Now is a good time to return to Dark Souls 2

If you fancy going back through all Dark Souls before the series wraps up with the final DLC in March, now’s a great time to return to Dark Souls 2 [official site]. Today sees the start of Return to Drangleic, an unofficial community-run event to draw players back and revitalise multiplayer. Souls just isn’t the same without online invasions, summonings, ghosts, and messages bringing life to the world, so players are returning en masse to rekindle that spark. Fancy joining them?

Return to Drangleic started today and has an unofficial end date of March 11th, but obviously playercounts are likely to spike near the start. The event is focused on the Scholars of the First Sin edition but hey, plain old Dark Souls II is fine – the more players, the merrier, everywhere.

This Reddit thread explains the plan. Players are encouraged to create a new character, buy the Name Engraved Ring, and dedicate it to Kremmel, God of Struggle. This ring means Return players will be more likely to summon each other for co-op, adventuring together.

Also in the sharing spirit, it’s suggested that players leave a message of “Don’t give up, skeleton!” by the Majula bonfire and rate others’ messages. Ratings give players a jolt of health, so it’s a nice gesture.

If you’d rather murder everyone, hey, Return to Drangleic means plenty more targets are around. And isn’t being murdered at inopportune moments part of the Dark Souls experience? Your victims would surely thank you if they could.

Maybe I’ll take Return to Drangleic as an opportunity to fire up Twitch and my huge Dark Souls Nites jazzfunksoul playlist for more calm play and chill chat. I never did get around to hosting Dark Souls 2Nite, and I do now have a far better streaming setup.


  1. int says:

    I haven’t turned to it yet. Still haven’t beaten the original.

  2. Seafoam says:

    Yeah but the game wasn’t directed by Miyazaki so the community has great aversion to it.
    I’ve heard such vitriol about the game that I doubt their efforts will bear any fruit, sadly.

    • Rackam says:

      Interestingly, since the release of Dark Souls 3 I’ve seen the community’s stance soften. Dark Souls 3 is still a great game, but all the things it handles differently has appeared to make a lot of people appreciate the good things in Dark Souls 2.

      Personally, I’ve always found Dark Souls 2 to be the Souls game that I’ve enjoyed revisiting the most. Most likely due to the sheer variety of possible builds compared to the other two games.

      It’s not perfect in area design, but there are a lot of areas and they’re mostly interesting. That might even be Dark Souls 2’s main problem. So much content. Sure it has lots of humanoid bosses, but it also just has way more bosses than the other 2 games so it tends to even out.

      Anyways, I think people will be surprised at the turn out.

      • Harlequin says:

        The main issue with Dark Souls 2 was that it had to live up to Dark Souls 1. Level and world design in the first were nothing short of masterful, but while the second game didn’t get even close to it in that regard, it did have several other things going for it: the gameplay is the best in the series, in terms of build options, pacing and how fluid combat is; the DLC areas are some of the best in the series in general, a farcry from what the original game had; it’s actually optimized, and not the mess that the first and third are on the PC; the PvP in the second game is probably the only PvP that is actually good.

        I think that as Dark Souls 1 distances itself in time, people will grow to appreciate DS2 for how responsive it was and the longevity of its multiplayer. It’s not a masterpiece how the first game was, however.

        • Gryz says:

          I played DS1 last year Spring, and DS3 last year summer. (First time ever). I had skipped DS2 because I didn’t want to overdose. And because I heard DS2 was the lesser game.

          I started playing DS2 SotFS 2.5 weeks ago. I have now played 3 weekends, almost full time. I’ve just entered Drangleic Castle. I am having a blast. I find the game very fun. I didn’t like the early parts (Betwixt is fugly. Although Majula looks very good. And Forest of the Fallen Giants was ugly again. And it was mostly irritating the heck out of me). But after FotFGs I really started to like the game.

          I can’t see why people complain that DS2 is not as good as DS1 and DS3.

          • Kingseeker Camargo says:

            I can’t see why people complain that DS2 is not as good as DS1 and DS3.

            If you’re navigating Drangleic Castle and you honestly can’t see why people complain that DS2 is not as good as DS1 and DS3, I think there’s nothing anyone can do to explain it. It’s right there before your very eyes.

            More power to you, I guess. If you’re enjoying it that much, nothing else should matter, really.

    • Jokerme says:

      I enjoy playing DS2 not because it’s a great example of a Souls game but actually because it’s a great game on its own terms.

    • Faxanadu says:

      When I first launched DS II (scholar), I honestly thought I was playing Dark Souls 0. It looked worse, it had horrid animations, jumping is mindblowingly awful, and there’s just waaaaay too many places and mobs that seem totally meaningless.

      It’s so much worse than Dark Souls. Great game still, sure, but so far from the legend that was the first. Which I still keep playing, because that place is just -intense-.

      • Neuromancing the Boil says:

        *Drums fingers against the table, narrows eyes*

        Dark Souls 2 looks worse than Dark Souls 1 — on PC, no less. Okiedokie.

        (The rest of this is just idle musings, because I’m bored and having a strange week, and is not intended as a rejoinder to you specifically at all; in other words, to each their own)

        There’s a phenomenon in classical music, wherein one tends to prefer the first recording of a symphony they hear over subsequent versions. Thus classical fans, for all their beard-stroking intellectualism, tend to develop irrational hatred for other composers’ interpretations of the same work, even if said interpretation is meritorious in its own right.

        It’s the same thing with Dark Souls 2. All of these games have spammy sections that are designed to piss you off, infuriating jumping mechanics, and occasional bullshit bosses — it’s just that Dark Souls 2 is called out on it much more. Dark Souls fans, strange breed that some are, tend to take their subjective grievances (which functionally boil down to “I can never play Dark Souls for the first time ever again”) and escalate them into these grandiose claims that DS2 is objectively bad for such and such definitive reasons. Then they simply list things that make DS2 different from DS1.

        Of course there’s a bit of an auteur factor here too, because DS3 tends to get a pass due to Miyazaki’s directorship. It’s ironic because DS3 probably has the most rage-inducing, sniper-hell bullshit out all of three and has some of the easiest/cheesiest bosses (here’s looking at you, High Lord Wolnir). It’s doubly ironic that Miyazaki stated he never wanted to do more than one Dark Souls and was contractually obligated to a trilogy. It’s not a surprising admission, as DS3 is almost a parody/deconstruction of DS1 that ends in the literal dissolution of that game’s world.

        I’ve put hundreds of hours into all three, routinely win duels, and have been there since the first one (even before DSfix, when we had to play it *shudder* at 30fps). I don’t say this to chest-thump, but because ‘hollowed’ Dark Souls fans tend to demand these bona fides before they’ll even listen to you long enough to respond with something psychotically hostile. Regardless, let it be known at least somewhere on the internet, that DS1 is by far my least favorite of the three, and DS2 by far my favorite. DS3 sits comfortably in the middle. I like the risk/reward of having limited enemy respawns and bonfire ascetics in DS2 (blasphemy!). I like the slight prevalence of dueling humanoid enemies over ganky sniper stuff (except for Black Gulch, ugh). I especially like the subtle differences in leveling mechanics that makes for much more varied character builds. Plus, power-stancing is just ingenious. The mechanics of DS2 are so complex that it’s almost a sim.

        TL;DR — I played DS1 and found it deeply fascinating but cumbersome. I almost didn’t play DS2 because of the fan hate, but then I tried it and the whole series clicked for me. DS2 is one of my favorite things ever made by humans.

        • Faxanadu says:

          I love being biased as hell when it comes to my favorite things, but I’m not that passionate about ds.

          Haven’t played DS3 yet. I’ll get it off a sale, but I’m not in a rush because it looks boring. You’re in a castle most of the game? Meeeh.

          The things you listed aren’t very tangible to me, they sound like something to keep you entertained long term. I like to think my list of dislikes is very objective. (Of course lol.) I mean, COMON it does look bad. The start in particular is hideous. The character, the enemies, the surroundings. Ugh 2005 called. And while in ds1 you can run in any direction, in ds2 the direction seems to change in increments. And the jumping is ridiculous – it’s not about physics but about “find the spot the game wants you to jump from or fail comically”. Just very “in your face” kinda things that put me off instantly.

          I only heard Miyazaki didn’t make it a lot later. Which I gotta admit, made me exclaim “LOL FIGURES”.

          Thanks for the civil response.

        • montorsi says:

          This is a very weird description of the Souls games. What is awful about DS2 is that it prizes difficulty for the sake of difficulty, even if it means spamming you with mindless trash. Yes, that’s infuriating. Dying because you weren’t patient enough or weren’t observant, that’s OK. DS2 did not understand that or why it was so important. Neither did you, apparently.

          • fish99 says:

            ‘Hard for the sake of it’ is just a cliche people pull out when they got stuck on a section or boss. All the From games have their difficulty spikes, and difficulty is clearly part of the focus of the series, otherwise they’d just let you save anywhere and not resurrect all the enemies when you die.

        • Dekion says:

          Lot of truth in this. My favourite is demon souls. I bought it because I liked the cover art (I think it reminded me of lucifers call – another old favourite). It took me 2 days just to get to level 2. The tower of Latria (hopelessly underlevelled\equipped) is the best horror experience I’ve ever had in gaming. If someone told me I would progress enough to manipulate the world tendencies I would have laughed in their face. By ds1 I’d figured out the importance of levelling, equipment and having a ranged attack (I’m old so I couldn’t just git gud!). The expansion boss fights were amazing. Ds2 I spent most time with. Gruelling rather than horrific but played like a dream and I was so proud when I finally beat the last optional area (the two cats in the frozen waste) even after they stole my ⚡. Bloodborne – back to the abbatoir. Grizzly. Ds3 polished. Pretty. Easy. Fun. .

          In summary. Demon souls technically worst but my favourite cos I played it first before I knew the systems. Loved them all.

        • koiulpoi says:

          Something I find odd is DS2 fans’ consistent argument that “people only don’t like it because they played ds1 first years ago!” or “it’s just nostalgia glasses!” or similar arguments.

          Personally, I just recently (about a month ago) got in to Dark Souls. I played DS1 all the way through with two different characters, and loved it. It was punishing, exhilarating, and wonderful. It drew me in like no game has in years.

          As soon as I was done, I jumped to DS2. I had heard some fan hate, but was determined to give it a fair shot myself. I had friends who encouraged me to try it. I jumped right in, and bounced right off. I actually really loved the nonsensical intro with the three Fire Keepers (compared to the almost-nonexistent story of DS1). After that… the controls felt *wrong*. Everything felt, well, clunky. I didn’t feel like I was in control of my character anymore. Dodging didn’t seem to work – and I later found through wikis that thanks to Agility, most characters start with a 5 iframe dodge, as opposed to DS1’s 13 iframe fastroll, meaning being dodgy from the start doesn’t work, and you’re funnelled into the boring and stupid “hold up your shield and wait for an opening” gameplay. Yes, I know, I can almost hear the cries of “git gud” from here…

          Majula was stunningly beautiful, the animations were much better for all the characters, and it ran great. But, I died, and my characters went bald, and I got frustrated. I got nommed on by the cyclopses, who were able to pull me in from several feet away. In DS1 when I died, I almost always felt “oh, I can see how I could have done that better.” In DS2 when I died, more and more I felt “what’s wrong with this game? Is it something wrong with me?”. I had to put it down.

          So, on a whim, I picked up Demon’s Souls. And… I’m loving it. It’s a clear step down in many ways, but it’s already made me smile from sheer good design. I know this isn’t an objective thing, but it *feels* more responsive than DS2. It feels like I’m fighting the enemies, not the game engine.

          So, there you have it: the experience of someone who’s a brand new Souls player, with no time to “develop irrational hatred” or nostalgia or anything like that. I’ll probably try DS2 again in the future, but the experience so far has been painful in a way DS1 never really was.

      • fish99 says:

        Dark Souls 2 is still a fine game IMO, and to me it looks better than the original Dark Souls, purely in terms of visual fidelity (as opposed to art and world design, where Dark Souls was undeniably a masterpiece).

        • Juan Carlo says:

          DS2 is a great game. It’s no where near as good as DS1 in terms of level design (it’s just a bunch of linear hubs, as opposed to Ds1’s intricate labyrinthine connectivity), memorable bosses, depth of lore, or general strangeness, but its gameplay is solid and it mostly delivers on the bread and butter of what made DS1 good.

          So, no, it’s not as good. But I’d never say it was bad. I still put 160 hours into it (which is about as much as I put into Ds1).

          Honestly, of all 3, I’m probably least taken with DS3. It’s not a bad game at all, I just think the newness and wonder of the series has worn off some. I love the series dearly, but DS3 should definitely be the last. Or at least the last for a long while.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Pretty much whining on high level. The game is still up there with the 90%. Beautiful visuals, music. Too many cheap “fat dudes in armor” for my taste I can agree.

    • Seafoam says:

      I’m glad that my comment struck such a divisive topic. There’s so much interesting discussion here!

  3. Freud says:

    Other players in Dark Souls games are very hit and miss. Half of them are griefers that contribute very little to the game experience, especially if you play the game some time after the game has been released.

  4. Setroc says:

    well this started to have me quite excited but then I remembered I don’t have scholar of the first sin, but do have the base game and all DLCs which is unfortunately a seperate player base. £20 seems a bit steep for what is a patch that adds dx11 support and tweaks mob placement.

  5. vahnn says:

    After watching that short clip, I’d watch you play DS2. Do eeeeet.

  6. eliren27 says:

    This is a really neat idea, and I had been meaning to get back to Dark Souls 2 and finish the DLC before jumping into 3 anyways. The little bit of multiplayer I engaged in on my first playthrough was overall pleasant and I kind of wished towards the end that I had taken more advantage of that aspect of the game. I will have to reinstall the game this evening, thanks for the post Alice!

  7. ButteringSundays says:

    Surely a sale is required for this event – nobody is buying DS2 in 2017 at full price…

  8. Darth Gangrel says:

    Players interfering with my gaming experience is one of the reasons why I only play singleplayer, but even if there’s no way to deactivate that, my patience will still bear fruit.

    Or rather, my backlog won’t allow me to play it until almost all players are gone. Since Dark Souls isn’t even on my really-want-to-play-list, that could take years, but I will probably like it because of combat and other stuff.

    • fray_bentos says:

      I wouldn’t bother unless you enjoy repeating the same sections of game over and over again until you get it perfect.

      • Dapper Dan says:

        Yeah fuck that shit. Personally I copy-pasted my DS1 autosave to avoid tedious backtracking.

      • Janichsan says:

        Pretty much the reason why I never could get into Dark Souls. I have nothing against challenging games, I have nothing against a try and error approach to making progress in a game, but DS simply seemed to deliberately waste my time.

    • basilisk says:

      In DS1, you can only experience online interactions if you’re in human form, which is something you have to activate manually. If you stay in hollowed form for the entire game (and there’s nothing stopping you from doing that, there is no penalty whatsoever), then it’s for all intents and purposes singleplayer, except for the messages and bloodstains.

      It doesn’t work quite the same way in DS2 and 3, but it’s still possible to avoid invasions in those.

      • Juan Carlo says:

        You can also just choose to play in offline mode. I can’t recall if there is an option menu toggle, but you can just unplug the internet or (easiest) just block the network for the DS executable. The game doesn’t require internet to play (although you will obviously have to have internet the first time you play it to install it given it’s steamworks).

        I played all of DS1 without internet connection my first time through and it worked great. Still, in all my 400+ hours of playing the DS series I’ve never had a huge problem with invasions ruining my game. Except for a very few places (like the belltower in DS2 that was designed for them), they tend to be pretty rare for me. So I think it’s a silly issue to worry about.

  9. Stepout says:

    The Prepare to Die Edition was the first Souls game I’d played. Afterwards I jumped right into Scholar of the First Sin thinking I was hot shit. Newp, got my ass handed to me over and over in the beginning of that game. Damn those giant, turtle monsters.

    • This banana says:

      Yep, and that’s exactly what happened to me too, but mainly due to the fact that I didn’t know what ‘adaptability’ was for…
      Therein lies the biggest flaw of DS2 for me: Being different, just to throw veterans off. Or, like someone else stated above, being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

  10. Gratis says:

    Gamesplanet has the “Scholar of the First Sin” edition on sale for £7.49 for the next 11 hours, for anyone interested.–1003-3

  11. Monggerel says:

    Dark Souls II is like the Uncharted III of video games
    it does so much right, and so much wrong,
    and is missing half a heart.
    So you look back on what came before
    and realize in retrospect
    that love was always blind and no great loss at all.

  12. LaundroMat says:

    FYI, Indiegala has a DS2 SotFS sale going on (€ 11.99)