caught. The Eon Ticket was originally issued via StreetPass, but […]

  • Here’s a couple The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt screenshots to brighten your day

    Two images for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have surfaced on the game’s Facebook page. Grabbed by Gamekyo, the images show Gerlat and Vesemir chatting with a fellow, and the other shows Geralt riding up to some ruins where some people have been hanged. CD Projekt Red will make an appearance at PAX East next […]

  • Hyrule Warriors Boss Pack DLC contains unlockable character – potential spoilers

    While you already know the next DLC for Hyrule Warriors will allow you to play as the gigantic beast Ganon, there’s a rather humorous unlockable character contained in it as well. Potential spoilers follow below. When the DLC arrived in Japan February 26, YouTuber moccos-tan IsedelicaAs posted a video of the unlockable character, which is […]

  • Star Trek Online players gather on Vulcan to pay respects to Leonard Nimoy

    Star Trek Online players paid tribute to Leonard Nimoy yesterday by gathering around a fountain on Vulcan, the home planet of Spock in the Star Trek series. According to a post by barnacle999 on reddit, when he logged into the MMO “there were around 20 full instances and several partial,” culminating in around 1000 players […]

  • Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin gameplay video shows invasion of The Forlorn

    A new Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin gameplay video has been released, and provides the viewer with a look at the NPC invader system. Watch below as The Forlorn hunts down the player through the game with “with deadly skill and tenacity.” He even teams up with other enemies, making your fight […]

  • Visual upgrade for Wasteland 2, improved modding tools in the works

    A visual upgrade and improved mod tools are in the works for Wasteland 2, according to a blog post from inXile Entertainment. The upgrades will come about as the game’s codebase is migrated from Unity 4.5 to Unity 5. “A major benefit of moving to Unity 5 is that 5 will include many of the […]

  • Battlefield Hardline brings “Hollywood crime drama” to single-player campaign

    In the fifth developer diary for Battlefield Hardline, the team discusses how it’s bringing “Hollywood crime drama” to the shooter’s single-player campaign. The video was released a couple of days ago, so apologies are in order if this has been posted already, but I promise I searched the site and never found it. Visceral Games […]

  • Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a pause for tactics isometric RPG coming in 2016

    Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a 2.5D isometric RPG, built in the vein of Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age in the works at Withing Hour Studios. The game allows the player to pause combat to plan party tactics. “Set in the Venetian-inspired fantasy city of Ombre where rare masks are the key to casting magic, […]

  • Underworld Ascendant surpasses Kickstarter goal

    Underworld Ascendant which was launched on Kickstarter earlier this month, has met its  $600,000 funding goal. With six days left 10,786 backers pledged $610,541 In light of being funded, the team has also switched up the stretch goals as bit, as you can see in the image below. The studio, OtherSide Entertainment, is fronted by Paul Neurath, […]

  • Latest Evolve patch fixes progress and save game data loss on Xbox One

    A patch for Evolve has been released on Xbox One which fixes lost progress and save game data users had reported. The patch also fixes an issue with shadows and flashlight, makes incremental improvements to matchmaking, invites, and rejoining, and there were progressions balance changes. “The issue with lost progress and saved games was mostly […]

  • Online servers for Ridge Racer Unbounded shut down in Europe

    Online functionality for Ridge Racer Unbounded is no longer available, Namco Bandai Europe has announced. Solo mode and the track editor are still playable, minus the sharing options. Ridge Racer Unbounded was released on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in March 2013. Thanks, MCV.

  • OlliOlli will be a cross-buy title on 3DS and Wii U

    Curve Digital has announced OlliOlli will be a cross-buy title when it releases on 3DS and Wii U. The Roll7 title will be the first third-party title to offer the functionality on the systems. OllliOlli will be released on the eShop March 5 The game launches on Nintendo’s eShop on March 5th, followed by Xbox […]

  • Darkbeast electrifies latest Bloodborne video

    The latest Bloodborne video shows off another monster in the game. This one is Darkbeast and he’s full of electricity. The video is the last of IGN’s month-long coverage of the title.

  • Future Assassin’s Creed games will have greater focus on modern timeline

    Ubisoft plans to focus more on modern timelines in future Assassin’s Creed games, the company suggested during its latest community livestream. During the Twitch stream, one of the lead writers for the Assassin’s Creed series, Darby McDevitt, said the modern timeline for Brotherhood’s town of Monteriggioni could inspire future development. “That only came about because […]

  • Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is coming to Xbox One next month

    Halfbrick has announced Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 for Xbox One will release next month. The mobile title made its way onto Xbox 360 garnering 1 million downloads as of March 2012. It has a new multiplayer mode for up to four players with Battle and Party modes along with a new progression system. An announcement […]

  • New GTA 5 PC screens – shit the bed!

    Rockstar has pumped out 15 new screens for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto 5. Don’t touch them, because they’re electric. And if you touch them, you’ll get shocked. The PC version of GTA 5 has been delayed until April 14, which both sucks and blows. BUT! There’s a new trailer coming between now […]

  • Sony Japan accidentally erases 20th Anniversary PS4 contest entries

    Sony Japan has accidentally erased all information obtained from PlayStation owners who entered to win a 20th Anniversary PlayStation 4. Those who purchased PlayStation 3, PS4, Vita or Vita TV between December 4 – January 15 were handed a calendar with a code which entered them into the contest. Somehow, all data collected from the […]

  • Hearthstone datamine suggests Blackrock Mountain expansion on the way

    Hearthstone’s next update may be based on World of Warcraft’s Molten Core raid, if datamined information posted on Hearthpwn is spot-on. According to files mined from the latest patch, three new cosmetic card backs are on the way, one of which is called Molten Core. The data suggests that pre-ordering the Blackrock Mountain expansion will […]

  • Using Battlefield Hardline single-player gadgets increases your metagame rewards

    Gadgets contained in Battlefield Hardline’s campaign mode have been detailed, and each provides the player with various ways in which to solve crimes. According to design director Scott Warner, one way to “diffuse” a conflict when confronted with criminal activity is to flash your badge and ordering the criminal to freeze. Putting your gun on […]

  • Mortal Kombat X video is all about story mode, new characters

    After promising a new Mortal Kombat X reveal “soon”, NetherRealm Studios has made good on said promise by releasing the story trailer. The video shows parts of the story mode featuring Mileena, which takes place 25 years after the events of 2011′s Mortal Kombat. Outworld has become a larger threat and new fighters joining the […]

  • Destiny’s shotgun and pulse rifle buffs mean it’s time to rethink your load-out

    Destiny’s most-ignored weapons got major boosts this week. It’s time to start thinking about how to work them into your set-up. Even if you’re used to using scout rifles and sniper rifles as a general loud-out (neither class was touched by 1.1.1), the buffs to pulse rifles and shotguns should make you rethink your contextual […]

  • Battlefield Bad Company 2: five years later, what did it do so right?

    It’s been five years since the release of Battlefield Bad Company 2. What did the much-loved entry in the franchise do for the Battlefield series? Westie’s played Battlefield Bad Company 2 for over 1,260 hours on PS3 and PC. That’s dedication. In his latest video he discusses the stand out moments from a FPS classic, […]

  • War is hell in this Zombie Army Trilogy gameplay trailer

    Here’s five minutes of headshots, shambling zombies and an undead Hitler from Rebellion’s upcoming Zombie Army Trilogy. The Sniper Elite spin-off arrives on PS4, PC and Xbox One March 6 and includes three games (obviously) and a new Horde mode.

  • Titan Souls releases on PS4, Vita, PC on April 14

    Ace indie giant-slayer Titan Souls will be released on PS4, Vita and PC on April 14. Publisher Devolver confirmed the date to Eurogamer. Those of us in Europe will have to wait until a day later for release. Titan Souls is a tough-as-nails indie game where you have one life to slay a giant enemy. […]

  • Destiny weekly update: lowdown on Inferno Crucible, Vault Transfer improvements

    Destiny’s weekly update has made some pretty significant changes – let Arekkz Gaming take you through them. Bungie has revealed the first release date for the new Inferno Crucible mode, and made it a lot easier to access your vault. You should subscribe to Arekkz Gaming. It will improve your life.

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory Feb 27, 28

    It’s Xursday again – what treats does he have for you this week? He’s in the North Tower, to the right of the Stranger’s room. Let’s take a look at the latest weapons and gear from your favourite Destiny trader. No Backup Plans [Titan Gauntlets] – 13SC ATS/8 Arachnid [Hunter Helmet] – 13SC Heart of […]

  • Battlefield Hardline will be stable on PC at launch, Visceral assures

    PC format is “by far the best gaming platform around,” says Hardline producer. “We’re doing what we can to take advantage of people’s different system with the graphics, framerate, controls, etc. We’re not just porting it over.” Battlefield Hardline developer Visceral is reassuring players that there will not be a repeat of the disastrous Battlefield […]

  • Win Pneuma: Breath of Life for Xbox One

    We have 10 download codes for new indie puzzler Pneuma: Breath of Life for Xbox One to give away. The be in with a chance of winning a code, just enter your details below and we’ll pull the winners from the hat on Monday March 2nd, after 2pm GMT. Pneuma: Breath of Life is a […]

  • Life is Strange Episode 2 delayed

    Life is Strange Episode 2 won’t make its expected release date. The first Life is Strange episode released on January 30, and we had expected the second to follow on March 13. Square Enix has since confirmed to Destructoid that the next chapter won’t make its release date. There’s been no word of the new […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: which character will be revealed tomorrow?

    Mortal Kombat X director Ed Boon is teasing a new character reveal. During today’s Mortal Kombat X livestream, NetherRealm said that a new character would be revealed “very soon”. Boon followed up with this teasing tweet suggesting the reveal will occur tomorrow: Very soon? As in tomorrow? :/ — Ed Boon (@noobde) February 26, 2015 […]

  • Halo played by Twitch is an exercise in great patience

    TwitchPlaysHalo is ridiculous. Halo: Combat Evolved is the latest game to be sucked into the “TwitchPlays” phenomenon, and the results are somewhat painful to spectate. If you’re not familiar with the setup, which debuted with TwitchPlaysPokemon, the game accepts commands from the channels’ chat stream. Although it doesn’t have the strategic RPG elements of Pokemon, […]

  • Gold Amiibo sold out, selling at five times RRP on auction sites

    Gold Mario Amiibo are expected to sell for pretty astounding profits on eBay and other auction sites. The Walmart-exclusive Gold Mario Amiibo is already completely sold out. Plenty of people managed to snaffle them to resell, though. There are now dozens of listings on eBay and other auction sites. One of the average asking prices […]

  • Canadian new game prices jump to $75

    Canadian gamers are in for an unpleasant price hike. As spotted by HardcoreGamer, the local Canadian branches of Amazon and EB Games have raised the prices of upcoming games to CAD$75. The CAD$5 increasing comes within a year of prices hitting the CAD$70 point. CAD$75 (£38/€53) currently exchanges for $60, the standard US pricing. The […]

  • New Xenoblade Chronicles X footage shows weather, day-night cycle

    The latest Xenoblade Chronicles X footage shows off a gloriously beautiful world. Xenoblade Chronicles X is Monolith Soft’s first solo Wii U game, and the developer is clearly enjoying being able to build a big open world with all the features we’ve come to expect. Missed the whole Xenoblade thing? Chronicles X is a sort […]