During PAX West 2023, we were invited to get some hands-on with a newer build of Lords of the Fallen, which is a reboot of sorts of the first game that was released in 2014. While I don’t normally play these types of games, I couldn’t pass up the chance and was actually surprised at what I played. Here are my Lords of the Fallen preview impressions and how I became impressed with what CI Games and Hexworks are developing.
Jumping into the frey
The first thing I noticed starting the game was there was a variety of classes you could choose from, all were rather unique in their own right. After looking at the appearance of each class, I eventually decided to choose the Hallowed Knight. I wanted someone who could use a shield because I am not the best at Soulslikes games, so I wanted a lot of defense and options for tank builds.
Starting the actual Lords of the Fallen game places you into a tutorial. It teaches you the basic mechanics of slashing and dodging and even introduces the umbral mechanic. The umbral world is in a different plane of existence that seems to be a time-lapse from the past. Some puzzles can only be solved by using an umbral lantern to navigate past closed doors and hidden floors to move forward. That is not all that the umbral mechanic brings to the table. Your character can also turn into an umbral to interact with the umbral world.
When you die in the current world, you turn into an umbral and get transported to the umbral world with that transformation. This means that every fight essentially lets you have two lives to defeat all the enemies. The negative side effect of this, though, is enemies are alerted to your presence when you are an umbral. If you stay as an umbral in this world too long, you will get mobbed by enemies all over the dungeon or level you are on.
How the combat works
Once you are done with the main tutorial, you are taught how to block and parry and then thrown into your first boss fight. The main goal of the fight is to parry the boss’s big and unwieldy slashes with a giant weapon. Due to the size of this weapon and how animated the boss becomes as he does his moves, this boss fight is relatively easy. Even I was able to finish the fight with not much difficulty. Immediately after this fight, though, you are thrown to the wolves, and the real difficulty of this game comes swinging at you, or should I say teleporting at you out of nowhere as a giant dragon comes breathing fire and lands right next to you.
At first, I attempted to attack the dragon with combos, but they seemed to do minuscule damage. It didn’t help that this big monster was constantly teleporting and flying away, so there wasn’t much I could do but dodge and hope to land for more than a second. Eventually, the dragon will do a giant area move that is guaranteed to kill you, and I learned that this boss was an enemy you are supposed to die to as it progresses the story.
The next area is where more sandbox-type elements appear as you need to travel through a village filled with umbral memories that you can witness with the umbral lantern. Enemies will appear throughout this village, and you have to make sure not to get mobbed by too many of them. If you are in your umbral form, it will attract a lot of attention the longer you are in this form. Luckily there are spots around this area that will take you out of the umbral form and turn you back into your main character. Flowerbeds can be used to move out of the umbral world.
There is quite a lot to this game from what I can gather in my time playing the demo. From managing your umbral resources to making sure you are constantly moving in this world to not be held up by other enemies and even making sure you can time jumps and platform correctly. There is a little bit of everything in Lords of the Fallen. There seems to be quite a bit of mobility due to this as well. You can dodge, dash, and even rush behind enemies before they can hit you if you are quick enough to the punch.
Excited about Lords of the Fallen
Overall, I am excited to find out more about Lords of the Fallen and what more it can bring to the table. The umbral mechanics set this game apart from the other inspired soulsborne games with the same atmosphere. Everything that I experienced tells me that when Lords of the Fallen releases later this year, fans of the Soulslike genre are going to have their hands full, and I’m sure they’ll be okay with that.
And while you likely won’t see or hear much of Lords of the Fallen from me, don’t worry. See, our Editor in Chief, Keith Mitchell, was originally supposed to be getting access to this Lords of the Fallen preview hands-on, but since he wasn’t able to attend PAX West 2023, I went in his stead. Trust me, he’s going gaga over the game, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing quite a bit about Lords of the Fallen from him. Isn’t that right, Keith?