E3 Hands-On: Dark Souls II Details

Dark Souls II seems like it could be the best in the series so far.
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The Souls series is one of the best in recent years in my honest opinion (and based off of observable, objective fact.) Before E3, I was already excited about Dark Souls II. After getting a chance to play it at the Namco Bandai room today, I am counting the minutes until its release.

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First off, before getting into the meaty details of my experience, it is necessary to go through the changes and (in my opinion) improvements being made to the game.

Different Game, Different Difficulty

Some fans of the series have fears that Dark Souls II is going to be more casual. After learning more about the game and playing the demo, the game is still hard, if not harder.

The ways the game is being made a bit more “accessible” is by including items that restore spell charges and one that restores health over time meaning less bonfire visits and estus flask uses.

Improved AI

The ways the game is being made harder is in your enemies’ improved AI. The developers wanted to make them less predictable. There are still patterns to be memorized, but it’s not quite as static as it used to be. The team wanted them to play less like computer enemies and more like players.

The improved AI means that enemies will try and respond to your actions. Are you trying to use a healing item? They will try and hit you as you’re taking it. They will try to avoid being backstabbed.

In fact, it seems like the team is actually trying to nerf backstabbing with some of the enemies. This is evident in the demo with the Turtle Knight. This enemy is a giant, turtle shelled knight with a huge hammer-like weapon. He does massive amounts of damage when he hits you with his weapon, but even more so when he uses his shell to crush you if you attempt to backstab him. He is awesome.


Some more game mechanics are being changed. The way you build your class is different now. I wasn’t 100% sure on the specifics, but it seems like you pick what you want to start off as and instead of changing it via stat boosts like in Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls, you turn more into a specific class type based on how you play.

You can start off playing as a sorcerer, but if you end up dual wielding weapons all the time, you will get better at that. Like I said, though, I am unsure on the specifics, but that is what I remember from the walkthrough one of the staff members gave my group.

The classes that were available at the demo were a warrior, a sorcerer, a knight templar, and a dual wielding character. I saw the latter in action and played as the sorcerer.

Speaking of dual wielding, Dark Souls II has greatly improved the way in which players can fight with multiple weapons. In the first two entries, it didn’t really feel like you were using two weapons. Now it does. There is a stance for it and a class-type built around it.

If the demo is indicative of the final product, spells are changed in this game, too. Playing a sorcerer seems more viable. Furthermore, you start off with, I believe, seven spells. Some of these were soul missile type spells, some were buffs, and some were pyromancy.

New Graphics, New Engine, Perfect PC Port

The graphics look amazing now. No longer does the armor stick to your character. No, now it moves. It looks great. The animations are completely changed. This time around, the team used motion capturing to create a more realistic flow for attacks. The Souls series has never looked this good, even in a heavily modded Prepare to Die edition.

Dark Souls II is being made with a completely new game engine and it shows. The game felt much more polished when I played it.

At the demo, we were allowed to play the PS3 version, but before that, we were shown the PC version. Unlike Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, the PC version of Dark Souls II will not be shoddily done. It looks and flows amazingly, as said before, and it seems like they put a lot of emphasis on getting it right this time.

Read the story of my experience with the Dark Souls II demo and find out why this is one of my most anticipated games from E3.

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Joseph Rowe
World traveling English teacher, writer, and aspiring front-end developer.