Dark Souls: Remastered Preview
It’s time to die all over again
The most recent Nintendo Direct Mini on January 11th contained a bunch of cool stuff, but it definitely ended with a bang — an all-too-brief reveal trailer for Bandai Namco’s Dark Souls: Remastered. Following the reveal, Bandai Namco announced that Dark Souls: Remastered will be available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It will be released on May 25th, 2018.
What do you mean by “remaster”?
I have read a few conflicting reports about exactly what the term “remastered” means in the context of Dark Souls. There were a number of reports suggesting that Dark Souls: Remastered will be running on the Dark Souls III engine — apparently this is not the case. It seems that no new assets are being created for this version (at least, no assets from Dark Souls III — it remains to be seen whether or not there will be any changes to models at all). We do know, at least, that the game will see a substantial resolution bump and improvements to frame rate across all platforms.
Here is a quick break down of exactly what that means for each platform:
- Nintendo Switch: (TV mode: 1080p, 30 fps; Handheld mode: 720p 30 fps)
- PlayStation 4:(1080p, 60 fps)
- PlayStation 4 Pro: (Upscaled 4K, 60 fps)
- Xbox One: (1080p, 60 fps)
- Xbox One X: (Upscaled 4K, 60 fps)
- PC: (Native 4K, all textures 2K unconverted, 60 fps)
If these frame rates are locked, that should be a great thing. If you go back and play the original game on PS3, you’ll definitely notice frame drops here and there (especially in Blighttown); so even a completely stable 30fps on Nintendo Switch is a step up from the original release.
Of course, the PC version is king in terms of graphics performance — but it’s worth noting that there are numerous mods to improve the graphics of the original game available right now. It’ll be interesting to see how Dark Souls: Remastered does or doesn’t improve on this.
An improved online experience
Setting graphics aside, there’s one major area of the original Dark Souls that always frustrated me: the online experience. The original game used a peer-to-peer system for matchmaking, which was unreliable at the best of times; if you try to play the game today, you’ll have an even worse experience, especially on console. I tried playing the game cooperatively with my sister (we’d played Scholar of the First Sin and Dark Souls III together this way) and it was, frankly, a nightmare to connect in PvE on Dark Souls for PS3.
Well, Bandai Namco look to be addressing this problem in a pretty serious way for Dark Souls: Remastered.
First of all, the game will utilise dedicated servers for online matchmaking, which should significantly improve the experience (and hopefully make PvE cooperative play a lot faster/smoother). In addition, the password system that was present in Bloodborne and Dark Souls III will make a return here — this should make it much easier to connect with specific people much more easily. And finally, up to six players will be able to join a single game instance (in both PvE and PvP), up from the original four. It’ll be interesting to see how this impact’s the game’s balance — it should certainly make for crazier invasions and more exciting cooperative experiences.
Box set madness
Alongside the announcement of Dark Souls: Remastered, Bandai Namco also revealed Dark Souls Trilogy, which will be released in Japan for PlayStation 4 on May 24th. So far, Bandai Namco haven’t announced the box set for any other regions, but hopefully it’ll see the light of day outside Japan.
The trilogy box set includes Dark Souls: Remastered, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, and Dark Souls III. It also includes the DLC for all three games. As well as the games themselves, buyers will receive the soundtrack for each title, various printed artwork, an encyclopedia which includes every single item (and its description) from each game, and a set of beautiful bookends.
This collector’s edition box set will retail for ¥49,800 which equates to roughly $450USD. Ouch.
More secrets to come?
At this stage, not much else is known about Dark Souls: Remastered. This includes questions about whether or not the original game will see any other changes — for example, bug fixes or (perhaps less likely) the full implementation of certain aspects of the game that were drastically cut back in the original release (Lost Izalith, for example, was essentially rushed and suffered for it — will there be any improvements to the area? Time will tell).
Nevertheless, the chance to play Dark Souls again — in higher resolution, with a stable frame rate, and with better online features — is going to be worth the price of entry for many. And if tend to stick to Nintendo platforms, this will be the first time you experience the Souls franchise; just be prepared to die, and to die often.