When it released in early 2010, Darksiders set a ridiculously high watermark for the rest of the year. The game borrowed some of the best elements from other franchises, and combined them into a masterpiece, what would prove to be one of the best games (and biggest surprises) of the year. As Darksiders ended on a huge cliff-hanger with hints of a sequel, we were extremely excited to get an early look at what's coming in Darksiders II.

First off, Darksiders II isn't really a "sequel" in terms of the storyline. The story takes place in parallel to the first game, so it's yet to be seen if the cliff-hanger from the first will be resolved or not. What we do know is that there's a new protagonist, the leader of the four horsemen, Death. With War banished to Earth by the Charred Council after being blamed for starting the apocalypse, Death has secretly travelled to The Abyss in an attempt to revive the human race, and prove his brothers innocence. With a raven on his shoulder (which serves as Death's version of The Watcher), you'll explore a massive new open world and try to clear your brothers name.

With the introduction of Death comes a variety of gameplay changes and tweaks. First and foremost, Death is much quicker and more agile than War, which has sped up the gameplay and combat considerably. Where War used his strength to survive, Death uses his speed. Death takes advantage of his agility in combat and navigation, as demonstrated by his ability to "roam" or traverse walls in select areas, and bounce between walls. A variety of new spells and attacks were showcased as well, such as the "murder" spell, which summons a huge flock of ravens to attack a target. Like War's Chaos form, Death has the ability to transform into a Reaper, an extremely powerful high damage creature that will destroy anything in it's path.

Death's primary weapon is dual wielding scythes, with a default secondary weapon being a large hammer. The scythe is a quick attack weapon with moderate damage, while the hammer is much slower, but devastating on contact. As well, you'll see the return of the trusty pistol, and addition of claws, a very quick low damage attack, among many others. As with Darksiders, the attack system is combo based and there are many attacks possible with a single weapon, or combination of your primary and secondary weapons.

Some of the most notable gameplay enhancements are intended to help drive the narrative, and offer the player more choice. Where Darksiders allowed you to play at your own pace, the sequel will introduce new timed traversal sequences, such as scaling a wall or solving a puzzle before being engulfed in a lava flow. Also new to Darksiders II is the addition of (very large) side quests, where the first game took place in a partially open world, the narrative was very linear with very few places that really allowed you to deviate. Darksiders II introduces these optional side quests that you can undertake to level up your character and get more background on the story. All of this takes place in a much larger world, with a wide variety of environments, from tight claustrophobic dungeons, to lush outdoor worlds.

Given the talented art team behind Darksiders, the sequel will certainly not disappoint in artistic direction. A huge variety of new enemies have been showcased thus far, each offering unique animations, weapons, and attributes. Visually, Darksiders II is gorgeous, following a similar art style as the original, with a more polished and enhanced overall look.

While the information thus far on Darksiders II is limited, we can't wait to get some hands-on time with more about this highly-anticipated sequel later this year. The game is due out this June on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and PC.