Sunday, 11 August 2013

Six Reasons Why Dark Souls 2 Will Ruin Your Life

You Died

I'm about two thirds of the way through Dark Souls and so far I've seen that message nearly 200 times.

200 times. I've never dedicated so much time to a game I'm so universally terrible at. But I love it. I'm some kind of masochist clearly.

In March 2014, From Software will release the follow up to one of the most divisive games of this generation and quite frankly, I can't wait.

Despite a change in director, FromSoft have come out and stated that they won't be making it any easier, they won't be changing the core mechanics of the game too much and it's going to be just as hardcore. This was a massive comfort to those of us out there who revel in Dark Souls' difficulty and sheer challenge.

Here at The Gadget Addicts, we're beyond excited about this. Here's a list of reasons why Dark Souls 2 is driving us wild with anticipation:

1: The Difficulty

Too many games of this generation hold your hand, signpost you and give you a range of difficulty options. The difficulty of Dark Souls (and Demon Souls) was a massive dividing point for the gaming audience. Most gamers wrote it off as being horrendously unfair, destroying you frequently for the absolute sake of it.

This wasn't the case. The game was never unfair and it never cheated. Every single fight, every enemy was effectively a puzzle. Once you knew the methods and where the weak points on a boss were, the balance was restored. I remember the first time I realised that Gold Pine Resin and a drop attack would kill the Taurus demon in three hits, I felt like the most expert gamer in the world.

The whole point of the game was that you were never to feel persecuted by the game's design, you were always supposed to be the underdog, slaying huge beasts that should, by rights, be able to destroy you with just a swing of their arms/tentacles.  The same should apply for DS2, enemies that on the face of it are impossible to beat, but have a weakness that you need to find and exploit.

2: Lodran

The world of DS1 was amazing. From the Undead Asylum you escape from at the beginning of the game right the way through to the Kiln Of The First Flame at the very end, each area was meticulously designed and wonderfully executed. Most people can even forgive the frame-rate destroying complexity of Blighttown when it would lead to somewhere as wonderfully insane as the Demon Ruins.

One of the strengths in the design of Lodran is that while it feels massive, it's actually not. The world expands left, right, forward, back and down, but it's no where near as enormous as it first seems. On the surface, from Firelink Shrine to the end of Anor Londo can be sprinted in less than 10 minutes if you're crafty (especially with Sen's Fortress). The challenges make the world seem bigger than it is. Ok, everyone struggled finding the route down to the bottom of Blighttown, but even then, it's not far from the Depths, Lower Undead Burg and so on. 

The construction is also that you never actually feel lost. You can work your way around places very easily and if you do happen to take a wrong turn, well then no doubt you'll either run into a new enemy or find something new to do. You never have one of those maddening moments that other open world games give you where you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do and a long walk back to something interesting.

From the preview gameplay videos of DS2 we can see that the world looks just as broken, yet just as beautiful. Hopefully they've stuck with the verticality and open world nature of the first game.

3: The Story

What story, you say? Well, if you cared to look for it, DS1 had a wonderfully intricate story that was told to you, less via cutscenes, more via character dialogue and the descriptions of items. You could know a wealth about a character well before you even encounter them, just by looking at the special items that you pick up along the way. This minimalistic method of storytelling allowed you to either hunt for every factoid and find as much of the story as possible, or treat the game as a rock hard dungeon crawler and ignore it entirely. Even down to the endings though, DS subverts your expectations of how stories are told.

There's no reason for DS2 not to follow the same path. In fact, if it were to be exposition heavy, like most modern games, it would spoil the mood and ruin the experience. All the hints released so far point to DS2 being a prequel, so maybe we'll see the birth of the First Flame?

4: The Combat

Oh, the fighting. So easy to learn yet almost impossible to even master. Even the best at the game still die (YouTube sage EpicNameBro has had some superbly funny deaths when he got careless), which is why the casual gamers turned off it. You have to carefully balance your weapon skill, equipment burden and your stamina level to be an effective fighter in DS. It can take most of the game to achieve, but when you finally hit on that perfect combination, you're unstoppable...

... Until you reach the next enemy who is immune to your flame sword, or who curses you on sight... Then tactics come down to it. Wheel around for a backstab, do a leaping stab then roll the fuck out of there, use a firebomb or dung pie, almost every combat style is viable in DS and you are frequently required to change things up a bit.

DS2 looks to further balance and infuriate. Enemies appear to be able to interrupt backstabs, some even crushing you when you get behind them (the so called Turtle Knights). You can now dualwield weapons, you can even carry 3 different weapons per hand this time round. No doubt FromSoft will have some devilish caveat to that though.

5: The Bosses

DS1 had some of the most ingenious boss fights I've ever seen in a game. Some of them were truly terrifying. Taking on a reanimated gargoyle with an axe for a tail? Killing it without incident? Well how about introducing a fire breathing one halfway through the fight? Bastards.

Or what about The Capra Demon? A goat-headed monstrosity with two huge swords and a pair of demon dogs that back you into a corner and destroy your health in seconds?

Or even the Four Kings, who spawn one by one until you're fighting four super strong enemies at once. 

DS2 has already shown us the fantastic Mirror Knight fight, where at points in the battle, another enemy breaks forth from his huge mirror shield and suddenly it's two against one. I seriously cannot wait to do this fight. Suggestions are even that the soldier who breaks through the shield to fight you may even be another human player in certain conditions, which would be equal parts nightmare and amazing.

6: The Multiplayer

DS' use of online functionality is genuinely superb. It's discreet. There's no matchmaking screens, no obnoxious teenagers screaming at you, no tea-bagging. 

The multiplayer works as such. The world is in a constant state of temporal flux (or so the story goes) which allows different worlds and time periods to interact. You can write a message with a special Soapstone item on the ground which another player can read informing them of traps or giving them tactics for upcoming fights.

You can even summon players from other worlds to help you with bosses or, if you're feeling really nasty, you can invade other players games and take them out to steal their precious Humanity.

It's a wonderful system, created for Demon's Souls and refined for Dark Souls. It should remain in place for DS2. Having no team chat is the big thing for me, you can get help but it still evokes that sense of isolation the game always pushes onto you. You can only communicate with your saviour via a predefined gesture list. Just the way it should be.

And of course, the best invaders are those who stop, bow to you as a sign of mutual respect, then get into a scrap, as opposed to those who just run in and surprise attack you.

The DS online community is one of the best around and even during invasions, you can find yourself up against a true gent.

So there you have it, 6 reasons why we cannot wait until Dark Souls 2 is ready. Six reasons why we're prepared to die all over again, and again, and again...

1 comment:

  1. Early Dark Souls II reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, suggesting that the latest instalment of challenging and atmospheric RPG series is a worthy investment of your valuable March time.
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    Dark Souls 2 Gameplay