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‘Dark Souls II’ game design changes revealed, features more punishing deaths

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When Dark Souls II was first introduced, fans were worried that the series’ boost in popularity since the release of the first Dark Souls title would cause developer From Software to make the sequel less difficult in order to appease a more mainstream audience. Putting those fears to rest, a report from the official Playstation Blog on Thursday, revealed that Dark Souls II will still deliver unrelenting punishment upon players based upon a recent hands-on demonstration. Additionally, the upcoming game actually penalizes gamers further each time they die.

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For example, after each in-game death, a portion of a character’s life bar is now removed. This happens after every death, causing players’ total health to become increasingly lowered every time that they die. The only way to reverse the hindrance and return to full health is for games to restore their human form. Dark Souls II features an updated mechanic for humanity which will be fully discussed later.

Furthermore, the potions system for Dark Souls II has now been completely reworked. Players will no longer rely on Estus Flasks. Taking their place are life crystals which provide small increases in health over time instead of a single burst heal. This means that the crystals can’t be used as a crutch to save them from death as much as to simply prolong their life. Also making things harder, unlike flasks from the first game, life crystals are restored after resting at bonfires. This means that players will have to be cautious in using this more limited healing mechanic.

Not everything in Dark Souls II is designed to punish fans however. The sequel will also introduce several changes that will make the game more enjoyable. These user-friendly tweaks include an improved control setup, a better user interface, and the ability to start with the option to fast travel between bonfires.

Dark Souls II releases this March on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 with a PC launch to come at a later date. No word has been given about whether next-gen versions of the game will eventually head to the Xbox One and Playstation 4.

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