The Soulslike genre has become a veritable force in and of itself, boasting of some of the best and most intense FromSoftware-inspired experiences that our industry has to offer. Soon, Bandai Namco’s own take on this style of games will be making its debut with Code Vein, a game that we’ve been waiting for for two and a half years, but will finally be getting our hands on. And though Code Vein will feature mechanics that Souls fans will be familiar with, it’s also putting its own unique twist on them. With the game not far from launch, in this feature we’ll be taking a look at fifteen things that you need to know about it. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Code Vein takes place in a near-future setting of a world that’s been wracked by a mysterious catastrophic event. As the game begins, we find the world in a deadly post-apocalypse, plagued with ghoulish creatures known as the Lost, who will stop at nothing to satisfy their hunger and bloodlust. The last survivors of this apocalypse are Revenants, immortal creatures (read: vampires) who were once human but were revived after their deaths, and who now stand as the last bastion against the forces of destruction.
Souls-like games don’t usually put too much stock in direct storytelling, even though they usually offer rich worlds with deep lore for players to dive into. From what Bandai Namco have said of the game so far, it seems like Code Vein is going to be a bit different. It’s being billed as a “story-driven” adventure, but one that’s more about “lore discover” than direct storytelling.
There will be plenty of similarities between Code Vein and FromSoftware’s Souls titles, but there’s one particular are where the former is looking to make its own mark- and that’s the art style. Instead of going with photorealism, Code Vein features a more anime-style look, which – from the looks of it – is really going to help it stand out from the crowd.
BLOOD CODE AND GIFTS
Moving on to the gameplay elements of Code Vein- the Blood Codes and Gifts are going to form the backbone of your experience. The Gifts are all tied to your character’s Blood Code, which, in turn, is basically your character class. Mastering the Gifts associated with any Blood Codes allows you to change the latter, which means that Code Vein will allow you to change classes and the abilities associated with them on the fly. In theory, this should allow for deeper progression and more build diversity.
Though there’s no rulebook that says so, it’s become sort of understood that Souls-like games tend to go hand-in-hand with a specific sort of level design- wide linear levels that, more often than not, ed up being interconnected mazes. Code Vein will adhere to that level design philosophy as well, with interconnected sections of levels that will loop in and around each other.
Here’s another way Code Vein will be different from your typical Souls-like experience- you’ll always be accompanied by an AI-controlled NPC. From giving you buffs to dealing damage to enemies to drawing aggro to even sharing HP, they’ll always be involved in combat and aid you in various ways. It remains to be seen how this will shift the balance of the game’s difficulty, but managing a secondary character in addition to your own should certainly add another layer of strategy.
Blood Veils are your armour in Code Vein, but in an interesting twist, they also function as important weapons, in that they’re also linked to draining enemies and collecting blood. There are currently four different Blood Veils in the game- Ogre-type (which has a quick charge time and can hit multiple enemies with a forward dash), Stinger-type (which strikes forward and has a quick charge time), Hound-type (which can bite enemies), and Hound-type (which can hit an enemy multiple times).
The Focus mechanic is an interesting risk-reward system that will come in particularly handy during combat, especially when you’re taking a beating. Finesse actions (such as dodging incoming attacks at the last moments) fill up your Focus Gauge, while Focus attacks themselves have increased attack power, and ca even leave your enemies open to deadly Blood Veil attack. Do be careful though- your enemies also have Focus gauges of their own, so they won’t always behave in the most predictable ways.
NO DIFFICULTY OPTION
“Difficulty” is synonymous with Souls-like at this point, but how is Code Vein going to handle this particular aspect of the experience? Well, it’s not going to be easy, that much is certain. Code Vein doesn’t have multiple difficulty options, so there’s no way for you to knock it down to easy if you’re ever having a tough time. As mentioned earlier though, the addition of NPC companions should have some sort of an impact on the game’s difficulty- it remains to be seen just how much of an impact, though.
Well of course there’s a Stamina system- wouldn’t be much of a Souls-like game without a Stamina Gauge, would it? It’ll function pretty much how you would expect it to function- your movement, light attacks, and heavy attacks will all be governed by your Stamina, and it’s something you’ll have to manage in combat (especially boss fights).
Code Vein will have five different weapon types for you to try out during combat. There’s one-handed swords, which ave short range but fast attacks; two-handed swords, which have a longer reach and deal powerful attacks, but are a little slower; two-handed hammers, which are blunt weapons with decent range but slow attacks; spears, halberds, and polearms, which have log reach and can do AoE attacks; and bayonet rifles, which can do both melee and long-range attacks.
You will always be accompanied by NPC companions on Code Vein, as we’ve already discussed, but you can take things a step further if you want, by joining up with one more player for co-op. Communication with other players will be restricted to gestures, stamps, and voice commands- though there’s no option for local co-op play.
Code Vein will have a character creation system, and the level of customization on offer is looking quite impressive already. You will, of course, be allowed to choose your character’s gender, but there’s a lot else beyond that (unless you just pick one of the presets). Everything from your hair, physique, and skin to your makeup, clothing, and facial features can be tweaked as you see fit.
Code Vein is going to offer a ton of content for players to sink their teeth into. The developers have stated that the game will offer at least 40 hours of gameplay, and that’s if you’re an especially skilled player and are able to get through its challenges without too many issues. Developers often do give bloated figures for a game’s length prior to launch, so it remains to be seen how accurate this figure in particular ends up being. At the very least though, we can expect a game that offers plenty of content.
What sort of a rig are you going to need if you’re planning to play Code Vein on PC? The system requirements aren’t too demanding. On recommended settings, you’ll need either a GeForce GTX 960 or Radeon R9 380X, along with either an Intel Core i5-7400 or an AMD Ryzen 3 2200G. On minimum settings, you can get by with either a GeForce GTX 760 or Radeon HD 7850, in addition to an Intel Core i5-2300.