Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin Twists Our Melons

Praise the sun, very good, and other quotes you might recognise from a video game you once played: Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin [official site] launched yesterday. It’s essentially the ‘game of the year edition’ of From Software’s die ’em up sequel, coming with all the DLC included as well as a few tweaks to the game and its graphics.

Publishers Namco Bandai are offering discounts for folks who own the original Dark Souls II, but in the cold light of day, the changes seem quite slight and perhaps not worth upgrading for. If you can figure out the upgrades. Come marvel at the longest on-topic RPS Treehouse discussion ever as we puzzled over it.

Scholar of the First Sin brings a new 64-bit, DirectX 11 version which improves the graphics a touch, but still doesn’t look as good as those very first trailers. It also introduces a new NPC invader and changes level layouts a bit, shuffling item and monster placement to surprise jaded veterans. Then there are secret things people are starting to find, like an invisible hollow who can’t be seen but casts a shadow. Mysterious!

If you’re coming fresh to Dark Souls II, it’s the perfect place to start, but upgrading seems expensive for what you get.

Confusingly, Scholar of the First Sin is also the name Namco Bandai are using for what’s essentially a ‘game of the year’ edition, bundling the original 32-bit, DX9 version of the game with the DLC season pass. This version does not include any of the changes. And buying one version does not get you the other too, so make sure you get the right one.

As we’ve spent fifteen minutes confusing each other in the RPS Treehouse over the pricing tiers, I’ll try to break it down simply:

  • If you don’t own DS2 at all, you can buy the reworked 64-bit/DX11 version (which includes the DLC) for £29.99.
  • If you don’t own DS2 at all, you can buy the original 32-bit/DX9 version bundled with the DLC season pass for £29.99.
  • If you own DS2 and all three DLC chapters, you can buy the reworked 64-bit/DX11 version (which includes the DLC) for £11.99.
  • If you own DS2 without the DLC, you can buy the reworked 64-bit/DX11 version (which includes the DLC) for £19.99.
  • If you own DS2 without the DLC, you can buy the DLC season pass for your old 32-bit version for £19.99.
  • You can no longer buy DS2 without the DLC on Steam.

Anyway, here’s YouTube user ‘wickfut’ running through the first few areas on PC in 1080p at 60fps:

As for that Treehouse chat, flick on over to the second page and prepare to shake your head at us.


  1. Anthile says:

    Having bought both the main game and the season pass at release, I’m gonna sit this one out. Doesn’t seem like great value for money.

    • paddymaxson says:

      Weirdly if you didn’t buy the season pass – which was £20 then this seems OK. As an upgrade for £20. I think £12 to upgrade if you were kind enough to early adopt on the DLC is a bit stupid though

  2. scannerbarkly says:

    I picked it up yesterday. I have my reservations about the pricing structure the same as most folk, and I consider Dark Souls 2 the weakest of all the games but when you are in the business of having opinions about games sometimes you just gotta pony up the dough.

    So far changes seem subtle, but interesting. A better placement of enemies and, so far, less cheap trying to kill me instead of just letting me die when I mess up and deserve it, which is nice.

    One thing I have noticed, which requires a lot more exploration in the Tower Of Flame as in the original DS2 that place was severely guilty of it, they seem to have toned down the “lock on” nature of enemy attacks. The original broke me a little because an enemy would swing, I would roll, and the enemy would just auto pivot to hit me anyway…I despised that aspect of the game. I cannot say for certain but they appear to have fiddled with it somewhat. As I played last night I noticed that I was able to fight subtle, much as I had in Demons and Dark 1…rolling was always an option but I was also able to just side step enemy thrust attacks. Beyond the obvious difference in philosophy between 2 and the rest of the series this was my biggest issue with the game…so I do hope I am right and its not just wishful thinking. Will find out more today I guess.

    • Geebs says:

      Getting rid of the insta-swivelling enemies would be a huge improvement. Looking forward to giving this a try!

      • Michael Fogg says:

        Never really got this complaint. First, the way rolling works is that it gives you invincibility frames, so it is always an option to avoid an attack. And secondly: why shouldn’t enemies adjust their swing? Being completely locked in the attack animation only really works for slow zombie types IMO.

        BTW i’d really like to read some details about the improved enemy placement.

        • scannerbarkly says:

          I frames are fine, and an integral part of dodging big swipes and such but I had serious issues in the original DS2 with the fact that I could late dodge (as in wait for a bad guy to be half way through his swing animation) and then role behind them and they would still just pivot on the spot. It’s a poor system, not one that the previous games suffered from and something that detracted from the game for me.

          While I don’t disagree with the idea that being able to change your swing is against all possibility for me it boils down to enemy and weapon types. Having some huge hulking slow moving bad guy wield a broadsword that he needs to wind up to swing suddenly show the grace of Baryshnikov is little more than weak system design in my honest opinion.

          For me, its also made fast roll builds a little pointless, why suffer to experiment in a system where the sword and board fat roll is clearly the best?

          • Tim James says:

            Just time the rolls later. It doesn’t necessarily flow well but it’s a reasonable twist on the standard gameplay.

      • scannerbarkly says:

        As I said, right now it is just an inkling…I have run into some newly placed Turtle Knights that first gave me the impression, then had some instances with thrust attacks from normal mobs. It’s the big knights in the Tower that I need to test it on.

        • Geebs says:

          They are a lot less spinny. Hurrah for finally being able to get round their combo! Blunt weapons see them off pretty quickly, which is a help because the whole area is infested with a bunch of aggressive enemies who weren’t there at all before.

  3. slerbal says:

    Good gods. No,just no.

  4. serioussgtstu says:

    Does the DirectX 11 version make good on those ideas about having a trade off between using a shield vs having a torch so that you can see better in darker areas of the game?

    • jrod says:

      Not sure about DS2, but Bloodborne certainly makes good on that promise… better late (and in a different game) than never! :-)

      • fish99 says:

        You’re saying there are areas dark enough to need the torch in Bloodborne?

        • jrod says:

          if both the game and your display device’s brightness is set correctly then yes, absolutely.

          • fish99 says:

            I haven’t started Bloodborne yet, but I have seen my brother go through the ‘setting up the brightness’ thingy, and there wasn’t a brightness setting low enough where the ‘dark’ thing would disappear, but that was because the dynamic contrast on the TV was ruining the picture. When we turned dynamic contrast off, the game looked right with the slider bar at about half, and (according to my brother) there’s been nothing so far that’s needed the torch. Honestly it sound like you’re playing the game with the brightness way too low.

            Basically TVs now mess with the picture so much (unless you turn off all the fancy electronics that ruin the picture so the set has better paper specs) that those ‘set your brightness’ tools have become useless.

        • jrod says:

          also would like to add that so far I think Bloodborne is shaping up to be a far far better game than DS2. I doubt I am even half way through the game, but it just feels so much better in every way.

          • inf says:

            I agree. The art direction and cohesive level design alone are way ahead of DSII. The only minor problem i have with Bloodborne is that some mechanics have been simplified too much. Also, as a veteran since Demon’s Souls, once past the Cleric Beast, a lot of the game is a touch too easy for me.

          • Tim James says:

            Like Dark Souls, Bloodborne is simply different from DS2. More emphasis on adventure and less on romping around in a 60 fps action RPG brawler.

      • Shakes999 says:

        Ive had more fun in the first 1/2 hour of Bloodborne than the 13 hrs I spent on DSII before I gave up half-way and deleted it. Its so much more fun its not even funny.

        Unless they find a way to totally overhaul the DarkSouls series, they need to just let sit on the shelf. Its not that its a bad game, its still DarkSouls. But the game style is wearing out its welcome.

        • Shakes999 says:

          That was worded badly. Bloodborne is DarkSouls overhauled. What I mean is if they ever decide to do DS3, they need to find a fresh way to present it.

    • scannerbarkly says:

      At the moment, not that I have noticed. Some areas are notably darker, in some spots it seems to be done poorly, just an overall drop in lighting levels after passing a certain threshold.

      • bv728 says:

        There’s a few places in the mid-late game which are really dark and you do want to choose between torch and gun, but not too many.

      • serioussgtstu says:

        Thanks for the reply, I think I’ll hold off on buying it since that’s the case. But I’ll probably pick it up in a year or so once the price has gone down; Who knows, maybe by then someone will have modded it to my preference.

    • Abndn says:

      I’m about 6 hours in, and it’s definitely darker. I haven’t had to fight with a torch yet, but I did feel the need to light the sconces along the way to see better, especially in No Man’s Wharf.

  5. Daniel says:

    I’m quite happy paying £11.99 for an excuse to play it again and been tickled by how they’re very obviously messing with people who’ve played it a lot and rely on certain knowledge. It’s great being caught out again.

    • montorsi says:

      If you’ve played the game enough to know how each monster behaves, their changing things up isn’t going to “mess with you”.

      • Daniel says:

        I disagree. When you’ve played a game so much you just play on auto-pilot, moving even something small will throw you off.

  6. Shooop says:

    And yet they still won’t even aknowledge the major bug when the game runs at 60 FPS that causes weapon durability to degrade twice as fast and enemy movement to be like this: link to youtube.com

    Blow it out your ass From Software.

    • Gryz says:

      So that bug has not been fixed ? Will this new version run at 60Hz, or only 30Hz still ? And while we’re at it, will it run at 144fps on my new XB270HU ? Or will 60fps be the new maximum ?

      Anything done about the terrible controls on PC ? Anything done to make the UI easier to navigate with a mouse ? Or is this the same crappy game that DS2 originally was, with just higher-res textures and saying DX11 on the box, in stead of DX9 ?

      I’m sure people had fun with the Dark Souls games. But whenever I tried to play it, I couldn’t overcome the feeling that From Software was seriously laughing in my face while yelling “we ripped you off, and we don’t care. hahaha”.

    • Dogsbody says:

      Yeah – sort of incredulous they never patched that. It’s so bad I’ve adapted it into my playstyle – i.e., assume everything will break in 2 minutes, carry a bajillion alternate weapons.

    • Tim James says:

      I think I read they bumped the durability of some weapons. I think I broke a weapon once or twice in 250 hours, so I can’t really help you beyond that.

    • Kamahlk says:

      Actually from what I’ve heard when looking at the Dark Souls 2 subreddit, they did mention it in a developer interview or something and said they have not fixed the issue. They adjusted the durability on weapons which were especially problematic with the issue.

  7. Premium User Badge

    bsplines says:

    From what I’ve understood so far, the 64bit version changes some areas and enemy placement. If you buy that is there an option to play the game without these changes? Or do you need the 32bit game for that?
    And if you upgrade (I have the base game but not the DLC), does it overwrite the 32bit game or is it a separate entry in the library?
    Oh dear, it is all very confusing indeed.

    • Geebs says:

      It’s a completely separate install, with separate achievements, and I think the new enemy placement is always switched on, which is why save games from the DX9 version are incompatible with the DX11 version. Hope that helps!

  8. fish99 says:

    Shame they didn’t do more with the lighting to make it look more like the E3 footage, but since I don’t own the DLCs and want to play them, I’ll pick up the new version eventually since it’s the same price as the season pass.

    For the people with the season pass, seems like you’re being asked to pay $20 for … not a huge amount.

  9. DanMan says:

    Is it me or is the only visual improvement higher res textures? The lighting seems just different, not necessarily better.

  10. Hunchback says:

    I was severely put off of the first DS2, i hope this one will go smoother… I really love the art and all, but can’t get over the consoley controls and constant dieing :(

  11. Bobtree says:

    Well, this is very disappointing. FROM should know better.

  12. RealWeaponX says:

    Picked up the full DX11 one from Amazon UK for £19.

  13. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    News stories are multi-page now? You can piss off, frankly

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      It seemed a better option than dumping 1,000 words of nonsense and confusion into a single-page news story.

      • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

        Its really not. I get sites need to change and I’ve gone along with adverts and supporter programmes, no complaints, but seriously if I got bored of an article half way through I would stop scrolling, I don’t need it hidden behind another click. I’ve explained on other posts how infuriating this makes reading RPS from a train with dodgy reception. I just don’t get it. Genuinely thinking of taking RPS off my favourites, hope someone explains the need for multiple pages soon.

        • Shakes999 says:

          I’m sending you my medical bill. My eyes rolled with such violent force that I’m having trouble seeing.

          • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

            I lol’d. And already realise I sound like one of those people. I’m really not. I just. I just hate next page buttons! Don’t you? Doesn’t everyone? RPS are the good guys, they don’t have multi-page articles do they!?

        • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

          Edit: I should add this is absolutely not a complaint against you Alice, in fact you are the only RPSer to respond to one of my comments for donkeys years which just makes you even more brilliant in my eyes. Im just, possibly unintelligably, frustrated about the whole multi-page article thing.

          • scannerbarkly says:

            I get what you are saying, I am not a big fan of multipage stuff but it is, in the grand scheme of things, a bit of a rarity on RPS and sometimes you just gotta experiment with structure.

          • Shadowcat says:

            “Next page” is such a crappy user experience for a web page. People can respond with “first world problems” and roll their eyes all they want, but the simple fact is that it makes the site objectively worse than it was before. How much worse is subjective, but for some of us this recent trend is a huge WTF. I really hope it’s some kind of experiment, and that it will be abandoned in very short order.

    • airmikee says:

      The epitome of first world problems combined with a temper tantrum. Hilarity ensued.

    • paulyymac says:

      Multipage articles are simply ways to get more ad revenue. That combined with pervasive ads on mobile (while scrolling) makes me regret supporting this website. Good articles, but blatant cash mongering (even for subscribers, which makes 0 sense.)

  14. Wagrid says:

    Everything I see of this rerelease makes it look like it’s just a combination ROMhack/ENB plug in that they’re charging money for. Such a weird product.

  15. Hedgeclipper says:

    So they’re extending the game’s experience of difficulty and frustration into the purchase decision. That’s commitment to customer experience!

    • Lycan says:

      That was brilliant ! Excellent use of snark without crossing the line into “geroff my lawn” :D

  16. Monkeh says:

    Am I the only one who is really interested in the ‘new map shortcuts’? The way the world was connected to each other is a huge part of what made Dark Souls 1’s world so memorable to me and I felt like that was missing from Dark Souls 2. If they’ve managed to make the world feel more connected with the new shortcuts, that could really help increase my love for the sequel (though I already loved it).