Dark Souls is a game that is known for it’s depth and difficulty. Some players who barely made it through the tutorial might wince in pain at it’s mention. Yet others can breeze multiple playthroughs that scale in difficulty. Some argue that the game’s difficulty is artificial because it throws mechanics at you that aren't possible to predict.
The truth is that every death in Dark Souls is entirely your fault. If you didn’t take the time to notice the charred bodies and scorch marks seared along the bridge than you deserve your fiery death. That’s what the game’s hardcore following would have you believe anyway. The game is littered with hints about what is coming next, every time there is a mechanic that would be otherwise unfair, they throw you plenty of warning signs. Say in the Depths, before you reach one of the giant eye’d monsters that will haunt your nightmares forever. They show you multiple petrified corpses that are eerily standing in your path. If you notice them, your reaction to the mist they exhale should warrant an obvious reaction.
Outside of environmental clues, most bosses offer some weakness or exploit to help you. The first real boss of the game is the Taurus demon. Before starting the fight a bowman on the tower behind you starts shooting arrows in your direction. This should force you to climb the ladder and kill him before starting the encounter. While up there you might notice the perfect angle to leap onto the boss's head from your location. Doing this makes the boss considerably easier. Most difficult bosses have a similar weakness, a recurring one is to cut off the tail by attacking it, which will remove the bosses tail mechanics and take off a healthy chunk of their total life. If you are still having trouble you can turn yourself into a human and summon another player or a particular NPC to help you.
It’s incredibly easy to miss parts of the plot and side stories of Dark Souls as many of them are hidden in the description of items and told in abstract ways. It makes finding them amazingly satisfying because the story wasn’t handed to you, you had to earn it. A great example is Gwyndolin, an optional boss who through proper investigation, you find is a man who was raised as a daughter by his father Lord Gwyn. The sequel is meant to tell a more linear story but there is sure to be plenty of story to be told that won’t be in the main narrative.
Player versus Player
Dark Souls boasts a dedicated group of PVP fanatics who hold various roles based off the games covenant system. Every covenant dictates how you will be playing with other players. It ranges from the police esque Darkmoon Blades to the gank oriented Darkwraiths. There is even a faction that rallies you to defend the forest from unwanted invaders. Each offers players rewards for completing objectives, though they are shallow and quickly obtained by serious participants. Players who have transcended the objectives set by the game eventually formed fight clubs to duel each other and test the true limits of their skill. The only drawback being the lack of dedicated servers, leaving latency issues to limit their potential. Dark Souls 2 comes with dedicated multiplayer servers at launch and should prove a more serious addiction to PVP junkies.
Preparing to Die
The most important thing for every PC gamer intending to pick up Dark Souls 2 to know, is that they need a controller. The game is not fluid with the keyboard and mouse and you will not appreciate the game for what it really is. If you’ve played the steam version of Dark Souls you know that. If you haven’t played Dark Souls you are missing out on one of the deepest and most original games ever made.
Dark Souls 2 releases in March on PS3 and Xbox 360, while the PC version has been promised shortly after the console releases. Amazon had listed it on May 31st but there has been no official word on it, so it’s merely a rumor at this point.
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