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Jan 30

Jan 30

Dark Souls II Hands-on: Die Harder

Sid Shuman's Avatar Posted by

Director, SIEA Social Media

Dark Souls II for PS3

Fear not! Based on my initial hands-on experiences, Dark Souls II is proving to be even more fiendishly challenging than its famously difficult predecessor. I learned this when the very first enemy in the game, a monstrous ogre-like creature sporting a pendulous gut, lifted me into the air and gnawed on my head like a Tootsie pop. I died kicking and screaming.

After reviving, I opted to steer clear of the brute until I’d found a better weapon. But misfortune struck moments later when I was overwhelmed by a swarm of tiny, mewling dog creatures. Pushing on, I faced a gauntlet of towering undead knights, each powerful enough to cleave me in two with a swing of a massive sword.

After dying repeatedly, I finally zig-zagged past them and through a nearby door. Big mistake: here, perched precariously on a narrow platform, I faced off with an armored, giant boss who swung a halberd with lethal accuracy. Yep, you better believe I died.

Dark Souls II for PS3Dark Souls II for PS3

Yep, you better believe I died.

Though Dark Souls II wastes no time in throwing the player into the deep end of the pool, its core gameplay has also undergone many subtle tweaks that further contribute to its bruising difficulty level. One example is your life bar, which shrinks slightly each time you die.

This means you’ll grow permanently weaker with each miscalculation unless you use one of your precious Human Effigies (standing in for Dark Soul’s Humanity) to restore your full human form. And the health-restoring Estus Flasks, so critical for survival in Dark Souls, so far appear to be downplayed in favor of life crystals, a slow-healing, consumable item that isn’t restored each time you rest at a Bonfire.

But I also noticed a host of welcome refinements that make Dark Souls II a more graceful and user-friendly experience. The user interface is now vastly easier to navigate, making weapon swapping and inventory management a speedy affair compared to Dark Soul’s overwhelming lines of text. Jumping, a famously finicky maneuver in Dark Souls, is now bound to L3 in a small but crucial tweak that will make battle-scarred veterans weep tears of joy. And perhaps best of all, you can now fast travel between different Bonfires from the very start of the game, cutting down on monotonous backtracking.

Dark Souls II for PS3

In the pre-release build I played, Dark Souls II trimmed its character class lineup from ten to eight. Gone are the fan-favorite Pyromancer, Thief, Hunter, and Wanderer classes, replaced by a more focused and specialized group of misfits. Beginners might want to try the new Explorer class, a middle-of-the-road character that begins the game with particularly good items and equipment. Advanced players can forego defense for sheer offense with the Swordsman, who favors fighting with a weapon in each hand.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the series’ uniquely haunting atmosphere. Dark Souls II’s stellar opening cinema is adorned with disturbing imagery: a dead tree swarming with bloated fireflies, a ruined kingdom of impossible age, and a cackling coven of mystics. You, as a Hollow, are cursed to feed on the souls of the living. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Though my time with Dark Souls II was short, it’s haunted my dreams since. Have questions? I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments below!

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Odinbear said:

February 1st, 9:41 am

Lol boomstickbhg, the real fact is EASY IS NO FUN.

Odinbear said:

February 1st, 9:45 am

ElectroDragon. It is a REALl game, not a lead you through, tell you what buttons to push game.
Have you heard of Mario?

Odinbear said:

February 1st, 9:48 am

Jonjon0890. Thought it was in the PS store for 5 bucks

Odinbear said:

February 1st, 9:59 am

I only play video games for a challenge. Very few offer a REAL challenge. The Souls Series is one that does and I find this to be FUN. MAR 11th can’t get here fast enough. Till then, think I’ll finish Dark Souls again and finally become a Gravelord.

Bellz666 said:

February 2nd, 4:19 am

I cannot wait, perhaps I’ll finish the first one as well ;)

Seraphim58 said:

February 2nd, 2:16 pm

I enjoyed the first Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls a lot but I don’t know if I want to get this one. It’s a struggle between this and Watch Dogs ._.

Jay-1andONLY1 said:

February 3rd, 3:28 am

Sid did you ever find out if it’s going to be on the PS Store day 1?

Tevious said:

February 4th, 4:31 pm

I really want this game on PS3 (or PS4), but I only buy digital, so I have a PC copy on preorder. I wish you guys could confirm whether this game will be on PSN or not. And how about getting the first Dark Souls on PSN too? Please? (I’d buy it again for a decent price).

Tevious said:

February 4th, 9:48 pm

Well, with the PS Store update, Dark Souls II is now available for preorder for March 11th. So the game will be available digitally on PSN. It’d be nice if they could get Dark Souls on PSN too.

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