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Darksiders II Interview

Interview

We interviewed Principal Designer Hadyn Dalton of Vigil.

What’s the reasoning behind doing more Darksiders?

We felt that the first Darksiders was unfinished – both in terms of story and features that we wanted but couldn’t fit in due to time constraints. So Darksiders II fills in a lot of those gaps and allows us to flesh out the universe, as well as create a much bigger and richer game.

What’s it like developing a game around a new character within a familiar universe? Is this a freeing process, both in terms of narrative structure and mechanics?

It has been freeing, but that’s actually due to the unfamiliar. Death being much more agile than War, and therefore able to reach more vertical space through his traversal, has allowed us to create environments that are both more open and intricate. On top of that, since we’re not bound to Earth anymore, the art team has been able to cut loose and craft these epic fantasy vistas for Death to explore. Overall, everyone on our team has been able to cut loose much more than they were able to on the first Darksiders.

What are the challenges in balancing a game’s influences and original design?

The hardest work was in making the first Darksiders. That’s when we were still sorting out exactly what we wanted the game to be, and spent a long time changing and tweaking things. Going into the sequel our vision of what we were going to create was much clearer, and we’ve been able to spend much more time creating than balancing.

There seems to be more of an RPG or loot-based slant to Darksiders II. What went into taking up that direction?

Most of those features were things we wanted to include in the first game, but couldn’t. We were able to hit the ground running with Darksiders II, so we could get in all the facets that were previously left on the cutting room floor.

How does Darksiders II connect to the first game’s narrative? Can we expect to see intersecting stories and maybe more of the other horsemen?

The storyline of Darksiders II happens at roughly the same time as the first game. While War is on Earth fighting the forces of Heaven and Hell after wrongly being accused of starting the Apocalypse, Death is working behind the scenes with shady characters of the Underworld to clear his brother’s name. I can’t say anything more than that, though, or I’ll ruin some of the surprises we have in store.

What can we expect to see in terms of horse/riding based segments from Darksiders II?

Death gets his horse, Despair, almost at the beginning of the game. Part of that was due to there being a large overworld in Darksiders II, and we wanted to make that easier to traverse for players. Another reason is that we wanted to make horse riding a solid part of the game, and you’ll see that reflected in the gameplay.

Darksiders II is set to be one of the few early third-party launch games for the Wii U. Can you tell us about the experience developing for the emerging hardware and if there’s anything unique to that version?

It’s fun developing for a new system – especially one with such a unique controller set up as Wii U – because the rules haven’t been written yet. There are no standard features for games or expectations from the audience, so a lot of what you do comes down to raw creativity. We’re constantly experimenting with the user interface on the Wii U version of Darksiders II, and that’s all I can say for now.

Is listening to fan/forum feedback a dangerous step?

As long as you’re able to filter it all into something useful, it’s not dangerous. Some of the major changes in Darksiders II came out of fan feedback. Almost everyone thought it wasn’t right that it took so long to get their horse in the first game, and they were absolutely right. We also saw a lot of people saying that the first game took a long time to get into its groove, and we agreed with that as well. Darksiders II gets players into the core elements of adventuring much faster.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about Darksiders II?

Just a huge thank you to all the Darksiders fans out there. Without your support, we wouldn’t be here creating the bigger and better sequel.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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