“This is not Dark Souls, this is not Bloodborne,” says lead game designer Masaru Yamamura.
Bloodborne is often credited with taking the slower and methodical combat of Dark Souls and making it a bit quicker, by awarding players more for taking higher risks and being more attack-minded. With Sekiro, though, FromSoftware are going far beyond what either of those did, with combat that looks much faster, much more immediate, and much more frantic. Recently, while speaking in an interview with Game Informer, lead game designer Masaru Yamamura went into great detail about just how combat in the game will differ from what FromSoftware fans might be used to.
Yamamura first talked about how both Souls and Bloodborne had combat mechanics that revolved around the player to get up close to an enemy for hit and then backing off, either by blocking in the case of Dark Souls, or evading in the case of Bloodborne, before then going to mention that combat in Sekiro will be more about one on one, katana vs katana combat, where mastering the parry will be key. According to Yamamura, not only will players have to learn how to perfect the technique and timing of their parry, they will also have to keep things such as posture in mind, while picking the time to attack an enemy even while they’re in the middle of attacking, themselves, will be very important. On top of that, other elements, such as the prosthetic tools in your arm and the game’s larger focus on stealth, will also factor into the combat quite a bit as well.
Yamamura then went on to talk about the process of doing something so different from what the studio has done before. “It is tough to make these big changes,” he said via a translator, when asked about how it feels to do something that is, by all means, quite new to From experiences. “But we don’t want to keep doing the same things as a studio and as individuals. And so when Miyazaki came to us and said he wanted to make this brand new game, and he tasked me with a brand new battle system, I was quite excited. And you can see he has that same excitement, and it spreads through the team.”
“The first big change is that we’re departing from what we’re known for, the Souls series,” Yamamura continued. “And in that, it’s like, ‘we’ve gotta make something new, we’ve gotta change stuff.’ And so, at first, when we were initially creating the game, it was difficult to branch away from that. It ended up being quite similar, but through that process, going back to the drawing board, and rethinking the systems, we’ve been able to create the deflect system and the katana combat system that you’re able to see today.”
Talking about the the biggest challenges faced by himself and his team, as far as developing the new combat system is concerned, Yamamura said, “It’s something that I’m still struggling with and something the team still finds hard to this day, but in making this new combat system with the deflect system, we’ve really had to rethink these fine-tunings and adjustments to each battle. So the deflect is not really like a parry from fighting games, or previous Dark Souls games, where you have a large window of leniency. It’s very precise, and in order to teach players this, we need the enemy animations and the attack animations to be very precise. We need them to see what’s coming, and to learn these movements, and to react accordingly. So when it comes down to tweaking these attacks, we can’t just do it on a parameter level. We have to actually tweak frame by frame the animations, and remove frames, add frames here and there to make sure that it’s pitch-perfect, and that the user’s going to be able to react to that intuitively.”
“It’s always a challenge to create these systems that adapt to each game that we produce,” he continued, “but especially for Sekiro. When the time came to make these big changes, and to distance ourselves a little bit from the Souls series, this was itself the biggest challenge, I feel.”
The takeaway from all that, of course, is that this isn’t an experience that Souls and Bloodborne fans are going to be overly familiar with, and is instead its own new thing. “This is not Dark Souls, this is not Bloodborne,” Yamamura said. “I feel like this is something brand new that we’ve created here. And we hope that when users get their hands on it, that that’s what they are going to feel, and that’s what they’re going to enjoy.”
Recently, FromSoftware has gone into detail about other aspects of Sekiro as well, and how they, too, will differ from the Soulsborne titles, talking about everything from its new progression system, to its much more dynamic boss battles, to the game’s larger emphasis on open-ended exploration. Read about it all through the links.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice launches on March 22 for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.