The forthcoming PC version of Dark Souls may not use the controversial Games for Windows Live service for its online features after all, according to Namco Bandai publishing producer Daisuke Uchiyama.
A PC conversion of From Software's punishing console RPG was announced at Namco Bandai's Global Gamers Day in Las Vegas last week, after months of lobbying by fans. However, boxart of the game appeared to show the GFWL logo, prompting an angry reaction online; PC gamers have long complained that Microsoft's system is buggy and unreliable, and called for Namco to use Steamworks instead.
However, in an interview after the event, Uchiyama told us that the decision was by no means final. "[Live] is the established server that we used for the Xbox 360 version – that's the main reason we picked it," he said. "But the partnership decision is still ongoing. We might have another announcement soon regarding the platform we'll be using."
Namco's head of marketing, Carlson Choi, also hinted that good news could be round the corner. "There have been a lot of questions about the digital partner, but we’re still in April and the game isn’t out until August 24," he said. "There is still a lot of time for marketing beats. More information will come – maybe at E3.”
The possibility of a different digital service, probably Steam, underpinning Dark Souls PC will come as a relief to the 20,000 fans who have signed an online petition urging the publisher to reconsider using GFWL. When asked for his own opinion on the controversy, Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki refused to answer questions. "We are aware of the petition, but it's really hard to comment," he said. "I'm sorry."
Miyazakiwas similarly tight-lipped on whether or not the extra chapter being added to the PC version, Artorias Of The Abyss, would be coming to console, either as DLC or in a full retail release. "It's completely understandable that people who bought the console version have those questions,” he said. "However, as the director of Dark Souls I cannot answer that right now.” With the emphasis very much on the final two words, it seems Xbox 360 and PS3 owners may have to wait until E3 for clarification.
Sadly though, PC gamers can immediately forget about any mod support – as a straight port of the console version, Dark Souls will have no support for user-created content. "Personally, I am interested in the concept of mods," Miyazaki said. "However, due to our lack of experience with the PC we need more time to adapt, so this time we're not doing it."
The good news is that Artorias Of The Abyss is set to offer a range of new enemies, new armour to collect and at least three new bosses, with its difficulty level set at the latter part of the main game. With or without mod support, PC players can expect what our Dark Souls review describes as "an adventure so exquisitely morose and far-ranging that it will tug at your mind insistently during the hours you spend apart… [that makes] other games feel comparatively bland, facile and unsatisfying."