WARNING: you will die, a lot....
The Dark Souls series is known for being a notoriously difficult franchise with beautiful gameplay and extensive lore.
Playing through the first level, I looked objectively at pure gameplay elements on what makes this game successful.
Lets talk core mechanics!
heres a list of core mechanics that I found prevalant throughout all of the Dark Souls franchise. I created this list of major mechanics, however im going to cover the Main mechanic of the game, Rolling, all the others I'm going to briefly cover.
- Inventory System
- creating a build and leveling
- weapon scaling
The most important mechanic in Dark Souls 3 is rolling. without it, you wouldn't be able to complete the game. This is a skill based mechanic that is supposed to be used as frame timing, there are 3 types of rolls:
Fast-rolling Mid-rolling and Fat-rolling
The faster the roll, the more frames of inveunrability you have towards an enemy attack. Enemy attacks are also also randomized and rolling in the proper direction is crucial to avoiding attacks.
Vitality is the leveling system which delegates how much you can carry in your equip load. The equip load determines how fast you can role based on your weight. Not only is rolling a core mechanic, but all the mechanics I will cover are linked into one sound system of gameplay.
**NOTE** Not only is this a skill based mechanic, but its also used agains a luck based mechanic (randomized enemy attacks)
The inventory system is carried through the whole franchise and never changed in any major aspects since DSI.
The inventory system has branches of statistics including your Items your carrying, Buffs, and character statistics. It also covers the equip load as mentioned previously. Its a well organized menu in the game which allows the player to easily manage and organize everything quickly, even in combat.
Creating a build/ leveling and weapon scaling
So given Dark Souls layout, I am able to put both of these things in the same category. Creating a build of a character is the defining factor of a players play style. Each type of build has different base stats and weapons.
Weapon scaling is ranked using the letters E, D, C, B, A, S
The more the player levels their character by spending their SOULS (points you gain based on how many enemies you kill) in scaling categories like Dexterity, and Strength, the more the weapon stacks in damage. This can be used strategically through micro management.
Gating mechanisms in the first level
- difficult enemies
- blocked/locked doors
- world boundaries/cliffs
- level warp
depending on where you are in the game, enemies can be much stronger than you. This is a type of gateing because it tells the player that they are not yet strong enough to pass the boss or levels to come. Furthermore, It helps direct the player to a better location for them to work.
A good example of this would be the Dancer. She is a boss you can choose to fight during the beginning of the game, however, the is a mid game boss. If you choose to fight the Dancer for 6 hours, there are many more enemys like her that would take just as long.
Blocked and locked doors
There are plenty of blocked and locked doors used for gating in the first level. On of them being a locked door for the tower. It is a special ending key location that you can unlock by buying the key from the shop keeper in the Firelink Shrine for 20,000 souls.
Level warping is quite self-explanatory. Further more, you are restricted to a level until you complete all the requirements. Sometimes you can get to another level or the world without beating a boss, however, you can't get to the final boss until you defeat every boss in the game. (Which is prevents teh player using a locked door}
below are some examples of gating.
Positive and negative feedback for the player
In Dark Souls 3, the most important way to communicate feedback is through audio and sound effect design.
Below are examples of positive feedback using mainly audio cues.
- Titanite Lizards
- Estus flask
- defeating a boss
Titanite Lizards: are little blue reptiles that are scattered and hidden through out the game. They are important because they give you a special material that allows you to upgrade your weapon called twinkling titanite. Because they are hidden, there is a twinkling audio sound to lure the player for this item.
Estus Flasks: the only way to effectively heal in the game, the audio for this items gives a refreshing, revitalizing, and satisfying sound.
Defeating a boss: Its a gratifying and rewarding sound, by defeating a boss, it rewards you with a special boss soul, including a lot of regular souls and a quick "boss defeated" graphic.
video time marker:
- losing souls
- fall damage
- cursing half's health
Losing souls: On death you lose all your souls you've collected through killing enemies, selling items ect. From the respawn point, you have to retrace your steps and recover the souls from where you died. If you die on the way to get them back, you permanently lose them.
Fall damage: some games have it, some games don't. Dark Souls has it to prevents you from cutting corners. It is a risk reward mechanic, however a lot of the time, you end up dyeing because of how much damage you take in the first place.
Cursing: a special status effect from given from enemies. It permanently half's your health and prevents you from going back into ember form.
How much is given to the player?
Controls: controls are viewable on the main menu screen, and are explained the beginning of the game.
Game scope: Linear action RPG
Dark souls 3 is a linear game, although you are able to back track to different world areas, there's really nothing to do there except farm souls. and each area is a pretty straight path in terms of the size of the world. Dark Souls is successful at this because the level design is crafted in a way that makes you think its open world because of the size, and pacing of each level.
Most of the work including the story is up to the player. The player has the choice of either playing the game not knowing a single bit of lore or delving into the many hidden and difficult side-quests.
The story is integrated by item and weapon descriptions, talking to characters, and world building. There is A LOT of lore, I'm not really going to cover it just because it's not really relevant to the games pure mechanics. The devs really take advantage of putting detail in every aspect of the game, if you really look at anything from a peice of armor, to a prop, there is a story behind it.
First level map with ledgend
made in ilistrator.