The “Souls” franchise prides itself on being a bitch when it comes to gameplay. From one-shotting monsters, environmental hazards, and death traps to chests that reveal themselves as terrible monsters that grab you and eat you…A.K.A One-shotting BULLSHIT chests. Add on the fact that other players can invade your game and make your life a living hell, and you got a game that is quite seriously a test of your mental fortitude.
Dark Souls II takes the original formula from its predecessors – tweaked it and threw it out into an even more annoying beast than it used to be. From enemies, spells, mechanics on Player phantoms invading your realm, Dark Souls II seems to be revamped to make your patience run extra thin from start to finish.
I could tell you about the story, but let’s be honest, no one can make heads or tails of the the damn story in a “Souls” game. Dark Souls made as much sense as Demons Soul’s did. The only thing that’s really understandable: when you die, it sucks. You turn into some soul sucking zombie, and have to fight other soul sucking zombies that are more crazy than you, along with: demons, phantoms, spirits, and fucking monsters. If you really need a story rundown though, watch this.
So, let’s get down to it. What has really changed in Dark Souls II? Well..lots of shit and most of it is annoying. When you die in Dark Souls (and you will a lot,) your maximum health gradually drops until your total health is 50% while you’re in this hollow state. Only way to revert your hollow state is to become human (either spending the precious human effigy or get summoned to another player’s game and defeat the area’s boss.) This can get REALLY annoying if you are rolling a soft and squishy character like I did. Thankfully, this is countered with the ability to summon other player’s Phantom into your world to aid you, and more than one this time. People are now no longer locked to your total soul level (your character’s maximum level,) but now “Soul Memory,” which is your maximum number of accumulated souls (experience.) In original Dark Souls, people could only join you if you were around the same soul level (within ten or so levels), making it a bit difficult to connect. Now, people can join as long as they are within a certain soul memory range (the exact numbers elude me, but you can look it up I’m sure.)
However, THAT nice little feature is countered with ANOTHER change which allows other players looking to be PvP assholes, invading your realm easier than before. In Dark Souls, you always ran the risk of a player invading you when you were human. If you were hollowed (undead), you were safe from other invaders. Granted you couldn’t do much in terms of summoning other players to your realm and a lower drop rate on items from enemies, but you were safe for the part when it came to PvP. In Dark Souls II, you’re never fucking safe. Hollowed or human, if invaders are within your soul range, they can invade you. They have a smaller chance of invading if you are hollowed, but you still run the risk of an invasion. Add the fact that several “Zones” of the game are also home to random faction phantom invasions, and you will find yourself being sodomized by players every few minutes.
The monsters were given an upgrade as well. Right off the bat, as every “Souls” game has shown, the enemies will gut you in the blink of an eye. It seems like the game was built more to frustrate, rather than challenge. In the first two games, the monsters were indeed a pain-in-the-ass, but they had a strategy to them. It forced you to figure each enemy out, and the numerous deaths were justified in the end when you finally beat whatever boss or area you were in. Dark Souls II just seems to be some twisted sadists idea of “fun.” It’s not so much strategy now, rather blind fucking luck or overwhelming power. It just seems like it’s a sort of…”Hard Mode” nod to the last game. Same shit, just…with more bullshit…if that makes any sense.
If you’re a fan of the series and played the previous games, the first run-through of the game will seem quite easy, unless you play like me and go caster. New Game+, however, amps the difficulty up – not to mention items and covenants in the game will also increase the difficulty further.
Overall, it’s just a more annoying version of the same game, with an even more confusing story and pointless difficulty spikes. It’s like your friend dared you to shave your face with a rusty razor. You really need to shave your face, and that rusty razor your friend made you buy was sixty bucks. Rather than waste that sixty bucks, you take that rusty razor to your face like a champ, and when you’re done, you find yourself bleeding to death and void of any sort of sensation from the neck up. That would be Dark Souls II.
Not saying it’s a “BAD” game. It’s fun….but it’s clear not a lot of thought went into it. Just amping up the difficulty and adding a few new monsters is not going to make this outshine its predecessors.