Lords Of The Fallen Reboot Is Sounding Like A Solid Soulslike

Lords of the Fallen was already a game, one that came out nearly 10 years ago by developer Deck13 (Atlas Fallen) and publisher CI Games. It was fine, but felt too much like a lackluster facsimile of FromSoftware’s Dark Souls formula to have much of an identity of its own. CI Games is back, though, with newly founded studio Hexworks to take another stab at Lords of the Fallen. And this time around, at least based on the previews, it sounds like a stellar Soulslike might be in the offing.

Out on October 13 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S, Lords of the Fallen is a third-person action-RPG with an interesting conceit: With the help of the Umbral lantern, you can reveal secrets hidden in the land of the dead while still traversing the world of the living. But should you die and end up in Umbral—which will happen since this is a Soulslike—you’ll still be able to fight for your life for the chance to return to Axiom. Die here, though, and you’ll start back in the land of the living having lost your XP. Typically Soulslike stuff, but that two-realm implementation offers a new perspective for the genre, something the previews call attention to.

So, considering the game comes out in two months, here’s a roundup of what early players are saying about Lords of the Fallen and how, as many of them purport, it’s sounding like an exciting Soulslike worth paying attention to.

After playing the opening hours of 2023’s Lords of the Fallen, our journey through this nightmarish world was eerily familiar, yet filled with a current-gen polish that games like the Dark Souls trilogy and Bloodborne could only dream of. Our initial impressions were that the game felt a lot like the PS5 remake of Demon’s Souls, which is not a bad thing, but from an aesthetic point of view, Lords of the Fallen leans even more heavily into the grimdark setting.

A Lords of the Fallen character looks down a creepy hall toward what appears to be some sort of statue.

Image: Hexworks

I’ve played a couple of hours of new Lords of the Fallen and crucially, I can tell you it’s: good. If you’ve played a Soulslike before—or as Hexworks wisely describes the genre, which extends to Nioh, The Surge, and the rest, tactical action-RPGs—it’ll be immediately familiar. You can create a character from one of several preset classes, ranging from glass cannon mages to sword-and-shield warriors, with some more lore-y archetypes in between with a little clan-based backstory behind them: a raven-like archer, a brawler with a twist of wolves.

The moment-to-moment in my Lords of the Fallen demo ticked most of the Souls boxes I have when it comes to combat, but this game distinguishes itself in its concept of dual worlds. Axiom, the land of the living, is more or less the “normal” dimension, but it exists in parallel with the Umbral realm, the land of the dead. The two realms run simultaneously as you play, which takes advantage of tech on latest-gen platforms. It’s similar to The Medium or Titanfall 2‘s Effect and Cause mission, but spread across an entire sprawling dark fantasy world.

What surprises me most, however, is Umbral. This is the realm of the dead and exists parallel to Axiom. It can be accessed at almost any time, in real-time. But, once you’re there, you must fight through its more challenging enemies to reach an access point that brings you back to Axiom. While you can select to explore Umbral on your own, Lords of the Fallen will bring you there almost every time you die. Dying gives you a second chance in Umbral, where, if you survive, you can reach the realm of Axiom once more. This eases the usual challenge of the genre—mind you, Lords of the Fallen is still extremely tough—but also opens up a unique playground for puzzles I welcome.

By tapping into two distinct worlds at once, Hexworks completely revamps how we view death in a Soulslike. Lords of the Fallen turns the most infamously iconic, eternally frustrating thing about a FromSoftware game into more than a second chance: It’s a second world, one that functions entirely differently from the place we start out in. The result is a varied combat experience in a truly untamed universe, one that pulses with unknown wonders and its fair share of chills—no matter your familiarity with the genre.

A Lords of the Fallen character uses magic against a sword-wielding enemy.

Image: Hexworks

There’s a great fluidity to Lords of the Fallen’s combat too. You can seamlessly flow from light attacks to heavy attacks, and can even change weapon stance in the middle of a combo as well. I could start with two light attacks, press the stance switch button, and do another light attack, I’d get a unique attack in which my character seamlessly goes from a dual-wielded slash, into a two-handed thrust. This is even better when you add magic to the equation, as you’re able to easily swap between melee and magic attacks even mid-combo. It opens the door for a lot of freedom of expression through combat, which is something you don’t see all too often in the Soulslike genre.

While in the Umbral world, enemies slowly become more aggressive and powerful, but the XP multiplier increases as well, amping up the risks as well as the rewards in an enticing way. Being able to respawn allowed me to progress much faster and alleviated some of the frustrations that come with the genre. The Umbral world also offers access to shortcuts and gives you wild abilities that mirror Jedi powers. Lords of the Fallen is at its strongest when it leans into the mechanics of the Umbral world.

Umbral also softens the difficulty level of its chosen genre—up to a point. If you die in Axiom, you are resurrected in Umbral, then given another chance to defeat your enemy before you give up the ghost completely and need to corpse-run from the last Vestige to reclaim your Vigor (Lords of the Fallen’s souls). This doesn’t refresh your healing items, though, and the longer you spend in Umbral, the more Dread builds up, and the trickier things get. Enemies get tougher, and increasing numbers of zombielike creatures materialize in your path—they’re easy to kill, but their presence complicates the battlefield considerably.

Outside of exploration, you can use the lantern to rend a baddy’s soul from its body, then batter it for extreme damage. You can’t do this all the time, as you’ll need to power the lantern up to do it. This can be done by bursting pustules in the Umbral realm and sucking up the resultant juice, but if you can’t find a pustule, you might encounter an enemy with a blue glow—which means they’re invulnerable unless you reveal their parasitic Umbral companion floating alongside them. Hoover this critter up and not only can it power your soul attack, it will also remove their pal’s aura of invincibility.

A Lords of the Fallen enemy roars, exposing it's multiple rows of teeth.

Image: Hexworks

The game is not as obscure as its FromSoft progenitors, and that works in its favor, because when you’re being pulled in two directions and interrogating the tension between worlds, you want a sense of what’s going on, and where to go. Lords of the Fallen is all about playing as a heathen, shunned by the world for embracing a dark lantern that allows them to traverse the realms of light and dark. It’s all about being sacrilegious, defying the common knowledge and tasting the forbidden fruit. If you wanted to do away with subtext, you could say it’s what Hexworks is doing in discarding the commonly held beliefs around how death should work in this genre. How traditionally hard it must be. But the studio eschews that. And the result, at least at this early stage, is unique and compelling.

My time with the 2014 version of the game was quite frustrating. While the review is no longer live—the site I wrote it for is now defunct—I essentially said that, although the game had a compelling narrative, its cumbersome gameplay and unintuitive systems made for an ultimately forgettable experience.

The previews of the new Lords of the Fallen reboot are based on just two hours of gameplay, so a lot of questions will remain unanswered until the game drops in October. But based on everything I’ve read so far, Lords of the Fallen is sounding like it’ll be a pretty solid take on the Soulslike style of game.

Lords of the Fallen launches on October 13 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.


Netflix’s Tomb Raider Anime Picks Up After The Reboot Trilogy

An anime screenshot shows Lara Croft drawing her bow at an enemy.

Image: Netflix

Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance recently. Just last month, the dual pistol-wielding explorer featured as a guest character in Call of Duty: Warzone alongside the likes of pop star Nicki Minaj and ‘90s superhero Spawn. Snap to today and now we’ve got our first official look at her upcoming Netflix animated series.

Tomb Raider: The Legend of Lara Croft, a new anime developed by Legendary Television, was unveiled during Netflix’s Drop 01 livestream, an event where the streamer gave viewers a peak at all its upcoming shows, including video game adaptations like Devil May Cry, Castlevania: Nocturne. Unlike Netflix’s painfully brief DMC anime teaser trailer, which didn’t share much information outside of a quick look at Dante doing a cool flip, the trailer for Tomb Raider: The Legend of Lara Croft delivered some substantial details. Chief among them is that actress Hayley Atwell will be voicing the video game heroine and that the show will pick up after the events of Crystal Dynamics’ video game reboot trilogy. Here’s the trailer:


Read More: Shadow of the Tomb Raider: The Kotaku Review

We first learned Netflix was working on a Tomb Raider anime back in 2021. According to a report by Deadline, the show was green-lit after the culmination of Crystal Dynamic’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider. In our review of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which asks if Croft is “a treasure-plundering jerk who wrecks other people’s cultures,” we said that the game matured Croft from being the “gritty survivor we met in 2013 [into being] a more complex character who actually talks to the people she meets on her travels and understands the gravity of her actions.” Hopefully, Netflix’s anime will continue to build on this emerging new characterization rather than reverting back to one of her more cartoonish incarnations.


Fortnite Hikes V-Bucks Price As Inflation Hits Epic’s Reboot

Fortnite avatars dance in the clouds of rising costs.

Image: Epic Games

Everything’s getting more expensive, even inside Fortnite. Epic Games’ free-to-play battle royale is raising the price of V-Bucks today by roughly 12.5 percent. Being the last one standing just got a little more expensive, at least if you want to look stylish and rank up the season battle pass while doing it.

Players spend billions every year on the in-game currency to buy virtual costumes, dances, and other cosmetics for their characters. Announced last month, the October 27 price increase means players will be paying a few dollars more for each new piece of virtual gear. As just one example, the Fortnite shop’s new Alan Wake 2-themed skins cost 2,600 V-Bucks for the whole set. Previously, that would have cost about $20. Now it will be $23. Epic blames “economic factors such as inflation and currency fluctuations.” Bidenomics strikes again.

Here’s the full breakdown:

  • 1,000 V-bucks: $9 (originally $8)
  • 2,800 V-bucks: $23 (originally $20)
  • 5,000 V-bucks: $37 (originally $32)
  • 13,500 V-bucks: $90 (originally $80)

The price hike comes as almost everything in gaming is getting more expensive, from battle passes and subscription services to new games and consoles. At the same time, companies across the video game industry are slowing hiring or engaging in large layoffs, including Epic Games. The Fortnite maker announced it would cut more than 800 staff last month after CEO Tim Sweeney appeared to realize only three months ago that the company was “spending way more money than we earn.”

The resulting scramble led to layoffs at recently acquired studios like Mediatonic and a rushed sale of music platform Bandcamp to Songtradr. That messy transition ended with half Bandcamp’s employees getting canned and Epic refusing to recognize their union. Those laid off will still qualify for six months of severance from Epic, but the chaos has drawn criticism from those who see little accountability at the top for the apparent strategic blunders.

Now Epic Games is teasing a return to Fornite’s very first battle royale mode map from back in 2017’s chapter 1. The update seems designed to bring back players who may have bounced off the game in the years since it first became a mega hit, while also raising questions about what new creative ideas are still left for the battle royale to explore. Epic’s chief creative officer, Donald Mustard, retired after 25 years in the video game industry last month.

If there’s one silver lining at the moment, it’s Alan Wake 2. The Epic Games-published survival horror game launched today to rave reviews and is already on many people’s shortlist for Game of The Year. It could be the biggest hit the company has funded in years, or at least the most critically acclaimed. Even if those pesky Epic Games Store achievements are still a major drag.

Watch PS Plus Bring The Failed Saints Row Reboot Back To Life

Want to see a magic trick? All you need is an open-world video game that flopped at launch and a popular subscription service with millions of gamers. And presto, you can bring a “dead” game like Saints Row (2022) back to life and make it one of the most played games on PlayStation.

Personally, I enjoyed the Saints Row reboot. However, I understand that I’m in the minority of players who felt that way, and most folks, including critics and longtime fans, found the 2022 open-world crime sim to be an empty shell devoid of the personality and charm found in the previous, much-beloved entries. The game, which launched with numerous bugs and issues, reportedly missed internal sales goals. Volition, the studio behind the seriest, was shut down earlier this year following the game’s release and some bad financial news from its parent company, Embracer. And yet, according to new data, Saints Row (2022) was the fourth most-played game on PlayStation in September thanks to a PS Plus giveaway.

Over on Twitter (or X or whatever) Mat Piscatella, executive director at Circana (formerly NPD), shared the most played games on Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam in September. At the top of both consoles was, unsurprisingly, Fortnite. But the most interesting game to appear on the list is Saints Row on PlayStation, which leaped from the 93 most-played games on PSN to the top five.

As pointed out by Piscatella, the reason for this huge leap in popularity is simple: It was included in September’s PS Plus free monthly games lineup. It should be noted that the other two games that were included in the PS Plus lineup last month—Generation Zero and Black Desert—are nowhere to be seen in Circana’s top 10 list. This seems to indicate that a lot of people were curious about Saints Row, but bad reviews likely kept them away. But when the game was made free to play, a whole bunch of players leaped at the chance to download and check out this latest entry in the popular series.

Now, how many of them finished the game or put any real time into it is unknown. But at the very least it seems that putting the game on PS Plus helped bring it back from the dead and potentially led to some DLC sales.

This is an example of how these subscription services can be used by publishers to revitalize older or less successful games with an audience of subscribers hungry for big AAA games, even the less-than-great ones. In completely, totally unrelated news, hey look over there, Gotham Knights was just added to Game Pass, recently.


Gears of War Creator Suggests Series Needs ‘A Bit Of A Reboot’

Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski thinks the series needs to be rebooted and get the same treatment Sony gave God of War in 2018. And he’s willing to help consult on that theoretical reboot if it happens. For Gears fans who haven’t had a new game in the main series for nearly four years, that might sound like a tempting offer.

The original Gears of War and its two sequels were developed by Epic and released between 2006 and 2011 on the Xbox 360. (A spin-off, Judgement, was co-developed by Epic and then-subsidiary studio People Can Fly and released in 2013.) The third-person cover shooters featuring big dudes with chainsaw guns fighting weird bug-people was one of Xbox’s biggest franchises. However, after the original Xbox 360 trilogy and spin-off, Epic went off to do Fortnite and Microsoft created a whole new studio, The Coalition, which took over the series, developed two more sequels, and helped with some spin-offs.

And while many assume a sixth game is coming, eventually, the last main entry—Gears 5—was released in September 2019. The game reviewed well and even outsold Gears of War 4. Since then, we’ve not heard any official word about a Gears of War 6 and now the franchise’s creator thinks it’s time to press the reset button.

In a recent interview with Comicbook.com, Bleszinski was asked if he would ever return to the world of Gears of War, maybe to write a new story for a possible comic book set in the universe. Bleszinski seemed open to coming back to help, but suggested partially rebooting the game franchise instead.

“I believe [Gears of War] needs a little bit of a reboot, like God of War had,” Bleszinski said. “And I’ve always said, [Xbox Boss] Phil Spencer has my number, I’m happy to consult. Gears will always be near and dear to my heart.”

Bleszinski further added that, after drinking a mimosa or two, he sometimes goes on YouTube and rewatches “key cut scenes” from past Gears of War games, including the scene where (spoilers for Gears of War 3) Dom sacrifices himself to save the rest of the squad.

Dark Shadows Production / Xbox / Epic

“Reading the comments on those cut scenes from Gears of War when Dom dies, people are like, ‘I had to put the controller down, my friend and I just sat there silenced and stunned.’ For people to actually get tattoos of something that you made on their bodies is the most flattering thing.”

The Gears of War creator also explained that one of the things he’s creatively most proud of is his decision to kill off Dom, who he called a broken man who needed to go out with a meaningful sacrifice.

“It’s just become, in my opinion, one of the most powerful scenes in gaming history,” Bleszinski said. “I’m so very, very proud of it. Just to know that I reached through that screen and that controller and could affect people in a good way and make a lot of them just stop and even tear up means the fucking world to me. Gears Nation, I’ll always love you guys.”

When the interviewer mentioned to Bleszinski that he was 10 years old when he played Gears of War 3 and Dom’s death was the first scene in a video game to ever make him cry, the Gears creator was touched and responded: “That means a fucking lot to me, even though I’m wearing a shirt that says, ‘I eat ass’ in Japanese.”


Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Looks Blog by Crimson Themes.