Hope of the best and prepare for death.
Last I saw Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition was at Namco Bandai's Global Gamers Day back in April, during a time when From Software had a tighter lip than a White House press secretary. All we really got out of the session was a few pieces of boss artwork and the vague notion that this edition would have “10 to 20 per cent” more content than the original with several extra bosses, locations, and NPCs. Now, Namco Bandai has finally let us into that white, foggy light.
The developers decided not to reveal how the player enters the new area, but they did start me off by beginning in a tunnel covered in vines. A bonfire lay at the bottom of the tunnel while its entrance dared me to traverse the light just beyond. Through the barrier, I was placed into a wide, circular marsh coated with a thin layer of water. In the middle stood a ferocious chimera-like beast that could shoot lightning projectiles, fly through the air and pounce on me unsuspectingly, and poison me if I got too close to its tail. Suffice it to say, I died… twice… before I got a lucky strike on its tail, severing it, and played conservatively with the 50 Divine Blessing the devs gave me.
After picking up the soul drop from the beast, I carefully walked into the Oolacile Sanctuary, a forest alcove with moss-covered headstones set in concentric circles and a giant talking mushroom. It addresses herself as a sorceress of Oolacile and godmother to Princess Dusk and weaves a story of Knight Artorias who attempted to save her but became tainted with darkness. It becomes clear that the player is travelling through time, and that Knight Artorias was probably waiting for me in the colosseum near the end of the forest.
Before that, though, I had to traverse through the dark woods by slaying live scarecrows and several gargantuan stone guardians. Not even my Dragon Greatsword, Balder Shield, and Armor of the Glorious could save me from their large clubs so I chose to run. Eventually, I found a pit within an abandoned fort and, in a stroke of genius, decided to lure them into the trap… it worked. This cleared the way so that I could face Knight Artorias one-on-one, even though it wasn't a particularly fair fight with his extremely long reach and triple-flip sword smash.
After defeating Knight Artorias and earning his battle armor, players will then be granted access to the haunted town area and, more importantly, the new PvP arenas, which can be up to 2 vs. 2 or 4-player deathmatch. There weren't yet any online servers for me to test them all out, but I'm sure this fan-requested feature will be a sure-fire hit.
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition will be available on Steam and Games for Windows for $39.99 on August 24 and the DLC portions will be available later for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this winter.