Hands On With Dark Souls II

In my opinion – and let’s leave all those arguments about the poor PC port out of this – Dark Souls is the greatest game ever made. Precise and deep combat systems, an astounding lore woven throughout its tonally perfect dark fantasy world, and a sense of 3D architecture nothing else even comes close to. With all of that said, I wasn’t whooping at the announcement of Dark Souls II. Call it what you will – a Gollum-like protectionism over My Precious, a sense that nothing could ever quite match up to that original, or something worse – but the truth is I was anxious at the idea of a sequel. Nevertheless, when the opportunity arose to get hands-on, I braved the bleak halls find out for myself. And, for my sins, I found out.

You’ll want to read on for that stuff, terrible soul-searching, and to find out how many times I died.

The area of Dark Souls II on show at the Eurogamer Expo has been in the public eye for a little while, and has been expertly crafted to provide almost zero clues about the wider world outside of its confines. There are few clues about the story and setting, though the trailers strongly suggest this is a prequel and in some way involves the Goddess Velka (a peripheral figure in Dark Souls) as well as having many more dragons. I asked about the PC version’s release, and “soon after” the console games was the tight-lipped reply.

What the demo does show are the enormous under-the-hood changes to Dark Souls II’s combat system, most of which are probably to do with the sequel’s full-blooded embrace of multiplayer. The original’s online had a singularly unusual structure that made it always a fleeting occurrence; a summoned warrior to help with a boss, or someone invading your world for an adrenalin-soaked battle to the death lasting minutes.

The original had nine Covenants that, in theory, were supposed to feed into this – in practice, only three were dependable and the others were a mix of temperamental and useless. The important final point is that, despite the difficulty of arranging matches and the often ruinous lag, Dark Souls gave birth to an online PvP community that is still thriving – though, it has to be said, almost entirely on consoles rather than PC (thank you and good riddance, Games for Windows Live).

It is important to understand this aspect of Dark Souls because Dark Souls II’s biggest objective seems to be doing it again – but right. Covenants and PvP have been given much more attention this time around, and the promise is of a multiplayer experience that you don’t have to tortuously wrestle into shape. This leads us onto the combat system on show in the Dark Souls II demo, and by far the most noticeable aspect of it is a slowed-down pace married to an overhaul of the parry system.

Parries are the core element of combat in the Souls series; they’re both what let you get through a tough defense, and turn outright aggression back on itself. They worked beautifully in Dark Souls’ singleplayer because they were instantaneous, split-second in both judgement and execution. You saw the attack coming in, parried the second before it hit, and boom – success. In Dark Souls II the wind-up on your attacks feels considerably longer, the same goes for most enemy attacks, and in-keeping with this the timing of parries has been altered considerably. It’s no longer enough to have reflexes – you have to judge the attack, allow for your parry’s startup animation, and combine the two.

In one sense this is simply a question of re-learning your timings – something that it wasn’t possible for me to do very well over the course of a demo, but will come easily enough once the game’s out. The underlying question though is why make this change to such a great combat system? The answer is in Dark Souls PvP or, to be more precise, the parts of it that never really worked. To call parrying in Dark Souls PvP a hit-and-miss affair is being too kind. It doesn’t work. You can parry in PvP, but the latency in the game’s networking system means you can only do it reliably through prediction – learning katana swing timings, for example, and gambling that an unskilled opponent will spam the attack key.

By making attack wind-ups larger, and parrying less of a twitch skill, From Software has created a way in which parries can become a core part of skill-based PvP combat rather than a high-risk roulette. And that’s not all. Another change is to the hitboxes on backstabs which, in the first game, were enormous – being slightly behind someone’s arm was basically enough, which was eminently exploitable online and could even be combined with dodging for some true bullshit in the form of the ‘roll BS’ tactic. In Dark Souls II the backstab hitboxes have been enormously reduced, so that you have to be basically facing between an opponent’s shoulderblades when hitting attack. The fact that there are now bespoke animations for each weapon’s backstab, and they all look amazing, is merely the icing on the cake.

These changes demonstrate how seriously Dark Souls II is taking multiplayer beyond it being simply a marketing bulletpoint – in short, and as much as I love Dark Souls, this stuff had to happen. In fact it’s a little strange to be talking so much about multiplayer based on a singleplayer demo, particularly involving a series that has always been focused on delivering a singleplayer experience where multiplayer is merely extra spice. But PvE’s had a shakeup too.

A brief digression: people often discuss Dark Souls in terms of its difficulty and, while I understand why, it’s an aspect of the game that is less important than this would suggest. But Dark Souls II seems to be even more difficult. It’s not than any individual enemy is especially difficult to defeat, but that in this brief slice of play they tend to be positioned in such a manner that you can’t avoid aggroing multiple opponents at once. This is never good.

My first life ended fast. I climbed down a ladder, turned right, and hit a dead end. I took this opportunity to admire the wall textures, which really are superb, then nearly jumped out of my seat as two previously-unnoticed soldiers attacked from behind and stunlocked my poor warrior. You Died. Well, at least that was familiar.

Second time, I went down and immediately turned left, shield raised like a good Souls noob. Sure enough both of the soldiers are triggered by your landing, so you can’t avoid a 2 vs 1 battle here unless you take out the first quickly. Two-handing my longsword, which has a similar moveset to Dark Souls, did the trick, and I switched to a thwomping greatsword to finish off the second.

Collecting my thoughts, I used the new lifecrystal – which recharges your health slowly, as opposed to the big one-off restoration that a chug of Estus still provides. While I was waiting, I decided to strip off and noticed something very interesting; roll speed is no longer tied to armour weight. I was naked and rolling at the same speed as I was in armour. This is a major change from Dark Souls and, one would hazard a guess, again a PvP-focused change.

Going onwards gave me the opportunity to acquire a fiery torch, another new mechanic that also serves to show off the gorgeous new lighting effects, and get into a fight that was again frankly unfair – two soldiers, a fat lad with a mace, and some dick firing arrows from way up the back. After a few heroic seconds of this, I unthinkingly switched the torch out for a shield and made everything dark again, which didn’t seem to affect the enemies’ eyesight all that much, and got unceremoniously crushed in a corner.

Aware my time was running low, life three was all about running through this gauntlet and didn’t go so well – though I did get further with life four. On that occasion I got past the enemies and hit the blessed outdoors. There were a few soldiers, sure, and a couple of archers, but I swanned about like Bertie Big Bollocks and smashed them out of their socks. Don’t these guys know who I am? This was starting to get comfortable.

Unfortunately I hadn’t quite credited FromSoft as being FromSoft. Those enemies I’d ran by in the darkness? They now spawned ahead of me as black phantom versions, which as any Souls veteran will know means they’re much nastier, and the tubby chap unceremoniously bashed me off the cliff. Fifth life? I killed myself by rolling off a bridge. DARK SOULS.

It’s worth mentioning that, despite the lack of lore clues scattered about this demo setting, the overall vibe I got from Dark Souls II’s world was as much Demon’s Souls as Dark Souls – the black phantom enemies in particular were such a cool part of the former, and largely forgotten about in the sequel. One might hope for more psychologically screwy locales, too – Dark Souls had plenty of grim and sad places, but places like Demon’s Souls’ Tower of Latria or Valley of Defilement are especially piquant.

Dark Souls II is a strange game to preview. The way I put it to Jim was, if you’re vaguely interested in the Souls games it looks like more of the same – but if you’re obsessed with the Souls games, and that’s me for sure, then it feels like everything’s changed. The tiniest thing, like a slower Estus-chugging animation, feels like a major tonal shift; and in thinking that, you wonder if you’re a crazy man.

Does this feel as nice as Dark Souls? Because of that slower pace to combat and the other reasons above, frankly no. But that’s because it’s unfamiliar, a small demo area, and I’ve put hundreds of hours into Dark Souls; by rights I should be in the loony bin when it comes to this series. If I’m wrong, great. And if I’m right? Well then, by my lights Dark Souls II will only be the third-best game of all time.

A terrible fate, indeed.

Dark Souls II is due for release on PC after it comes out on consolebox. Boo!


  1. killias2 says:

    First nitpick: the proper original is Demon’s Souls. You could probably argue that they’re all spiritual successors of King’s Field, also by From, but that’s arguable in either direction. Demon’s Souls isn’t really arguable. It’s the same basic game. The lack of an open world is the only big differences.

    Edit: To those curious, I was responding to this, “…a sense that nothing could ever quite match up to that original,” which, in context, refers to Dark Souls. Demon’s Souls comes up quite a bit in the body, which I’m happy to see, as it is too often forgotten in these discussions.

    • Flavorfish says:

      Not only that, but I would argue the Demon’s Souls was a much better game than Dark Souls. Better art style, difficulty that isn’t artificially inflated through cheap tricks, more engaging lore and story, and more clearly defined mechanics.

      • killias2 says:

        I played Dark Souls more recently, so it has more affection right now. But I remember absolutely adoring Demon’s Souls at release. I think it’s still the only PS3 game to successfully turn my attention away from my PC. Overall, I just don’t feel comfortable comparing the two, haha. It’d be like deciding which of my (hypothetical) children I love more.

      • wanderjahr says:

        I would definitely say Demon’s Souls was harder. The idea of a refillable Estus Flask in Demon’s Souls would have been incomprehensible to me.

        • Jexiah8bit says:

          The health restoration system in Demon’s Souls was so broken it made the game a silly stomp compared to Dark Souls. I mean come on, 99 of every level of healing plant by 1-3? At least the Estus Flasks had to be refilled at bonfires.

      • zosima says:

        I preferred Demon’s Souls but some of the mechanics were improved in Dark Souls. Demon Soul’s had a very steep difficulty at the beginning but after the first boss, I had so many of those healing leaves that the game got much easier and the stakes got much lower. In Dark Souls you couldn’t stockpile healing items in the same way, making for a more even challenge across the game, even if it wasn’t quite as hard at the worst parts as the original.

        Agree with this preview though that a lot of the multiplayer mechanics were broken.(In both games) I had a great time using poison resin on a big hammer strength build in Dark Souls. When someone invades with one of those annoying back-pokey dex builds, I’d just wait for an opening: SMASH! Breaks block, poisoned. Then I just hang out behind my shield until they die. Watching them get flattened and then they realize that they were doomed by the poison. It was great fun. I made so many sad gankers.

        • Volcanu says:

          I enjoyed doing something similar with my Man Serpent Greatsword (stop tittering at the back!)….immensely satisfying biding your time against those rolly, pokey, pyromancer type dex builds that seemed so fond of invading. Weathering a storm of quick attacks, waiting for the opening and then imagining the looks on their faces as an enormous sword crashes into their head, stunlocking them and lettign you line up the killing blow.

      • Jexiah8bit says:

        I respect your view but also find the two to be about equal in difficulty balancing. And more importantly, I found Dark Souls to be far more compelling hour after multitude of hours to be in. I must have logged 300 or more hours in Dark Souls, while only 50 or so in Demon’s. And I still return to Dark Souls all the time, just because the world has me enraptured, while Demon’s Souls’ world just didn’t for some reason.

      • fish99 says:

        You’re not the only one who thought Demon’s Souls was the superior game. The story and world were more engaging, the levels were more varied, the enemies more memorable and the game dripped atmosphere. Some bits of Dark Souls felt a bit empty, and other bits were too well lit to have much atmosphere.

    • KhanIHelpYou says:

      nitpicking the nitpick, the games called Dark Souls 2. Presumably making Dark Souls the original Dark Souls? It might have been nice if they’d continued the trend of keeping the names slightly more disconnected.

      I found the best part of my dark souls experience was being flung into a world with almost no explanation and everything being new. gradually getting my bearings, the first foray when I had no idea what to expect and every area and enemy was a new experience.

      I never played Demons souls, don’t have a ps3. I worry though that that sense of total unfamiliarity will be lost to me in the sequel, I hope the level design is as good or better than dark souls. I really liked the way the whole map felt connected and solid. Like a real place to explore instead of a bunch of stitched together rooms.

      • subshell001 says:

        Darker Souls, with the thrilling conclusion to the trilogy, Darkest Souls

    • imallinson says:

      As much as I loved Demon’s Souls I think the fact that you could cheese the shit out of half the bosses took a lot away from the experience. Its an amazing game but there was so much straight up op stuff in that game that it made it reasonably easy after the first couple of levels. The level design was amazing in Demon’s Souls though and I’d love if they incorporated some of the really dark stuff from that into Dark Souls 2.

    • Jenks says:

      Demon’s Souls isn’t the original Dark Souls, they’re two different series. Sony owns the Demon’s Souls IP.
      It would be like saying Halo is the original Destiny.

    • TommyRocket says:

      ahhh semantics.

      i loved playing demon’s souls. But after playing dark souls the concept of the hub makes it feel like mario 64 or something in retrospect. i realize the name change and rebranding was probably due to publishing issues but overall i’ll take the open world and the covenants. to me dark souls is a new start. i sort of think of demon’s souls as the series’ hobbit to the lord of the rings trilogy [though with less of a connection]. it’s great! it sets the groundwork, tone mechanics; but overall it’s not quite as epic or fleshed out, though all those seeds are there.

      great review! i’m excited about this new game, just put in my preorder!

  2. DrScuttles says:

    A simple and low-hanging sequel consisting of essentially just a new overworld to explore and die repeatedly in would have satisfied my Dark Souls itch to levels potentially uncomfortable for my neighbours. Everything that’s being reported about Dark Souls 2 takes it that precious step further; it’s Dark Souls, but you need to learn everything again. Dark Souls is the best of all things (and anyone who claims otherwise is a smelly) but that sense of exploration and learning can never be regained once you’re familiar with the game.
    Basically, I just want to feel that sense of “oh fuck, what is that thing?” again, but I don’t want to have to drill my brain to do so.

    • MykulJaxin says:

      Even knowing the map I still found a welcome sense of discomfort as I played as different characters. Where some enemies where hard for one character build, they might be easier for another. I constantly found my eyes being opened to new things. When I was doing my first sorcery build, I spent an excessive amount of time down with Rickert of Vinheim. The world was opened to me in a different way than I’d seen it before due to my interaction with that character. I just can’t stay away from Dark Souls.

      • DrScuttles says:

        That’s a good point; different character builds always brought to light a different facet of the game, be they caster, roleplay, specifically for PVP or whatever. There was never quite that same fear of the unknown after my first character though. But you’re totally correct in that you’d suddenly see the game from a completely alien perspective than had previously been understood.

    • Ruffian says:

      Anyone tried the DkS mod that’s supposed to make the enemies more aggressive? Seems like it could help bring that “wtf!?” feeling back for at least another playthrough. :) Looks cool enough. probably will try it myself in the next couple days.

      • DrScuttles says:

        Somehow I’d missed that this mod even existed… well there goes my afternoon. Thanks, Ruffian!

        edit: doesn’t seem to want to work for me. In fact, it does the exact opposite by making enemies refuse to agro.

        • ColonelClaw says:

          Here’s a link to a YouTuber playing that mod, looks amazing: link to m.youtube.com
          Sorry about it being the mobile version, I’m on an iPad reading this.
          I recently did a complete run using just a bow, no melee whatsoever, it was like playing a different game. Much harder but incredibly good fun, I highly recommend giving it a try. No shield allowed, unless it’s on your back (Grass Crest was my choice). Basically you’ve got to get the Composite Bow as soon as you possibly can, which is a bit of an adventure all on its own.

          What an amazing game. I’m nervous for DS2, as I’m having trouble believing it can be as good as the original, hope my fears are misplaced.

          • DrScuttles says:

            Yeah, last time I tried a crazy build (basically whip, no shield) like that I got stuck on Ornstein & Smough.
            As for the agro mod, I finally got it working properly on a separate, unpatched install. Started a new character and got up to O&S. Things got especially mental in Anor Londo, with practically every Silver Knight in the place hunting you down as soon as you venture anywhere inside.

  3. trjp says:

    There’s a word which runs through all these games tho – ‘unfair’ – it should almost be the coloned-extension or subtitle, really.

    Walk into a room – something drops from the ceiling and kills you – unfair

    Walk along a path – attack skeletion on path – another skeleton, hidden upto that point, kicks you into the void – unfair

    I have a belief that every game should be completable on your first sitting if you just PAY ATTENTION and have a bit of talent.

    The DS games (any of them) fail this test over and over again – there are “challenges” which require you to fail in order to realise they even exist – and often repeatedly fail in-order to learn HOW to pass them.

    That is – to my mind – bad design. I guess some people like it – but then some people like having hot wax dripped onto their genitals or the food at Frankie and Bennys!!

    Note: There are some really nice aspects to what DS is doing but it’s inability to stop being a TOTAL DICK means it’s like your “gets drunk just a bit too often” mate, best leave him to die lonely…

    • aliksy says:

      I don’t think you’re paying enough attention. Also, where does something drop on the ceiling and kill you?
      edit: Do you mean the oozes in the depths? They’re clearly visible if you look up. The positioning of the first one above an item just screams “TRAP”, too.

      The traps in Sen’s Fortress, for example, are all noticeable if you look around. The part in the catacombs where that dick flips the bridge and you die? You can roll off to safety if you’re quick. The skeletons that shoot you during the taurus demon fight? Clearly visible if you turn around.

      • MykulJaxin says:

        Slimes in the Depths are frequently difficult to detect, even staring at the ceiling.

        • aliksy says:

          Yeah, forgot about them at first. They can be hard to detect if you’re not looking, not paying attention, or not spamming “lock target”. But the first one is really, really obvious, and if they were easy to see it’d be pointless.

        • Drake Sigar says:

          I never had a problem spotting them, but I think I had my brightness up a little. Often do that in games which ask me to configure the settings using some picture and to keep it barely visible. So of course I’m going to skew it in my favour slightly because the difficulty of games implementing this often depends on darkness.

          • Grey Poupon says:

            Saying you spot them if you configure your settings to something else than what the devs intended isn’t really a good solution. It’s considered cheating in quite a few games and ruins quite a few others that rely on atmosphere. You’re free to do so in your singleplayer games of course, but it’s not really something all of us want to do.

          • dE says:

            Does using lock on count as cheating?
            On a sidenote though, the game teaches you about the slimes before they become a problem. A few steps before the horde, is a single one with an item to lure you in. A single slime drop attack isn’t enough to outright kill you, even if you’ve never put a point into vitality.
            That taught me to look out for stuff falling down from ceilings.

          • Volcanu says:

            I think DS was a remarkably ‘fair’ game, one or two encounters aside. Its very good about telegraphing warning signs/attack patterns.

            I am no power gamer but I would disagree with the legend of Dark Souls being such a hard game. Its challenging but you dont need lightning reflexes or tons of practice to get through it by any means. Challenging (and all the more satisfying for it) is the better term. R-type was hard. Cannon fodder was hard. DS isn’t easy but anyone can be succesful through observing the enviornment and the enemies and being patient, and methodical.

            The slimes I found visible enough without adjusting the brightness if you are looking carefully for them. Which I was after the first one dropped on my head. The game forces you to be cautios, almost paranoid and it’s great for it, especially first tiem through an ara where the tension as you advance is palpable. The game needs to be approached at a deliberate pace, rushing or being careless will get you killed – but it isnt cheap.

      • Ruffian says:

        I’m not going to dispute your experiences with the game, but I think some of what you’re describing was completely intentional, considering it’s entirely possible that pretty much any trap or enemy in the game could be signposted or warned about through other people via the orange soapstone. I don’t think DkS – probably Ds as well, haven’t had the pleasure of playing it, unfortunately. (Damn console boxes and their exlusives.) – is quite the same experience disconnected, whether you’re looking to pvp/pve or not. Certain features of the game kind of “assume” that you’re going to be connected to the net. Like it or not, it’s how the game is.

    • Ansob says:

      The only time the game expects you to die is Seath’s, where the first time you encounter him he’s invulnerable, and you need to die in order to progress the game. That’s it. Every other danger is clearly sign-posted for you to avoid.

      Keep your eyes open, your shield up and your hand away from the run button. Don’t run around like a headless chicken and expect to do well.

      • Scumbag says:

        Apparently you don’t HAVE to die there. Not sure where it was, but someone made a video showing how you just had to walk back through the fog door when you enter his room. Because you have become so heavily programed to think such things are impossible, but apparently not.
        I have not tested this though as I’ve not played up to him in a good long while.

        • Vipermagi says:

          You can avoid death that way, but unless you perform some acrobatics you won’t be able to actually progress after walking away.

          It’s possible to avoid the murderdeal by lowering the elevator, running back onto solid ground before it leaves, and trying to land on the railing of the elevator. Allows you to reach the rest of the Archives that are normally blocked off. More likely than not unintentional, because it also breaks multiplayer in that area for your character.

    • Serpok says:

      >Walk into a room – something drops from the ceiling and kills you – unfair

      If slime drops on your head in the depths – it’s your fault, in the first spot where you meet one – it hangs over suspiciously placed corpse with loot on it, one would notice it if one would PAY ATTENTION

      >Walk along a path – attack skeletion on path – another skeleton, hidden upto that point, kicks you into the void – unfair

      I can think of one such spot in lower undead burg, after capra demon: one hollow thief stands in the middle of the road, another hides behind corner and backstabs you if you run straight at the visible one. Considering that thievs you met before are all hidden in buildings, waiting in ambush, this one, just standing in the middle of the alley should cause enough suspicion to double check surroundings for possible ambush.

      I can’t think of the single trap, ambush or chalenge in dark souls that is impossible to pass on the first try with enough caution and atention.

      • Hillbert says:

        If you’re got the wrong build and you’re fighting a new boss for the first time, then it’s possible to die very very quickly through no fault of your own. Area of effect attacks that you’ve never seen before, attacks that stun lock you through a shield etc. etc.

        It’s a brilliant game, but some of the bosses felt like a chore, for certain builds.

      • Isair says:

        To be fair, if you are paying attention in the depths, it’s possible to find a shortcut that could arguably complicate things a bit. Though even then, the most likely area for your first encounter is open enough that you’d have to be pretty careless for the slimes to hit you.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      Frankie & Bennys food is pretty good actually. Damn your eyes!

    • GameCat says:

      link to static.giantbomb.com

      Unfair my ass. Read graphic manual posted above.
      Two things that are required while playing DS:
      1. Caution
      2. Patience

      • mazzratazz says:

        Exactly this. Seems like the only people claiming the Souls games are unfair are the ones who play them like Call of Duty. The Souls games are some of the only ones where “running” really shouldn’t be considered the default speed. Walk everywhere. Take it slow. If you die, take it even more slow. These are not games that reward twitch skills in general. If you use caution and patience you can avoid 90% of the deaths you’re likely to encounter. Dark Souls is punishing, but – provided you approach it right – not even all that difficult.

        It requires a different mindset, and I can see how it’s baffling to some people who try to approach it like most contemporary action games (I did too, at the start, but quickly realised that was a terrible idea). But once you manage to get into that different headspace things start to make a lot more sense. (and then it’s the best game ever, as Rich said)

    • Blackcompany says:


      Its nice to know someone else sees this. Dark Souls is a very atmospheric game. It is also, in my opinion, poorly designed. And Cheap. To the point of unfair.

      You have nailed the singular problem with Dark Souls perfectly: The “First Playthrough Test” as you have so aptly explained it. In order for a game to be difficult – as opposed to simply being annoying – it must be fair. And fairness means you could actually defeat the entire game without dying once. Provided you were very vigilant, had great timing and reflexes, and some latent twitch skills, a fair game is beatable without a single death.

      Dark Souls is not a fair game. Ergo, it is not hard. Difficulty does not cheat. Dark Souls cheat. Repeatedly. And often. Traps with no warning – Dead. Enemies hidden from view – until they kill you. One shot kills from EVERY boss that you must memorize, at a cost of one death per strike, until you have seen their entire repertoire of moves. Twice. And then memorized the timing of same. Dark Souls is not a hard game; it is a cheap, annoying game that uses this only-for-elitists masquerade to convince those who have the patience to deal with it that everyone else is some lesser form of gamer and that they must defend their Elite Gamer status by relentlessly defending the cheap, poor game design that permeates what could have been a very atmospheric, very challenging game were it not for consistent poor design choices.

      • Senethro says:


      • kyrieee says:

        No, Dark Souls doesn’t cheat. It’s exceedingly fair, the only exceptions being the first Seath encounter and Bed of Chaos. I’m not exceptionally good at the game, I even play with keyboard+mouse, still I beat at least half the bosses on my first try and the majority of the rest in less than three. I haven’t even fully memorized the moves of the hardest bosses.

        Name me five instakill traps you can’t avoid. Good luck.

        I don’t know what your lashing out at Dark Souls fans is about either, people don’t beat it as a badge of honour, in fact most people would tell you that the difficulty is completely overblown. The only ones going on about it are people like you.

        • mazzratazz says:

          Great, thank you. Similarly, despite playing video games since I was about 5 years old I am still almost universally TERRIBLE at them. And yet I beat the vast majority of Dark Souls’ bosses in three tries or less, and probably more than half of them at my first try. Their attacks are always clearly sign-posted, and if you’re cautious and block/dodge consistently, there are very few who’ll insta-kill you.

          Same with the traps. I don’t know what game you’ve been playing but if you don’t rush through things there are practically no traps in the game which will instantly kill you. Most of them can be avoided even without knowing they’re there by simply using caution.

        • derbefrier says:

          better to call it badly designed than admit you just suck at it.

      • waltC says:

        Yes, I thought something was strange about the author exulting in the scripted formulation of two guys attacking him after he climbs down a ladder. OK, reloading a save and running through the script again to “get it right” by killing the guys you already know are going to materialize is, well, it’s sort of just wrong. Much better for him to have climbed down the ladder expecting the worst and…nobody shows up! That would let you know the game isn’t script heavy. It would keep the player guessing, whether he reloads or he doesn’t.

        I don’t know what to think about this game. The fact that it opens on a console generally means, to me, anyway, that the game isn’t good enough to debut on the PC–to a much more jaded and discriminating audience. That generally tells me that I probably won’t like it. I’m primarily a single player. I don’t know about this one. It’s up in the air at the moment and a moot point because there is no PC version available.

        • Senethro says:

          “The fact that it opens on a console generally means, to me, anyway, that the game isn’t good enough to debut on the PC–to a much more jaded and discriminating audience.”

          If this is your attitude you should not touch this game. It is filthy and reeks of console stench. The developer is traditionally a peasanty console-only outfit from a country that has failed to ascend to PC gaming.

          Furthermore, imho, irregardless,

        • King Eternity says:

          I choose to believe that this is just a troll. Otherwise, what hope is there for mankind?

      • JimmyG says:

        @Blackcompany: ” … fairness means you could actually defeat the entire game without dying once. … a fair game is beatable without a single death.”

        I reject your definition of fair, sir, as does anyone who played VVVVVV or Super Meat Boy. Death is a part of life. The only games I ever beat without dying are usually superscripted linear wannabe-movies (though I might bite the dust if I play at a higher difficulty and eat too many bullets before my body has had time to magically recover).

      • MarcP says:

        “Provided you were very vigilant, had great timing and reflexes, and some latent twitch skills, a fair game is beatable without a single death.

        Dark Souls is not a fair game.”

        These two statements are mutually exclusive.

      • Freud says:

        I can’t recall a single boss being able to kill me in a single hit with any attack. I did of course put a few points in vitality and wore armor.

        • Serpok says:


          • Vipermagi says:

            It’s not difficult to survive one of his swings if you’re not incredibly underleveled when you face him. ;) Without the Master Key, it actually takes a decent while until you can get to him at all.

      • maximiZe says:

        mad bcuz bad

      • Scumbag says:

        A few points on how the game “cheats”:
        1) EVERY single thing can be avoided. Sometimes the actions are not 100% clear, but there are telltale signs to them. It is also very rare that these sudden sprung traps outright kill you. Maybe the Arrow traps in Sen’s can kill you, if you let all three hit you, and with that you REALLY have to be not paying attention to let that happen.
        I think the bolder in the Undead asylum points that out the most; it drops a rock before you, giving you a second to dodge out of the way from when the initial rumbling begins. If it does hit you, unless you have only a slither of health left, you wont die. Since you have just gained the flasks to regain health two messages are given: A) I will suddenly pull traps on you from time to time. If you hear a sudden sound, maybe it is time to react and B) Maybe you should try out that healing item I just gave you.
        I will concede that the bridge red dragon was a total dick move however. Curses are also horrid.

        2) Some attacks by bosses and enemies are one hit kill attacks. They are also usually the most heavily telegraphed attacks imaginable.
        “Ok! I am a boss! I am raising my sword slowly and roaring, and the sword has burst into flames, and it is not beginning to vibrate with power, and now all the air around me is igniting and rushing toward me! Maybe, just maybe, I am winding up for a very powerful attack.”
        Even if you have never fought that boss, its usually so blatant that getting in its way is rather silly.

        If it cant be avoided, the chances are it wont oneshot you and, if you are paying attention, it should not happen again. If Dark Souls was a fast, twitch based game then people would have better ground to stand on with the unfair arguments. It is not, and it is so damn slow at times its hard to argue against it.
        I would say if you want unfair, try one of the more linear FPS games with hit-scan weapons and masses of enemies and friends bustling everywhere and stick it on the hardest difficulty. I remember trying to play World at War on the hardest difficulty level and when it came to the Berlin level progress was nigh on impossible due to the fact everything felt like I was running on a roulette wheel of if I die or not.

      • Miltrivd says:

        With the exception of the scripted death at Seath (first encounter) I have beat the game 3 times without dying once under its own rules, killing everything, taking every items lying around, and without skipping any area.

        I only started playing like that after I noticed how fair the game is in it’s mechanics. Every dead (unless a glitch happens) ends up being the player’s fault.

    • Reapy says:

      Also, playing on the 360 online (in undead form), just about every trap was labeled on the floor for me, which is what I loved about the psudo multiplayer. Besides what everyone said about being careful, there was usually a ‘WARNING , WATCH LEFT’ or whatever before anything even remotely tricky.

      I might have died out of ignorance of the game for the first few hours, but once I got going I hardly died the first time through areas, but instead the second or third times as I was rushing and forgot about something.

      • Blackcompany says:

        That was a big part of the problem I had with the game. Many of the warnings for traps depended on someone else dying and then leaving me an actual, helpful message.

        Except…I played offline.

        Now, you might say I missed out on the best part of the game (in my brief attempt to enjoy it). Or that I ‘didn’t play as intended.’ To which I would reply: Playing offline meant not having to deal with GFWL. I was able to use the offline mode (such as it is) and make sure my save wasn’t permanently lost to the whims of that awful DRM scheme. In actuality, it was GFWL that drove me into playing offline.

        That said, a fair game would no more depend upon warnings from other players, than it would on cheap, hidden enemies and one shot kills.

        • nrvsNRG says:

          You are wrong. Get over it.

        • aliksy says:

          What are these “cheap” traps and one-hit kills you’re going on about? Also, if you put points into vitality, you won’t die nearly as much. Hell, 40 vit is practically easy mode.

    • fish99 says:

      The game is built around the concept of repetition, i.e. you (generally) need to repeat an area multiple times and learn the patterns, learn the traps and pitfalls, learn how to kill each enemy. As such you could certainly argue that they aren’t entirely games of skill. They are designed so that eventually almost everyone can beat them, whether it’s simply through practice, or by spending hours grinding levels and coming back to an area with a tougher character.

      As a pure skill challenge, maybe they would be better if they weren’t RPGs, and if magic wasn’t significantly easier than using melee.

      • jrodman says:

        Just because a game offers the ability to self-select difficulty in some way doesn’t mean it isn’t a game of skill, IMO.

        Rather, providing sneaky ways for gamers to self-select the difficulty without thinking too much about it is probably to be cheered.

        • fish99 says:

          Sure, and there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m just saying it’s not the pure skill challenge that some people claim it is, and it’s not even that hard if you go with magic and are prepared to grind and/or use the wiki.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      I personally think you miss the point if you think it’s unfair. Think of any other singleplayer game, let’s say Half-Life for example, the world is unfairly balanced in the player’s favour. Think of all the glitches you notice and exploit, all the AI you figure out and bamboozle. All the quicksaves you spam. To me Dark Souls tips the balance back towards fair. It feels like it is playing you back, and that is the unique feeling I love about it. When you do win it feels all the sweeter for knowing how dirty your opponent fought.

      The other clever thing it does is absorb the consequences of death and resurrection into its lore. In almost every other game the magic of save and load is ignored, it’s just another trick in the player’s unfair arsenal. It feels like a cheat code. Dark Souls has the cleverness to say, yes, you are immortal, you’re not going anywhere, you will resurrect when you die and there’s a good reason for that. It also (unlike Bioshock which came up with the vita-chambers but then never enforced their use) has the audacity to force its version of save and load in which it almost dares you to reload when you’re struggling. “Yes, you’ll respawn at the bonfire, but so will all these other fuckers it took you 20 minutes to slaughter your way through”.

      It really is great, I’m not one of those 100 hour PvP obsessives, I haven’t even finished the singleplayer yet, but I’m having to agree this is possibly the best game ever. Story/gameplay-wise it is a good game in the traditional sense but through its exploration into unknown otherworldly darkness and that incredibly steep challenge it gets your juices flowing, your brain thinking about…stuff!…yourself, itself, life, death, all of those things that great art brings out in people. You could probably use the word masterpiece and it wouldn’t be out of context. And this from someone who can’t think of another game you could say that of. And I haven’t even finished it yet. And I’m just saying.

      If you think it’s unfair, keep playing, that’s just the hump you need to get over. You won’t turn back once you do.

      • BTAxis says:

        One point in the game where I WOULD call it unfair is the fight against the chupacabra demon in Undead Burg. The fight is set in a very small area, so small in fact that most of the time the camera literally has no room behind the player, which means it’s constantly at weird angles and behind scenery so you can’t see what’s going on. That has nothing to do with tilting the odds back toward even, that’s just a basic usability problem. Add to that you basically get NO time to get your bearings in that fight, since you are attacked immediately. Very, very frustrating.

        • Ruffian says:

          he gives you a lot of room if you run up the steps which are the only thing in the room with him. it’s entirely possible to run straight past him up the stairs and not get hit by him at all depending on what your build is. I killed him with arrows with relative ease after one or two deaths to the damn hounds, I’m not saying that your assessment of the fight is wrong, mind you, that room is definitely too small to not be frustrating, just that there is a trick to him that I think was put in there intentionally that should be easy enough to recognize after fighting him once or twice, or even on the first try depending on what happens / how you play it / whether or not he startles you.

          • Reapy says:

            I hated this fight as well and I have to agree with the op that it is out of place in the game because you wrestle with game problems rather than enemy problems. Tight space makes the camera bad and hard to see. Lock on malfunctions and you can’t target the dogs as they hit the ramp if you dodge by etc. yes if you have range and know the trick it in ok, just all those things external to the gameplay working against you relatively early in the game make it suck IMHO. Still ds one of my all time fav and well designed games, this was just one trouble spot.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        “The other clever thing it does is absorb the consequences of death and resurrection into its lore.”

        Exactly. Not only is DS not cheap or poorly designed, it’s so well designed that the mechanics and the narrative are pretty much seamless. Very few games can say that.

        “The designers expect you to due a bunch of times to figure things out!” isn’t some cry in the wilderness waking Dark Souls players from their ignorant stupor. We know. We know because it’s a pretty obvious part of the core gameplay, and it’s pretty obvious the designers also expect you to realize that.

        It’s not for everyone. That doesn’t make it cheap. I’m not very good at the game. Hell I’m not even sure I like the game. But I respect it.

        • Stromko says:

          Indeed. I usually find it hurts my immersion or sense of accomplishment to need to restore, “Game Over is a failure of the game designer” indeed, but I don’t really feel that way about Dark Souls.

          That said there are some spots that I think may be poor design or just plain sadism. Case in point, the warpable shrine in the Tomb of the Giants. If you tap the dash / dodge button after resurrecting there, or after warping there, you will fall off the cliff and you will die. Given that this same button is used to back out of menus, it is very possible to die, then die again so as to lose all souls and humanity accrued, within a few seconds due to a single otherwise harmless button press.

          That area can already be nightmarishly difficult due to such things as enemies that render you from full health to dead in one sweeping and expansive melee combo (even with the highest armor value possible), numerous enemies that can stunlock even the heaviest warriors, loot spots where suicide-runs are literally the most-recommended option, of course a spot near the boss where several very damaging ranged enemies can fire at you from all angles at once, and of course before you even get there you’ve got a perilous cliff edge with enemies that like to knock you around… But with all those things, it is a testament to the game that a seasoned player can overcome all those difficulties in one go, whereas a single button tap in a ‘safe’ area after already dying can kill you again just seems needlessly cruel and unexpected.

    • King Eternity says:

      You are placing your artificial rules onto the concept of good game design. Whatever anyone else says in this thread, the game is designed for you to die, probably a lot. The reason? It makes this game intense like no other. Without that constant threat of death, along with a harsh death penalty, the game would not grip you by the balls (or, um… ovaries?) the way it does. Every new corridor, corner and enemy instills real fear and there are very few modern games that do that. This is the intended design of the game! It’s fine of you to say “I don’t like this kind of game” but to say “it’s badly designed” is ignorant and narrow minded.

      I think of the Souls games like oldschool arcade games like Ghosts n Goblins, Wonder Boy, Strider, etc. Each new area is exceedingly difficult but as you learn them through repetition you acquire more and more knowledge about them until on later runs through they become almost trivial. It’s about achieving mastery, rather than just completion.

      • Beartastic says:

        Exactly! The idea (or even expectation) that you should be able to finish the game without dying the first is totally sheltered.

        It’s like expecting to learn without making mistakes — without realizing that making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn. If you don’t make mistakes then you probably knew it already, or it wasn’t worth learning because you’d be able to do it first shot anyway.

    • Emeraude says:

      It’s weird because, coming to it late with admonitions that the game was hard as hell and would make me burst with rage, I was if anything surprised at how fair it was – when was the last time you could defeat a *boss* by tricking it into falling down a ledge ?
      My only problem, if anything, was the camera, which I still hate (OK, and the invisible floors – my sight being what it is, I had a hard perceiving the crystals; there I raged).

      Granted, I had finished the first two King’s Field games, so I was kinda prepared.

      People are probably going to find it weird, but as far as the multiplayer is concerned, I wish you could create private servers…

      • dE says:

        Nah, I agree on private servers. Dark Souls PVP is a magical place – for a week or two after release. And then it’s twinkers everywhere roflstomping newbies 24/7. Private Servers could fix that, along with the cheater problem.

        On a sidenote, next time you go into the crystal cavern with its invisible walls, try the Prism Stones. They’re dirt cheap and they leave a glowing bright mark when they hit the ground – including the invisible one. That certainly helped me over the invisible pathways.

        • Emeraude says:

          Yeah, I eventually figured that, only too late. But thank you for taking the time to share the knowledge.

    • Tuco says:

      link to i6.minus.com

      There’s nothing else to add.

      • Jenks says:

        Most well played comic in a comments section on the internet, ever.

    • Volcanu says:

      I think DS was a remarkably ‘fair’ game, one or two encounters aside. Its very good about telegraphing warning signs/attack patterns.

      I am no power gamer but I would disagree with the legend of Dark Souls being such a hard game. Its challenging but you dont need lightning reflexes or tons of practice to get through it by any means. Challenging (and all the more satisfying for it) is the better term. R-type was hard. Cannon fodder was hard. DS isn’t easy but anyone can be succesful through observing the enviornment and the enemies and being patient, and methodical.

      The slimes I found visible enough without adjusting the brightness if you are looking carefully for them. Which I was after the first one dropped on my head. The game forces you to be cautious, almost paranoid and it’s great for it, especially first time through an area where the tension as you advance is palpable. The game needs to be approached at a deliberate pace, rushing or being careless will get you killed – but it isnt cheap

    • scatterbrainless says:

      What seems to be missing from the account of those criticizing the fact that Dark Souls sometimes kills you in a fashion that might seem at first insurmountable, is that death is both an integral part of the mechanics and the themes, narrative and world of the game. Unlike other games it is not a failure state. Dying, learning and persevering is meant to be a part of the game, and in many ways is the most important part. In the fiction of the world “hollowing”, that is, losing hope and a sense of meaning, is precisely an in-game metaphor for the discouragement a player feels and that the game actively asks you to rise above and push through. Along the way you collect items that are the souls of various others attempting the same journey as yourself, “Soul of a Nameless Soldier” through to “Soul of a Brave Hero”, obtained from the inert, hollowed bodies of other undead. These figures are meant to be examples of others who have faced what you are asked to face, and given up. Those instances of “unfairness” are very much an important part of the game design and its experience. I think if you can accept and internalize that approach, which admittedly is counter to the attitude engendered by most gaming norms, you will find that what was previously frustrating about the game becomes one of the cornerstones of your experience, and the experience of what is one of the best games of at least the last generation.

  4. Christo4 says:

    Can i ask which is the second-best, fourth-best and fifth-best game of all time?

  5. aliksy says:

    I hope it’s good. I got Dark Souls after a friend was raving about it for weeks, and after an initial period of “I fucking hate gamepads” it worked its way into my “favorite games of all time” list.

  6. MykulJaxin says:

    I was glad to hear that they seem to be removing the whole “Try luring it out” sort of thing. In Dark Souls, there’s that room across the bridge from the bonfire in the undead burg that’s full to the brim with skeletal warriors. I hate that room-you sprint across a bridge dodging firebombs only to be murdered by some angry skeletons!? But I always feel so alive in there. I always hold my breath and am forced to rely on combat ability. It’s fun.

  7. Serpok says:

    One of the trailers made it appear like it is possible now to change builds at the bonefire, switching between warrior, mage or paladin stats on the same character. Any indication of that? Is stats system the same?

  8. whale says:

    So for reference, I agree with the author that DS is the best game of all time. I had a chance to play DS2 at E3 this year, and I can corroborate the authors sense of the uncanny. It feels very similar, but slightly different, and as someone who has also spent quite a long time in both demons and dark, even small changes were immediately noticeable. The author seems to think that these differences result in something worse because it is different, but I honestly can’t agree that he could possibly know that without playing longer. It is possible that the game is worse because of these changes, but even if that is true other things like removing humanity and the crutch of remaining undead, indicate an attention to detail that is comforting. In other words, i need to get my mitts on it. Also trjp: “I have a belief that every game should be completable on your first sitting if you just PAY ATTENTION and have a bit of talent. ” -lol

  9. Niko says:

    The part about rolling and weight is really interesting. Does that mean that you’ll be able to roll as fast even in the heaviest armour? That would be a bit strange.

    • Wedge says:

      Well, I would assume if things have been slowed down overall, they probably nerfed rolling in general to go along with it. Though it would make wearing anything lighter than what you can carry pointless? This was just a demo, so the levels it changes at could be different as well.

      • DrScuttles says:

        There was a recent video by ENB going over his thoughts and impressions of the multiplayer beta. If I recall correctly, in checking over how character stats work in Dark Souls 2 compared to 1, he theorised that roll speed may have been tied into dexterity/agility or somesuch.

        • Wedge says:

          Ah yeah that would be fine too, since having your stats not upping your encumberance would limit your gear as well, but then you don’t have to worry about mathing out the breakpoints of weight.

  10. Freud says:

    I haven’t looked forward to a game like I look forward to this in a very long time. Getting to bang my head against it without any wiki will be frustratingly awesome.

  11. bigjig says:

    Rich you say that roll speed is no longer tied to armor, does that mean that the “poise” attribute has been taken away as well? If it hasn’t I don’t know why you would ever wear light armor besides challenge runs.

    If you get extra defense, more poise and the roll speed is now the same in heavy armor, did you notice any light armor specific benefits to be had to counter this?

  12. WrenBoy says:

    Is there a pause button in this one?

    • DatonKallandor says:

      I doubt it, but maybe they’re nice and let you pause when you’re playing offline.

      • WrenBoy says:

        Thats all I want.

        • Stromko says:

          Quitting back to the main menu is what I do if I have to step away from the PC for a moment, but it really helps to have a utility that turns off the splash screens if so. It feels like an interminable and jarring pause waiting through the unskippable logos, but with those turned off I’m able to get in and out of the game in what feels like seconds.

          It is possible they made those unskippable to dissuade players from skipping out on every invasion via either main menu or alt-F4. It starts up fast enough on a modern system that without those artificial blocks, it would be easy to go through the whole game as un-hallowed and never engage other players. Which would be unfortunate, as I find the PvP much less disruptive to the enjoyment of the game as co-op. People who want to go through this whole game with friends, I feel, are really missing out.

          Of course all the early areas are constantly invaded by hackers or players with highly advanced gear they shouldn’t have at that point in the game, but about mid-game, around Anor Londo, I’ve yet to face a truly unfair fight. Sometimes a cheap fight: the net code means backstabbing relies on an arcane knowledge of latency detection rather than obvious skill, and there are also a lot of spells that do lots of damage without much risk or skill. But, there are ways to compensate against or avoid these tactics usually, and many invaders I’ve encountered are quite willing to follow some basic rules and etiquette to ensure fair play so long as I signal a willingness to do the same.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Yeah I have limited, easily interruptable time. No pause = No play.

          Quit needed multiple button presses and reloading didn’t bring you back to the same state.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Actually, it does. It reloads you exactly where you quit/last autosave if it crashed or such.
            It doesn’t send you back to last bonfire or anything.

          • WrenBoy says:

            And if you quit mid fight?

          • dE says:

            If you quit properly though the menu, it saves right there. If you alt+f4 out of it, it rewinds back to the last mob you killed (or other save triggering events – of which there are many). I’ve often alt+f4 ed the game when I needed to do other stuff and it usually worked out fine with me losing a few seconds at most.

          • WrenBoy says:

            When I save mid fight via the menu and then reload the fight is not as i left it.

            If course even if it were, having to access the menu mid fight in a difficult game is itself annoying. And of course even if it were the most pleasant thing in the world, quitting and restarting isn’t pausing.

            I’m honestly baffled why anyone would argue this.

          • Ringwraith says:

            I find pausing mid-fight in something like this tends to be a bad idea anyway, seeing as you can easily lose your flow or just what you were doing.
            Though it’s understandable it doesn’t save during fights, as being able to save during combat is a tricky programming thing, without causing weird bugs or at the very least the enemy AI to flounder unless you save that as well.

          • WrenBoy says:

            So when you said, “Actually, it does”, what you really meant was “I agree that it doesn’t but to be fair that would have taken extra effort on the part of the programmer”. In any case all I would want in Dark Souls II would be a pause button.

            I dont understand this kind of fanboyism. I wasnt even criticizing the game, I just cant play it cause it has no pause button.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Considering how weirdly delicate coding is, it takes a lot of effort to actually do that. (Edit: to be not incorrect).
            Someone wrote an entire article on the issues surrounding checkpoints and manual saves. The more things it needs to track in a situation, the exponentially harder making it save gets.

          • jalf says:

            So when you said, “Actually, it does”, what you really meant was “I agree that it doesn’t but to be fair that would have taken extra effort on the part of the programmer”. In any case all I would want in Dark Souls II would be a pause button.

            No, what he really meant was “actually it does, as long as you don’t require sub-millisecond precision on the save intervals”, which, you know, seems pretty damn reasonable to most people and is hardly worth throwing such a hissy fit over. Note that you elaborated on wanting to save mid-fight only *after* he had answered you. And now you’re getting hysterical because his initial answer didn’t take into account specifics that you hadn’t mentioned yet that the point?

            Perhaps you might consider growing up one of these days? It is hardly “fanboyism” to say “Dark Souls saves where you left off”, and while it may not be true for you, it is reasonable to assume that *most* people, when they say they have limited uninterrupted time, are able to find more than 20 seconds at a time, and thus, will not generally need to save and exit mid-fight.

          • WrenBoy says:

            When you put words I never said in quotes it’s more than ‘a little’ dishonest.

            If you read my comment again I made a general claim which Ringwraith interpreted as a specific one. To be clear, the few times I tried saving mid fight resulted in the fight not being in progress when I reloaded.

            I have young children, I often don’t have the luxury of half a minute. I need a pause button when I play games. DS does not have one. This is only a controversial observation to fanboys.

            Edit: Again to be clear I didn’t mention fanboyism when anyone suggested quitting and reloading. I said it when, after pointing out the problems with that, the same commenter then suggested that maybe pausing isn’t that useful anyway.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Ugh, sorry, I think I was typing two responses up at once. I get easily muddled like this.
            Didn’t mean to do that!

            Well, I’m not going to fanboy over it, as I’m not that kind of person, not having a pause is kinda weird, though I suppose a lot of game types lack pauses, just usually for technical reasons. The only thing not having pausing does it stop you from abusing repeated pause tactics, and the whole thing with the game mostly being online probably causes headaches, and making it offline-only might be undoable for a related reason of just being the way the game was designed (not terribly well technically, in places).
            It’s not the kind of game I would want to play if I was expecting frequent interruptions though. Though that might be just me.

          • WrenBoy says:

            It’s not the kind of game I would want to play if I was expecting frequent interruptions though.

            To be fair, this is probably very true. What little I saw I liked though.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Distractions are the kind of things that get you horribly killed by not paying attention for a moment.
            You should never not pay attention.

        • fr3udes says:

          @WrenBoy : i understand exactly your problem but as annoying as it is, the no pause choice FromSoft made is terrific, indeed. It IS Dark Souls, essentially : you can’t go to pee, you can’t answer the phone, you’re in danger, period. I love this feeling so much.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I am sure playing like that is the optimal experience and I would guess that you play online only for the same reason. A pause option in offline mode surely wouldn’t hurt any playstyle.

  13. aliksy says:

    Amazon says this will be available 17 days after the console versions. Those are going to be a long 17 days, avoiding spoilers and all that. Ugh.

  14. angrym0b says:

    I queued at Eurogamer for almost two hours to get my hands on Dark Souls. In that time, as I slowly shuffled almost full circle around their booth setup, I got to see people dying in horrific, yet comforting, ways. I saw several people taking their time to explore; sensibly taking each foe as a new challenge and picking up every shiny that glinted in the beautiful, yet terrifying, lighting, each playing with a sense of wonderment as they explored this familiar, daunting but new environment.

    But then there were those that cared not for this measured style where each step was taken with trepidation; The Mirror Knight slayers, or perhaps sacrifices is a better word choice. As soon as they had the controller in their hands, they made a bee-line for the arch foe of this micro-world of death. They had spent the last while watching those before them try, try, try and mostly fail in finishing the lord of this limited realm. “I shall crush this reflective buffoon”, they thought, somewhat misguidedly, as they threw themselves into the fray. Many fell. Multiple times. The souls lost were innumerable yet still insufficient.

    I watched on with a hunger that seemed too familiar. A hunger that I remember while watching a friend haplessly charge at an adversary that I knew I could best in Dark Souls. “Let me show you”, I thought.

    Finally I reached the front, ready to battle. As a Warrior, I’d wield my greatsword with skill and dexterity unmatched in this world or any other. My blade would sing as it severed foe limb from limb. I took an opportunity to send the first meagre combatants back to whatever grave they rose from, using some heroic Forward + R2 brilliance to slay them without pause. Satisfied with that my skill was far more than that which was required, I charged forward, ignoring everything until I reached my quarry. Swords sliced past my flesh and soul-tinged flames whizzed beyond my frame as I, quite simply, legged it.

    Passing through a fog, with my pursuers seemingly chopped through me to no avail (“so some things are still the same”), my gaze became fixed on my prey. The Mirror Knight himself.

    The dance began. And oh, how I danced….

    I danced into a bone-smashing two-hand slam. You died.

    I danced into a volley of magic that, apparently, is not good for my health. You died.

    I stopped dancing.

    I hobbled back at him with renewed zeal, shifting between a shield and two handed fury as time escaped me.

    I snuck a few powerful hits in, taking time to deal with his summoned minions, and stepping back to avoid his wrath. With persistance, I had him down to almost nothing. “He’s mine”, I begged, dashing in to steal a quick hit to finish matters, rather than step back and wait.

    You died.

    Rage thundered through me. Rage that I remembered. Rage that had made Dark Souls such a frustrating, yet enjoyable experience. “Now he dies”, I thought, reinvigorated by my hunger for his death.

    A slight tap on the shoulder snaps me back to reality, as I look behind me to see the Namco Bandai rep tell me my time is up. “But…”, I almost uttered. As I stood, I knew that the Mirror Knight and I would continue this next year, without a doubt.

    As a player of both Souls gone by, I must say that I enjoyed my taster. I don’t think I will be able to wait for the PC version though, unless a release date is announced that isn’t too far from the console release. Bring it on. I am ready to die.

  15. rockman29 says:

    The original game was Demon’s Souls, which was PS3 only.

    IMO it was even better than Dark Souls.

    Demon’s Souls had a lot more rigid and claustrophobic feel to it which I very much loved. Dark Souls was great, but I think the original was the best one in the “series.”

  16. DatonKallandor says:

    The PvP focus is worrying. Hopefully they won’t ruin the game because of a multiplayer focus, as has happened to way too many games.

    • Adeste Fideles says:

      I have to agree. I spent almost the entire time in DS as a hollow just to avoid any pvp.

      I guess with DS2 I will be spending the entirety of the game off-line to avoid pvp.

      • xao says:

        You should look into the PvP changes before you write it off. Some of the new covenants could go a long way towards mitigating the problems PvP could present in Dark Souls.

      • Emeraude says:

        I just played offline. Problem solved as far as I am concerned.
        But yeah, can’t say I’m too thrilled about the apparent focus on multiplayer.

  17. catmorbid says:

    I’ve always found the games, starting from Demons’ Souls, very interesting, but since I don’t have much use for a blu-ray player I’ve never come around to playing them, except for the quick try at Dark Souls PC, which was one of the most horrible and frustrating experiences I’ve gone through in my entire gamer career – probably because I tried the native PC controller system. That said, I don’t think there’s too much trust floating around for these guys, but regardless, I hope they have at least a decent PC team this time around. It’s really frustrating to see good ideas go to waste with fucked up execution (referring to the PC port again).

  18. BTAxis says:

    Huh, I found the backstabbing to be extremely unreliable. It just straight up didn’t work sometimes even when I was standing directly behind an enemy. I think it’s to do with the enemy attack animations not matching up with the direction the actor is actually facing. In the end I just gave up on trying to use it.

    • DigitalParadox says:

      You had to not be moving the left stick at all for it to work

    • kyrieee says:

      You can’t backstab if you’re holding your shield up, I suspect that was the problem you had.

  19. Harlander says:

    In my opinion Dark Souls is the greatest game ever made.

    I hadn’t noticed any of the esteemed Mr. Stanton’s posts before, so it’s good to get an indication like this so early – that our opinions are so divergent as to almost preclude any common ground.

    • Tuco says:

      Good riddance.
      On the other hand, he gained all my love for it.

  20. Ernesto25 says:

    I like DS but some of the mechanics are a bit trial and error and some are legit to paying attention. The Lore is ok if you make assumptions and assuming it isn’t bad translation.

    Although i felt detached form my character you can’t ask anything which is stupid to me at least tell me what your covenant does not just ask me and then tell me about it once ive joined.

    The worst part of dark souls was when i started as a pyromancer and leveled up my intelligence thinking it would make my flame stronger only to find out later that its a completely different leveling up system- how was i ment to know that without looking at the wiki?

    Edit : I love the PVP without hackers as well. I also feel the difficulty is overstated except bosses which are unfair like bed of chaos and capra demon. Playing it now though and its still good and fun as a different character i don’t want to spoil DS 2 for me but i hope alot of the enemies and locations are different.

  21. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I really do like Dark Souls, but I have to admit it’s one of those games where the fans do get a tad too defensive about it.

    “You just don’t get it!!!”, “You’re not playing it right!!!”.

    I’ve never been personally convinced it’s a classic and I know exactly how to play it thankyou very much.

    It’s like those HBO TV shows that if you dare suggest perhaps aren’t as great as the consensus declares, you get an avalanche of angry people making assumptions about your ability to consume quality television, etc.

    The Dark Souls uber-fans do remind me of that a little bit.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      Hmm i think it ios a classic but people will always get defensive i think its partly due to DS being fairly unique . Some comparisons are stupid though like to Half Life. I agree with the “you suck or you aren’t playing it correctly” though i have always hated this and when i recommend games i try to tell people the mindset and how i played the game to get the enjoyment out of it. But i can’t force them to play it or enjoy it how i did. it reminds me of the quicksave debate where some people seem to get uppity with guys who may want to save the game as if it may ruin their enjoyment of the same game.

  22. Stevostin says:

    Bought Dark Souls on the big big up provided by RPS. Dumped it after a few hours, mainly because it was “just gameplay”. Just gameplay is fine when it comes to multiplayer games, but apart from useless messages from others there was no mp in my experience. Moreover gameplay being not that satisfying here anyway (quite good… but there are better fights out there). Worst, it was centered around bosses. Bosses are about to get what the dev intended you to do and then do it well. It’s like crossword (although way less interesting, and crossword don’t have a huge appeal to me to start with). Of course boss battles are balanced so that anyone trying hard will go through them. I have completely lost any sort of interest for this kind of thing. As a comparison, I am now playing Skyrim. Sure the gameplay doesn’t “click” as well (by a long shot), but take those dragon fights. Event at level 59 they’re still a challenge and I never know how it will turn out. Are you a vampire ? Is it day ? Is it night ? If not, what’s the terrain, what are the allies ? What elemental attack ?There really isn’t much more than this in the shaker but the result is chaotic enough to entertain. Actually it even happened that with the craziest quicksave/load action, delving into potion, scrolls, looking for exploit, I just had to… give up and flee once. That’s what I love: you’re never 100% sure that you can actually win the fight (*yes, I know you can have a strong anti dragon build, I had one, but that was no fun so I dumped it :P ). In Dark Soul, either you’re on the intended path and you can (you have to, actually), either not and the game will seduce the hypster showing off that it let you experience the wall than imposing it. I am not impressed.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      Where’s these linear paths you are talking about because its an open world game. Tbh i hate the DS and skyrim comparisons they both do different things well. By your logic i guess people who like morrowind are hypsters as well.

      • Stevostin says:

        By my logic what sucks is just gameplay and little lore, contemplation, writing, etc. So no, Morrowind clearly doesn’t lack to that regard. Moreover not saying Dark Soul is for hypsters. It’s just not for me, for the exact same reason I don’t really enjoy most of indie’s success which are just about beating the gameplay intended to be beaten anyway. Some trial & error, some method, some patience and some luck and you’ll go through, it’s a promise, and you’ll be rewarded mainly by more of the same. When you’re not confident enough in yourself it’s challenging, when you’ve beaten hundreth of game (or are just getting old, maybe) it just seems like a waste of time. I like good gameplay, I really do, games need that, but not just that.

        • Svant says:

          There are massive amounts of lore in Dark Souls, but it is not force fed to you all the time. You have to piece it together. People tell you things, you find things. Sure a lot of it is very obscure and is pretty much impossible to understand unless you check the wiki for information but that is part of the lore. You are supposed to piece it together slowly.

          Also there are very very different tactics for bosses and enemies, there is no one solution for the bosses. It all depends on your character and build.

    • Volcanu says:

      Horses for courses and all that. I loved skyrim too although for my money Dark Souls was the better game- but that’s my opinion.

      That said Im surprised you cite the dragon fights as being a challenge? As I said, I loved Skyrim but have to say the combat is one of the weakest aspects of it, its more or less just mashing attack wildly with no need for any strategy whatsoever. For me the dragon fights quickly became stale, and the final fight against Alduin was a real damp squib.

  23. Cockles says:

    I’ve been tempted to pick up Dark Souls for a while but I keep getting put off by GFWL, especially with the news that it will soon be dead and buried (I think I heard that, anyway???) Does anyone know if this means that the game will have a finite lifespan and will no longer be playable once GFWL goes?

    Also, I only seem to have an offline GFWL account, certainly seems to be the case with Arkham Asylum/City, but I can still play the game even if my account doesn’t login. Would this be the case with Dark Souls i.e. even if I can’t log in to GFWL I can still play the game without all the online features?

    Finally, I dont have a gamepad but I’ve been thinking about picking one up. I’ve seen that there are mods to help with KB/Mouse support but does this actually make the game playable or is a controller essential?

    Might just be worth waiting for the sequel…

    • Ernesto25 says:

      Honestly just stay hollowed and you will be ok i like the multiplayer aspect and yeah im not sure what will happen after GFWL. The widescreen isssues are broken again however.

  24. Piecewise says:

    It bugs me that so much of this is either nitpicking things this guy doesn’t like because they aren’t identical to dark souls or things that are no doubt in transition because it’s a goddamn beta of a game with 6 months left until release.

    Really, I just hate Dark souls PC players in general. They bitched about the difficulty and screamed “ARTIFICIAL DIFFICULTY! TRAIL AND ERROR!” a hell of a lot more then any console players I knew. And whats worse is that the cheating and trainers and shit were out of control. People busting out 99 Divine blessings and infinite health and shit. I mean seriously, go open, like, the dark moon blade’s book of sinners you can get from the guy in the bell tower. Top 50 guys are all characters at level 25-50 with 99 in every stat. It’s fucking ridiculous

    • Ernesto25 says:

      Pointing out legit trial and error mechanics doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist DS is the bets argument for why boss fights suck but also why boss fights can be good.

  25. Megakoresh says:

    Meh, I never really liked the grind in Dark Souls. The lore is cool and combat system is nice, but how many deaths there are combined with how the checkpoint system works, the annoyance of having to kill the same enemies over and over again to get to the interesting part eventually punched out the motivation to finish the game for me.

    I don’t like repetitiveness in games, and extreme repetitiveness as a form of punishment is not something that would sit well with me. I thought the game might have had some way to kill the trash mobs (those that respawn when you activate a bonfire) permanently, or light your own bonfire at any location, but apparently not. It got boring very fast, and I am not the kind of gamer who likes these masochistic titles.

    I prefer to play games for the sake of entertainment. A good checkpoint system is a vital ingredient in that. Of course I think some form of punishment for loosing should exist in order to prevent zerg-like behaviour. And I always love challenge in game too. But if you overdo the punishment for loosing, and DS certainly did, then you either become a very bad game, or you become a very niche game, which is what DS seems to have done.

    • Emeraude says:

      It’s not a punishment if you look at it the other way: in many ways, the game works like a classic action arcade game, only the stages are seamless, and the game acknowledges you have infinite credits, which have been accounted for in the gameplay and the narrative (also via the narrative).

      Now I can understand not liking the repetition, but a lot of people who enjoy that kind of gameplay don’t perceive it like some form of punishment. It’s just part for the course.

    • Voice of Majority says:

      It is not grind, Grind is meaningless. DS teaches you and you either listen and learn or repeat a lot.

      • Megakoresh says:

        “Teaches” isn’t the correct word. More like you die a hundred times before figuring out yourself what to do. And it’s fine to die a hundred times to beat an interesting and challenging boss. What’s not fine is having to kill the same bloody trash mobs a hundred times over to beat that boss. There’s a reason why most games have checkpoints AFTER the long trash mob/puzzle sequences, and before the boss, not another way around.

        • dE says:

          Replys like these make me wonder if people are dodging bonfires left and right. Rare is the situation where I had to jog a long distance to a boss with “hundreds” of trashmobs inbetween. It always involved me not using the closest bonfire.

          • Megakoresh says:

            “Rare” doesn’t mean long distance. It means annoying mob boxes in-between. For example between gargoyles and the bonfires (regardless of which one you use), you have to go through like 10 of those skinny zombies and a couple of armed zombies in that tight corridor which takes a fair bit of time and is really really annoying. In order to get to the boss down in the pit (behind the gardens), you have to go through the crystal things every time, which is very annoying and time-consuming as well.

          • dE says:

            I still fail to see the issue here. It’s entirely subjective though. To me, spending about 30-40 seconds isn’t “a fair bit of time” and the run to Seath doesn’t take much longer either, certainly not “time-consuming” to me. Hell, most games, except those running from SSDs, have loading times which are longer than that.
            It can become time consuming if you’re mindlessly running there again and again and again… but that’d be your fault entirely. The distance is there to stop precisely that behavior, to make the player not endlessly bash their head against a wall until it crumbles or the player gives up in frustration. Dark Souls even makes that lesson understood in the Tutorial: If you’re not good enough (Skill,Level,Equipment) for an area, come back later. There are always other places to go, other areas to explore. Other enemies to kill. Come back later and you’ll have much less trouble. Be it that your equipment is better, your soul-level is higher or preferably you as a player have become better at the game.

        • lokhe says:

          You know you can just run past the “trash” right?….right? Oh dear…

  26. Grayvern says:

    A lot of of this is worrying to me who has only played through Demon’s one and Dark twice, to borrow the metaphor the 8 4 play podcast used: this could be the Street Fighter 3 of the Souls series.

    The biggest failing of Dark Souks over Demon’s Souls for me was warping; it should have been every unlocked bonfire and not needed the item.

    All of Demon’s Soul’s bosses were easier but a lot of the general enemy encounters were harder, at the same time you were free to try different areas at any time meaning you never had cause to get frustrated or bored.

  27. Shade399 says:

    I never played the first Dark Souls, because I feared a fatal allergic reaction to jankiness if I played a port that horrible. Even though I’ll have to buy a controller to play it, I want to try the sequel – I’ve heard too many good things about the first one to not! That turns an $80 game into a game costing over $100, unfortunately. I’ve only ever payed that much for one other game, and that was Skyrim.
    Should I bother?

    • lokhe says:

      It was recently 75% off on Steam, will probably be again. I didn’t play the port at launch but what I can say about it now is this. There is only ONE difference between the two. Yes, it’s 30 fps, yes it’s not in 1080p. I don’t see how that matters at all. It was never a graphically impressive game and the intense beauty of this game comes not from it’s visuals but from the sheer depth of it. As you said the game is completely and utterly unplayable without a controller (but I don’t see why you would want to play a game like this with K/M anyway). The only difference between the two is that the PC version doesn’t slow down in some areas like the console version does. Sure, with a mod you can make the game a little better looking, get 60fps and all that. But it comes with its own suite of problems so I don’t see the value there. As it stands today the PC version is the superior version. If only by a fraction of an inch, it’s still superior.

      Also, if you are interested in the combat and other gameplay mechanics but don’t care about the lore, perfect, you will hardly notice it. Are you also interested in the lore then prepare for an oceanic depth of story that is still, to this day, not completely unravelled. Join a great community to try and figure out as much as possible.

      I just learned a few hours ago of the inspiration which brought Miyazaki HIdetaka to create the Souls series and this little piece of information, I thought, is quite frankly beautiful. Since his young years he’s been very fascinated with western fantasy. However, as much as he loved to read fantasy books, he was not very good at english so he filled out the blanks between what he did understand from his own imagination. Which is why the story is presented in the way it is in these games. When I played the game for the first time I didn’t think twice about why some things occured. Being so used to other games I just assumed “well this is a boss, I need to kill it to progress. It wants to kill me because.. it’s a boss”. Some characters I interpreted as good, others bad. Having dug deeper into the lore, playing the game through many, many times now and having watched and listened to the community, how I see everything now has radically changed. That good guy turned out to be really vile and despicable actually. And that boss? It was just protecting something dear and I just slew it and cast it’s body aside like nothing. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into this game and I learn new things EVERY DAY about it.

      This turned into a very long answer, heh, but I could not stand by and watch someone miss out on this game because the port wasn’t pure gold, delivered into the hands of gamers by Jesus himself. It’s a port, an exact replica of the console game, it’s not “less” enjoyable than the console game.

      TL,DR: It’s the console version without the slowdown. It’s an amazing game. Do yourself a favour and try it, have you the least interest in it <3

      • MarkB says:

        I also loved hearing the thing about Hidetaka reading lots of western fantasy as a kid and how he dealt with the language barrier. I think alot of what makes Dark Souls setting appealing stems from this, the way the game twists and distorts the tradition fantasy setting while introducing distinctly Japanese elements. That actually applies to the gameplay as well now that I think about it. I think the game feels alot like a western action RPG (ie Witcher/Fable) reinterpreted with design principals pulled from old Japanese classics.

        (Regarding that one boss that wound up being surprisingly sympathetic, I thought that was really well done. It’s something most players would never find out about and it’s quite powerful when you finally stumble into understanding what happened. Particularly because I was already aligned with the covenant that is involved with this particular topic).

    • Solanaceae says:

      The dsfix mod from Durante fixes basically everything that comes from being a port and getting a used controller is not expensive. For $20 it’s a steal, nevermind the $5 it was at just recently.

      FYI I’m playing on an ancient machine in 800×600 and having a blast. Any gamer who misses out on this game is… well, missing out!

      EDIT: It seems some people on this page are unaware of Durante’s work so I suggest you google it, short version is it allows you to unlock the framerate (making 60FPS+ the norm for a good computer) and play in ultra high resolution if your machine can handle it.

  28. bill says:

    Never played Dark Souls.
    How is it better than Severance?

  29. Reginald XVII Archduke of Butts says:

    Just when I thought I couldn’t be more excited for Dark Souls 2 to come out, you find a way. Slower combat? Less BACKSTABBUUUUUU in Multiplayer. And I’ve heard from other sources that damage is going to be more heavily scaled in order to cut down on low level endgaming twinks in PVP.

    In other words, harder than ever and they’re kicking out the crutches. Bring it on!

  30. squareking says:

    I just wanted to say that Dark Souls gives me the same feeling I had when playing Metroid (and Super Metroid) years ago, and it’s the only game to have done so since then.

  31. Jason Shotgun says:


  32. Jason Shotgun says:

    I registered as Jason Robard, for some reason it stuck me with Jason Shotgun, which sounds incredibly douchy. But anyway…

    I saw the person above who was comparing Skyrim to DkS and talking about how DkS is all about “gameplay” as opposed to Skyrim, and most other games, where you have more to do than just work your way through the game killing everything in sight. And that’s a valid comparison, I think. But it’s also due to a question of theme. Dark Souls is a very “inhuman” game, in a world that’s gone almost completely Hollow, like your character. The design of the game should be acknowledged as genius, in the sense it has a very clear idea of what it wants to be, and stays absolutely faithful to that idea, for the most part. But the point of the game is a sensation of despair, powerlessness, and death, which you must overcome, and may actually make you a stronger person for it, as cheesy as that sounds.

    There are definitely other games that are just as genius as Dark Souls. I still haven’t been as inspired by a game as by Resident Evil 4. I get the feeling many players on here have totally different and largely “indie” taste when it comes to games, so they find more mainstream games like Skyrim and RE4 to be quaint. And there’s something about indie or cult games like the Souls games that seems to encourage a kind of “inhumanness.” It’s you, the player, against a cold and empty world, and you have to absolutely force your way through totally on your own resources. It’s a valid style of game, but people make the mistake of thinking it’s the only one, or even the best one.

    I actually prefer the DLC area of Dark Souls, and I’ve had to think about why, but I find it to be a more “human” atmosphere than the primary world, and in fact I think that was the intent. Oolacile isn’t a hollow world, it’s a corrupted area, tainted by humanity gone wild, or however they term it. Manus will forever be one of the best bosses in gaming history, and even one of the best creations in fiction, as far as I’m concerned, as is Artorias, and the entire area. Compared to Oolacile, I think Lordran appears almost generic, as crazy as that may sound. It’s just such an interesting and unique area, and I think it holds a lot of promise for the direction they’re going for Dark Souls 2.

    That said, “man doesn’t live by Dark Souls alone,” if you can quote the bible in the context of a video game, but the amount of obsession DkS has generated is almost fanatical, and we’ve got to remember, it has its place with everything else, it’s not the only game ever made, and there are others that are just as good in their own way. I have to remind myself of that too, because I’ve never put even a tenth of the time into a game that I did into Dark Souls, and it’s partly because of depression or boredom, I think. Not all of that time really contributed much to my enjoyment. But I’m definitely looking forward to DkS2, possibly even more than DkS. Again, maybe taking cues from the DkS DLC, it’s looking to be a more “human” experience, and I think I’m going to prefer it to the original, as heretical as that may sound…