The Dark Side of Death
The first Darksiders was often described an action-oriented Legend of Zelda clone. Despite that fact, Vigil Games' homage to the popular Legend of Zelda series still managed to be a fun title with its own unique take on the LoZ formula and the apocalypse. Darksiders starred War, one of the four horseman of the apocalypse, who had to prove his innocence after being framed for starting the apocalypse prematurely.
Interestingly enough, Darksiders II's story runs parallel to the events of the first Darksiders and stars Death, another horseman of the apocalypse, as he tries to prove his brother War's innocence.
Even though Darksiders II takes place in the same time period as the first game, the sequel is a much larger affair. The game takes place across four major quest zones, each with its own hub city. Each hub city contains various vendors and non-player characters (NPCs) who can interact with Death, making the game feel less solitary than the first Darksiders. There will also be NPC quest givers who can send Death off on various side quests. Surrounding each hub city are various Zelda-inspired dungeons for Death to explore. In fact, Darksiders II is so large that the there is more dungeon content surrounding the first major hub area than there was in all of Darksiders.
Darksiders II has also greatly expanded in terms of customization, adding even more RPG elements than before. There are now random armor loot drops that follow the color-coded rarity model set in the Diablo series. Whenever you kill an enemy, there is a chance that a piece of random armor will drop, ranging from weak arm guards to epic, possessed shoulder armor capable of augmenting your attributes. All equipped armor is visible on Death, so you can watch your character grow more epic over the course of the game.
The character customization also extends to Death's abilities. There are multiple skill paths for Death, allowing you to focus Death's growth on either combat or magic abilities. According to the developers, you won't be able to max out the entire skill tree in one playthough. That, combined with the random loot system, should make Death feel unique to each player.
Another important change to Darksiders II is the combat system. Unlike War, Death is unable to block, relying instead on speed and agility to dodge and counter enemy attacks. Another change to the combat is the addition of action-RPG damage numbers, which appear over enemy's heads when they are damaged. Since Death can wield multiple weapons, the damage numbers are useful for knowing which weapons are most effective against different enemy types and for when you land a devastating critical strike.
Darksiders II promises to be a much larger adventure than its predecessor. The core mechanics that made the first Darksiders is still there, but in much larger quantity. The new RPG-focused additions should add a much needed sense of growth and depth over the course of the lengthy adventure. The first Darksiders was a largely overlooked title, so hopefully these additions can attract a new audience to the series. According to a recent THQ earnings call, you can look for Darksiders II in June 2012. The game will also be a Wii U launch title when the system launches later this year.
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