Skip to main content

Lords of the Fallen challenges you to fight, die, and then do it all over again

The world CI Games has created for Lords of the Fallen is detailed, imaginative, and filled with things that are going to kill you repeatedly. The game is designed around the idea that you are going to die a lot, prompting obvious comparisons to the Souls games, Bandai Namco’s other punishing action role-playing franchise. Despite a few similarities though, Lords of the Fallen is its own game, brimming with original ideas.

The Poland-based developer describes its new IP as an action game with RPG elements, and it’s based around risk and reward. You can cut down the number of deaths you face by playing it conservative, but you’ll miss out on a lot of power-ups, extra experience, and more. No matter how you play it though, you’ll still need to embrace the strategic benefits earned by dying and learning from your mistakes.

Lords of the Fallen
Image used with permission by copyright holder


The past is present. Several millennia before the start of the game, the people of Lords of the Fallen’s world rose up to overthrow their malevolent god. This victory ushered in a new era, in which the people created their own sense of morality. This also gave birth to the belief that evil could be completely expunged from the human nature. When demons and dark magic suddenly begin to appear in the world thousands of years later, the people are unprepared, and so they seek out an evil they understand to fight one that they don’t. This is where the tattooed man Harkyn comes in.

In the world of Lords of the Fallen, the people mark criminals by tattooing the sins they’ve committed across their face for all to see; Harkyn’s face is covered with writing, marking his dark past. This gives him an advantage in the current climate though. While the people see the rise of the demons as pure evil, Harkyn sees more to it. There is a reason for it, and he agrees to help discover what that reason is.

Sin and Sinner. Lords of the Fallen is a linear game for the most part, but it does offer branching choices that lead to multiple endings. CI Games was quiet on exactly during our demo time as to how these choices present themselves, but there will be moments where your earlier actions may come back to haunt you.

The devs claim Lords of the Fallen will take about 30 hours on average to complete, including some backtracking and exploration. Once an area’s boss has been defeated, that area is clear, but there are hidden paths and secrets that can only be found by returning to locations you have already visited.

Lords of the Fallen
Image used with permission by copyright holder


Every threat is deadly. Lords of the Fallen offers third-person action that combines weapon-based melee attacks with magic. When you begin a new game, you are asked to select one of three character types: Cleric, Rogue, or Warrior. This choice locks you into a specific magic path, with pre-determined spells for each character. You are free to equip any armor and weapon you choose though, and you can upgrade your character’s skills and abilities however you like.

Throughout the game you’ll face demons and creatures known as infected. The infected introduced in our demo are mutated humans, and they can kill you with just a few well-placed strikes – these are the standard enemies you’ll encounter everywhere. They are also blind, giving you an advantage, albeit a minor one. Lords of the Fallen is not the type of game where you can wade into a group of enemies and hack and slash your way through. Every encounter requires you to approach your foe (or foes) with caution, blocking or dodging each strike. It’s expected that you will die, so much so that CI Games introduced a clever risk-reward system around your mortality.

Die, rinse, repeat. When you die, you will leave behind a glowing orb filled with all the unspent experience you were carrying up to that part. You will then respawn near where you fell, but so will all the enemies in that area. The orb “leaks” experience, and the longer it takes you to retrieve it, the less you regain. If you die en route, you drop a new orb with whatever you collected in that brief life, and lose the original.

There is a way to play it safe though: at each save point you can bank any experience points you don’t want to spend. These points can then be accessed at any other save point, but the gamblers out there may want to skip this. The longer you stay alive without banking experience, the more multipliers you earn to increase your haul.

Learn from your defeats. Several areas feature environmental traps you can use to your advantage, but this too requires you to weigh the risk versus the reward. In the demo we saw, a giant demon charged Harkyn. The first time through, the devs driving the game slowly and methodically wore down the beast, dodging its attacks until it fell. During this fight they pointed out several wooden planks on the ground that didn’t seem to have any use.

For the second attempt, the devs lured the creature onto the wood when they faced off against it again. The planks collapsed, dropping the creature into a pit filled with spikes. CI Games noted that there will often be “easy ways out” like this, but there is a catch: In letting the enemy drop, it took its loot with it. Whether or not it’s worth the sacrifice is a choice you have to make for yourself.

Lords of the Fallen
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The easy way or the hard way. While there is only one difficulty setting in Lords of the Fallen, there are optional ways to make the game even more challenging. While facing a hulking boss demon, the devs made special note of the enemy’s three-tiered health bar. With each new tier depleted, the boss gained a new attack, including the ability to become “enraged.” When this happened, the boss gained attack and defense and simply charged.

A cautious player could take their time and wait for their moment, but the daring can run up and attack the boss to disrupt its ability to become enraged. The risk is being hit so hard you may instantly die, but if you manage to defeat the boss without letting it enrage itself, you receive a special reward – in this case a rare weapon. CI Games promised several challenges like this. It will often seem suicidal to complete many of these challenges, but the rewards are designed to make the risk worth it.


A new world. Lords of the Fallen is designed for PC and next-gen consoles, and that is reflected in the game’s attention to detail. CI Games went so far as to invent an entire, functional language using runes. These runes are used to craft new weapons and armor. It borders on overkill to create an entire language for what amounts to a mechanic that other games have offered for years, but it’s a nice touch that speaks to the living world Lords of the Fallen takes place in.

The demo amounted to a quick glance at the philosophy of the game, but CI Games has created an entire world, complete with its own legends, morality, and history. We should see more on that leading up to the game’s fall release.

Lords of the FallenTakeaway

Lords of the Fallen is going to kill you, but that’s not a bad thing. The game is partially built around how well you handle your deaths, and what you learn from them. It also tempts you with a risk-reward system that allows you to determine in part just how difficult you want to make it. There’s a freedom in that, even when it leads to death. Lots and lots of death.

(Media © CI Games S.A.)

Editors' Recommendations

Ryan Fleming
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Fleming is the Gaming and Cinema Editor for Digital Trends. He joined the DT staff in 2009 after spending time covering…
The best rings in Lords of the Fallen
The Lords of the Fallen trailer.

Magical rings are nothing new to fantasy or games, and Lords of the Fallen makes good use of these little pieces of jewelry. Unlike armor or weapons, rings are an accessory that gives you passive bonuses as long as you're wearing them. While not as immediately noticeable as other gear can be, some of these rings are quite strong and can do a lot to improve your build and playstyle. Some give straight attribute buffs, while others have more conditional effects, but with dozens to pick from and find, you'll be spoiled for choice. No matter what build you're going for, these are the best rings to bling out your character within Lords of the Fallen.
Best rings

There are well over 50 rings in Lords of the Fallen, and despite your character having 10 fingers, or at least 8 if you don't count thumbs, to wear them on, you have to choose only two at a time. Rings can be found either in chests or by beating special enemies or bosses.
Ring of Nourishment
Health is your most valuable resource in Lords of the Fallen, as is the case with all Soulslikes. You have limited healing options normally, so getting through a tough or new area can wear your character down over time as you run out of healing. The Ring of Nourishment can't replace your default healing but is a great supplement to keep you going and save a few charges. Each enemy you kill while wearing this ring will restore a bit of your health. If you play carefully and smartly, you can use it to completely undo some mistakes. This ring won't do you much good in boss fights, though.
Ring of Gnawing
For the more spell-focused builds, mana is always tough to manage. Unlike stamina, which will automatically replenish itself over time, but require you to rest at a checkpoint or use a consumable item. If you have the Ring of Gnawing, you can get a bit of mana back every time you hit an enemy with a normal attack. This is ideal for builds that spec in both strength or agility and a magic focus since you can swap back and forth as you regain and spend your mana.
Ring of Duty
This is a somewhat boring pick, but if you're a more traditional build focused on hitting things hard and fast, then the Ring of Duty is an easy one to slap on. This simply buffs both your VIT and END attributes to make you that much harder to kill.
Queen Verena II's Ring
If the Ring of Nourishment is a bit too risky for you, you can always fall back on the Queen of Verena II's Ring. This is a simple HP regen ring that slowly ticks up your health over time. If you are patient enough, you can take a break after each encounter to get back to full health before moving on, though that can be quite boring.
Ring of Bones
Lords of the Fallen breaks down your equipment load into four categories: light, medium, heavy, and overburdened. Most players will feel most comfortable at either medium or light burden levels for a more fluid feeling combat flow, but keeping yourself that light is tough without forgoing some armor or weapons. The Ring of Bones can help you sneak under these thresholds by increasing your character's maximum equip load.
Mineowner's Ring
As an alternative to the Ring of Duty, or complement to it if you wear both, the Mineowner's Ring is focused only on stamina. Not only is it a better stamina buff, but it also increases the rate your stamina recovers so you can get back on the offensive as fast as possible.

Read more
How to beat Pieta in Lords of the Fallen
lords of the fallen gdc preview open world

As is expected from the Soulslike genre, Lords of the Fallen is filled to the brim with immensely challenging boss fights that cap off stretches of perilous exploration. While you'll engage in a simple boss encounter during the tutorial, the first real showdown that you'll have is with Pieta, She of Blessed Renewal, who will test your reflexes and patience to prepare you for even tougher fights to come. Here are some tips for how to beat her.
How to beat Pieta, She Of Blessed Renewal
When you're ready to face off against Pieta, you'll want to be sure you've prepared first by using up any Vigor you're carrying by leveling up at the closest vestige. Also, make sure you've spoken to the Iron Wayfarer just before the ladder leading to the ramparts where you face the boss. If you've spoken to him there and exhausted his dialogue, you'll be able to summon him beside the boss door to help you in the fight. He's great at keeping aggro and dishing out a bit of extra damage, though you can expect he'll perish around the time you reach the second phase of the fight.

When you're all set, engage Pieta and get in close to her. Her first phase is fairly easy, consisting primarily of slow, telegraphed melee combos that are easy to dodge once you have the rhythm down. She will, however, occasionally hold her sword up for a moment, at which point you'll need to wait a split second before dodging left or right to avoid a high-damage beam of Radiant magic. Otherwise, wail away on her until you reduce her health to around the 70% mark, at which point she'll slam her sword into the ground and begin her second phase.

Read more
How to unlock the Dark Crusader class in Lords of the Fallen
A warrior stands in an Umbral hallway in Lords of the Fallen.

While not a universal rule, most games that fall into the soulslike genre feature different starting classes that dictate how your character will play -- at least early on. In Lords of the Fallen, you will choose between a list of nine default classes, but there are a couple more that aren't immediately available to you. The Dark Crusader is an interesting one, as there are technically two ways to get it, but only one that lets you do your first playthrough as this brooding soldier. This isn't an overpowered class to pick, but it is a great choice if you want a strength and radiance build. Here are the two ways in which you can unlock the Dark Crusader in Lords of the Fallen.
How to unlock the Dark Crusader
The easiest way to unlock this class, and the only method where you can have access to it before playing the game at all, is to have purchased the Deluxe Edition of Lords of the Fallen. While it is disappointing for the game to withhold a class from players who didn't pay extra, the silver lining is that there is a natural way to get the class without spending any extra cash.

If you're playing on a normal copy of the game, unlocking this class will take a bit of work. You must access and fully complete Issac's side quest chain. This involves finding and examining four Umbral stigmas, followed by defeating Issac and claiming his gear from the Umbral realm. The last step is to summon Issac to help you during the boss battle against the Lightreaper. After you've finished this questline, you will be able to select the Dark Crusader when starting a new character.

Read more