The new “Cursed” trailer for the Dark Souls II game, coming soon for the PS3 and XBox 360, was just released this week. The cinematic production certainly draws the viewer into the story behind this notoriously difficult game, and ought to build the anticipation for its upcoming release. This popular franchise, a collaboration between From Software and Namco Bandai Games, has seen a building anticipation for this second offering since it was announced in December, 2012 at the Spike TV Video Game Awards. This video, capturing the dark and ominous tone of the game, is sure to whip that anticipation into a furor. The incentives to pre-order being offered ought to ensure good numbers for March 11 and the American release of the game.
Included in the “Black Armor” edition offered in the trailer for those pre-ordering Dark Souls II will be a metal case, a cloth game map with a small warrior figure, and a book of concept art along with a soundtrack. Shortly after the game is released for the PS3 and XBox 360, there will be a PC version hitting the market. The real elephant in the room surrounding the release of this game is with the consoles themselves. The release on these platforms, rather than the newer versions, raises the question of trust in the Xbox One and PS4 consoles.
In rushing to enter the Christmas market last years, both platforms showed what has been perceived as a monumental lack of consideration for the functionality needs of its customers. While the developers of Dark Souls II have not indicated specifically that it is the case for this franchise, many developers are showing a reluctance to commit to such short-sighted platforms, expecting significant upgrades to be needed before either has users in the type of numbers they are looking for. It is safer, and potentially more profitable, to stick with the previous versions. Of course, already having developed the first game for those platforms, there is also the consideration that sticking with the same format presents less of an investment to bring the second to market. Either way, it is becoming clear that neither console is progressing very quickly toward a functionality level that will build consumer confidence.
The PS4 looks like it was designed to run together with the PS3, rather than replace it. Multi-media capabilities have been all but abandoned in favor of innovations for the gaming experience such as streaming of game play and increased web functionality. This console cannot replace multiple devices anymore. With backwards compatibility a thing of the past in next-gen consoles, the incentive to purchase the new system just is not there. Popular opinion seems to be shifting toward a “wait and see” posture, preferring to take advantage of great titles for the current incarnation now that the holiday pressure is off. This trend has certainly been giving developers pause over whether it is prudent to hope the number of users will be there on the new consoles by the time games get to market.
The XBox One has the same problem for the opposite reason. The new console is designed to encompass all of the things that the PS3 did in terms of multi-media compatibility. It is built to be the mainstay of the living room. The improvements to the gaming side, however, have been received with mixed reviews. It just isn’t flashy enough for many hard-core gamers. They may find it difficult to convince developers that they are the platform to pin their hopes on as well. For the time being, it looks like a race to see which system will fix its shortcomings sooner.
Eventually, things ought to reach some sort of equilibrium, as Sony and Microsoft find appropriate upgrades. For now, however, many fans of the franchise are glad to see the Dark Souls II trailer released in the PS3 and XBox 360 format, so they don’t have to make a decision whether or not to jump platforms just yet.
By Jim Malone