It scares me and I’ve played 20 hours of it.
It scares me and I’ve bested the original Demon’s Souls.
It scares me and I reached the fiery pits of Lost Izalith in Dark Souls.
And I’m confident it would scare the crap straight out of me were I a New Game +++ veteran of both!
This is From Software’s third Survival Horror, at least in its purest form. Believe me when I say they comfortably lead the industry in this regard!
But you should absolutely play Dark Souls II.
I wish to emphasise this point.
I want to make it plain and bold.
If only there was some font options available to me so I could underline the importance of this statement.
In the absence of my ability to perform rudimentary word doc formatting, behold five easily digestible reasons why the most exquisite misery the Game Industry affords should not be shied away from.
Dual Wielding Ultra Greatswords!
Alternatively Dual Wielding Scimitars!
Or Dual Wielding Halberds!
Hell, even Dual Wielding Kitchen Ladles has its own perverse appeal…
I should talk a while about the Power Stance. The reasons for this are twofold -
1) It’s got an awesome name. Power. Stance. Think about it. A stance which IS power.
2) It makes the Glass Cannon approach much more tenable.
While in Demon’s and Dark before it, DSII allows players to mix and match their weaponry – Sword in the right and spear in the left? Sure. Bandit Axe plus Giant Club? A little on the nose but why not, eh?! A Rapier in one and Whip in the other? Go ahead buddy, it’s your funeral!
The difference being that once your character manages 1.5 times the stats needed to wield your chosen arms, holding Triangle/Y unlocks a wealth of new combination attacks. Sure, this approach is a ‘Stamina Nommer’ (technical term). Also the distinct lack shield puts the onus on you to get the f*** out of dodge. But you’re attack avenues open right up!
Deal untold damage to a single foe. Wipe out a horde with a flourishing pirouette, Power-Stance will make you feel like the Boss of Dark Souls II. Until you get stung on the counter, at least…
Check out them Dedicated Servers!
This sounds like a boring addition. And it is. But it translates into more stable, more sustainable more speedier summoning and invasions!
From Software is harkening back to the originator, Demon’s Souls here, recognising the misstep of peer-to-peer matchmaking in the original Dark Souls. And its effect is immediate – Once I drop my White Soapstone Sign, letting the world know I am ready, nay, willing to travel to another world and flap about like an agitated penguin, on average only 15 SECONDS elapse before summoning. Sometimes I’d be lucky if 15 minutes saw me summoned in Dark Souls.
Speedier connections aren’t the flashiest change in DSII. But they accommodate…
Supremely Helpful and Clearly Defined Covenants!
You might THINK you have no interest in multiplayer. But the first time you and a pair of bowing weirdos rampage a level, reading scribbled messages for hints, avoiding traps via useful bloodstains, frantically cover each other with last minute ripostes, scramble to protect the summoner from a towering Area Boss and eventually regain your precious humanity, you’re tune is going to change right smart.
Dark Souls II is a dish best served (severed?) online – an unexpectedly warm community sparkles with help, encouragement and the utmost respect. Even Invaders approach with such mischievous charm you won’t resent the affront half as much as you’ll clamber to respond in kind.
Joining a Covenant is the bestest way to get in on this noise.
Want to protect the innocent from malicious invaders – Join The Blue Sentinels!
Want to leave devious traps for your fellow players – Pledge Allegiance to The Rat King!
Want to discover a unique new area and best the Darklurker – Become a Pilgrim of Dark!
Full disclosure: If you want to get the most of DSII, join a covenant. Hell, join them all.
If you’re a glutton for punishment however…
You Can Make the Game Even Harder [Backslash] Easier.
There was a lot of pre-release worry among the hardcore – Have From Software lost their nerve and released an easy Souls game? SILENCE NERDS! Anyone who’s spent so much as an hour with DSII will laugh at the frothing absurdity of this statement.
DSII is ball-crunchingly hard.
It’s so hard it’ll crunch your balls!
And that’s just the base level – Say Demon’s and Dark have turned you into an unrepentant masochist. A worryingly conceivable scenario all things considered. Try this one for size…
1) Stay away from me. Sicko.
2) Join the Company of Champions Covenant. It disables all co-operation.
2) Burn a Human Effigy and Bonfire Ascetic to dispel phantoms and permanently increase enemy difficulty.
3) Occasionally use Lloyd’s Talisman to temporarily block Estus Flask recovery.
4) Hack down every friendly NPC in sight – They won’t respawn and you’ll be royally buggered for the rest of the game.
5) Farm areas over and over until foes stop respawning. Oh this makes the game easier, does it? SHUT UP, NERD! Given the only item for reinstating humanity is the human effigy, a limited enemy drop, you’ll eventually run out of even these. Uh-oh.
6) See a therapist. Sicko.
But perhaps you just can’t handle all the hurt DSII has in store. No shame in it, save perhaps the snort of derision I just heard. In this case…
Third Time’s The Charm!
Like I said, this is From Software’s third time in this particular role and by now they’re pretty adept at stealing the show. And so it’s only right and proper that DSII is a hybrid of all the good ideas its forbearers bristled with.
So there’s a central hub, hauntingly picturesque Majula, with merchants and blacksmiths and some broad who lets you level up.
There’s also instant Fast Travel. But this is just to save you time and energy you could otherwise spend being murdered.
Equipment is more fragile than ever. But a quick snooze by the bonfire should see it repaired. Unless its breaks…
In a series first, you can respect your character. But only with a scarce, expensive resource.
Fulfilling your duty as a jolly phantom WILL restore your humanity. But only once in a blue moon. Stats Bonuses now apply to ALL weapons, be they imbued with lightning or fire or whatever. But to counterbalance this, most shields DO NOT offer 100% physical resistance.
So blocking, now more than ever, is a good way to get your head removed, shrunken and adorned on the belt of a scythe wearing mummy.
Lifegems, HP replenishing pick-ups, compliment your bonfire-refilled Estus Flask. That’s right -TWO methods of resting hit points. That said, they both wicked slow and the latter flask only starts with a measly, solitary mouthful.
Even Magic is more varied and powerful this time around, but it’s a ‘Stamina Nommer’ now too!
This is a clever game, folks. It was designed for noobs and vets alike. Meticulously so. It’s the most accessible of the three, the most accommodating Souls title and undoubtedly the one your should start with.
But you’re right to be scared by Dark Souls II.
It’s bloody terrifying.
It’s Merciless. It shows no mercy.
It’s Pitiless. It takes no pity.
It’s Ruthless. There are no Ruths in it.
But Heartless? Perish the thought.
Might as well, you’ll be a dab hand at perishing before you’re through.