This horrifying big boy from Lords of the Fallen's new 20 minute gameplay preview is giving me Attack on Titan flashbacks in the best way

A 20-minute gameplay preview for the new Lords of the Fallen has dropped, and my cautious optimism has officially entered the realm of excitement for its October 13 release date. I've been keeping tabs on this year's soulslikes—I like getting my digital face flattened into the pavement, doesn't matter where it's from—yet Lords of the Fallen had, until today, been just a small blip on my radar. That's changed, because this all looks exactly like my jam.

A modern reimagining of 2014's middling spin on the formula, 2023's Lords of the Fallen looks to correct the mistakes of its predecessor by getting freaky with both setting and mechanics. Gone are the 2014 game's clumsy, weighty animations—it's all been replaced by zippy-looking action that's pulled a page from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. 

The boss our lantern-bearer is brawling with—Pieta, She of Blessed Renewal—even has whiffs of beloved Dark Souls boss Knight Artorias about her, with some nicely telegraphed attacks carrying some proper oomph. It even looks like some parrying and stance-breaking's happening at around the 1:55 mark, which has my Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice-loving heart very excited.

Pieta, a boss from the upcoming Lords of the Fallen game, levels a glowing blade menacingly at the player.

(Image credit: CI Games / Hexworks)

According to the voiceover, that newfound nippiness is in part due to the ability to map "up to four additional magic or ranged skills" to controller buttons for "immediate access". If you've played Remnant: From the Ashes or Remnant 2, it's a little like how you can weave between melee and ranged combat in those games (according to PC Gamer's Tyler Wilde). This sounds like a side-step around the traditional d-pad fumbling we're used to from the genre, where you typically have to select the right ability by scrolling left and right before letting loose.

We're shown a few builds, actually—a fire-flinging fist-weapon dervish at around 6:50, as well as a more traditional rogue at 12:00 with frost-laden arrows. It's obviously just three examples, so I'm tempering my excitement, but it's looking promising for tinkerers so far.

We also get a further look at the weird world-states of Axiom and Umbral and how they're traversed. The Umbral realm acts as a second life—a spooky mirror dimension you're flung into when you die—but it's also a place you'll need to enter voluntarily for exploration's sake. 

At any time, you can lift up your lantern and have a peek into the Umbral. But if you want to do more than look, you need to hop over to the other side—it's hard to get back, however, and doing so sacrifices the second shot you'd typically get in Axiom. Oh, and if you peek too long, an Umbral beastie can rip you a new one through the window, so you shouldn't um-and-ah about it.

An adventurer in Lords of the Fallen raises a gloomy lantern, tearing a window through the fabric of reality to the Umbral realm.

(Image credit: CI Games / Hexworks)

There's also the "Soul Flay", a universal ability given to you by the gloomy lantern at your hip. It's a form of crowd control, letting you tear out the souls of your enemies to attack them, but it's also used as an exploration tool. Activating bridges, ripping down barriers—that sort of thing. Tyler also spoke to the game's creative director back in March, who also said you could use it to yoink enemies off ledges or hurl souls into gaggles of bad guys like a "bowling ball." 

Co-op looks mercifully straightforward. Gone are the days of soapstones and scrambling about for glowing graffiti tags. It seems you can just group up with your mates at a resting point, or matchmake yourself with some randoms. Once they're in, they're in. Plus, you can create your own resting points to do this at—though it's apparently expensive, and you can only have one up at a time.

The Spurned Progeny from Lords of the Fallen looms horrifically over a player amidst burning rubble, a clawed hand tearing from its maw to snatch them up.

(Image credit: CI Games / Hexworks)

The thing that has me genuinely hooked, however, is the gnarly boss shown towards the end of the video. It's a complete freak that looks like it stomped straight out of Attack on Titan: a creepy, smiley-faced giant with an entire other hand clawing its way from a toothy maw to huck fireballs at you. Get this man some indigestion meds, that can't feel good.

It's a pretty good year to be a soulslike fan. Armoured Core 6 is the horizon (although we noted recently that it "isn't Robot Souls"), Lies of P's demo was unexpectedly decent, Remnant 2 is a blast (upscaling issues notwithstanding)—and now Lords of the Fallen's shaping up to look rad as hell, too. I'm going to be dying a lot in 2023.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.