One story last week that saw a large swelling of Dark Souls II fans angry was an obvious downgrade in the graphics department of the console builds. Videos and comparison shots put side by side unmistakably showed that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions suffered a setback from the advertised versions.
A half-hearted and cryptic response from developer FromSoftware didn’t help to ease tensions that much either.
Forbes now has a source close to development willing to shed more light on the situation, saying that no deception was intended at FromSoftware. Instead, the source states that the game was “unplayable and broken” without the graphical downgrade.
This is what it comes down to: a playable framerate. The early builds that the screenshots came from were playable but only just so. The game was not in a state where it could be sold at that point. I strongly suspect that they were focusing heavily on delivering a top-notch experience on PC and underestimated the challenges the new systems would pose on PS3 / Xbox360. That’s my analysis, anyway. But, factually, the early builds played like Blighttown the entire game.
I sincerely don’t think they intended to deceive, but in the end they sacrificed a huge amount of graphical fidelity at the very end of development because they couldn’t resolve the framerate in any other way. They had to promote the game with screens and trailers, but at that time even they had no idea they were going to have to drop the settings so much, I suspect.
I want people to know the truth. I know a lot of people just feel lied to, but I think the reality is a bit different. It doesn’t mean they handled it properly, but I think they made the only decision they COULD make in the end. The game would have been much worse without the change (as in, many would call it unplayable and broken.)”
While it is a shame that console gamers who coughed up the $60 to get the game that was advertised to play one way and didn’t, the source clearly states that they were “focusing heavily on delivering a top-notch experience on PC,” meaning that the PC version of the game could turn out like the builds we saw in all the commercials and previews.
Criticisms of the first Dark Souls‘ port no doubt still lingered on the minds at FromSoftware, and they wanted to turn that image around.
So in the end, it’s exactly what we all thought happened. FromSoftware aimed for an amazing PC build and was forced to make compromises for the console versions. An unavoidable situation if you overestimate the hardware you are working on, but a clearly more avoidable controversy if it been for forthcoming about the setbacks.
As stated in our review, if you want to play Dark Souls II and aren’t tied to a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, you might just want to wait a month for the PC version to get the game you saw in the commercials. It will run at four times the resolution and a constant 60 FPS, and it will be released on April 25.