Dark Souls has gained quite the following over the past couple years and the series just keeps bringing in new players. With the Souls series “go anywhere play anyway you like” style, Souls games tend to be different for each and every player. This makes the task of creating a direct sequel difficult with such a wide variety of expectations on the line. From Software took to this challenge and created a title that was more of the same, and it’s wonderful.
So, elephant in the room here, is it as good as Dark Souls? My answer is absolutely. The combat is just as strong as before, striking your enemies has that meaty feel to it when you connect and still has that uneasiness during your wind up. The Souls series just isn’t a “hack n slash” your way through enemies like a God of War or Dynasty Warriors is. No, I compare it’s combat to that of Monster Hunter, it requires more precision and confidence. Once you press that attack button you better make sure you’re going to connect or you’re going to be hurting from a counter attack. So Souls lovers, think about that, you might actually enjoy a game like Monster Hunter as well, hmm.
There have been some changes to the combat though so if you’re a seasoned veteran, this may affect your way of play. I had a harder time pulling off a parry than I had in Dark Souls but was able to really nail home the back stabs this time around. I’m not sure if it was the timing that From Software adjusted but I just had terrible luck trying to parry anything. If you’re a player who has ants in their pants and would rather roll all day everyday, take heed as the rolling animations seem to have less “invincibility frames” to them. For those new to the series, in previous Souls games the player had a decent window in which enemy attacks would miss if you rolled out off the way. That window has shrunk in Dark Souls II making the timing of your rolls more difficult, not impossible but harder.
There are some other noticeable differences early on that seasoned players will notice, like the limited enemy respawns. New players take note, in the Souls series every time you die or rest at a bonfire to heal, the world is refreshed and enemies will respawn. Things have changed though, after you’ve killed an enemy a certain number of times, they will no longer show up anymore. You may be thinking hooray but keep in mind that you lose out on opportunities to farm the needed currency in the game, souls, to upgrade your character, weapons, and skills. My veterans do not fret though, it’s not as bad as it may seem. Grinding opportunities are still present and there are even items that will cause enemies to restore, with the added bonus of them being stronger, so the opportunity is there, if you want the challenge. Another big change is being able to fast travel from any bonfire cutting travel time drastically. The loads are a few seconds on PS3 even with an installed copy but it’s not unbearable.
For new and old players alike, beware that you are not exemption from player invasions even offline. There are AI invaders littered throughout Dark Souls II’s world of Drangleic and a few will even drop armor that calls back to the previous souls games on harder difficulties. You can obviously tell who these AI invaders are based in their names, it’s highly unlikely that “$m0k3DurMOTHER” is part of Dark Souls II lore. What I’m missing from the Souls series is being able to team up with a friend and get summoned to their world. As with previous Souls titles, you can summon in other players to assist you in defeating enemies up to the area boss. But unfortunately it’s random who will get spawned in your world to summon. Some may like this aspect but I would rather play with people on my friends list when they’re online rather than some random warrior. Maybe next time.
Dark Souls II looks gorgeous as well, the early forests and ruins you travel through are intricate with little details that really make the world feel like it was once lived in. the lighting is beautiful and one only has to be in the hub town of Majula to see that. The suns rays flowing over the land and the waters waves crashing down below makes you feel warm, feel at home. Dark dungeons, lush forests, and dank castles all please the eye as you venture on in your journeys. To help you light the way, you now have access to a torch that you can light at bonfires. Even if the torch lighting isn’t as amazing as some trailers have made it seem to be, it’s still a sight to see.
So, should you get Dark Souls II? Absolutely, new players and vets alike will enjoy this Fantasy world that From Software has bestowed upon us. It really is one of the best RPGs out there with a strong community to back it up. But let’s not forget, it’s just plain fun.
A PlayStation 3 code was provided by the publisher for review purposes