Frustrated cries of defeat, snapped controllers and joyous victories; Dark Souls was responsible for all of these things but it still remains one of the most rewarding and endlessly replayable games of the last generation. The game decided to break away from tradition by rarely holding your hand and thrusting you into a world full of minimalist lore and twisted monsters out for your blood. Now the series returns with Dark Souls 2 but this time without the original’s director and what many fear is a more casual experience. Yet still, hopes are high that the sequel will deliver a satisfying experience that will leave you in tears of jubilation and anger. Prepare to die…again.
There’s not a whole lot to tell about Dark Souls 2‘s story. Based on the initial trailer we’ve seen, the story will revolve around a “cursed character trying to find a cure for their agony”. While it is a sequel to Dark Souls, it appears to follow the same story suit of Demon Souls. The director of the game also mentioned that there is an indirect link to the sequel but remained mum as to what this actually was. Dark Souls 2‘s control scheme will remain largely unchanged from the one used in Dark Souls, and the “Convenant” system will be making a comeback with different factions. The size of the world in Dark Souls 2 is meant to be twice the size of its predecessor and will also feature new creatures with a more advanced AI to react to the player’s movements (e.g. if a player attempts to backstab a huge troll, the troll will attack by quickly slamming his back to the ground). Many people are cautious about Dark Souls 2 because of fears of an easy/casual mode, but one of the directors, Yui Tanimura, said this will never exist as “challenge and difficulty are core elements of the game.”
Dark Souls 2 is a game all about precise combat against difficult enemies. You have to learn the move set of the boss battles by dying many, many times. The Souls series is one that encourages different tactics to approach a problem. “A dragon is breathing fire down a bridge you have to cross? Try running through with a heavy shield to block the flames. That didn’t work? Put on your lightest armor and run like hell then.” This level of experimentation is how you succeed. Every death is a lesson because you sure as hell won’t make that same mistake again. Like the previous games, you can die easily if you run through a level carelessly, so taking it slow and steady is the key to progression. If you’re inexperienced at this level of difficulty, you must use your shield to protect yourself and learn to roll from attacks. Making good decisions in a split second and also learning how to time your moves are other essential skills that are needed to win. “The best offence is a good defence.” This old saying definitely applies to the Soul series.
But what about the Dark Souls veterans? What’s new in the sequel? Well, it seems that any system or way to exploit the game’s system previously has been completely revoked. When a player is summoned to your game and the local boss enemy is defeated, the summoned player no longer leaves the game. You can now set the amount of time you have “summoned players” in your lobby, and you can now have up to 3 other players in your game for a 3 player co-op experience. However, if your character is undead, you can still be susceptible to invasions. In terms of weapons, you can now equip up to 3 weapons and 3 shields instead of 2. There’s a lot of new features, inventory items and weapons that will keep Demon Souls/Dark Souls aficionados happy.
The Setting/The Story
This is the tricky part. One of the main characteristics of the Souls series is the setting. You will be thrown into this rich world with a vast and — at times — almost incomprehensible lore that begs for a lot of research to fully appreciate. You will learn a little more about the game each time you invest a few hours into reading up about the characters and the descriptions of weapons, clothes and items.
On a side note, while many gamers are eager to learn more about Dark Souls 2′s story, I am just as excited to hear the game’s soundtrack as Dark Souls had one of the most hauntingly beautiful soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a game. Now back to the story.
The previous director of Dark Souls stated that he used to read old stories with limited bits of English so he would piece together the setting of a story. This is certainly true for Dark Souls as a lot of the side stories are fleshed out through fan theories and conspiracies. For Dark Souls 2, there is not a lot known about the setting, but it will feature a variety of environments to traverse through.
If Dark Souls 2 is even a shred of what Dark Souls is like, then expect to be very satisfied. You would be amazed at the level of entertainment you can get from this game, not just by playing, but by watching countless YouTube videos on the lore of the game, experimenting with classes and builds, and becoming a part of brand new community. Praise the sun!
We’re very excited for Dark Souls 2. It looks set to deliver an incredibly challenging experience as expected, but who knows what surprises we may encounter? Dark Souls 2 comes out March 11th for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.