Leaning on the shoulders of its predecessors, Dracula’s journey continues in what is shaping up to be an epic tale of dark and darker and tragedy and triumph, surrounded by blood and lust.
Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 has a sturdy foundation of story and gameplay to build upon. Konami’s famed franchise has a rich history that has, for the most part, delivered much substance to the vampire lore and the Belmont family. We sit down with producer, David Cox, to discuss some of the elements that make up the Dark Lord’s latest tale and what we can expect from the narrative this round.
Raymond Solis: What can you tell us about your goal with Lords of Shadow 2?
David Cox: What we want to do with the series in such, is tell Dracula’s story. To give his perspective and give a reason why him and the Belmonts have this, you know, vendetta. This blood feud.
RS: Now that’s something that’s exciting about this game, even dating back to the old Castlevania games. The mythology behind the Dracula lore. How deep do you plan on exploring this?
DC: Very much, it’s always been our goal use references and homages to the previous games and do something new. But the mythology of Castlevania is very much a, dare I say it, very much European fairy tale, European mythology; of course there’s Greek, there’s Japanese mythology too, but we’ve really tried to make it a much more European focus game, in terms of mythology; and the vampirism and the things that we instinctively know as Europeans, about vampires and things like that.
RS: Sounds exciting.
DC: I think that’s one of the most exciting things about this [game] is bringing those creatures and that mythology to life and accompanying with it the history of Castlevania and the Belmonts; characters we know and creating a Dracula that I think is quite unique, quite different to Draculas we’ve seen in movies or read in books. He’s a quite tragic character in many ways. Is he really evil or he is just misguided? So we play alot with that, with dreams as well. There’s like dream-like moments in the game where you have to ask yourself is this real or this something he’s thinking about?
RS: Can you interact with the dreams?
RS: So what can you tell about the narrative in Lords of Shadow 2?
DC: So Lords of Shadow 2 really is continuing with the story arc laid out in the first game. And giving a conclusion to the epilogue that we originally showed in the end of the first game where Zobek made an offer to Dracula to end his immortal life and in this game he’s going to take that offer. It’s really about Dracula regaining his powers in order for him to defeat Satan, who’s coming back to end the world, essentially the apocalypse.
RS: And how does Mirror of Fate tie into Lords of Shadow 2?
DC: We did Mirror of Fate more as a side story to fill in the relationship between the Belmonts and Dracula. So it wasn’t so focused on Dracula, but I think story elements are certainly in Lords of Shadow 2. You don’t necessarily have to play Mirror of Fate to know it, because we have a full recap, you know, everything is explained. But for us we want to tell the story and then be done, pass the torch on to someone else.
RS: What are your plans to expand the gameplay?
DC: What we want to do with gameplay is give players an evolution of the original game, much more satisfying combat. We’ve basically refined the combat system to improve it. Give players a little bit more diversity in their choices. So in the original game you had light and shadow magic, but in this game we’ve given [players] specific weapons that play a similar role. So the Void Sword for example is what they used to recoup their health and the Chaos Claws are a more powerful close quarters combat type of weapon that can break enemy shields and defenses. And lot of enemies have shields, armor and defenses; that plays a big role in terms of combat strategy.
RS: Can you elaborate on the differences in these weapons a bit more?
DC: The differences between this game and Lords of Shadow 1 are the weapon themselves have their own abilities and their own combos, which we didn’t have in the previous game. You had the same combos for the combat cross and then you augmented it with the other weapons, but these weapons have their own abilities. And we have a system called the Mastery System, which when you use specific combos for a specific weapon you fill up a gauge and then that mastery can then be funneled into the weapon to upgrade the weapon to make it stronger, more powerful.
RS: So the weapons each have their own skill tree?
DC: Yes, essentially. So we wanted to give players you know, that ability to make themselves much more powerful in a way that they felt they wanted to. You know, cause some players play quite defensively and so the Void Sword will be their weapon of choice. But other players will want to use the Chaos Claws and smash enemies. So the Chaos Claws, once you reach the end of the mastery tree, the Chaos Claws are extremely powerful, same goes for the Void Sword. Much more so than if you followed one set path with the Shadow Whip, for example; and just did a bit of Void Sword, a bit of Chaos Claws. If you focus on one specific weapon it becomes quite powerful.
RS: And how extensive is the weapon catalog? At E3 we saw the whip, sword, claws and we know about the Combat Cross, are there any other weapons aside from those 4?
DC: There are secondary weapons and there are relics as well, which you find in the game. We’re not really talking about those right now, but certainly more than what we had in Castlevania Lord of Shadow 1. So we give players a lot more options and abilities in terms of items you can find in the game, because this game is going to be more of an open world. Exploration is much more emphasized, if you like. And we need to give players things to find and things to do.
RS: What can you tell us about titan combat? That was really exciting to experience at E3. What changes have you made to this aspect of the game?
DC: Well, we wanted to make the titans a bit more interesting. Because in the last game, titans played a limited role, you know, you climb up them in a set path, break the runes and that would bring down the titan. This time, we wanted to have combat, platforming and titans all in one. I think one of the drawbacks in Lords of Shadow was that combat and platforming were kept separate. So you’d have combat, and then you’d move on and do a climbing section, then you’d fight the titan, which is a climbing section, then you have another boss fight. What we’re trying to do is unify it. There’s even elements of exploration. You probably don’t know, but on the demo, if you highlight the path with left trigger, you can see different paths and you go around the titan there are actually secrets on that titan.
RS: What other characters will you be able to play? What about the Belmonts?
DC: It’s really focused on Dracula as a main character so there’s no like, co-op. There are parts of the game where you play with other characters. There is a Belmont. Again, that’s not something we want to show right now, there is a Belmont who is intent on Dracula’s destruction. There is Alucard, who’ve we’ve seen in the trailer, and some characters from the previous game that are making a return, as well as new enemies.
Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 launches this Winter on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Pricing has yet to be detailed.