Dark Souls II is the direct sequel to Dark Souls. I had to wait over a month to get my hands on this game because I don’t own a Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 and it was well worth the wait. Dark Souls II has gotten some criticism from some of it’s hardcore fans while others praise it for all the changes that it made to the Soul series. Is Dark Souls II a better game than it’s predecessors? Lets find out.
In Dark Souls II you play as an undead. The goal of the game is to the break the curse, but if you’re familiar with Dark Souls lore you’ll know that’s not a easy thing to do. Dark Souls is known for being a difficult game, but honestly they’re not very hard games if you take your time and don’t charge in like you’re playing Dynasty Warriors. This doesn’t mean the game doesn’t offer a challenge because they do. They really do and they’ll test your patience. I would say that both Dark Souls and Dark Souls II are about the same in difficulty at first. Dark Souls has slower combat that makes you think about your next move while Dark Souls II throws more enemies at you and some well hidden traps that might kill you a few times. I’ll get more into the difficulty later.
Dark Souls II character creator is a mixed bag. You can make some really good looking characters if you’re patient, but it’s still lacking when compared to games like Skyrim, Dragons Dogma, and even Dragon Age and I’m not a fan of that character creator. You don’t get a chance to create your character right away. You’ll have to find a small hut in the middle of nowhere first. It’s not very hard because it’s literally right in front of you, but I really liked the beginning area. It wasn’t hard by any means and I was disappointed that there wasn’t a insane beginning boss fight like both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls had. It’s just a bunch of enemies, but I understand the new direction that they want to go with the series. Dark Souls II is different enough to stand out on it’s own from both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. From Software has mixed some elements from both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls together in this game and honestly it works.
The bonfires are back and instead of you leveling up at the bonfire you have to talk to The Emerald Herald now. The Emerald Herald can be compared to The Maiden In Black from Demon’s Souls. Majula isn’t as interesting as The Nexus, but it is better than Firelink Shrine by a longshot. I love how all the survivors you encounter made this barren town their home. You have a undead blacksmith, a merchant that gets cockier the more you buy from him, a talking cat, another merchant that sells useful health items, a sorcerer, a pyromancer, two covenants, and some secrets for you to discover. Majula is a great edition to the Soul series and I hope that we see more like this in the future. I think the greatest departure that Dark Souls II takes from it’s predecessor is the draining life bar. Every time you died in Demon’s Souls your health bar would get smaller until it was down to half. In Dark Souls II not only will your health gradually go down after each death, but your appearance would gradually change over time as well.
At first you’ll have a full head of hair. Each time you die you’ll lose some of it along with pieces of your flesh until you literally look like a zombie. It’s an awesome feature and one that I missed a lot.
The fast traveling from the beginning of the game reminds me of Demon’s Souls. As a matter of fact Dark Souls II is probably more of a Demon’s Souls sequel than it is Dark Souls one.The layout, the setup, the mechanics, and the world design all these things were taken out of Demon’s Souls and improved upon. I think most people that complain about these things have never played that game.
The difficulty of Dark Souls II is there and honestly it is a harder game than Dark Souls, but it’s easier for newcomers to jump in and enjoy the game. The tutorial area in Dark Souls II explains more, and is less confrontational, but quickly ramps up the difficulty as you progress through the game. The first few bosses you fight are pretty easy and can beaten if you time your rolls and don’t rush in for an attack, but this changes. Soon you’ll be fighting multiple bosses that will gang up on you and kill you. It’s even worse in new game plus because you’ll often encounter red phantoms in boss fights. Dark Souls II can be an unforgiving game and you might find yourself short on human effigy’s from the countless amount of times you will most likely die.
After you complete Dark Souls II for the first time the game is truly just beginning. New game plus not only enhances the difficulty of the game, but it also has new items, and enemies that can only be encountered in this mode. It rewards you for taking that risk and playing through the game again with a new character. I’ve always loved this about the Souls series, but it’s done the best here in Dark Souls II. New game plus is more than just going through the game again with your same character against tougher enemies. Bosses are a lot harder to kill too and this brings on a whole new type of challenge.
Dark Souls II looks really good on the PC. It’s the best looking game yet in the series and it runs at a smooth 60fps. I found myself stopping to take in the view quite a few times during my 70+ hours I’ve spent in the game so far and honestly I still haven’t experienced everything this game has to offer. You can’t rush through this game. There is a lot of content here and in order to get the full experience you’ve got to take your time or you will miss out on a lot of extra loot, lore, and even some interesting dialogues and secret locations.
There are a lot of optional boss fights in this game. You can easily just skip them and continue fighting the main bosses if you want too, but where’s the fun in that? I want to fight every single boss and find every secret, armor set, npc, extra dialogue, and secret areas that I can before I advance to the next area. One npc will only reward you if you can keep her alive in three boss fights and that’s not easy because she’s known to die a lot. You’ll have to aggro the boss and that’s not something you want to do in a Dark Souls game.
It’s easier to team up with other players this time around. I love this because it was always really hard to play Dark Souls with my friends. Our summon signs would never show up or we would get summoned by someone else. Most of the time we just get a failed to summon sign. None of that is present here in Dark Souls II. I can get up to two other people traveling around with me at any time. There are summon signs everywhere and it’s a lot of fun playing as a team.
Pvp has also seen a major change. You can no longer just try and win by a lucky backstab. Backstabs are harder to get this time around and you can’t just glitch yourself a win, even though it happens to some people and it’s even happened to me once. Pros can no longer invade low leveled players with no gear because of the new soul meter that’s been put in the game. You don’t have to cap your own level just to play with other people now. You can literally level up as much as want and still find suitable matches for your character and honestly pvp is more fair this way. High leveled characters will only fight other high leveled characters and some people don’t like that because they like picking on less skilled players than them. Honestly it’s a good change and makes the game more fair for newer players.
The areas in Dark Souls II are a lot bigger than both Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls, but the design of them are not better than either of it’s predecessors and that’s the problem. I loved how connected Dark Souls was. Areas you never though would connect with each other did. I would unlock a door in the Undead Burg and end up in the forest. Or take a lift and end up back at the beginning of the game. It was amazing and it’s one of the many reasons why Dark Souls is one of my favorite games of all time. Dark Souls II is more like Demon’s Souls, but doesn’t have as many memorable areas. They are some amazing areas in that game, but very few of them feel connected to each other the way everything in Dark Souls was.
Boss fights in Dark Souls II are good, but when compared to it’s predecessors it pales in comparison. Demon’s Souls had some really great boss battles. Each one felt unique, but I never really had a problem finding ways to beat them. Dark Souls had the Gaping Dragon, Gwyn, while easy is still an incredible boss fight in my opinion, The Four Kings, a Giant Golem, and so many other really well designed bosses. Dark Souls II has some really great bosses, but also has some really cheap ones too. I’m not going to say it’s a mixed bag because I really enjoyed a lot of the boss fights, but they’re not as memorable. The Undead Chariot, The Pursuer, and Nashandra are all well designed bosses. Nashandra was a really disappointing boss fight, but I love her design and back story. You can fight The Pursuer three times. The first time you’ll most likely die, but after you kill him the second time another appears after a boss fight and challenges you to a fight.
I love the fact that bosses appear and fight you before you can actually make it to them and this happens more often in new game plus. Dark Souls II is a worthy sequel to both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. It’s a challenging game that has stayed true to it’s roots in both Dark and Demon’s Souls. It’s beautifully designed, challenging, and rewards players if they’re willing to put some time into it. Dark Soul II is a true sequel and in some areas has even managed to surpass Dark Souls because of the Demon’s Souls elements that were implemented in the game and because of the better gameplay experience that I had. Dark Souls has the superior world design, but I don’t there will be another game that connects a game together that the first Dark Souls game did.
Our Verdict: 9/10
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