E3 2013: Dark Souls 2 broke me


By Darryn Bonthuys on Monday, June 24, 2013

Dark Souls II (4)

Dark Souls is a funny game. It punishes and punishes players, feeding them mere slivers of hope until they can finally break through the pain, like the functioning parts of Rocky Balboa’s face when up against Ivan Drago’s fists. There’s a sequel on the way, that promises to create an atmosphere that is more accessible for newcomers. Veterans are worried that this means that the game is being dumbed down. Well, they may not have anything to worry about, because the suffering is going to be equal opportunity.

Dark Souls II (1)

I played some Dark Souls 2 at a Namco Bandai meeting room after flashing some puppy dog eyes, at E3. For me, this was my very first experience with the game. And boy, did I suck at it. The Namco Bandai representative recommended that I start out with a knight, a balanced sword and shield type.

As I was also told, character have more emphasis on dual-wielding now, which while nothing new, is expanded upon in Dark Souls 2. So how about that gameplay then? I can honestly say that the enemies in Dark Souls 2 are the spirits of internet trolls incarnated into gameplay form.

Dark Souls II (2)

It’s not enough for a bunch of them to swarm you like politicians on a campaign trail. Or to go into some sort of frenzied attack formation the second you try and gain some health back with a sip from your Estus flask. They’re the kind of enemies who’ll lull you into a false sense of security, lying around and waiting for you to turn your back, before they’ll get up and proceed to stab your vital organs.

All of this, as part of a plan to focus on making the enemy AI less predictable, I was told. And those are just the minions of Dark Souls 2. At one point, while navigating a dark cellar that reeked of imminent death, I was confronted by a turtle knight, a lumbering behemoth clad in too much damn armour that would charge me and buried his foot in my ass several times.

Dark Souls II (3)

While being thoroughly trounced for what must have been the fifth time by this damn night, who was using me as a back-scratcher, I asked Namco Bandai’s Matt Warner what the plan was exactly for making Dark Souls 2 accessible. To many fans, this was a fear that the game would be dumbed down. Not so, said Matt.

We’re going to make it less of a grind. That gets tedious and boring after a while. We want to reward players when they accomplish something in the game.

Part of this strategy is to also make your class choice a more crucial part of the game, as it’ll have a bigger impact on your quest. The game in the beginning is going to be a tad easier it seems. But that’s just to rope in players, before the full Dark Souls experience tears them a new orifice or four. Bonfire quick travel will now also be available as soon as you discover a location, while the graphics have been redesigned with added motion capture.

Having finally made it to the demo boss, the Mirror Knight, I was hit with a little bit of subtle trolling from the game. For each time a player died, a candle would be lit in the bonfire room before you faced the boss. My character was born in the darkness, but by the time he reached the Mirror Knight, the light from all those candles was blinding.

Dark Souls II (5)

As for the fight himself…he’s a bastard. It’s not enough that he’s a massive beast that shaves away a ton of life on each strike. It’s not good enough that he shoots lightning from his sword, or that it requires perfect timing to dodge.

It’s the fact that he can throw down his vaunted reflective shield, and summon a doppelganger of your character to battle you with, that is the real kicker here. A character I was told, that can be taken control of by outside forces. Such as other players. How’s that for unpredictable AI?

Dark Souls 2 broke me, put me back together again and then proceeded to repeat the punishing actions all over again. The game hates me, will most likely make snide comments behind my back and is probably sending flowers to my mother right now in order to really get under my skin.

And dammit, I want more abuse.

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Author:Darryn Bonthuys

Because he's the writer that Lazygamer deserves, but not the one it actually needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can't take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a loud-mouthed journalist, a watchful procrastinator. A dork knight.
  • RinceTheBurnWithIce

    I want this game sooo much!

    • Trevor Davies

      Me too, but at the same time I don’t want it, because I know I’m going to hate it, & love it at the same time.

      • RinceTheBurnWithIce

        Totally with you on that. Shame, OVG got to level 100 and then the save file corrupted! LOL

        • Trevor Davies

          Eish, I can imagine the rage erupting like the fury of 1,000 suns.

          • RinceTheBurnWithIce

            It was not a pretty picture. He refused to go back to it. I don’t blame him. You can only have one file at a time and you cannot make a copy of it!

          • Trevor Davies

            This is why the master race is the master race ;P

          • RinceTheBurnWithIce

            Master race, Vita? trololol!

          • Trevor Davies

            Back under your bridge!

  • Captain Minion TallTwit

    Game sounds awesome. Plus Darryn’s article kept me chuckling.

  • Dean

    I almost cried…. It’s everything I could have wanted….

  • George

    Today I am a happy man. I played DS on my Xbox before it broke. I never got it on PC because of all the bad reviews. I just wish they make a legitimate PC game this time around. And fix the damn frame rates on all of the systems!

    • Trevor Davies

      Well they’ve confirmed they’re spending more time getting the PC version right this time.

      I’m playing DS now on the PC & it’s just fine, all you need is the graphics fix mod & you’re good to go.

      • George

        I didn’t know that. I might start looking around the bargain bins for DS1. I so badly want to finish this devil game.

        • Argentil

          PS Plus this month, free game :P Offer ends 4th July 2013 afaik.

          • Skyblue

            I believe it’s Demon’s Souls on offer, not Dark Souls. I think Demon’s is more difficult.

          • Hammersteyn

            Lots and lots more difficult. But just as fun.

        • RinceTheBurnWithIce

          If you are going to, make sure you play it offline. My boet lost his save file about 50 hours in because something went wrong when it was syncing.

          • Trevor Davies

            I don’t know if you can play offline completely. It uses GfWL :(
            Besides, having the possibility of random people invading your game when you’re human adds to the tension.

          • Argentil

            Hackers. PC version is plagued by hackers. It’s ridiculous. You’re safer on the console versions.

          • Trevor Davies

            I haven’t experienced that yet, but then I spend most of my time as hollowed to avoid it. Only really go human to kindle bonfires.

          • Argentil

            One of the best multiplayer experiences I had was with the original Asian version of Demon’s Souls. Honour prevails and whatnot. Every invasion was preceded by a bow between duelists, and then a match to the death. After platting the Asian version, I bought the European version, and it was like night and day. Invade a world and people pull network cables to avoid dying, a couple of exploiters and a much lower skill threshold.
            I’m not even exaggerating, I was so surprised at the marked difference in gamer quality cross-continent. I had a similar experience with FFXIV online, the Japanese playerbase are much more organised and polite, the downside to that is that they are elitist. So horribly elitist. They would not group with non-Japanese players at all in some cases. Quite an interesting social experiment.

          • RinceTheBurnWithIce

            I managed to play offline at home. But yes, the invading was hectic. I swear I shat a brick when someone came into my game and murdered me. AWWESOME!

      • George

        I know this is an old conversation, but I just got DS on steam. What mod are you using?

        Also, is it legal, because I don’t want my steam library to become blocked or something

  • http://www.codescrawls.co.za/ OminousRain

    “For each time a player died, a candle would be lit in the bonfire room before you faced the boss”

    That is just so cruel.

    • Hammersteyn

      LOL the place will burn down.

      • http://www.codescrawls.co.za/ OminousRain

        Oooo… a strategy emerges.
        You die so often, that the amount of candles raise so high, that consumes all the air in the room, suffocating the boss.

        You who will at this point in time will be undead; so you will have no problem walking through the area.

        Wait…. what if the boss is undead… Damn…..

        • Hammersteyn

          Most undead like skeletons and zombies hates fire to begin with. Plus fire magic is very potent in Dark Souls so there is a strategy there.

  • Melasco

    I finished dark souls on Saturday for the first time… Cant believe I only played it now… Was EPIC, and I’m probably far from done with it… Keeping my PS3 just for Dark Souls 2. Cant wait….

    • CaptainNemo42

      I’m about 30 hours in. Dropped a ton of souls in the Depths. I got cursed in the process so only half health. On top of that. The Bonfire at the Firelink Shrine is out, so it’s a long track back to the depths to go and collect my souls. That is why I haven’t touched the game in three weeks. And I’m itching to get in there again.

      • Argentil

        We’re all Souls brothers here. We’ve all been there. We’ve all lost a pile of souls and humanity in stupid, stupid, undignified ways.

      • Trevor Davies

        lol. I lost 50k souls in the Crystal Caves on Saturday & got cursed the first time I came up against Seath the Scaleless.

      • http://www.codescrawls.co.za/ OminousRain

        Spend allot of hours on the game. I looked at a guide, to get an idea of how far I’m into the game. And I’m in only half way.

        The game is evil in a sense that you die ALOT, It;s like you keep hitting your head against the wall, but you just can’t stop doing it.

    • Hammersteyn

      I know right. That feeling when you can put your controller down and watch the ending and the credits. It’s like Frodo beating Sauron in a sword fight.

  • ElimiNathan

    I must still get a copy of Darks Souls 1

  • Argentil

    “We’re going to make it less of a grind. ”
    Demon’s Souls, bladestone. Many sighs of frustration and disappointment were had back then. Getting that trophy really felt like an achievement though. Hopefully end-tier item grind stays the same. Dark Souls didn’t really have an equivalent to the bladestone, did it?

    • CaptainNemo42

      Man, I got trolled by some bloke on that one. Right after I beat the Fools Idol, I got a Soul Summon Sign. The guy helped me all the way like a true friend, and “conveniently” died right before killing the final Maneater. So he was right there. Ready to screw me over.

      I didn’t see that one coming and I think he must have laughed his head off! At least I got a backstab in because of that ring that makes me invisible to black phantoms. He still pwnd me.

      • Argentil

        Haha! Good times. Can’t wait for this.

  • Skyblue

    Summed it up perfectly Darryn, those fukken games really get under your skin and you can’t stop playing them, masochistic delight.

  • Hammersteyn

    Kill me please. the Souls series has to be up there as one of the most unique ever by mix of difficulty and challenge alone. Never has beating just the first level boss ever felt so rewarding.

    • http://www.codescrawls.co.za/ OminousRain

      Can agree with that.
      There isn’t really any games out there that gives you the rewarding feeling when defeating a boss.

  • Tarisma

    The last release day purchase I mad was dark souls. Even got the special edition. Methinks this will be the next day1 purchase I make

    • Hammersteyn

      Agreed, few games get the adrenaline pumping like this series.

  • TheGrammargestapo1 .

    I would feel better if the guy knew what he was doing. No offense to
    the writer, its good you’ve been exposed to a great series, but your
    idea of difficult and my idea considering I can speedrun the entirety of
    DkS in 3 hours are two totally different things. Now that we long time
    fans have the mechanical skill built up, what we really want to know is
    whether the game will still maintain the difficulty of the original
    AFTER that first time learning curve? Regardless of how good you were
    or even how good your equipment was, relaxing and trying to go overly
    fast in an area like the Dukes Archives would consistently punish you
    with death, and NG+ made armor upgraded to have better stats the highest
    res base armor in the game would last you 3 hits even on weaker
    enemies. I will be going into DkS 2 with over 1700 hours combined
    training on demon’s and dark souls, will the difficulty I crave still be there for me after that shiny-new honeymoon period?

  • Pingback: Japanese gaming mag reveals Dark Souls 2 class videos | Lazygamer .:: The Worlds Best Video Game News ::.

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