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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (new From Software game)

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Don't play it it's gonna be too hard for you.

It will certainly be too hard for me to play if it's one long, thinly-disguised linear path with treasure nooks off to the side and fast travel nodes every twenty feet like DS3 was.

Wow even my ace in the hole foolproof plan to get you to play it yielded no result. Well that's it I'm all out of tricks.
 

Blaine

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Silva I'm aware of the grappling hook and the many differences between the two franchises.

So far, I'm very unconvinced. DS3 greatly damaged my confidence in modern FromSoft's ability to design levels, previously one of the studio's greatest strengths; and there are countless of examples of games with verticality that are absolute shit in the level design department.

DS3 was basically a rail with content dropped on it, so I feel fairly justified in being skeptical here.
 
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If all you care about is level design Sekiro ain't for you. It's not terrible in that regard but it ain't DS or DS II. Exploration is done much faster thanks to highly increased mobility and really what you're gonna be doing most is getting raped by bosses over and over until you git gud. And yes, there are plenty of bonfires. So you play it for combat or you don't play at all. The problem with DS III for me was that combat was also pretty shit. I enjoyed it a lot in Sekiro. But it's not to everyone's taste.
 
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Cosmo

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Exploration is done much faster thanks to highly increased mobility and really what you're gonna be doing most is getting raped by bosses over and over until you git gud. So you play it for combat or you don't play at all.

Exploration is tactics. You don't explore a space, you explore the practical possibilities it's liable to give you.
You only discover space by absorbing into the way you play the game.
 

Silva

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Exploration is tactics. You don't explore a space, you explore the practical possibilities it's liable to give you..
This. Sekiro is so different in its premise to Souls that trying to compare it DS 2 or 3 or whatever is useless.
 

Blaine

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Exploration is tactics. You don't explore a space, you explore the practical possibilities it's liable to give you..
This. Sekiro is so different in its premise to Souls that trying to compare it DS 2 or 3 or whatever is useless.

I understand what you're trying to convey, but all games with any significant quantity of variegated virtual space/"real estate" (as opposed to merely a flat playing field for a board game, a mostly static UI for a puzzle game, etc.) perforce require someone to design the layout of that space. That's level design, and the basic principles of good level design are universal.

The only real exception to this is when the environment is meant to be realistic terrain of a realistic scale, such as in a flight or trucking simulator.

I enjoy difficult boss fights, but primarily when they're couched in a surrounding framework of meaningful exploration and environmental challenge: Hollow Knight, Super Metroid (a bit on the easy side), Gothic II, DS, DS2, etc.

Anyway, Multidirectional has finally given me what I need. Bonfires everywhere, level design phoned in to what's basically a funnel to the next boss in the boss rush--exactly what I would have expected from From after DS3.
 
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Yeah, well.. it's way better than DS3 and it felt like a needed breath of fresh air after 3 DS games. You're just scared because you know you wouldn't be able to beat the bosses anyway.
 
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Cosmo

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the basic principles of good level design are universal.

No. What you can do (the gameplay) in a given level will shape said level, so with every type of gameplay or videogame subgenre comes a different kind of level design. Therefore a different type of "exploration".
Your expecting of every game to be shaped more or less like a metroidvania is an indictment on your expectations and nothing else.
 
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Silva

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This clip shows how useless it is comparing Sekiro to Souls. Notice the freedom to traverse the map and approach situations differently, the myriad tactical possibilities. It's a different beast from Souls and trying to judge it by the same parameters is moot.

 

Black Angel

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I understand what you're trying to convey, but all games with any significant quantity of variegated virtual space/"real estate" (as opposed to merely a flat playing field for a board game, a mostly static UI for a puzzle game, etc.) perforce require someone to design the layout of that space. That's level design, and the basic principles of good level design are universal.
I get where you're coming from. But as Silva said, trying to judge this game on the basis of Souls games is a fool's errand, and as Cosmo puts it, different type of gameplay warrants different type of level design (and really, almost everything else).

If we're talking about those special something that Fromsoft has, in terms of their signature design philosophies, I'm happy to tell you (based on my experience of playing their game that were released since 2011) they still pretty much got it. However, the fact that the game is singleplayer has given them room to be a bit more lenient with their usual approach to game design; as in, there are some streamlining, but nowhere close to the extent of dumbing down.

But if we're talking strictly about the level design, ignoring the checkpoints placement, they're actually fine. In fact, I'd say they're meticulously designed with all the new stealth mechanics in mind. And by stealth mechanics, I don't just mean pressing a button to crouch; hugging a wall or a cliff, hanging off the ledges of a cliff or rooftop edges, shimmying through them all; even the new jumping mechanic, which includes even some form of double jump, I included them all here. Heck, if you pay close attention to how enemies behave, as long as their back turned to you, even if you're sprinting towards them they won't be alerted until you bump into them. This implies that Sekiro is in a perpetual state of sneaking, thus if we translate this to an actual RPG mechanics, say Fallout, Sekiro possess the Silent Running perk.

Now, if we do include the checkpoints placement, it's only really an issue in the first third of the game, which is unfortunately linear. But once you get past that, the game actually opens up, and the levels has overall better designs, either individually, or in conjunction with one another. Past the first third of the game, checkpoints acts as a staging point for attempting the levels ahead, so instances like a bonfire existing right next to a shortcut to the previous bonfire doesn't occur. There is an instance of an outright retarded checkpoint placement, one that spawned right after a mandatory boss. It's immediately rendered useless, because literally next to it is the actual checkpoint of that level, which could be said also useless because nearby is a shortcut to the 'first' checkpoint of the entire game. This has occurred before; in Bloodborne, a lamp spawned after a mandatory boss, despite the fact that 5 steps ahead a lamp has already been placed. These two instances are so fucking stupid, that my memory became messed up to the point that I thought they have an 'obsession' with spawning a checkpoint literally after every mandatory bosses, but after thinking it through I know that that's not true. And yet, another design aspect of the game that's not exactly related to level design, but still relevant nonetheless, I would elaborate further below.
^ Sekiro sucks as a stealth game though.
not a stealth game. it's in service of the action. definitely came in handy to mitigate some of the spongy enemies
I agree with both of you, albeit partially about the game being sucks as a stealth game. The reasons why it sucks as a stealth game is largely because of two things:
  1. The fact that there's no dire, or even real, consequence for being detected by an enemy. This is also extended to the fact that even though enemies discovering the corpses of their allies would alert them to your presence, they won't stay in that state constantly, nor would they actively search for intruders or suspicious movements nearby. Even if you get detected, so what? There's an enemy that would make a fuzz and puts everyone around them on a constant state of alertness but there's, like, literally only 3 of them in the entire game? And there's no enemy that are designed to trap and stop you in your tracks, nor there's any that could catch up to you due to an increase in extra dimensional axis for movement with jumping and grappling hooks, and this relates immediately with the second point
  2. The fact that you could just run past enemies. This is a "feature" in the Soulsborne games; I remembered some actually complained about this being in those games, but it's obviously a cardinal sin for a stealth game, or a game with an elaborate and involved stealth mechanics, to have.
I wouldn't claim to be someone who knows how a ninja/shinobi really works and operates, but I'd assume they are meant to swiftly traverse through obstacles and take down anyone standing in their way to their real objectives silently and quickly, instead of hanging around and maybe even drag corpses to hide them like they do in a Hitman game, so perhaps that first point about not being in constant state of alertness upon discovering a corpse is understandable. But the second point needs to be addressed if they ever planned to make this kind of game again.
 

cvv

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Anyway, Multidirectional has finally given me what I need. Bonfires everywhere, level design phoned in to what's basically a funnel to the next boss in the boss rush--exactly what I would have expected from From after DS3.

Yes, level design is way closer to DS3 than previous FS games - i.e. way less devious, imaginative, sophisticated, enjoyable.

But it's also way less of a problem in Sekiro than in DS3 due to dramatically increased mobility and verticality. Hard to explain, you'd have to play it to understand. It just subliminally shifts the focus from exploration to combat and you don't really mind since the combat is excellent. And there are still enough side paths and surprising branches to explore.

The real problem of Sekiro isn't really exploration or level design, it's the fact they couldn't decide whether to make a streamlined action game like Tenchu or a full-blown RPG. They got stuck somewhere in the middle which affects stuff like the skills and tools - most of them feel superfluous and so does itemization, since a big chunk of the items you find are upgrade mats for tools you rarely need or use. Also the NPC quests are underwhelming and quest rewards offensive. Also some bosses are very, very hard and there's no help from sunbros or NPCs. If you're just an average or somewhat above average Souls player they'll frustrate you to the point that finally beating them after 6+ hours doesn't bring orgasmic relief and sense of achievement but merely weariness and bitter taste in your mouth.

Apart from that the game is definitely worth playing, MUCH more so than DS3.
 

Lambach

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I started doing those Gauntlet challenges that were added to the game as part of the free update.

Holy fucking shit, Inner Genichiro is insane. Spent 4 solid hours trying to beat him yesterday, the closest I got was halfway through his health bar during the Way of Tomoe phase. Motherfucker can reverse your own lightning reversal. He's also far more aggressive compared to his usual self, his moveset has been improved so that he can hunt you down across the entire arena leaving you almost no room to heal, even perfect Deflects still wipe out your Posture bar very quickly etc.

Neither Ishin nor Father Owl nor Demon of Hatred have anything on him, just a couple of AI tweaks and a slightly modified moveset were enough to turn this guy into by far the most difficult boss fight in the game so far. God help me if I ever unlock Inner Father Owl or Inner Ishin.
 

Lambach

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My relationship with this fucking game can only be described as masochistic. I fought Inner Genichiro enough times to commit every single move of his to muscle memory and I managed to beat the cocksucker. I hated every minute of the entire experience and never wanted to do anything similar ever again.

But here I am now, doing Gauntlet of Strength: Severance and getting my ass annihilated by Inner Isshin who makes Inner Genichiro look like a little bitch in comparison. I hate this fucking game so much, why do I keep playing it?
 
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The real problem of Sekiro isn't really exploration or level design, it's the fact they couldn't decide whether to make a streamlined action game like Tenchu or a full-blown RPG. They got stuck somewhere in the middle which affects stuff like the skills and tools - most of them feel superfluous and so does itemization, since a big chunk of the items you find are upgrade mats for tools you rarely need or use. Also the NPC quests are underwhelming and quest rewards offensive. Also some bosses are very, very hard and there's no help from sunbros or NPCs. If you're just an average or somewhat above average Souls player they'll frustrate you to the point that finally beating them after 6+ hours doesn't bring orgasmic relief and sense of achievement but merely weariness and bitter taste in your mouth.

Your points about superfluous itemization ("tools you rarely need or use") and the perceived extreme difficulty of some bosses are related. Some tools make some of the hardest bosses in the game much easier. The game just doesn't spell it out for you (and perhaps they should have done a better job of incentivizing players to use them), but the tools are there and they reward experimentation. I agree that most people will just try to bruteforce their way with the sword only, but it's very rewarding to explore the prosthetics and they're much more powerful than the average player thinks.
 

cvv

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I agree that most people will just try to bruteforce their way with the sword only, but it's very rewarding to explore the prosthetics and they're much more powerful than the average player thinks.

Ok yes and no. In the hands of good players tools do make some fights easier but good players doesn't really need them in the first place. Plus they're effectively consumables since you need emblems to use them and those are limited. If you're just an average schmuck like me you'll blow through your stash p. fast and then you have to grind a lot. Happened to me my 1st run on the bull, I was throwing crackers at the fucker and just when I was getting the hang of it I ran out. And farming options before the bull are very limited, with meagre yields.

So yeah, tools work but they also need solid skillz to use and if you don't have those you're fucked anyway.
 

Black Angel

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My relationship with this fucking game can only be described as masochistic. I fought Inner Genichiro enough times to commit every single move of his to muscle memory and I managed to beat the cocksucker. I hated every minute of the entire experience and never wanted to do anything similar ever again.

But here I am now, doing Gauntlet of Strength: Severance and getting my ass annihilated by Inner Isshin who makes Inner Genichiro look like a little bitch in comparison. I hate this fucking game so much, why do I keep playing it?
Oh yeah, you just love getting no-lube buttsegs, don't you, eh? You filthy slut
:fallout3:
 

Talby

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I decided to give Sekiro another chance after beating Elden Ring. Genichiro and Guardian Ape are down and I fought some monkey guys. Continuing to press forward.
The fake-out victory with the headless ape coming back to life was great, a real "oh shit!" moment. The clue was no achievement pop-up. I will not be caught off guard again by any ape.
 

Ivan

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If youve made it this far, I'm sure the game has its hooks in you already. Hope you enjoy the finale! Remember to not add extra difficulty if you don't crave it (bell/charmless)

And yep, that Ape moment will forever be in my top 3 FromSoft moments ever. I smiled and laughed so damn hard at that.
 

cvv

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So after finishing Elden Ring I booted up Sekiro again, as a palate cleanser, and two thoughts have been stuck in my head for the entire playthrough:

- Godfuckingdammit I'm having a blast. I loved Elden Ring but this game is twice as much fun. Too bad it's so short.
- Holy shit how is everything so easy all of the sudden? I needed a couple of runs on the Ogre and Butterfly to unrust myself but then everything went down in one or two tries. On my first playthrough a 30-attempt run was no rarity but now I'm absolutely destroying everything. Even Owl Father went down in three tries and that's supposedly the hardest fight in the game. Haven't fought Demon and Isshin yet.

Was the gap in difficulty between your first and subsequent playthrough that gigantic for you as well?
 

NJClaw

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Was the gap in difficulty between your first and subsequent playthrough that gigantic for you as well?
Absolutely yes. During my first playthrough, Lady Butterfly, the Guardian Ape, Demon of Hatred and Isshin were such a roadblock that I had to take pauses between tries to avoid having a mental breakdown. In the end, Isshin broke me to the point that I had to cheese his third phase by avoiding all of his attacks running around like a fool and only retaliating after the big jump that ends with a spear thrust. But that's nothing compared to what the Guardian Ape did to me. I tried his first phase so many times that when he got up for the second one I was paralyzed in fear. I don't deal with failure very well, and dying over and over against a monkey that throws shit at you made me so mad that my girlfriend still has PTSD from me playing Sekiro. The moment Elden Ring came out, the first thing she asked me was to tell her when I was going to face "the monkey" so that she could go to another room.

I immediately started NG+, and I barely ever died. On the next run, I only died once or twice to Isshin, the Demon of Hatred, and Owl Father.
 
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Was the gap in difficulty between your first and subsequent playthrough that gigantic for you as well?

It's part of what made me love it. First run: "wtf this is impossible, this is 100 times harder than Souls!", then on a fresh non ng+ run after finishing it once I'm flying through the game and suddenly it's actually easier than Souls.
Everybody who finishes Sekiro should start another completely fresh run just to fully understand how gud they got.
 
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