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I thought they had three stances? E.g. Lucas had the single sword, two handed for area effect and a 'recuperate' stance he could use when not being actively bashed by enemies.

Three or two, either case is probably wrong...


After all, we don't even know what are called "stances" in reviews. They can be abilities and, if so, the choices are 9 for each fully-developed character. And abilities can be further customized through proficiencies... In any case, if the divisor is 9, instead of two or even three, accessible /competent abilities through the the course of the game would offer reasonable number of choices on-the-fly. For they are gradually unlocked and a player can only invest limited number of points.


Well, I just like speculating.

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Some quotes from Something Awful



First, lemme explain Stances/Modes. Each character has two offensive stances or modes, plus Defensive Mode, which is a mixture of blocking ala Ninja Gaiden or God of War, plus a shift state for your ability buttons.


Each character's stances or modes are completely different, and their abilities are also completely unique. No sharing. For example, Lucas has a Sword and Shield and Two-Handed Sword stance, and Anjali can shift between Human Form and Fire Form.


Your offensive Stances are a toggle, so for Lucas you just tap the Stance Switch button to change between using a Sword and Shield or a Two-Handed Sword. When you toggle your offensive stance, your X, Y and B buttons (on 360) change to abilities in that Stance - you have unique abilities in each stance. You also have a different basic attack combo in each stance.


When you hold down Block, you also enter Defensive Mode, and your Abilities are swapped for Defensive Abilities. Again, these are unique and class-specific, but they are always 30 second buffs - so heals, damage buffs, etc.


Given that context, I'll explain progression.


Each character has 3 progression "paths":


* Abilities - There are 9 abilities each character will learn over the course of the game. These are split up into 3 tiers. There are a few ability points scattered through the early and middle levels, and three ability tiers, but you DO earn enough ability points to buy each ability over the course of the game - the main customization here is what order you want to buy things in. However, the abilities themselves can be further customized to do pretty different things based on the Proficiencies you purchase for them.


* Proficiencies - Every ability has two different proficiencies you can buy for it. You can spend up to 5 points in a given ability, split between the two proficiencies however you want. The proficiencies can pretty radically alter how you use an ability - for instance, Anjali has a placed AoE ability called "Aura of Immolation" in Fire Form.


By default, the Ability is just a light damage AoE. The first proficiency, Fiery Presence, increases the damage output by 10% per rank. The second, Cauterize, causes it to heal any friendlies in addition to dealing damage. So, you can either choose to turn it into a deadly AoE of... death, or use it as a nice healing option - which is especially fun to give to your AI companion or to use in co-op with your buddy.


So proficiencies actually pretty substantially change what you use the abilities for, and the fact that you can only spend 5 points and can't max out any ability means that you have to make some tough choices. You'll want to spend your Proficiencies in a way that best matches your playstyle.


* Talents -Each character has 9 Talents, with 5 ranks per Talent. These are passive improvements to the character that work across all of their abilities, or across multiple abilities. You only earn 30 talent points throughout the game, so you have to also make some tough decisions here, and buy talents that synergize well with your play style.



On top of all of that you also earn Deeds (which are permanent stat rewards) for completing certain objectives within the game, or making certain decisions, and of course you have gear which is a major form of both character advancement and customization. I'm actually really happy with the amount of RPG depth we were able to cram into it for an ARPG.



There are definitely choice and consequence moments, and the choices you make at early points can influence who/what shows up later, can result in different ending states, and can earn you different Deeds (sort of like AP's Perk system). So all that stuff is there, it's just not as large a percentage of the game or as much of an internal focus as combat has been.


I'd say getting fun, polished core gameplay mechanics and combat has been our largest focus in developing DSIII. We're doing cool story reactivity stuff, but that's obviously more of a known quantity for us as compared to awesome (and not pres butan for awesome) action combat.

# There are no health potions. Health regeneration is handled via Defensive Abilities (each character has a heal-over-time defensive ability with customizable secondary effects) and health orbs dropped from enemies, sort of like God of War.


# You can block and/or dodge pretty much everything in the game. There are definitely some things that are not blockable, but they tend to be things like a Cyclops bringing the hurt with a giant hammer - i.e. pretty obvious. However, dodging works about 99% of the time to avoid things, but it's VERY hard to avoid everything, so you need to time your dodges well to avoid getting pinged by things in between dodges.


# Not only is it possible to do a 'perfect run', we even have some achievements that revolve around getting perfect (or near-perfect) runs.


# In the hardest difficulty mode, Hardcore, you absolutely HAVE to avoid as much damage as humanly possible, which makes the game very difficult but very fun if you like intense action combat. Playing through on Hardcore I definitely had some Demons' Souls-esque moments fighting some of the tougher bosses in the game. Of course, if you play on the other difficulty modes, it's nowhere near that hard, but that's why they're not Hardcore

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* Talents -Each character has 9 Talents, with 5 ranks per Talent. These are passive improvements to the character that work across all of their abilities, or across multiple abilities. You only earn 30 talent points throughout the game, so you have to also make some tough decisions here, and buy talents that synergize well with your play style.


And here Nathaniel had said that there were ten talents by character. Did that change since then, or do I remember it wrong?


Anyways, nice stuff. The precisions about how the Defensive Stance works are really welcome, as well as the presence of Deeds. The game really is looking good.

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