How Lords of the Fallen on PS4 balances challenge and accessibility

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How Lords of the Fallen on PS4 balances challenge and accessibility

Take a closer look at the systems at work in the forthcoming action RPG

I have seen my share of challenging games, and I loved a whole lot of them. And honestly speaking, I could never put up with so many people that quit playing them early. But I’ve come around full circle to the point where I don’t see their impatience as a shortcoming anymore. There’s room for improvement in game design. And I believe that the team behind Lords of the Fallen on PS4 is after something that will narrow the gap between mainstream and core players. One bit at a time, that is.

First things first: we decided that if there’s a main feature of Lords of the Fallen that will be complex and challenging, the rest should be more or less streamlined. I’m not trying to say that we dumbed down anything. Take books written by Dan Brown or Harlan Coben, for example; they’re not deprived of any intellectual value. They’ve been skillfully written for the mainstream audience, so… why not games?


Lords of the Fallen will try to tell a story without imposing it. You won’t have to remember that the Fallen God’s name is Adyr to face him. You won’t have to memorize the names of crucial NPCs to follow their plots. But I’m pretty sure some people will really want to; and that’s enough.

You can get going just from the old legend that speaks about humanity defeating its god thousands of years ago, and then taking up the belief that it can completely wipe evil out of human nature. You might dig deeper and find out that people decided to write down the codex of the most deadly sins and that anyone caught committing them will forever be marked with a tattoo on his or her face, but your game experience will not be hindered if you lack that information.

Most of the lore will be spread across the world in audio memoirs written by various inhabitants of our world. Most of the cinematics will focus on introducing players to the important enemies and combat events, while only the pivotal plot points and twists will feature movie-like scenes and camera-directed conversations. User interface and HUD will not be heavily ornamented, nor occupy unnecessary screen space.


When it comes to the combat system, we’re giving it as many sub-systems and dependencies as we want. Elemental damage? Sure, we’ve got quite a bit of that. Crafting? Of course — weapons, shields, and armor. Attribute weapon scaling? Just make sure you pick the right one. Do weapon move sets vary? Yup, with damage, speed, distance, types of combos, and attack chains. But bear in mind that there’s still a lot they have in common, so once you’ve learned that any attack initiated straight out of an evasive roll gives you that extra bit of distance and stability, you naturally apply that knowledge across all weapons.

There will be things tightly bound to a particular gear item, like perks, as well as universal features that work anytime and anywhere — like perfect timing for attacks, or charging. Bottom line: challenging games can be so much fun if they’re served up well. Meaning, the players can choose their own pace for learning the core mechanics.

Lords of the Fallen has been in development for some time, and we’ve shown the game to a wider audience a couple of times. So far we’ve been showing parts of the opening chapter, set within an Old Monastery just about the time when Harkyn, our hero, arrives alongside his mentor. The two are trying to figure out what made demons return after millennia have passed.


At the beginning of the game, the Monastery is pretty much a whole world to the player, so it feels like people can get familiar with the human realms and see how things work here. Then, we want people to venture off into the demonic dimension to get perspective and, well, be presented with the demons’ own reasons for why they do what they do.

And last but not least, Harkyn will finally be ready to descend deeper underground into where people believe the gigantic body of a Fallen God lies, and where he must be faced. There’s more than one ending in Lords of the Fallen, and together with a New Game + feature, we believe the experience will be worth replaying.

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  • Dark souls. There, I said it.

  • Game looks stunning, and the gameplay has more than once been compared to Dark Souls (but with current age graphics). Can you tell us if those pictures are in-game screens, or artwork? Since I don’t see any HUD, I suspect the latter.

    How far are you along in the development process? Still aiming for a 2014 release?

    Thanks for the ‘dev-diary’, it is much appreciated!

  • You lost my attention when you used the words ‘Dan Brown’ and ‘intellectual value’ in the same sentence.

  • Just say “We are making pretty version of Demon’s Souls”, nobody will hold it against you. And you won’t need to write so much text explaining your core ideas, because almost all of them can be perfectly summarized as “Pretty version of Demon’s Souls” or “pretty version of Dark Souls”.

  • You’re clearly a talented bunch of developers and the graphics and art direction are very impressive. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Please try and ignore the Dark Souls comments.

    • Why? I don’t see why would they need to ignore the obvious truth, especially when there is nothing wrong with it. If someone decided to make a Metroidvania-game, while saying “This is a totally original idea and we’ve never heard of Super Metroid of Symphony of the Night” – that would sound silly and only draw people away, while saying “Yep, we want to make more of that awesome thing you love, but with our own twists and improvements” will get people all over it (as proven by Kickstarter).

      Not everything needs to be unique. Making your version of something great is, if made well, is a great thing as well.

  • My games are better.

  • Funny that Bandai are publishing a clone of Souls!
    Looks interesting but I’m still holding out for a DSII PS4 port!

  • This game looks really impressive. I can see why people compare it with Dark Souls and I admit it does look quite alike but I have never played Dark Souls before so I won’t accuse it for being a rip off or anything like that. It’s a new story so it’s a different game. Looking forward to seeing more for this! The trailer looks really bad-ass and I love it!!

  • So every game that has a medieval setting and is third person is a Demon’s/Dark Souls copy now? It’s already annoying how everyone mentions Dark Souls when it comes to Bound by Flame and now there’s another RPG that looks great and again, everyone compares it to Dark Souls. Seriously.

  • This just went to my most-wanted-games list! A challencing RPG, oh yeah, sounds great!

  • I want to be excited about this game, but I can’t be – it’s trying to be like the Souls series SO hard. Even by the way it is said to be telling a story:

    “Lords of the Fallen will try to tell a story without imposing it. You won’t have to remember that the Fallen God’s name is Adyr to face him. You won’t have to memorize the names of crucial NPCs to follow their plots. But I’m pretty sure some people will really want to; and that’s enough.”

    Eurgh. It’s not enough funny.

    Also, Dan Brown is a terrible terrible writer. It’s the equivalent of putting the writers of Emmerdale or Coronation Street up on a pedestal. Yes, it’s mainstream… but that doesn’t make it good. Most people are stupid.

  • I’m excited about this game since the first pictures I saw, and every new information, images and trailer only gain more and more will start playing immediately. Something I would really like Lords of the Fallen had was subtitled in Portuguese (Portugal and / or Brazil) it is always a great way to understand the story more easily in countries of Portuguese language, but anyway this game for me is right purchase.

  • The art style in this game just looks so damn generic. Also I’m insulted that they started this project the same YEAR Dark Souls came out and basically ripped everything off from the move sets to the rolling animations. Oh wait, this is next gen? NEVER MIND THAT FIXES EVERYTHING IGNORE ME.

  • It looks fantastic. But is there any sort of online multiplayer such as co-op or PVE or PVP?

  • Ah a lot of people comparing it to dark souls, let’s not pretend dark souls was revolutionary or did anything for the RPG genre it’s an amazing game but one of the most bare bones RPGS out there.

    • You’re just trolling now right?

    • @OnionMarmalade I’m really not I genially love the souls series but they’re seriously lacking in things RPGs and been doing for decades . Don’t get my tone in my first message wrong if the final game is like dark souls I’ll check it out .

  • As an RPG fan, I found it odd that I just couldn’t get in to Dark Souls.

    This, however, caught my interest as soon as I saw the work that had gone in to the graphics and fluid animation on the original trailer a few months back.

    Reckon this’ll be a goodun’. :)

  • I love games such as this, it looks promising. I hated Denon soul thanks to the lousy control and save point, I don’t mind hard games but i dont have the time to waste in stupid design and crappy controller. I was like playing a resident evil character while having to guess when to reac, the character was just badly controlled and to much waste of time if you died. So i do hope this game can fill the gap and i love that it is for ps4. I want to use my ps4 rather then ps3.

  • Yeah, tried demon souls, dont like the graphics and clunkiness of the player in the game.
    I really wanted to love the dark souls series and nope it just doesnt click with me, mostly because the environments are not convincing me enough, essentially meaning it just looks uninspiring, and if im going to play for so many hours I need the graphics to keep me in a “whoa” statement. It doesnt.
    This lords of the fallen game I’ve had my eye on for a while and I will surely love its amazIng inspiring graphics and great agility in movements on the character, will play on my ps4.
    Keep up the great work!!!

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