Dark Souls II Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Dark Souls II RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Dark Souls I, II, & III: FROMSOFT's Three Dysfunctional Children https://www.gameskinny.com/gidle/dark-souls-i-ii-iii-fromsofts-three-dysfunctional-children https://www.gameskinny.com/gidle/dark-souls-i-ii-iii-fromsofts-three-dysfunctional-children Sun, 29 May 2016 11:01:31 -0400 Jack Einhorn (skullkid)

The highly anticipated Dark Souls III hit American shelves a little over a month ago in April, and while in internet time that’s practically eons, it’s still incredibly fresh. The game was Bandai-Namco’s most successful day-one launch, and has sold upwards of three million copies as of May 10. But Dark Souls III and its major success aren’t necessarily what we’re aiming to talk about here, at least not exclusively. Since the series is all wrapped up, at least according to lead game director and president of FromSoftware Hidetaka Miyazaki, we’re going to talk about all three Dark Souls games, and how they fit together. If you grew up in a family with multiple children, you may find some of this familiar.

Dark Souls

Dark Souls is FromSoftware’s firstborn child. You know, the one that the parents meticulously raise using every baby book or parenting guide they can get their hands on. Since this is the first and only child, every aspect of raising it is planned so cautiously and with such great care that practically nothing goes wrong. Sure, due to being first-timers, the parents drop a ball or two, but what you have in the end is a beautiful child with a heavily immersive world, challenging yet fair combat mechanics, and interwoven level design that is nothing short of ingenious. Wait. I think the metaphor overlapped a little. Either way, Dark Souls’ parents were so pleased with the outcome of their pristine, model child, that they decided to have another one. Maybe you see where this is going?

Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II is the attention-starved, practically forgotten middle child. The parents stopped their meticulous and cautious parenting because they thought they had it all figured out, but in reality couldn’t hatch two perfect eggs in a row. Seriously, stupid metaphors aside, Dark Souls II seems incredibly unpolished compared to its predecessor, and while some quality of life tweaks have been added (the ability to climb up ladders faster, or move while healing) it seriously falls short of the previously set standard. There’s a pretty big internet hate bandwagon for Dark Souls II which can be a bit over-dramatic, so while it’s not a bad game on its own by any stretch, it’s pretty fair to say this installment is the worst in the series. And it makes sense too - Bandai-Namco funnelled a LOT more money into advertising than developing (at least proportionally to Dark Souls I), and Miyazaki was only supervising the project, not directly involved. Thusly, Dark Souls II is without a doubt the middle-child black sheep of the series, who will probably dye their hair in high school and start ditching class to chain smoke with upperclassmen.

Dark Souls III

 

The weary, at this point disheartened parents thought they’d try one more time after the disaster of their second child, and thus Dark Souls III was born. The youngest, the cutest, receives the most attention - we’re pretty much all familiar. It’s almost uncanny how much it seems like the parents in this beaten-to-death metaphor realize where they went wrong with Dark souls II and totally reversed those elements. Everything fans loved about the first game is present in Dark Souls III, and people familiar with the series who pick it up will be nothing short of delighted. All the care and attentiveness is back, tons of weapons and armors that people adored in the first game (but are absent in the second game) have returned, and we even see a handful of familiar faces. With all kidding aside, FromSoftware did the perfect job giving the series a proper send-off, and just like any overworked set of parents I’m sure they’re looking forward to being empty-nesters. Although probably not. Because they’re a game company and they probably want to make more games.

So there you have it -- if you grew up with two other siblings, now you know which Dark Souls game you can best relate to. 

 

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Will the real Dark Souls please stand up: Why Dark Soul 2 leaves the other Souls games in the Dark https://www.gameskinny.com/3pory/will-the-real-dark-souls-please-stand-up-why-dark-soul-2-leaves-the-other-souls-games-in-the-dark https://www.gameskinny.com/3pory/will-the-real-dark-souls-please-stand-up-why-dark-soul-2-leaves-the-other-souls-games-in-the-dark Fri, 01 Apr 2016 06:10:48 -0400 Seth Zulinski

With Dark Souls 3 looming on the horizon of April 12th (for those of us who aren't the Chosen for Early Access, anyway), I decided awhile back that I needed to dust off my Longsword +15, light the ole' bonfire, and "git gud" again. There was going to be a whole new world of Unkindled that needed invading, an entire generation of Undead that needed to be taught a lesson in Quality, and running through each game to 100%/Platinum/Full complete/That's-a-bingo seemed like a fine way to bring myself back up to speed. 

There were a few twists and turns as I shook the dust off, sure. But through Allant, Ornstein and Smough, and even Fume Knight, the thing that made me rage the hardest was actually a pop-up message on Steam:

"I have no idea how you stuck through Dark Souls 2. I hope [DS]3 isn't anything like it." 

So...you'd rather it be an endurance-draining pigeon-holed rollfest like Bloodborne, then? Or maybe the "glory days" nostalgia-fest that was of Dark Souls once any of us figured out what we were doing? Maybe you'd rather it be a console-only hollow monstrosity that's barely recognizable as a Souls game at all, like Demon's Souls?

No. If Dark Souls 3 wants to be be good, it has to have roots in the best Souls series installment.

And the best in that line-up is Dark Souls 2 by a corpse-covered mile.

But if I'm going to explain why (and trust me, I am), then I might as well start from the beginning.  

Demon's Souls

Pictured: Not the real Dark Souls

Where the Souls franchise began is Demon's Souls, though in much the same way that Atari was the beginning for Nintendo and Sega -- sure, the latter wouldn't exist without the former, but looking back it seems almost crude to compare what came before to what came after. 

While Demon's Souls was a fine game in most respects for its time, it's also very much a victim of being the first child of the family -- it's clunky, easily outdated, gimmicky, stiff, and unpolished.

Demon's Souls did have a lot of what we came to expect from Souls in some crude, caveman form - a dead/alive system, a way to reclaim your death tax, various ways to upgrade your character and equipment, a bunch of NPCs that will inevitably attempt to kill you for reasons not totally apparent. If you squint your eyes really hard, it's easy to convince yourself it's in the same ballpark as later entries in the "series". 

Then you remember the fights that are gimmick/puzzle bosses more at home in a Legend of Zelda title than the Dark Souls we know and love (looking at you, armor spider). You remember gender-specific equipment, the arcadey Gauntlet-esque hub-world that constantly reminds you you're playing a video game, the nigh-unstoppable helper NPC that can actually solo his boss fight, the unlimited mana builds that rendered even the absurdly farmable healing consumables nearly useless...

The list goes on.

While Demon's Souls was a fine game in most respects for its time, it's also very much a victim of being the first child of the family - it's clunky, easily outdated, gimmicky, stiff, and unpolished. While it was a console exclusive a la Bloodborne, that wasn't the only reason that the fandom really took off after this game. After all, Demon's Souls wasn't the name gamers scared their children and friends with at night. That was...

Dark Souls

Pictured: Also not the real Dark Souls

The name, the experience of your first Souls game, is so powerful that even as I sit here saying Dark Souls 2 is the superior souls game, that very action is hard. 

This entry into the series grabbed many of us. Dark Souls was a word many didn't hear for quite some time after release, but one which quickly became synonymous with nightmares. It was Hard Mode: the game. You weren't Dante or Kratos -- you weren't some whirldwind of godlike strength and skill mowing down enemies like annoying grass. 

You were some schmuck with a sword, and everything that wanted to kill you probably could if you weren't careful. 

The legacy of the first Dark Souls is something you can't ignore if you talk about the games -- it was where the series really "broke out" from a small cult into a much larger, louder cult, and where players like us first assumed this mantle of "grizzled gaming veteran" when we came out on the other side of the fight with Gwyn (or later Artorias). The name, the experience of your first Souls game, is so powerful that even as I sit here saying Dark Souls 2 is the superior souls game, that very action is hard

And it makes sense. Much as we learned every time we saw "You Died", FromSoftware had also actively learned from their mistakes and missteps -- and Dark Souls 1 got a lot right that Demon's Souls didn't. The combat was faster, your character's movements felt smoother, it was much prettier, and gone was that awful hub-world. Lordran was a far more engrossing world, and even the bosses that were "puzzle-ish" in design could be hacked away at if you were "gud" enough.

Well, except Bed of Chaos. We don't talk about Bed of Chaos, though. 

...much of what made Dark Souls powerful, difficult, and engrossing was just that I'd never played a Souls game before.

What struck me the most on later playthroughs of Dark Souls, though, was how much power was actually in "baby's first Dark Souls" syndrome rather than the game itself. While we weren't as super-agile as our Hunter in BloodborneDark Souls' "snap-to" dodge-rolling and seemingly limitless invincibility frames rendered the slow, clunky, and seemingly blind enemies nothing more than fodder.

Ornstein and Smough, once the faces of my nightmares, just didn't hold up anymore. Artorias was a joke after toe-to-toeing Fume Knight, and Sif was less dangerous than the game camera. 

It was the end of a personal era, and the beginning of my firm entrenchment in the "Dark Souls 2 is the real Souls" camp, when I realized that much of what made Dark Souls powerful, difficult, and engrossing was just that I'd never played a Souls game before. It wasn't, and isn't "actually hard", just unconventional for its time -- it wanted us to play it differently from other games, and many of us just weren't ready for that. 

Of course, on the other end of the difficulty spectrum from "I have no idea what I'm doing" is "we're going to tell you what you're doing", which is more or less the hallmark of...

Bloodborne

Oh come on, this doesn't even have "Souls" in the title

Bloodborne, FromSoftware's latest offering (discounting the lucky few currently slashing away in Dark Souls 3 anyway), is in many ways a few steps back for FromSoftware and the Souls series in general, as well as the sort of "artifically difficult" offering that many claimed Dark Souls 2 was. 

FromSoftware, forever learning from their players and bossfights, had decided that mixing up their playbook failed to stop us. They'd need to trim down ours. 

And that's what a lot of Bloodborne boils down to, and that's why it's not in contention for the "real Souls game" title -- it's artificially difficult in the way most games are, where there's only one real "correct" way to play rather than a huge problem you have to solve yourself. 

Bloodborne is what it looks like when FromSoftware admits defeat, and one thing we as Souls players know is to never, ever admit defeat. 

The world-building, the way your surroundings draw you into the story and the game itself, that's there. That's the FromSoftware we know and love. The enemies being larger-than-life monstrosities that are playing far out of your character's apparent weightclass? That's there too. So is that accursed "video-gamey" hub world and console exclusivity, but you can't have everything all the time, I suppose. 

What "isn't there" when it comes to Bloodborne, though? Answer - nearly everything. The oft-reviled Magic of previous entries is awful even in comparison to Dark Souls 2' toned down spells. Armor barely registers, there essentially is no block function (outside of a useless plank), and your character has as much poise as a drunken toddler peddling on a unicycle. I hope you like playing a light armor Endurance build, because that's really all you have available. 

Where Dark Souls had beaten us with foes we simply did not know how to fight correctly, Bloodborne gave us plenty of familiar fights (big monster, man with weapon, "basically a player character", sure sure), but with conditions: we could only fight them in the dark, blindfolded, hopping on one leg with our hands tied behind our back. 

Bloodborne is what it looks like when FromSoftware admits defeat, and one thing we as Souls players know is to never, ever admit defeat. 

With Demon's Souls being more a prototype than a game, Dark Souls a bully more powerful in its timing than its actual play, and Bloodborne a sad resigned sigh, the crowns (all four of them) for "The Real Dark Souls" that Dark Souls 3 will have to fight for rests upon the skull of...

Dark Souls 2

The real Dark Souls starts here

Dark Souls 2 (yes, despite Miyazaki's uninvolvement) is the pitched battle where FromSoftware confronted an informed player base, but had yet not resorted to clipping our wings. Boasting an arsenal as huge as Lordran and various potential builds all as savage as the Oprhan of Kos, players were free to explore Drangleic in too many ways to count. 

Where Dark Souls 2 really shines in comparison to the others, where it really draws its strength as a game, is in the challenge it presents on top of its depth.

Sword and board? You can do that. Wizard? Sure. Miracle worker? Yes. And there's even a "double mage" that uses both Light and Dark. You can play the roll-dodging, light armor, high END "git gud" builds I love. (Well, I love invading and killing them, anyway). 

Drangleic is as beautiful as any other Souls entry, though they let you skip out on the scenery you've checked before once you've hit another Bonfire. While the teleportation between bonfires is one of the most oft cited areas where Dark Souls 2 stumbles, be honest for a moment -- did you really want to walk all the way back through that same group of Hollows near Firelink? Every time? Were you even paying attention by then? Was destroying that same annoying Firebomb thrower for the three hundredth time at all fulfilling? 

Two hundred times, maybe. But by three? You start almost feeling bad for the poor thing. 

The story (another sticking point) is actually the most coherent since Demon's Souls -- you have a curse, find Drangleic, and are then led to believe that the King has information on said curse. This makes sense. I understand what my primary motivation for murdering these Soul-possessing monstrosities is in Dark Souls 2.

In Dark Souls, I wasn't totally sure why my Chosen Undead needed to do anything outside of the Asylum, other than we told a dead guy we would and the game needs us to "do the thing" in order to play. Bloodborne starts and continues without even telling us how we got to Yharnam much less why we're doing anything there, except that we're a Hunter, so we presumably Hunt.

Where Dark Souls 2 really shines in comparison to the others, where it really draws its strength as a game, is in the challenge it presents (especially when coupled with the DLC/Scholar of the First Sin edition) on top of its depth.

DS2 has more depth than any other Souls game.

Severe, "well in the middle of Majula" depth is the hallmark of Dark Souls 2. The various build combinations, the ways the bosses try to punish you for every action depending on the action, the use of a much refined elemental system to give both players and enemies strengths and weaknesses is deep.

Even the lore, removed in time from the Age of Lords and mired in generation after generation of unreliable "whisper down the line" scenarios, makes the tale of Gwyn and his Lord Souls pale in comparison. Where Bloodborne and Dark Souls had a story, Dark Souls 2 has many stories, layered over and within one another, each one shedding light but also mystery to every other one. 

While the Boss Fights went a little heavy on the "big man with big weapon" model and left a lot of the "large monster doing monster things" fights at home, even each of these was handled differently -- you don't fight the Flexile Sentry the same way you fight Smelter Demon, and Sir Alonne is a whole different game than Dragonrider(s). Even in non-boss situations, it was consistently only Dark Souls 2 that didn't just have me trying to jam buttons better, but asking, 

"How do I actually beat this?"

Of course, not all of us are in it solely for single player. One of the defining factors of the Souls franchise, and the single clearest victory for Dark Souls 2, is in the...

PvP

This is the bread and butter of the endgame for many of us. When the last NG cycle we can tolerate is completed, when the last Gwyn or Nashandra or Moon Presence has fallen, when FromSoftware has once again been bested by levels of willpower Undertale's protagonist only wishes they had, only one enemy remains:

Us. 

Dark Souls 2's greatest strength is that the game, and as a result the PvP, is deep and complex enough that even years later the scene can change, evolve, grow, and be surprising.

All early looks at Dark Souls 3 point to a PvP system that's essentially a super-refined, larger version of earlier Souls PvP -- specifically, the PvP of Dark Souls 2. 

The weapons and armor are varied (even moreso with Arts). No armies of Giant Dads, no "swing axe, shoot gun" pigeon-holed play. 

And really, that's the greatest strength of DS2's depth of build and play -- that when a Red phantom invades, I can't just rely on them having only a sword and an Estus flask. I can't pin them down as a slash-n-roll or a Soul Spear spammer right from the start. 

Dark Souls 2's greatest strength is that the game, and as a result the PvP, is deep and complex enough that even years later the scene can change, evolve, grow, and be surprising -- far more than its Soul series counterparts. Of course, my old sword and board still has a few tricks (and Forbidden Suns) up his sleeve. It's this kind of depth, complexity, and potential for evolution even years later that I hope most carries over to the only potential contender for the crown of "the real Dark Souls".

Dark Souls 3

Will Dark Souls 3 be the next Chosen, the next real Dark Souls? Will the probable final entry in the series be a kindled flame - an engrossing, sensible story with layers of depth, infinitely customizable gameplay, challenging bosses, and evolving, fluid PvP? Or will it bear the Curse of some previous installments in the franchise, and stand at the gates of past mistakes without really knowing why? 

If Dark Souls 3 is anything like Dark Souls 2, where the "real" Dark Souls starts, then it will be a Victory Achieved and the future - for once - looks bright. 

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Things we want to see in Dark Souls 3 https://www.gameskinny.com/b5rts/things-we-want-to-see-in-dark-souls-3 https://www.gameskinny.com/b5rts/things-we-want-to-see-in-dark-souls-3 Thu, 01 Oct 2015 11:52:01 -0400 Serhii Patskan

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Dark Souls 3 is still pretty far away from the release date, which is set on April 2016 for North America and Europe. Also, experience shows that PC version might even get a later release, so let’s assume May or June 2016.

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At this stage, the game already looks great and the updated engine clearly makes everything look better. A slightly improved and accelerated combat system looks good, too. Undoubtedly, we’ve seen only a very small part of Dark Souls 3, but even this small part could be considered impressive. If this level of quality stays throughout the whole playthrough, then we all can expect another great game in the Souls series. On the other hand, the game is already considered by many to be a needless copy of Bloodborne.

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Tell us in the comments section what you think about Dark Souls 3 and what other elements you want to see in it!

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Challenging bosses
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Bosses could be compared to pillars on which the world of Dark Souls stands firm. It got a bit shakey in Dark Souls 2 where bosses were a lot easier than in Dark Souls 1. But what really elevated the situation in the Souls series were the boss fights in Bloodborne. They were fast, unpredictable and had none of the cheesiness of the Dark Souls 2 boss fights. According to previews, we can expect more of the Bloodborne level of challenge in Dark Souls 3. Let’s just hope that it stays that way.

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Healing items
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Estus Flasks should stay and never leave the Souls series… ever! Dark Souls 2 had lifegems, resembling herbs from Demon’s Souls, which were there to accompany you before you got to the next bonfire, if you were suddenly out of Estus Flasks. But they were at times too slow, while healing in Demon’s Souls was fast. So, if the developers decide to add some new healing items to Dark Souls 3 they should be just as effective as herbs from Demon’s Souls.

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More content
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Games are getting more and more expensive and we want to appreciate the investment. In comparison to Dark Souls 2, Bloodborne, although a great game, was really short. But Dark Souls 3 should be bigger or at least as big as Dark Souls 2, with the promise of additional content in the future. This also means more items and not just the story.

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Gear customization
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It would be really nice to have a possibility of a deeper gear customization, but we may be asking for too much here. However, if we could at least change the color shades of separate parts of our gear it would be simply amazing. As quite often you had a great set of armor on you statwise, but the color mismatch sometimes made you look like a clown. Some people don’t like bright colors and it would be great to make things look darker, or vice versa.

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Better covenants
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The covenants need to make sense - they have to give you something substantial in order to motivate you to actually stick with them. For example, an infinite Cracked Red Eye Orb would do it.

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When it comes to existing covenants, then Darks Souls 1 has the best of the best (e.g. Darkwraith). While Bloodborne could do completely without them, as there was no real point to covenants in the game at all.

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Interesting NPCs
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This is something Dark Souls developers need to consider, as all the previous Souls games, maybe except Darks Souls 1, were filled with NPCs that did nothing but bore us. So, it would be nice to see more cohesion and excitement this time around, and maybe even a slight hint at romance – you never know, right?

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Solaire of Astora, mostly referred to as Sunbro, is probably the best example of a good NPC in the Souls series - just look at all the references and memes on the web.

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Interconnected world
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Dark Souls 1 had a terrific interconnected level design and this is something we want to see in Dark Souls 3, as well. Bloodborne and Demon’s Souls did it pretty well; however, the constant need to go back to the hub was really annoying. The teleportation system between the bonfires in Dark Souls 2 was great, and it should stay like that.

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Better stats
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Things like equip load and soul memory should definitely be eliminated, and there were rumors already about that coming from Hidetaka Miyazaki himself. Equip load just makes things extremely limited for light and midweight characters that start fatrolling too early in the game. Other stats should also be more balanced and be more specific to different kinds of builds. Another thing that needs to be dealt with is any attempt at overlevelling, for obvious reasons.

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Better user interface
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The UI in Dark Souls 2 wasn’t that bad, but it certainly could be improved. The navigation should be quicker and more user-friendly. Definitely, there should be hotkeys included and customizable keys for combos and such. The menu should also be smaller, so you could see the character change when you try to equip something instead of switching the menu on and off.

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Balanced penalties for death
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Every game in the Souls series, including Bloodborne, had a certain system of penalties for dying. The most balanced of them was in Dark Souls 2, and the worst in Demon’s Souls. The only thing that was a bit too much in Dark Souls 2 system was the fact that you couldn’t be invaded after death, as you became hollow. This should be considered in Dark Souls 3 and we still should be allowed to invade and be invaded in hollow forms, and if you don’t want to be invaded, then just go offline.

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Soul Vessels
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These were great because they allowed you to fix the mistakes that you did in your build. Otherwise, you would have to either keep playing your build in that way or start the game from scratch, which is never pleasing. Dark Souls 2 allowed you to respec your build entirely and fix those mistakes at whatever point in the game.

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Unfortunately, there was nothing similar to Soul Vessels in Bloodborne, but we definitely want to see them back in Dark Souls 3.

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Better Arena (PvP)
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The Dark Souls Arena wasn’t that populated simply because it was released with the DLC, but it worked great, it had 3v3 mode and you didn’t leave the Arena if somebody killed you – they just got a point for that and you were right back in the fight. That system worked so much better than the one we’ve seen in Dark Souls 2, where it was just you against other players and if you got killed you got immediately thrown out.

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We want to see something more similar to Dark Souls 1 Arena in Dark Souls 3 than the one in the sequel.

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Dark Souls 3 was officially announced at this year’s E3. Such an early announcement, just a few months after the release of Bloodborne, confused many gamers, who started worrying that the beloved studio turned into another Ubisoft and Activision, known for producing slightly different versions of the same game every year. However, Hidetaka Miyazaki, the creator of the series, has assured that there is nothing to worry about, as Dark Souls 3 has been in the works for two years already.

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At E3, From Software, the developer of the game, demonstrated a new game system called Weapon Arts, which is now known as the Battle Arts, or simply martial arts. This is definitely one of the most interesting new elements in the game that allows for much more powerful attacks. Also, Hidetaka Miyazaki stated that Dark Souls 3 will reveal a lot more story elements this time and they will be closely linked to the events of the first Dark Souls game. As you know, Dark Souls' lore is one of the most mysterious and widely discussed topics among the fans.

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Anyway, this is a good start, but a lot of unrevealed questions still remain behind the curtains. Of course, it’s a great marketing strategy, which helps build more hype, but the fans want to know more, and this is where speculations begin. This list highlights some of the most important things that the community wants to see in Dark Souls 3.

"}]]]>
Five Tips For Casual Players To Enjoy FromSoftware Games https://www.gameskinny.com/3jhs9/five-tips-for-casual-players-to-enjoy-fromsoftware-games https://www.gameskinny.com/3jhs9/five-tips-for-casual-players-to-enjoy-fromsoftware-games Sun, 14 Jun 2015 08:30:02 -0400 OrganisedDinosaur

Since 2009’s Demon’s Souls for PS3, FromSoftware has been spearheading a movement to return us to the classic days of unforgiving, hardcore NES titles. The slogan of their most iconic game Dark Souls is “Prepare to Die”, so it is hardly surprising that these games do not offer a free ride.

Considering that games are criticized more readily for being too easy than being too hard, this approach was well-received by many. The major downside, however, is a huge barrier to entry that caused many gamers to merely watch Souls games in Let’s Plays or to skip over them entirely.

But here's the truth, casual gamers: FromSoftware isn't going anywhere, and Souls games will keep being made as long as people want to play them. So you may as well accept that you are going to need to get into it sooner or later. So here are my five most important tips to help you to break into FromSoftware games.

Don't Worry About Experience Points

Whatever Miyazaki calls experience points in any one game, the consistent mechanic is that upon death, you lose them all. You have one opportunity to go and get them, or else they are lost forever. How punishing! Well, not really. Relax and take a moment to consider before you panic.

First of all, you have that one chance to retrieve them, so there is a possibility that all will be fine. Second of all, even if you do lose them altogether, what have you really lost? Time. Nothing more than the fact that you need to play a portion of the game again (just like every other video game). Assuming you are spending your experience at checkpoints (which you should be), then the only points that you can lose upon death are those that you collected by killing the enemies you encountered since your last checkpoint. So if you end up back at that checkpoint minus the experience points, then you will acquire it again en route to your bloodstain.

In fact, if you manage to reach your bloodstain, then the mechanic is simply forced grinding, which will ultimately make things easier. These games are quite long; you won’t complete them in an afternoon, so relax and be patient. Death in these games is as meaningless as in any other game.

These words hold less power than you thought

Scout Ahead

What’s this? Have I uncovered some sort of drone that can be remotely controlled to scout out the level? Not quite. Something that you may realize quite early on, and that becomes especially evident from watching speedruns, is that you can actually run right past pretty much every enemy in these games. While I would not recommend this for a number of reasons (such as the fact that it takes its own type of skill and that remaining at a low level throughout the game is not recommended for the full experience), it is still a fact that can be very useful.

If you reach a bonfire and spend all, or at least most, of your experience and don’t care about the token amount you have left, then you have absolutely nothing to lose. You can jump off that cliff as much as you want. Losing experience, as we already mentioned, is not as big a deal as the game would like you to believe. Take advantage of this newfound freedom to do some scouting. Run into higher level areas and grab the items before being killed. Find out what enemies lie around the next few corners. Essentially you can go on suicide runs with no fear whatsoever.

Cheese

This may not be very honorable, but you are fighting against a bunch of ones and zeroes, so who really cares about honor? The truth is that a lot of FromSoftware games are quite easily exploited. I don’t mean skipping large portions of the game or something else that is patchable, but rather exploiting AI patterns and the like.

Certain enemies will not leave their designated area or climb ladders, for example. It is virtually impossible to create a game that is this big and not have a fair number of problems. With practice and determination, any player of any skill level can overcome any adversary. Eventually you will find that angle that allows you to pummel your opponent in safety, and if you don’t find it yourself, it’s available on the Internet.

Cheesing offline makes you feel brave

Play Offline

One of the most terrifying aspects of these games are the fact that absolute strangers can literally step into your game uninvited and try to ruin your progress. It is stressful, and can leave a player feeling very frustrated and even violated. To many gamers, this is not only the least fun idea in gaming’s history, but also enough to completely turn them off playing.  

How can new, inexperienced and frightened players possibly get around this nightmare? Is there no way to avoid this system that metes out random and unfair punishment? Actually there is - just play offline.

Research The Lore

The cryptic nature of Miyazaki’s storytelling is one of the most recognizable features of his video games. For some people, it's one of the most difficult to swallow. While I don’t recommend spoiling the entire game for yourself in advance of playing it, if you are the sort of gamer who needs a compelling story to justify continuing a game, then get yourself some context before playing a Miyazaki game.

Look up the background lore and understand the game world up until the point where the gameplay itself begins. This will enable you to piece together the information found in-game much more easily and give you a greater feeling of purpose as you explore the unforgiving world. Wanting to understand something is a far more compelling reason to go on than wanting to murder something, and a little research will enable you to understand what you encounter and get a lot more out of the experience.

Understanding your battles will draw you into the world

When approached with these tips in mind, it will becomes apparent that FromSoftware has not created a game that is remotely as intimidating as you think it is. Some of the biggest challenges can be cheesed or avoided entirely, and the most intimidating mechanics in the game are actually completely meaningless when you think about it. Sure, the games are long and require a fair amount of trial and error, but anyone can play them and anyone can beat them. Just approach them with the right attitude. It will all be fine.

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Rumor: We might just see Dark Souls 3 at E3 2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/v3o11/rumor-we-might-just-see-dark-souls-3-at-e3-2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/v3o11/rumor-we-might-just-see-dark-souls-3-at-e3-2015 Tue, 02 Jun 2015 11:06:26 -0400 OrganisedDinosaur

This year has already been a good year to be a Souls fan with Scholar of the First Sin and Bloodborne both already been released in the first quarter. On top of that, Bloodborne has a confirmed expansion in the works with more details expected to drop soon.

Is it asking too much to believe that Dark Souls 3 is not only in development but that From Software is ready for announcement at E3? Not only that, but that Hidetaka Miyazaki is directing it.

Hidetaka Miyazaki is the mastermind behind the Souls franchise

An unconfirmed source has informed VG247 exactly this. While it is very easy to believe that another Souls style game will come, it seems like wishful thinking that it could be announced so soon after Bloodborne and even more hopeful to believe that Miyazaki would return to direct after choosing to move on to Bloodborne rather than work directly on Dark Souls II.

If Dark Souls III is indeed a reality then it would likely be a multi-platform title and has probably been in development for some time already. Perhaps it is too good to be true, but we will know in two short weeks. Would you be prepared to die, again?

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Rich Gamer Poor Gamer: A Quick Guide on How to Buy Your Games https://www.gameskinny.com/pqdnl/rich-gamer-poor-gamer-a-quick-guide-on-how-to-buy-your-games https://www.gameskinny.com/pqdnl/rich-gamer-poor-gamer-a-quick-guide-on-how-to-buy-your-games Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:27:09 -0400 AndyLunique

Buying video games is a luxury. This generation has access to more games now than we have ever had in the last 30 years. Video games haven’t always been cheap but you can’t deny that games are more affordable now than they ever have been. Today, with so much choice we come to find ourselves with more risk in our selections. Before you whip out the cash you have to answer questions like:

Do I spend $15 a piece on these three indie titles or $60 on a AAA title?

Should I wait for a sale or a used copy of the game?

Should I expand the life of the game that I have now with DLC or move on to something else?

The value is all in the customer’s perspective. This is your time, your experience and of course, your MONEY we are talking about here. What you get from a game will ultimately decide how you spend your hard-earned cash. I am here to help you along with those choices. 

"If you like shooters, and you play shooters, then chances are you’ll probably like other shooters."

1. Do your research

Check your favorite websites for some background on the game. If you aren’t sold on a particular title there are tons of places to find gameplay footage and previews of nearly every single game long before it’s released.

2. Know your tastes

If you like shooters, and you play shooters, then chances are you’ll probably like other shooters. Don’t jump on the hype wagon of a new MMO or MOBA if it’s simply not your style. If you’re diverse and enjoy many types of genres, identify which games and series you loved the most. Identify the battle systems, stories, and progression you had and see what games may fit those tastes.

3. DLC isn’t a bad thing if you love the game

The point of downloadable content is to extend the life of the game. There are different breeds of DLC out there. A comparison I would like is to use Borderlands vs. Call of Duty. The full extent of downloadable content for both these titles is around $50 dollars. While Borderlands grants you more missions, plot, weapons and characters that can be applied to a single or multiplayer experience, Call of Duty provides content that gears towards customization and competitive multiplayer. You may very well be more satisfied extending the life of a game that you enjoy and not take a risk in unfamiliar territory.

4. Where your friends play DOES make a difference

This is an easy one but it relates more to the console of choice rather than just the game. This upcoming season for Q4 is bringing more co-operative multiplayer games than the industry has seen in quite some time. Games like Destiny, Evolve, Assassins Creed Unity, Sunset Overdrive and the The Crew are bringing new spins to multiplayer. I’m always up for making new friends, but I know that I would prefer playing with the people I know.

5. Pay attention to release dates and follow sale patterns

I’ll give you a hint: When a sequel to a game is announced, the price often goes up for its predecessor. Don't believe me? Keep your eye out on any sequel announced at the Tokyo Game Show. Now when it comes to sales I’ll make it easy: New Games (with some exceptions) launch on Tuesdays, price changes (decreases and increases) happen on Wednesdays, sales start on Thursdays, Flash Sales often begin on Friday. This should give you an idea on when to make a trip to the store.  

6. Be realistic about how much time you have to play

Are you a college student with a part time job? Or are you a full time working professional with a family? Your lifestyle dictates how much free time you have to enjoy video games. If you only at best have maybe thirty minutes a night to play games you probably have even less time to shop for them. Selecting a game like Dark Souls 2 or Tales of Xillia that honestly needs some TLC to really dive into may not be a good idea. When it comes to shopping, hint 1 & 2 will come in really handy.

7. Look at your Achievement/Trophy list & look at your library

This is a big one. This is looking at your past experience, seeing your habits and knowing who you are as a gamer. Take some time and look back at what games you have actually completed. How far was your progression? Do you notice any patterns in the games you play? Even though this doesn’t hold true in every game you play, it could give you some insight into what you enjoy, how much you play and what you consider is worth your time.

The most important thing to remember: your time is valuable.

There are literally thousands of titles to choose from today and sometimes its overwhelming to witness. Gaming can be an expensive hobby, and each purchase can affect your opinion of the entire industry and your interest. Take some time to establish what you enjoy it games and what you want when you put that controller in your hands. 

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Dark Souls II DLC Crown of the Old Iron King Details https://www.gameskinny.com/xrj32/dark-souls-ii-dlc-crown-of-the-old-iron-king-details https://www.gameskinny.com/xrj32/dark-souls-ii-dlc-crown-of-the-old-iron-king-details Wed, 13 Aug 2014 08:41:37 -0400 Venisia Gonzalez

For all you fans of the action RPG Dark Souls II, you should be happy to know that details for the second DLC "Crown of the Old Iron King" are now here. Namco Bandai Games is promising new enemies and that this latest DLC is even harder than the challenging DLC "Crown of the Sunken King" that was released just last month.

"Crown of the Old Iron King" comes with lots of new weapons, new equipment, and new locations to explore. There is also a handful of new and brutal enemies to test you skills against. The difficulty level has been increased to provide a challenge for even the most prestigious of Dark Souls veterans. The new areas and enemies are said to look even better and overall more interesting than the previous DLC "Crown of the Sunken King."

"Crown of the Old Iron King" will release on August 26th for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. The third and final DLC will release in September with no further details being available at this time.

Keep in tuned to GameSkinny for all your Dark Souls II news, tips, reviews, and guides.

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Top Sellers on Steam - July 20 through 26 https://www.gameskinny.com/1eps5/top-sellers-on-steam-july-20-through-26 https://www.gameskinny.com/1eps5/top-sellers-on-steam-july-20-through-26 Mon, 28 Jul 2014 00:48:47 -0400 Mary Yeager

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#10: The Elder Scrolls Online -

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Despite having a rocky start with their launch in April, TESO is still seeing great sales numbers and finishes up the list of top 10 sellers on Steam for the week ending July 26th. The Elder Scrolls Online brings the world of Tamriel for players to enjoy cooperative play while journeying the worlds we know from The Elder Scrolls single-player series.

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Released: April 4, 2014

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/26af6b21dc5870d9b4b361b8ec867a4f.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_26af6b21dc5870d9b4b361b8ec867a4f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"49271","description":"

#9: The Forest -

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Get your survival horror fix with this game as a lone survivor of a jet crash. Face off against a society of cannibalistic mutants that want to have you for supper. Build and survive in this open-world horror simulator.

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Released: May 30 ,2014

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/2c36133726b156e3d2daa02f8451974d.png","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_2c36133726b156e3d2daa02f8451974d.png","type":"slide","id":"49270","description":"

#8: Dungeon Defenders Eternity -

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Dungeon Defenders Eternity is a tower defense action-RPG. Some of its new features include:

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  • New Missions
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  • New endgame
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  • Secure online play
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  • and more.
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Released: July 22, 2014

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/7e4539d1baba81110e38bd98de545dc6.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_7e4539d1baba81110e38bd98de545dc6.jpg","type":"slide","id":"49269","description":"

#7: Dead Island Franchise Pack -

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The Franchise pack gives players access to the following:

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  • Dead Island
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  • Dead Island Ripper Mod
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  • Dead Island: Riptide
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  • Dead Island: Riptide - Fashion Victim
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  • Dead Island: Riptide - Survivor Pack
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  • Dead Island: Ryder White DLC
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Released: This was a weekend deal on Steam slated to end Monday morning at 10 AM PST/1 PM EST.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/078393b092c486de7140fc5d376ee983.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_078393b092c486de7140fc5d376ee983.jpg","type":"slide","id":"49268","description":"

#6: Planet Explorers -

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This open-world RPG is one of the few titles currently released by indie developer Pathea Games. The game utilizes a voxel system to change their world. This is also an Early Access Game on Steam that could include game-play issues.

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Released as Early Access: March 11, 2014

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Official Release Date: Unknown

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/7a21c25ba9fadf0c8a5f86989ebdcb33.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_7a21c25ba9fadf0c8a5f86989ebdcb33.jpg","type":"slide","id":"49267","description":"

#5: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive -

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CS: GO is the fourth in the series of Counter-Strike. It can also be found in the top ten list of top paying eSports games. CS: GO offers players updated versions of the classic content Counter-Strike is known for.

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Released: August 21, 2012

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/032583fe2766bb3326fe6deb30a275ce.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_032583fe2766bb3326fe6deb30a275ce.jpg","type":"slide","id":"49266","description":"

#4: DayZ -

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This is not an official game release, yet it still finds its way onto the top sellers list on Steam. DayZ is still in Early Access Alpha. These purchases are designed to assist developers and could contain game-breaking issues.

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Released as Early Access: December 16, 2013

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Official Release Date: Unknown

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/d820ef12f7c47fc09bca0ba29b8debcc.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_d820ef12f7c47fc09bca0ba29b8debcc.jpg","type":"slide","id":"49265","description":"

#3: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Legendary Edition -

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Award-winning Skyrim is still on top sellers list despite the fact that the game was originally released November 11, 2011. The Legendary Edition includes all the official add-ons:

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  • Dawnguard
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  • Hearthfire
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  • Dragonborn
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It also features the mounted combat and legendary difficulty and skills.

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Released: June 4, 2013

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/e446bb8ff0c4c10d1c524ed8521726f5.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_e446bb8ff0c4c10d1c524ed8521726f5.jpg","type":"slide","id":"49264","description":"

#2: Dark Souls II - Season Pass -

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Players have been snapping up the Season Pass for Dark Souls II to gain access to the three chapters from the Lost Crown Trilogy. Players have to take back crowns originally owned by Drangleic's King Vendrick.

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Released: July 22, 2014

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/66445d11e52a922738073f715fd40a8a.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_66445d11e52a922738073f715fd40a8a.jpg","type":"slide","id":"49263","description":"

#1: Divinity: Original Sin -

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Divinity: Original Sins is an RPG adventure that includes a turn-based combat system and open world play. Play online with friends and use the tools to make adventures. As a young Source Hunter, players can interact with anyone and anything in game as they hunt the "foulest of magics".

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Released: June 30, 2014

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/fc51d55e11445ad6a6e954f602e043d8.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_fc51d55e11445ad6a6e954f602e043d8.jpg","type":"slide","id":"49273","description":"

Top Sellers Last Week on Steam

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Find out what games and packs were top sellers last week with this Steam round-up. From voxel games to horror games, check out these titles.

"}]]]>
Dark Souls II "Crown of the Sunken King" DLC Review https://www.gameskinny.com/xhh4l/dark-souls-ii-crown-of-the-sunken-king-dlc-review https://www.gameskinny.com/xhh4l/dark-souls-ii-crown-of-the-sunken-king-dlc-review Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:16:51 -0400 keithdmitchell

PLATFORMS: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 & PC
PUBLISHER(S): Namco-Bandai
DEVELOPER(S): FROMSOFTWARE
RELEASE DATE: July 22nd, 2014
PRICE:
$9.99 (or $24.99 if you pre-purchase all 3)

If you're like me and have played through FROMSOFTWARE's Dark Souls II multiple times--to the point where you simply tired of playing  it and are looking for some new content from the series--then you're in luck. As of today, the first of a three part trilogy DLC for Dark Souls II titled "Crown of the Sunken King" has been released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. But you already knew that, I mean that's why you're here? Right?

In this first DLC, the player is tasked with locating and retrieving the crown of King Vendrick that was lost quite some time ago. Your adventure will ultimately be filled with deadly new locations and even more deadlier enemies, but of course you're a Dark Souls fan so you laugh at this kind of stuff, right? Right???

But before you decide to drop some money on this DLC, please keep in mind that you must have already played Dark Souls II, made it to the Black Glutch area and have defeated The Rotten, the area's boss. So if you haven't already done this, then you should get cracking, since the area you need to access for the DLC is in the bonfire area behind The Rotten.

When you first start playing the DLC, you aren't magically transported to the new area. Instead, a new item is dropped into your inventory--the Dragon's Tooth--which reveals a hint into where you must go to access the DLC. Keep in mind that if you've already beaten this boss and you've found the hidden bonfire before the boss then you can use any bonfire to warp there.

Legend has it that in the deepest reaches of the Black Gulch, behind a door locked from the inside, is a magnificent city built for a great sleeping dragon.

So Where Are We?

You'll spend the majority of your time in several new areas which consist of multiple danger zones such as environmental damage, steep ledges, puzzles that need to be solved in order to access hidden areas or to proceed onward and switches that cause the very land to reshape beneath your feet. The level design is leaps and bounds better than Dark Souls II, forcing you to think about where you're going, instead of running head first into an area. You're still welcome to do it, just don't complain when you run off a ledge or into a room of enemies where one of the them breaks your gear. But the level isn't just there to drive you crazy; it has a purpose. Master the level and you can even use the area to inflict damage on your foes or to unlock treasure that's ripe for the taking. The exploration factor that was so prominent in Dark Souls is also back. Inter-connectivity is the name of the game as you process deeper in your search for the Sunken Crown and the factor of "Oh shit--what's going on" is around each corner. This is something that I missed in Dark Souls II, but thankfully has made its return.

I'm So Tired of Dying Over and Over

One of the main issues with Dark Souls II that I've heard mentioned over and over again was that it was too easy when compared to the original Dark Souls or it's predecessor, Demon's Souls. I'm happy to report that FROMSOFTWARE has ramped up the difficulty with this first bit of DLC, as if to say to everyone "Shut up--we know!" The mobs that you face in the DLC are pretty brutal and there's more than just a few of them, forcing you to retreat and re-think your old tactics. Sure, you can still use the old tactics, but they aren't going to help you get very far. I don't even want to talk about the damned ghost enemies that seem immune to everything but magic based attacks, and even then those are pretty weak.

I learned the hard way that enemies tend to chase you further and aren't tethered like they were in the main game, and they will also hunt you down if you get the step on them. I don't how many times I thought that moving above or below an enemy wouldn't attract them, but that wasn't the case. Instead, I usually took an arrow to the face or worse. If you're someone that can beat Dark Souls II without dying, you're likely not going to be able to do the same thing with this DLC. But you're welcome to try and try and try...

Also, watch out for those Sanctum Knights--they're mean!

But What About the Loot?

Ah, it wouldn't be a Souls game without loot to collect, and there's much to be found this time around. There's a host of new items to find, either via loot drops from enemies or hidden items, that range from armor sets to weapons,  a new shield that let's you cast both spells and miracles and even four new spells that can be acquired. There's even a weapon that does fantastic damage, but also poisons the player while being used in combat. See: this DLC is so hardcore that even your own gear wants to hurt you! And what about that crown? Can you wear it? Yes, my Dark Souls loving friends, that crown is totally wearable, so you can break out your King's Set and add your newly found crown to it.

Dark Souls II Crown of the Sunken King DLC

All in all, I'm impressed with this DLC, more so after playing it and dying countless times. I had expected a short 3-4 hour play session but I was wrong, as multiple enemies and bosses proceeded to curb stomp me numerous times. The environments feel exciting, bringing back the feeling that I had when I played Dark Souls, which has forced me to proceed with caution. After playing this DLC, all of my original conceptions that the content could have easily been part of the main campaign have been put to rest. I definitely recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the series, even those who tend to find issues in everything that Dark Souls II does.

I can't wait to see what FROMSOFTWARE does with the second and third parts of the DLC entries.

Crown of the Sunken King offers an extra 5-6 hours of enjoyment and takes us back down the FROMSOFTWARE rabbit hole, slashing and hacking away with a host of new enemies and some much needed new areas to traverse. As an added bonus, the DLC seems to have upped the difficulty a notch or two, which will satisfy those Dark Souls purists whom complained that the sequel lacked the harder difficulty. However, some will find that the increased difficulty may be a bit too hard and may cause several sessions of raged induced controller tossing.

With the addition of several new spells to uncover, 3 new areas, new enemies and two new boss of which one is a kick ass dragon (who doesn't like dragons?) this DLC is worth the $9.99. Bring on the next part of the DLC, I'm suffering from withdraws already!

Value

Pros:

+ It's another fun romp through the lore of Dark Souls II.
The new enemies make the new environment fun as they force you to think how to approach them.
+ Level design that actually made me care about exploration.
+ Puzzles! It made feel that i was playing Legend of Zelda with the puzzle rooms.
+ Two new bosses and one optional (Co-op).
+ A lot if content for just $9.99.

Cons: If you're not familiar with the original Dark Souls the difficulty may frustrate you.
- While the level design is a notch up from the main game the color palette is still very dark and drab.
- Being forced to use co-op. I won't say more as it's a spoiler but you'll find out.
-Bosses are a tad on the cheap side (Screw you, Elana).

 Like my articles? I hope you do and you can check out even more of them over at my website The Outerhaven Productions. I'd love the company.

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Dark Souls II DLC Released: Crown of the Sunken King Reminds Us Why We Love Dark Souls https://www.gameskinny.com/xw1sg/dark-souls-ii-dlc-released-crown-of-the-sunken-king-reminds-us-why-we-love-dark-souls https://www.gameskinny.com/xw1sg/dark-souls-ii-dlc-released-crown-of-the-sunken-king-reminds-us-why-we-love-dark-souls Fri, 25 Jul 2014 09:04:58 -0400 Travis McGee

On Tuesday, July 22nd, the long anticipated first installment of a trilogy of downloadable content for Dark Souls II launched on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. Crown of the Sunken King is the first episode in a new story in the Dark Souls universe, The Lost Crown Trilogy, and follows the chosen undead's quest to recover a crown of lordly power that King Vendrick once held. The DLC adds a new area to the game that is accessible via the use of a key that every new character starts with if the add-on content is purchased.

Along with the DLC, From Software released patch 1.08 and with it tweaked many aspects of the game - everything from weapons and armor to removing the ability to use healing items in player vs. player.

The new content has been out for a few days now, and already members of the Dark Souls community have played through it fully. Unlike the mixed response of the original game, the DLC has been well-received with many fans enjoying the familiar feel of level design inspired by Dark Souls. Check out this video review for more details on how From Software managed to keep everything we love about Dark Souls II while bringing back the level design we cherish from the first game.

VaatiVidya (above) is a well-known pillar of the Dark Souls community who has provided in-depth lore and gameplay videos for the series since the first game. Please check out his YouTube channel and support the community that makesthe Dark Souls franchise so unique.

The Crown of the Sunken King DLC is a great start for the planned trilogy, and while it only adds about 4 hours of content - of which most players spend 15+ hours wandering through - the level design and dark, familiar feel of the new content will have fans of the franchise falling in love all over again.

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From Software Releasing the 'Beast' in Early 2015 with "Bloodborne" https://www.gameskinny.com/rnteo/from-software-releasing-the-beast-in-early-2015-with-bloodborne https://www.gameskinny.com/rnteo/from-software-releasing-the-beast-in-early-2015-with-bloodborne Sun, 13 Jul 2014 10:36:56 -0400 Travis McGee

The streets glisten in the pale light of a moon hanging high over the dark, overcrowded Victorian city as your boots pound a calm and slow cadence on the grime-covered cobblestones. In one hand you feel the heavy weight of a massive crimson-stained cleaver, and in your other the relative lightness of a black-powder scattergun; the barrel's still warm from the last discharge. The shadows of this strange city give you cause to use both weapons often and conceal horrible monsters out for your blood - just as you're out for theirs. You prowl farther, a beast stalking the streets where blood is the only currency that matters...

Welcome to the city of Yharnam in the world of Bloodborne: From Software's PS4 exlcusive that was until recently codenamed 'Project Beast'. At the helm of this gothic action adventure is the same brilliant mind that was behind Dark Souls: director Hidetaka Miyazaki's.

In an interview with Famitsu that took place back when the game was revealed Miyazaki explained how Bloodborne is going to be radically different from the Souls series and why.

"We were already thinking of a shift to a combat system where you would enter battle more actively than with the sword and shield-based combat of [the Souls games]," Miyazaki explained. Sony Computer Entertainment had approached From Software offering the developer a chance to design for a new console, and Miyazaki felt that new hardware needed a brand new game.

According to Digital Spy, Bloodborne will be releasing in early 2015 and will be playable at Gamescom. For a full translation of Miyazaki's interview head over to Kotaku.

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So What Exactly is Wrong With FROMSOFTWAREs Soul Series? https://www.gameskinny.com/jzxgd/so-what-exactly-is-wrong-with-fromsoftwares-soul-series https://www.gameskinny.com/jzxgd/so-what-exactly-is-wrong-with-fromsoftwares-soul-series Sun, 29 Jun 2014 09:39:08 -0400 keithdmitchell

Don't ask me, I'm asking you so it's pretty obvious that I don't have a clue. Or do I? Ask anyone around these parts and they'll tell you that I'm a HUGE fan of both Demon's Souls and the Dark Souls series. So as a fan of the series it's increasingly alarming or even darn right annoying when I constantly see posts on both major websites as well as smaller gaming blogs cursing and damning the series.

But cursing and damning the game, why indeed? I don't know, maybe because a specific or certain type of gamer likes to have their virtual hands held and told what to do throughout their game session. Well if that's the case they should definitely stay far far far away from Dark Souls. Seriously gang neither one of those games is going to hold your hand or go "Alright buddy, let's go kick some ass", they simply don't. What they do is provide you with a non-stop pain train filled with death after death, that is if you don't pay attention to your surroundings and enemies. To the untrained eye, a session in Dark Souls is simply a chore and no fun. Sure I get that, hell I was in the same boat.

Fun fact, I have picked up Demon's Souls on the PlayStation 3 back in 2010, I believe it was around the Springtime. I had gone to the local Gamestop to find something new to play and the cover caught my eye and was thinking "This looks like a cool "Action RPG". I was so wrong, I didn't have a clue. So I get home, pop in the disc, and start playing and cursing and crying and well getting completely pissed while being wrecked. It turns out that I had picked up the Devil's sick attempt of a game and I thought anyone who played this game was sadistic. Saddened and defeated I put the game in the case and vowed to never play it again. Well, it was more like "FUCK THIS GAME, WHY DID I EVER BUY THIS SHIT? Yep, I had a complete and totally not like me "Gamer Breakdown".

Fast forward to Christmas 2010, for some odd reason I randomly picked up the game again and said " I am going to make this game my bitch!". No lie, my wife was next to me when I said that and asked me if I was ok.

Damn it! How can a skeleton kick my ass like that? WTF is this crap!

But I was more than ok, I was a renewed man, I had a purpose, I had to break that game. And so started my descent into madness. Every death started to mold me, to shape my adventure in the world of Boletaria. And you know what? After a while those deaths didn't bother me, well those cheap deaths did... oh and when I rolled off a ledge or when those dogs slaughtered me..... Eventually, I ended up learning the ins and outs of the game. The boss battles quickly became more fun, the environments were both a test and a joy to wonder and well I learned to enjoy the game. So much that once I beat it I had to do it again and again. And then it happened! I had gotten so good at the game that when I looked back at my beginning I wondered how could I've let the game put such a hurting on me. On top of that, why weren't there more games like that, and if there were, why haven't I heard of them before?

Sadly with all good things, my time with Demon's Souls stopped as I had beaten it so much and pretty much did everything to do that there was no reason to play it, plus I am still a PC guy so the frame rate and I were never really friends to start with and better-looking games started appearing so I stopped. Well, I stopped until I found out that the spiritual successor, Dark Souls, was being made. Like a giddy child, I eagerly followed every article and video of the game to whet my thirst until the game was released. The same crap that happened with Demon's Souls happened with Dark Souls but with one keen difference, I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.

DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT! Stop KILLING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, look at me. I'm hooked on the damned series and I'm proud of it. I've amassed 3 playthroughs of Demon's Souls and recently erased all my characters to start again, I've played at least 4 different sessions of Dark Souls, twice on the PlayStation 3 and then I double dipped and got it on PC where I prompted beat it two more times. Don't even get me started on Dark Souls 2... well ok,  is 3 times beating the game on the PlayStation 3 and 4 times on the PC enough. Yep, four times, I'm sitting at a 243 soul level there right now. I'm sure I'll play and beat it again another two or three times as well.

So what exactly is wrong with FROMSOFTWARE's Soul Series? Not a damned thing. It's a perfectly playable game that rewards your efforts if you play smart and if you like to rush head first into a room or not pay attention to that cliff you're about to walk off of, then perhaps this game or series just isn't for you. I say this as a fan of the series, a fellow gamer and someone who was in those very same shoes. The games won't hold your hand, but it will reward you if you can keep up and if you can't, may the gaming lords have mercy on your soul because the game sure won't.

Even now I sit, I sit and wait for the eventual release of FROMSOFTWARE's next spiritual successor in the Soul series, Bloodborne. I sit in the darkness while waiting for my thirst to be quenched yet again.

On an unrelated note, if you in the same boat as I am and are eagerly awaiting the release of Bloodborne then also check out the upcoming Lords of the Fallen which seems to cater to fans of the Soul series and releases this Fall (PC, Ps4, Xbox One) And when I say cater I really mean cater, so much so that the creators (CI Games) of the game also fans of the Soul Series.

Like my articles? I hope you do and you can check out even more of them over at my website The Outerhaven Productions. I'd love the company!

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Dark Souls II Outshines Predecessor In Launch https://www.gameskinny.com/8i1dx/dark-souls-ii-outshines-predecessor-in-launch https://www.gameskinny.com/8i1dx/dark-souls-ii-outshines-predecessor-in-launch Thu, 08 May 2014 14:52:43 -0400 Vesthis_lol

According to Bandai Namco, Dark Souls II, of From Software, has nearly doubled the launch success of From's second best selling title (a Japan only PSP game) after pumping out over 1.2 million copies since it's March 11th release date. Dark Souls I, for comparison, only reached that mark 6 months after hitting the shelves. This shows a powerful and growing fanbase, with a solid amount of orders incoming due to the relatively recent release of the PC version on April 24th.

Bandai Namco pumped over one million dollars into marketing Dark Souls II. Lee Kirton, a PR and marketing director for Namco, said that "we really want to push Dark Souls as a franchise whilst looking after our core fans." With the overwhelming success of the first chapter, it's easy to see why the decision to pour money into the second was easy to do, and has paid off so far - especially when considering that the other titles were not nearly as promising.

Overall financial status is in question, though.

While overall revenue for Namco Bandai has risen over the last year by 4.2 percent, but profit dropped an astounding 22.6 percent, down to $246.2 million according to GameSpot. With the seemingly dominant focus on the Dark Souls franchise, you have to imagine that they breathed a sigh of relief with the results of the launch of this second installment. However, a 22.6 percent drop in profit has to be extremely alarming, and the company must continue to improve across all fronts this year.

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Dark Souls 2: "Appealing To a Broader Audience" https://www.gameskinny.com/ehi3m/dark-souls-2-appealing-to-a-broader-audience https://www.gameskinny.com/ehi3m/dark-souls-2-appealing-to-a-broader-audience Sat, 26 Apr 2014 22:52:48 -0400 iTrigonometry

I've been playing video games ever since I was born. My mother and I used them as a way to bond, as well as an exercise for my eyesight. These were the circumstances that led me to get involved with games to begin with, and turned them into my hobby. As years passed however, after the PS2 Golden Age to be precise, I've started playing games less and less.

I love video games though, let that be absolutely clear. So, what has changed? Very simple. The franchises I liked either died out or got rebooted to appeal to a broader audience, while new franchises repeated the same mechanics we've seen for the past ten years that I've already gotten tired of. Because of this, I start looking more into Indie titles rather than Triple A ones, with the occasional gem being released that I absolutely love.

The moment I heard they were appealing to a broader audience I knew they were not appealing to me.
Demon Souls was that gem when it came out for the PS3.

I can easily say that it is my favourite game of all time. When Dark Souls got announced I was absolutely ecstatic and even though it had a couple of issues, and they made the game a lot easier with all the shortcuts and frequent checkpoints, it was still an enjoyable game (on console at least).

Dark Souls 2 is the black sheep. I was not hyped for Dark Souls 2. The moment I heard they were appealing to a broader audience I knew they were not appealing to me. Still it was a Souls game, and I figured it couldn't be very bad. But, although the game is good, everything about it that appealed to me is either gone, or unsalvageable.

There are very few games that come out every year that I actually like. My game of the year in 2013 was Papers, Please. The only thing that I can hope for is that From Software decides to release another Souls title as good as the first one was.

Story

Storytelling is not the strong point of any Souls game with much being left unsaid and for the player to discover.

The story of Dark Souls 2, and the way it's handled, is somewhat similar to its predecessor. You are undead, you are going hollow, and you're seeking a way out of your predicament. You don't start locked up in an Asylum this time, and instead are traveling to Drangleic, which is the setting of the second game.

Like before, learning more about the world is entirely optional and is done through speculation and item descriptions. What the game does tell you though is that you are seeking for the old king and need to seek for "powerful souls" to do it. This is the game's way of saying that just like in the first game, there are four major bosses you need to defeat to unlock the final area.

It is not necessary to do that though, as I've experienced. The game has a new Mechanic called "Soul Memory," which records every soul you've gotten on a character (even if you've lost them by dying). Once you reach one million on your first playthrough you can access the endgame without going through the major dungeons and defeating these big bosses. I felt that this was a nice touch, that you don't necessarily need the four primordial souls to open up the way to the king, as you simply collect so many you've gotten the equivalent in power.

There are several NPCs to find in Drangleic, many of them with side quests and their own story if you're interested in involving yourself with them. Doing so will also reward the player with certain items and equipment belonging to the NPC, as well as certain bonuses. The same can be done by simply killing them and buying their equipment off a certain merchant, however, so if you want their items, doing their plotlines are optional. The bonus items, however, are not dropped on death or sold. It is recommended to play through the entire game properly before starting to kill NPCs or a player might miss out.

Gameplay

Some improvements were made upon the combat of the previous title and the game no longer suffers from connectivity issues. However, the new Soul Memory mechanic can easily make the lives of newbies and veterans difficult by getting in the way of the game's multiplayer component.

One of the things I feel made the Souls series so popular was its unyielding difficulty. It was why players were drawn to it to begin it when Demon Souls came out. It was the first thing I heard about it and was what drew me to buying the game. Dark Souls 2 is still definitely a difficult game, and your average gamer will likely have a hard time beating it. Demon Souls vets however will not, and will easily breeze through it, then curse the multiplayer component.

If you've never played a Souls game before, Dark Souls 2 is an Action RPG that could be considered a roguelike. It feels like an action game whilst not being one, and is why it's so difficult for beginners to adapt when they first play it. It is not a game for people who get easily frustrated.

You level up by collecting souls from enemies, but souls are also the game's currency for item purchasing. If you die, you also lose all your souls and a bit of your maximum health, and are given one chance to get back to where you died and reclaim your lost power. If you fail, it's gone forever. At any time you can also get invaded by other players, though. People who force their way into your world to kill you for fun and profit.

There have been some improvements to the game's core mechanics. Dual wielding is the biggest change. A player can now dual wield weapons in something called the "Power Stance" if they have 50% above the required stats for wielding both equipped weapons. Doing so will allow one to attack faster with both weapons and gives the players the choice between using a shield, or dual welding. It should be noted you can dual wield Ultra Great swords with ridiculous efficiency.

Durability is also a big thing now. Weapons degrade a lot faster and can break during one level. You can repair them at the bonfire when you rest if you haven't completely broken them, otherwise you need to talk to a blacksmith. It is recommended you have at least a spare of the items you're using to complete a level, or to use a weapon with high durability and have repair dust on the side.

The theme of the game is swarms of mobs with broken attack patterns and a very small opportunity gap for when they're staggered by a block, if they can get staggered. Grab your Zweihanders folks.

Dodging and Parrying are now harder to do with smaller time frames, and the player is no longer invulnerable while backstabbing or riposting, although they still have quite some damage reduction during the animation. Backstabs aren't instantaneous either, with the attack that starts up the backstab sequence being avoidable. Fishing for backstabs is now a lot harder.

There have also been a lot of changes in enemy design which make the game frustratingly difficult. If you successfully bounce an enemy's weapon off your shield they are staggered for such a small time frame that it's close to impossible to land a hit before they do a follow-up or pull up their shields, which makes dodging altogether a more viable option. Enemies sometimes hit you when you are directly behind them, and their line of attack, making backstabs a risky manuever. Enemies come in mobs (mobs that you usually can't kite one by one into a fight) and often spam attacks with long reaching weapons which will frustrate anyone not using a Zweihander.

Enemies with shields somehow are capable of blocking your attacks while shield bashing, when their shield is not in front of them for a block during the attack animation, which baits players into a false attack of opportunity. Add to this that when you start the game you have one estus (two if you know where the estus shard is) for healing and you have an incredibly difficult early game that resorts to artificial difficulty rather than an actual challenge.

It gets worse though. If you go through an entire area over and over, killing the enemies too many times, eventually they will stop spawning. This makes the game easier because you can just keep farming enemies until they stop spawning before continuing further, but it also frustrates veterans who are looking for particular item drops from certain enemies for either their cosmetic appeal or because they need it for either PVE or PVP. These enemies will only ever respawn in New Game +, or if a player uses a Bonfire Ascetic to turn the area into New Game + difficulty. This is a bad mechanic.

Soul Memory is possibly the worst thing to ever come to a Souls title.

 All these issues though are bearable, and through trial and error or by summoning a friend to even the odds, players can get through all of these issues. But then we have the multiplayer component, specifically how summoning and invading work.

Soul Memory is possibly the worst thing to ever come to a Souls title. Every soul you get will tally up to your character's Soul Memory. If you lose your souls, they remain on your character's soul memory but are unusable. This is how matchmaking works. It is still rather confusing to most people, but it's a split between being around the same level range as someone and being within the same Soul Memory "tier".

Now, what does this mean exactly? When you're done with the Single Player, the multiplayer is where you go to for your fun. It is, arguably, the funnest thing in the game. Soul Memory is what ruins it. Whenever you kill someone, you get souls, so your soul memory goes up. If you're a low-level character who's focusing on PVPing and either hoarding his souls because you don't want to level, or using them to upgrade your existing gear, you'll eventually be matched with people much higher level than you because your Soul Memory is so large, rather than people the same level as you. The same can happen to newbies who die too often and lose their souls.

Now, many people may ask why this is a problem considering how you'll be facing people of the same skill level. The answer is stats. Certain builds and playstyles cannot be used in PVP at higher levels. It is why when you get to high level PVP, you see people wearing Havel's armor (very heavy armor) and using high level magic weapon buffs on already incredibly powerful weapons to one shot people. Some like this PVP, others like me prefer to dual wield poison daggers and ruin people's day at Belfry Luna. If I want to do this, I will have to remake my character eventually to be able to do it again, which is very hard considering the items required to access the full ability of one of your blacksmiths is in an endgame area that you shouldn't do at level 50.

Anyone new to the series can be invaded by someone higher level than they are (and more well equipped) because they died too often and lost their souls.

Invading itself has become a hassle and becomes only possible in New Game + if you join the Red Phantom covenant. You now need to farm Red Eye Orbs to invade before you can buy them indefinitely in New Game +, and like stated before, enemies stop spawning after they're killed enough times. Even in New Game +, you'll still have to farm souls to be able to buy your orbs to invade which ruins invading as a Red Phantom, making the Rat and bell tower covenant overflowing with players who just want to PVP while the Blue and Red covenants (Darkwraiths and Darkmoon equivalents of Dark Souls 1) remain almost empty.

Invaders can no longer use any form of healing item and require miracles to heal, which ruins your day if you're invading and you get faced with a gank squad. What is a gank squad? When someone summons their phantom friend and just camps an area for invaders and farms souls off them by killing them with help.

The multiplayer in Dark Souls 2 was ruined because From Software didn't want low-level characters who went through the entire game at a low-level, and got good gear because of it, to invade people of the same level who didn't do this. Did it fix the problem? Yes. But it also created many others which don't just affect fans of the series. Anyone new to the series can be invaded by someone higher level than they are (and more well equipped) because they died too often and lost their souls.

Presentation

The game does not look as good as the demo we were presented with, but is still pretty impressive.

Possibly the best thing about Dark Souls 2 is the variation between levels. Poisonous mines, castles sunken in lava, flooded ruins, and a re-skinned Undead Burg. Levels vary enough to not feel repetitive and although some enemies get used in several levels throughout the game or are directly taken from Dark Souls 1, they are easily overlooked in the big picture.

There are plenty of new armor and weapons in the game which look very good and give the game a different feel from its predecessors, as well as a couple of iconic weapons and armor from the previous games for the fans. Sadly I could not find Ornstein's armor to couple with his spear.

Hollowing now looks incredibly good, too. As the player dies and becomes more hollow they rot more and more, changing the PCs appearance until they lose any resemblance to what they originally were. I loved playing as a walking corpse, enough that I would not use any human effigies during my single player run the first time around. These little aesthetic changes are great and it's easy to see how Dark Souls 2 benefited from a Triple A budget.

Final Thoughts and Summary

TL;DR? This is the place for you.

Let me be very clear when I say that I have enjoyed Dark Souls 2 and played many, many hours of it already since its PC release. However, From's attempt at balancing something that can't be balanced, how someone plays the game, will have adverse effects on veterans and newbies alike. I cannot stress how much I hate the Soul Memory mechanic and how even if it stops twinks from being a thing, it will not stop hackers from existing since they can also exploit this mechanic by changing its value with a simple Cheat Engine table.

The single player felt poorly thought out at times. More often than not I saw myself going through levels because I wanted certain items from that level for PVP, rather than because I wanted to complete the game. In fact, I find myself making more characters for different PVP builds than I use to complete the game with. I have one character in New Game + with 9 hours spent into him and several characters with the proper PVP setup for the Belfry covenant. My main PVP character is on its first playthrough with 16 hours put into him. It is easy to see where my time has been spent. Unfortunately he will have to be deleted soon as his Soul Memory is getting close to over a million from PVP alone.

It is because of this and some other issues that hopefully will be patched in the future that I give it a 7/10. It is a good game, but not a great game like its predecessors were. Even with the connectivity issues, I would prefer playing Dark Souls to Dark Souls 2 when it comes to the multiplayer experience. Unfortunately GFWL will be shut down soon, and we have no news about Dark Souls getting any dedicated servers. I might just be forced to deal with it.

Tips and Tricks
  •  You can get a second Estus Flask at the start of the game by hitting a rock on the well next to the mansion at Majula.
  • The first area you should do after you reach Majula is the Forest of Giants, not Heide's Tower of Flame.
  • At the Forest of Giants, after the second bonfire, once you reach the big outside area there is a platform you can jump to directly by the doorway you used to get in. If you explore the areas accessible from there you can meet a Carthografer who will give you a key to the Majula Mansion once you exhaust his dialogue. There is another Estus Flask Shard there.
  • Once you kill the first boss, you can access a door above the second bonfire of Forest of Giants where you can get yet another Estus Flask increasing your total Estus number to 4.
  • Dexterity and Faith scale Bleeding Bonus, so going Faith/Dex is a viable option if you're building a character.
  • If you're hollow you don't have to use a Human Effigy to regain your humanity. Placing down a soul sign to be summoned to another world will give you your humanity back once you beat the area's boss as well as souls.
  • You can get the big White Soapstone for the best soul sign placements from Pate at the Forest of Giants. Exhaust his dialogue, go through the area he's by, then exhaust his dialogue again to obtain it.
  • There is a Heide Knight sitting down by a tree close to the start of the Forest of Giants. He drops a Heide Sword if killed which is a very good starting weapon.
  • If you cannot kill the Heide Knight there is a place you can drop to if you backtrack from the second bonfire which leads to a tunnel with a Salamander at the end. If you run through the tunnel and open the door to the left you can get a Fire Longsword which is just as effective as the Heide Knight's sword.
  • If your weapon is running out of durability make sure you either use repair powder or rest at a bonfire. Don't 100% an area and go for the boss immediately as your weapon will break.
  • Do not go to Belfry Luna. I will personally invade you and ruin your day. Get out of my Bell Tower.
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Dark Souls: Where Survival Horror is Hiding https://www.gameskinny.com/wkv2d/dark-souls-where-survival-horror-is-hiding https://www.gameskinny.com/wkv2d/dark-souls-where-survival-horror-is-hiding Fri, 28 Mar 2014 00:52:11 -0400 LudoLogic

The Dark Souls series is a survival horror game in disguise. It might look like an action RPG; it has all those stats, numbers and loot that RPGs are known to have, but beneath the surface, Dark Souls is pure, undiluted terror.

First off, this is a series downright obsessed with death. You die, other characters die, you see other players who are ghosts, over half the monsters are skeletons, zombies, or in some cases much, much worse--but clearly dead. If that wasn't bad enough, there's the whole concept of hollowing, where a person slowly loses connection to their humanity because they've spent so much time being dead. Dark Souls II takes this even further by having you watch your character slowly decay in front of your eyes with each failure you make.

The whole crux of the game is that you'll die often. In Dark Souls II there's even an epitaph listing the number of total deaths that has been recorded. It's easy to brush past a lot of this as just background fluff,  but From Software are devoted to exploring one facet of the human experience so much it manages to shape the entire game. If this isn't survival horror, then I don't know what is.

Dark Souls's identity as a horror game doesn't end there though. No, the mechanics, thought processes and method of storytelling are actually a lot like traditional survival horror.

First off, discomfort.

One of the primary tenants of modern game design has been the focus on accessibility. Games have to be understood, informative and ease the player into the experience. This doesn't necessarily mean that they have to be "easy" but it's understandable why we sometimes interchange the two concepts.

Either way, Dark Souls is neither of those things. Upon starting you'll usually have your spine crushed by a fat demon with a club minutes after you've had the controls explained.   In Dark Souls II  it's fairly easy, if you're not paying attention, to wander down a path and have your head chomped off by some angry monster literally seconds after taking control of your character.

This is incredibly similar to the feeling that was evoked in the "Golden Age" of survival horror. Silent Hill 3, with its unsettling noises and oppressive sense of dread, understood that making the player feel uncomfortable was just as important as frightening them.

In Dark Souls, death can be around every corner and enemies can kill you in just a handful of attacks, making many encounters just as nerve-shredding as it was taking on a horde of zombies in Resident Evil. In both Dark Souls and traditional survival horror, you're always on edge, prepared for an attack from the least possible place, to make sure that you don't waste any of your meagre healing items.

Likewise, the complete lack of information given to you in Dark Souls is in itself a puzzle that needs to be solved.

Classic survival horror essentially used puzzles as the progression system: monsters didn't need to be defeated in order to progress, they were just there to frighten you and make things harder. Collecting items and figuring out how to unlock certain doors was usually your main task. Dark Souls progression is much the same, you're regularly given a key and a rather cryptic description pertaining to its use and left to your own devices. All this in turn shapes Dark Souls pacing.

In Silent Hill, there was usually a quiet section followed by increasing moments of stress and panic. Monsters might get more frequent, or there'd be horrible noises coming from certain rooms. Then things would get even worse, followed by a flip into the Otherworld: perhaps the best video game representation of a living nightmare. Eventually you'd fight a boss and then there'd be a huge sigh of relief as you were granted temporary reprieve from all that stress.

Dark Souls follows a similar structure: you work your way through an area, tension slowly increasing as the enemies get harder and the souls you'll potentially lose upon death get greater and greater. Almost when you can't take that tension anymore the game makes it even worse with a humongous boss that you think you have no chance of beating. Once you do, you have your catharsis: a beautiful sight of a bonfire.  Rinse and repeat.

Silent Hill in particular is an apt game to compare to Dark Souls. Whilst early Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark share the basic survival horror mechanics, it's Silent Hill that has the same multi-layered plot. On the surface, both Dark Souls and Silent Hill have rather simple stories but dig deeper, and there's a whole boatload of meaning to be gleaned from both titles. It doesn't take Sigmund Freud to figure out that Pyramid Head might be more than just some guy wearing a metal helmet, and there's plenty of similar examples in Dark Souls: there's a lot going on behind a relatively simple premise.

In fact, I'd go as far to say that Dark Souls world isn't really a fantasy world at all, at least not the kind that you'd find in a say a Bioware or Bethesda game. Most of the game's areas, and this is especially true of the sequel, are rather abstract in nature; they might have some lore attached to them but they seem more from some kind of dream (or in many cases a nightmare) than they do a fully realised fantasy world. Dark Souls II's hub, Majula, is both beautiful and at the same time incredibly depressing; with a melancholy tune that chimes away lightly in the background, almost as if your character is trapped in some kind of perpetual purgatory.

And that's about where survival horror is at the moment: purgatory. The likes of Amnesia and Outlast seem to be heralding a new wave of first-person horror titles, but the traditional horror games of the 32-bit era are still in limbo. Focusing just on Dark Souls difficulty misses the point; it brings back, and evolves, a lot of older survival horror mechanics that can be put to good use.

Let's hope Konami and Capcom are paying attention. 

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Games Aren't Getting Easier, They Just Can't Seem to Stop Holding Our Hands https://www.gameskinny.com/cb49h/games-arent-getting-easier-they-just-cant-seem-to-stop-holding-our-hands https://www.gameskinny.com/cb49h/games-arent-getting-easier-they-just-cant-seem-to-stop-holding-our-hands Thu, 27 Mar 2014 08:55:09 -0400 pixmaa

I was playing Dark Souls the other day, and I came to the (very simple) conclusion that I really enjoy Dark Souls.

Then I started thinking: What it is that makes Dark Souls different, why is it so much fun?

Some people might say, that it’s charm lies in it’s difficulty. I have to argue. Don’t get me wrong, I think it IS a difficult game, but it is totally fair. Once you get the hang of it, it is not even that hard. Then it hit me. Most of it’s difficulty comes from letting go of your hand. The game does not tell you about anything, you have to figure it out by yourself, and it is so much more fun that way.

Let me use a playground to demonstrate how some games are handling the player.

Imagine that every game is a big playground.

You are a little kid, going to the playground for some fun, but in every game there is the shadow of your father, who took you to the playground in the first place.... Telling you how to use the slide, warning you not to jump off of that because it will hurt you, literally holding your hand. It ruins the opportunity you had to explore, learn, and discover the playground on your own - just like some modern games do

Let’s start off with one of the most popular, defining modern military shooters.

Yes, I am talking about the Call of Duty series.

In every CoD game, that playground looks like a lot of fun from afar. It is a well constructed playground, with simple, but enjoyable installments in it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think CoD is a nice playground. Your father just won’t really let you get into it.

The problem is that you can not really enjoy it as much as you want to, because your father just won’t let you. He takes your hand and guides you through the whole playground. The only times he lets go of your hand is when you go on one of the toys, but even then he is just standing there giving you instructions on what to do, and if you don’t do what he says, he will get really angry.

You are playing in the sandbox, and accidentally get some dirt on another kid? BAM You are a traitor, start over from the last checkpoint. Your father will take you through the games one by one, limiting your freedom, and your fun. Don’t get me wrong, I think CoD is a nice playground. Your father just won’t really let you get into it.

The most fun I had in a CoD singleplayer was probably the airplaine mission in the original MW game. It was just a bonus mission yet it was one of the most awesome. The game suddenly let go of your hand, and threw a bunch of guys at you. Playing it on the hardest difficulty was surely a challange, but there was one other factor it was different. It was the same every time. It had the exact same guys spawn from the exact same point. It did not have any nonsense like infinately spawning enemies until you advance or anything like that. It was hard, but you could beat it. You could memorize enemy spawns, and rely on the game, that it will play out the same every time.

Dark Souls anyone?

Let’s go to another playground.

It is almost the total opposite of the last one. On this playground there are many-many little installments, and one very big one, that is composed of more sperately enjoyable parts.

I am talking about Skyrim here (Oblivion is exactly the same).

On this playground your father is much nicer. He won’t lurk around for long. He will just take you there, hold your hand for the first few minutes while he shows you around. He will not show you everything, only part of what there it is to see, but he will tell you how to do things. He will arm you with the knowlege of how to play on most of the things there. The he will just sit on a bench and let you play. He will not disturb you until you make the mistake of 'climbing' on the main game.

I loved Skyrim and Oblivion so much, but there is just one thing that annoyed me in both of the games.

Once you start the main story you have to finish it. Once you have closed the first gate in Oblivion, or killed the first dragon in Skyrim they are present in your game. They kind of limit you in your adventure. It’s like once you have started them your father just comes around and says, 'hey get back here and finish the big one first.'

Don’t feel like it yet? Here is a dragon you have to fight. Oh it completely killed a whole village without the chance to talk any of the guys there? Bad luck. It was a limiting factor for me in both Oblivion and Skyrim that once the main quest is on it IS on. Of course once I figured it out, I never actually started the main story. As long as you don’t touch it is okay. Just be careful, because if you do, you are in for a treat.  Luckily the new Fallout games did not force you to complete the main story. I had completed the main story in both new Fallout games. Did not finish it in Skyrim or Oblivion. Simple things.

Then there is Dark Souls.

Basically your father just don’t care. He takes you to the playground and leaves you there.

It’s all up to you to figure it out. You may die in the process, you may get frustrated, but you will never blame the playground. It was your mistake. It is all just skill. Once you get to know your way around the playground you will start to feel awesome. You can defeat most of the things with ease once you played for a bit longer.

Moving on from the metaphors, it just does not feel good when a game thinks I am a child, or that it is the first game I have ever played.

Like in Remember Me.

I will be honest I liked that game. Okey the combat got a bit boring after a while, but playing it on Memory Hunter difficulty, I found it challenging enough to keep me playing. It even had a little bit exploration. Then it started to act like I am playing my first video game ever.

I have a strict rule when playing games, that have exploration: first always find where to go, remember that point, and ONLY go to there when I am done exploring everything. If it is possible I want to go the other way (I found out that this rule was not getting me anywhere in Dark Souls most of the time). So whenever I started exploring a bit, Remember Me just started giving me hints.

'Hey look there!' Oh... he still didn't go there.

'Hey maybe try to shoot that thing!' Dang he must be stupid, he still did not get it.

'Hey, if you point your crosshair there you can go through the door!'

I KNOW. Come on, I know where to go.I just don't want to yet. Sheesh.

I am not a mobile gamer. I am a PC gamer. I am playing games for real. I can figure Dark Souls out, please, I won’t get lost in the obviously constructed environments of Remember Me. Then there are things like sequels. It’s like:

'hey we know that you have probably played the other two games we made that had the same exact mechanics, but you have to learn them again just in case you are suffering from a long-term memory loss.'

Let me play. Don’t interrupt the flow of the game. It is okay to tell me once, but only once. I don't want you to guide me through every single step.

I think this is exactly why rougelikes and rougelites are having a revival.

Games might not be getting any easier today, they are just holding your hand.

Also this is why Dark Souls has became a cult game. It is for us, who still like to play it the old way. Games might not be getting any easier today, they are just holding your hand. It is almost that they want to make a hard difficulty, but on the other hand they really do not want you to die.

No wonder gaming is shifting to the direction of multiplayer only titles, but I want my single player experience. 

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Upcoming Game Releases - April 2014 https://www.gameskinny.com/od8dy/upcoming-game-releases-april-2014 https://www.gameskinny.com/od8dy/upcoming-game-releases-april-2014 Sun, 23 Mar 2014 21:38:06 -0400 NorthwestGamer

2014 has had a terrific start for video games, and what perfect timing! With the new consoles out late last year, its nice to see some solid games appearing to play on our new hardware.

March, in particular, was a strong month, featuring South Park: The Stick of Truth, Dark Souls II, Titanfall, Towerfall: Ascension, Hearthstone, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, inFAMOUS: Second Son, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, and more. It will certainly be hard to beat a month like that, and it does not appear that April will--but it still looks like a solid month for gaming!

The Elder Scrolls Online - Most Anticipated

Elder Scrolls Online

Release Date: April 4    Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X

There is not much competition this month, so it is pretty safe to say that Elder Scrolls Online is the most anticipated game of April 2014. Everybody should know what the Elder Scrolls series is by now. Starting off in 1994 on DOS with The Elder Scrolls: Arena, this series has established itself with critically acclaimed games such as Oblivion and Skyrim

If you have no problem with playing Elder Scrolls games alone, then there is not too much to get excited about here. If you have begged Bethesda forever to add multiplayer to the series, then this is the game you have waited for. 

I was originally very excited for this title; I signed up for the beta as soon as I could. However, when my beta invitation came, I did not play the game. I then received beta invitations for another three weekends and still shrugged it off. Why would I lose all of my excitement? Because I do not want to play it so badly to justify the price. 

This game will cost a $15 monthly fee with an additional activation fee that includes a free first 30 days. This is pretty standard for an MMO--big titles such as World of Warcraft follow this subscription model--however, the activation fee is a whopping $60. That's already a full-priced game. This puts your first year at just over $225. If I was going to fork over money for an MMO like this, I would get back into WoW

Bethesda has officially announced, however, that they want to gradually bring this over to a free-to-play model, so I will be happy to play once it is cheaper. It is important to note that this release date is Windows and Mac only, consoles will be arriving sometime in June.

Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II

Release Date: April 25    Platforms: Windows

Now, I know what you're thinking, "that game came out already," and I am aware of that; however, it will finally be arriving to the PC on April 25. Anybody who has experience with the original Dark Souls on the PC has been through a lot of frustration. It just generally did not work well.

It took mods to unlock the framerate and resolution, and hackers plagued the entire system, but From Software has promised that this mistake will not be repeated. They claim they have put a lot of effort into the PC port this time and I want to trust them, but I think that I will be waiting to see how it performs before committing to this game.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Release Date: April 14    Platforms: Playstation 4

There are many people out there who consider Final Fantasy to be a dead series that is desperately trying to milk every last penny out of it that they can; however, that is far from the truth. It is true that it will probably never return to its glory days, when it was the powerhouse RPG that inspired systems for all future RPGs, but it is still relatively a successful series.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is another game that has already graced the store shelves, and this time it is being ported to the Playstation 4. The game originally released last August and received generally favorable reviews, with Metascores of 83 and 79 for Windows and Playstation 3, respectively. This game was well-received the first time around, but I am not sure that a Playstation 4 port is something to be running to the shelves for. If it's going to be anything like the next-gen Tomb Raider port, Definitive Edition, just stick with the original.

MLB 14: The Show

MLB 14: The Show

Release Date: April 1    Platforms: Playstation 3, Playstation Vita

First off, let me just say that this is not to be confused as an EA Sports game. This game, and the series, is developed and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. For this reason, this game will be released, exclusively, to all three Playstation platforms; however, only the Playstation 3 and Vita editions will be released in April. Playstation 4 will follow-up in May.

Even though I said this is not an EA Sports game, it is similar in the fact that it is an annual release, and not much changes. Unless you are a big fan of the series, this game is not going to make a big difference to you over MLB 13: The Show; however, if you are looking into this series and are a fan of sports games, it is important to note that they will be selling the Playstation 3 version in a bundle with NBA 2K14 for $89.99 USD.

LEGO: The Hobbit

Lego: The Hobbit

Release Date: April 8    

Platforms: Windows, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Here we go again. It has been nine years since the first LEGO video game, LEGO Star Wars, and not enough has changed. There are a lot of series that get hammered constantly for never changing, and frankly, they deserve it, but the LEGO series always seems to fly under the radar. Most people would argue that it's because they are not as popular, but most people would be surprised at just how popular the LEGO games are.

Why should they not be popular, anyway? These games may stay under the same gameplay model, and it's kind of frustrating, but they are actually great games.

Also, the fact that they base them on different movie series makes it so that there is a completely different story to the different games. So I say this is a game worth looking at, but only if you are a fan of The Hobbit. The games are all so similar, that I would only buy the ones that follow series' that you are a big fan of.

Trials Fusion

Trials Fusion

Release Date: April 16    Platforms: Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

The Trials series shouldn't be a new name to big Xbox players, but it might be new to those die-hard Playstation fans. Previously published by Microsoft, the series has been available only on Xbox and Windows the past couple games, with Mac being an option for the first two installments. The last game, Trials Evolution, was a massive hit, scoring an impressive 90 on Metacritic. 

Since Trials Evolution, the publishing license has been transferred from Microsoft to Ubisoft, and the series will now be making a Playstation appearance. This game will be available for both next-gen consoles, but only the 360 for the past generation.

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Amazon Offering $5 Credit with PC Pre-Orders https://www.gameskinny.com/9e7d4/amazon-offering-5-credit-with-pc-pre-orders https://www.gameskinny.com/9e7d4/amazon-offering-5-credit-with-pc-pre-orders Sun, 16 Mar 2014 22:35:52 -0400 Mary Yeager

A good amount of popular games come with pre-order perks (such as ESO's Imperial Edition allowing players to play the Imperial race). Right now, Amazon is offering a $5 dollar video game credit with PC digital pre-orders on top of already established pre-order game perks set by companies.

Games listed as part of this promotion include:

  • The Elder Scrolls Online (both Imperial and regular editions)
  • Dark Souls II
  • Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare
  • Watch Dogs Deluxe Edition
  • Alien: Isolation
  • The Sims 4
  • Plus others.

Amazon pre-orders come with Amazon's Pre-order Price Guarantee. This means that if they put the game on sale after you place your order, you will always get the lowest price as your final price.

Game credit through this promotion will be valid for one year after the game's release date, not the purchase date. Only games listed in the promotion qualify. No ending date on this promotion is known.

(Amazon logo by Amazon)

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Dark Souls II Death Tracker: Players are Dying Many, MANY Times https://www.gameskinny.com/vo526/dark-souls-ii-death-tracker-players-are-dying-many-many-times https://www.gameskinny.com/vo526/dark-souls-ii-death-tracker-players-are-dying-many-many-times Fri, 14 Mar 2014 06:51:48 -0400 Fathoms_4209

Bear two things in mind when reviewing these ridiculous statistics:

Firstly, the game is not available on PC yet (it launches on April 25). Secondly, it has only been available for two days on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Thirdly, the tracker can only count deaths of individuals who are logged in; if they're offline, obviously their deaths can't be tallied.

Despite all this, according to Namco's new death tracker, Dark Souls II adventurers have perished over 4.5 million times. Yes, you read that correctly. Four and a half million deaths recorded in only a few days, and that number is destined to soar.

Thus far, 1,342,561 deaths have come at the hands of enemies. No surprise there. But you might be surprised to see that 365,728 deaths have occurred due to falling. Yeah, you fall a lot in the game, if you didn't already know. Traps caused 33,743 deaths and so far, human players are responsible for only 22,241 deaths. The latter method is the rarest way to die right now but as more people purchase and play the game, that particular stat will increase.

Are you up to the challenge?

In my review of the stellar title, I said Dark Souls II was immensely rewarding if you had the requisite patience and diligence. For those who do, the pay-off is huge. Many will ask: "If you die so much in a game, how is that fun? Doesn't it just get frustrating?" Well, yeah. But...you just gotta play it to understand.

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A Timid, Humbled Gamer's Review of Dark Souls II https://www.gameskinny.com/swcex/a-timid-humbled-gamers-review-of-dark-souls-ii https://www.gameskinny.com/swcex/a-timid-humbled-gamers-review-of-dark-souls-ii Wed, 12 Mar 2014 11:00:16 -0400 Fathoms_4209

As a gamer of 30+ years, I know my limitations. I also know that I've conquered some of the toughest games out there, including Ninja Gaiden on Xbox and Devil May Cry 3 (before the Special Edition arrived and dropped the difficulty).

I can play. I'm not expert, but I can play. And yet, something like Dark Souls II comes around and shocks me back into a humbling reality: All these increasingly easier games over the past decade have been spoiling the crap out of me.

Technical Elements

Before I get going, let's just tackle the technical aspects of the game. The opening CGI features some of the best detail you'll see on the last-gen consoles, but the gameplay visuals aren't quite as amazing. Even so, they're an improvement over the previous entry, and I especially like the brighter, open-air segments. I never like titles that feel overwhelmingly oppressive and while DSII has its fair share of dungeons and dark places, there are some wonderfully presented outdoor areas.

The animations are smooth and the character and enemy design is excellent. My only complaint is a frame-rate issue that crops up during particularly intense moments. This relates more to the gameplay, though, so let's just say the graphics are a definite triumph.

The soundtrack suits the tense situation (in that you're frequently on the brink of death) and the effects are especially satisfying. The clash of metal on metal, the sickening crunch of metal on flesh; it's all clear and nicely implemented. The various voice performances sprinkled throughout the adventure are quite accomplished as well. They all reflect the atmosphere, which is absolutely unparalleled: Somber, even desperate, and tinged with a wry irony as if to say, "Yeah, like you'll ever get out of here alive."

Everywhere I go... death and more death

If you think you're prepared for Dark Souls II just because you play a lot of action/adventure games, you're in for a nasty surprise. This isn't Assassin's Creed. This isn't Grand Theft Auto. When you die, it's gonna suck, and you're gonna die a lot. Here's a quick summary of my early experience with the game, and bear in mind I was pretty convinced I'd be okay.

As Namco sent me a review copy and I have to deliver that review for two different sites now, I start quickly. I'll return to explore more thoroughly later, but I need to open up as much of the game as I could. So, here I go:

"When you die, it's gonna suck, and you're gonna die a lot." 

I select the Knight class. First enemies I see are a joke. I just slice right through them. I think I've mastered the dodge roll, and even though the dashing jump is a little tricky (hate using the L3 button), I'll get it. Just need a bit of practice. Okay, pushing forward... ooh, pretty sun. I'm on the shore. Shops open, NPCs to talk to. The option to Level Up appears at the bonfire. So now I'll start to explore.

The first thing I find is some big white beast that resembles a cross between a manatee and a bear. I run up to it, figuring I'll slash it a few times and dodge out of the way. Big things are always slow in action games, right? Yep, here I go... it might hurt me a little but I've got 10 Life Stones so I'm sure I'll be fine. This was my mindset when I approached. And then...

The thing picks me up and eats me.

As if I didn't even have a sword. As if my dodge-roll was such a pathetically slow attempt at evasion that I shouldn't have bothered. I figure this is a freak thing so I try again. This time, it hits me and my response was: "Where the hell did all my health go?!" Okay, Life Stone. "Wait... that's how much health I got back from that?!" Oh, never mind. Dead again.

And so it went.

The experience

It's really like none other. I could spend some time explaining how the camera isn't as stable as it should be; you're almost forced to use the lock-on feature in order to avoid that issue. I could say the game is beyond a challenge; it's forbiddingly difficult. I could expound upon the somewhat disappointing story that never really coalesces into something special.

I won't do that, though. Why? Because those complaints are secondary to the overall experience; after a while, you don't really even notice them. Your entire focus is on survival, and that alone makes Dark Souls II a singular experience. All right, maybe not "singular," as one could say its predecessors were equally challenging. Even so, in a sea of games that continue to hold you by the hand, that never really punish you for dying, DSII is a beacon of brutality.

With a variety of distinct classes, a huge amount of items and equipment to purchase, discover and customize, and plenty of side quests that will tax your mind as well as your dexterity, this is a complete, highly rewarding experience.

"...this is a complete, highly rewarding experience."

Whether you're exploring a dark, terrifying cranny or you're struggling to defeat an oversized behemoth in a giant outdoor arena, you're always on the edge of your seat. And this is precisely why I play this game timidly, cautiously, nervously; humbled at being part of a giant, immensely difficult world.

Sure, I can play. But can I survive?

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