Avoiding Dark Souls 2 Because Of Difficulty Is Doing Yourself a Disservice

A massive, atmospheric world ripe for exploring is laid before your feet. For those with the courage to conquer it, you will be treated to one of the best action RPGS in years.

In an age of linear storytelling, on rails shooter, QTEs and handholding, Dark Souls injected itself into the hearts of hardcore gamers everywhere with its lack of forgiveness and brutal difficulty. Dark Souls 2 manages to capture much of the same excitement as its predecessor with a lot less frustration, even if it isn't quite as challenging.

Just How Hard Is It Anyway?

When many gamers think Dark Souls, they immediately think of extreme difficulty and controller throwing rage. This reputation, while it has attracted many seeking a greater challenge, has also led to potential players turning away from the game because they feel too intimidated. The best way to explain the difficulty is that you will die, over and over again, but all of these deaths will be entirely your fault.

The beauty of this game is that no matter how many times you get crushed by a giant, backstabbed by invisible enemies, or fall off a ledge yet again, you will want to keep going because you know that if you just roll away from the giant or look carefully, you can win. This game is the ultimate test of your will to keep going.

Most games would feel cheap if you died in them as much as in Dark Souls, but the ultimate success of this game is because it feels fair. So yeah, you'll die, a lot. But with enough patience and skill, you will defeat your enemies. The feeling of accomplishment that you get after defeating an enemy that has been haunting you for hours is unmatched by any other game.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about the game itself.

Ignite The Fires Far

Dark Souls is unique in that it does not allow you to save your game whenever you choose. Instead, every time you are killed, you are sent back to the last bonfire you rested at. These bonfires are placed all over the world and serve as your chance to recharge your health and potions before venturing even further into the brilliant agony that awaits you. These bonfires are often far away from each other or cleverly hidden so that careless players will miss them and have a much harder time clearing an area. The sight of a bonfire after hours of toiling through an area is enough to bring tears to the eye. In addition to recharging your character, resting at a bonfire also respawns all of the enemies in that area other than bosses.

However, unlike the first game, some enemies will stop respawning after you've killed them a few times, making the backtracking to your previous spot less toilsome. But wait, there's a catch! Now, every time you die, your max HP goes down, capping out at around half your overall health. This can be reversed with an item called human effigy, which restores your health and allows you to summon other players for help or be brutally murdered by them.

Saints And Trolls

If the player is in human form, he can summon other players or NPCs to aid them in their quest to seek souls. To summon another player, you simply activate the summon sign placed on the ground by the player. An extra blade or staff is often enough to turn the tide of battle during difficult boss encounters.

Player interaction isn't limited to helping each other though. By using an item called a cracked red eye orb, you can torment other players by invading their world and facing them in one on one combat. This adds even greater tension to the already difficult environments, as you never know when you might be invaded.

The Enemies Of Dark Souls 2

In DS2, you will find yourself slaying a wide variety of enemies. These enemies include but are not limited to: bandits, dragons, demons, 12 foot tall knights, 80 foot tall giants, ogres, rats, bassilisks, club wielding turtles, lizards, necromancers, skeleton lords, giant spiders, and of course, bosses. Every are in the game has at least one boss. These bosses are all unique and require a different strategy to defeat them.

You never know what to expect when passing the misty doors leading to a boss, and you are often greeted by a fantastic challenge. Each boss is accompanied by its own theme music and unique arena. After defeating these bosses, you are usually rewarded with loot and a bonfire.

Oh, The Places You'll Die

Dark Souls 2 is a massive game. During my 45-hour playthrough, I found myself in over 50 locales including shaded forests, rainy castles, ancient caves, large towers, spooky prisons, and many more. While the game isn't the best looking game out there, it certainly is one of the most atmospheric. Evey area has a very distinct feel and is filled to the max with secrets to uncover.

A Dark, Thought Provoking Story, If You Can Find It

To the casual observer, it would appear that Dark Souls 2 does not have a story. The game opens with a brief cutscene as you, an undead cursed with rebirth, begin your search to reverse the curse. You are given one task, to find bigger, more powerful souls and light the fires. If you don't read item descriptions or listen to NPCs, that is the extent of the storyline.

But for those willing to look for it, the game tells an interesting tale of the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Drangleic, the now abandoned land you travel in. The story tells of King Vanderick, a mighty lord who made war upon the giants across the sea at his queen's bidding. Vanderick dedicated his life to stopping the curse of the undead from spreading, thinking that by defeating the giants and claiming the Great Soul, he could avoid his fate. But he and his kingdom were eventually swallowed up by the curse, resulting in the decrepit land seen throughout the game. The game also tells of the First Flame and the original sins, shining light on many of the game's bosses. I won't spoil anything for you, but rest assured, if you look hard enough, you will be treated to a wonderful plot.


An often punishing experience, Dark Souls 2 rewards players for their perseverance. The game has managed to make itself less tedious and frustrating than the original, but retains the reputation of the series as the epitome of tough but fair. A massive world brimming with secrets, bosses, and loot to uncover, this game will pull you in and devour you, causing you to spend countless hours in an effort to conquer the game's terrifying enemies and eventually revelling in triumph as you stand atop the corpses of your foes.

Avoiding this game because of its difficulty is to do yourself a huge disservice. While it may be difficult to get into at first, once you learn the skills required for success, you will be fully immersed in the world of Drangleic, this is one experience you won't soon forget.

Our Rating
A massive, atmospheric world ripe for exploring is laid before your feet. For those with the courage to conquer it, you will be treated to one of the best action RPGS in years.

Featured Contributor

Here to break the sterotype that jocks can't be nerds. I'm 15 and I love gaming. Gaming has helped me in many ways throughout my life, most notably when my father died. I love to write reviews so you guys can know whether or not to spend all your hard earned money on that brand new game or not. My favorite games are Deus ex, battlefield 4, the witcher 2, Assassin's Creed 2, and anything bioware (mass effect, Kotor, Dragon Age)

Published Apr. 29th 2014
  • Samuel Franklin
    Featured Contributor
    You sum up the difficulty perfectly, it is what I always tell my friends as well. It's not a game you get frustrated at, you get frustrated at yourself.

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