Lords of the Fallen – Release And What We Know So Far

Image Credit: Hexworks

Not a month has passed since Round8 Studio and Neowiz Games’ Lies of P was released and another Souls-like action RPG is on the horizon. This time around, it’s Hexworks’ Lords of the Fallen – the successor to the 2014 game of the same name. Set a thousand years after the first game, this new title will hopefully step out of the shadows of the meager reception its predecessor had.

Like many Souls-like titles, Lords of the Fallen boasts a dark setting, challenging combat, and a hefty amount of build freedom. Players can choose to adopt a close-range starting melee class like the Dark Crusader, the stealth-based playstyle of the Exiled Stalker, or a magic-wielding class like the Orion Preacher just to name a few examples. Much like other Souls-likes, these classes can be customized later to suit players’ preferences. Those familiar with the genre will feel right at home in Lords of the Fallen’s worlds of Axiom and Umbral but Hexworks looks like it is adding a good helping of unique gameplay mechanics that will make it stand out from its competition.

Image Credit: Hexworks

Traversing Between Two Worlds Is A Central Mechanic

As previously mentioned, there are two overlapping worlds in Lords of the Fallen. Axiom is the realm of the living where players begin their journey. When they die in Axiom (be it through the world’s enemies, traps, or plain negligence) they get kicked over to Umbral – the realm of the dead. Umbral’s bleaker color palette is complemented by a noticeable increase in difficulty. Enemies are more numerous, hit harder, the geography is different, and players have to return to the world of Axiom lest they become overwhelmed. Dying in Umbral before reaching dropped experience points causes them to disappear permanently, much like dying in FromSoftware games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne does.

So what is the point of exploring Umbral?

Aside from the possibility of easier experience farming, traveling to Umbral is necessary to progress through Lord of the Fallen. Some obstacles in Axiom will require players to travel through or interact with objects in Umbral using an item called the Umbral Lamp. Using the Umbral Lamp carries its fair share of risk since players can potentially get pulled into Umbral. When this happens, they must go through the process of finding their way back to Axiom. This back and forth between the two realms is a core component of Lords of the Fallen not just gameplay-wise but in its story as well.

Image Credit: Hexworks

Lords of the Fallen’s Story Is A Way To Justify Its Gameplay

Truth be told, Lords of the Fallen’s story doesn’t seem very unique from the get-go. As a lamp bearer, it is up to players to prevent the rise of Adyr – a demon god encountered in the first Lords of the Fallen game. After being sealed for over a thousand years, Adyr plans to make a return with the help of his loyal followers. His posse just so happens to be comprised of some of the worst enemies around, providing lamp bearers with multiple challenges on their quest to stop Adyr’s return.

But players are far from alone on this perilous journey. Apart from the standard cryptic Souls-like NPCs, 2023’s Lords of the Fallen allows for full cooperative and competitive play. Co-op is initiated at a Vestige – the game’s equivalent of Dark Souls’ bonfires. Up to two players can play co-op in a single session, with the host being in control of NPC interactions, story progress, and realm shifting between Axiom and Umbral (the visitor, on the other hand, gains experience points and items from felled foes). What makes Lords of the Fallen’s co-op potentially better than those found in the Dark Souls games, Elden Ring, and Bloodborne is that defeating a boss does not kick the second player out of the session – making for a truly seamless cooperative experience that can go on for as long as two players want it to.

PVP is a tad different. The invader spawns close to the host and is at a great disadvantage. Not only do they have one life to live before getting kicked back to their session but the host retains complete control over realm shifting – making it far easier for them to dispose of invaders using the environment. Hexworks has stated that there will be dedicated PVP areas in Lords of the Fallen, although it remains to be seen how well the developers can balance the intermixing of the game’s PVE and PVP elements.

Image Credit: Hexworks

Lords of the Fallen’s Combat Is Going To Feel Extremely Familiar

Whether it be against A.I.-controlled foes or other lamp bearers, Lords of the Fallen’s combat will be what draws players to it. Melee combat is comprised of one-handed, two-handed, and dual-wielding attacks – all of which can be easily accessed on the fly. Blocking and rolling will be players’ main methods of avoiding damage but to truly capitalize on combat, they should be looking for opportunities to parry enemy attacks. Much like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Lords of the Fallen encourages players to block when enemy attacks are just about to hit them. Doing so fills up a stagger bar that, when filled, stuns the enemy and leaves them wide open to potential damage. Of course, blocking too many attacks will also cause players to get stunned, so it is in their best interests to remain vigilant and responsive during combat. Other than that, a similar mechanic to Bloodborne’s Rally system allows players to recover lost health so long as they continue to push the offensive with successful attacks.

But let’s not forget Lords of the Fallen’s magic options, of which there is a wide variety. Magic in the game falls under three categories: Rhogar, Radiance, and Umbral. Rhogar stems from the power of Adyr and is comprised of fire-type spells similar to pyromancies. Radiance, as the name suggests, focuses on light and holy-based magic. Lastly, Umbral is the exact opposite of Radiance in that it draws upon the Umbral realm. Much like FromSoftwate’s RPGs, two core character stats govern magic. Infernal powers up Rhogar, Radiance increases the effectiveness of Radiance abilities, and Umbral uses a mix of both Infernal and Radiance stats. Whichever school of magic players prefer, they will require a catalyst to cast spells using accessible shortcuts. In this manner, magic users will feel just as quick and powerful using spells as melee users are with close-range weapons.

While there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding Lords of the Fallen (the realm-shifting mechanics and multiplayer need to be experienced firsthand before making impressions), it looks as though the game will be more than enough to satiate action RPG fans. Lords of the Fallen’s dark atmosphere, riveting gameplay, and overlapping worlds will hopefully captivate fans when it launches on October 13, 2023, on PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and S. 

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