Ever wanted to see the death of a channel? Well, you’re in luck. Earlier in the month we talked about some stuff that I disliked about Dark Souls 1, and among the ‘pussy bitch, kill yourself‘ comments there were actually some pretty positive ones. This was surprising, as I thought I was going to get lynched, but the feedback was actually pretty good, and it was greatly appreciated. So, how about we tug a little harder and see how far we can push people’s buttons.
Dark Souls 2 in my opinion is the weakest Souls game that FromSoftware have ever released, though that’s not to say it’s a bad game. It’s still stellar, but yes, it’s the weakest. This is due to a large portion of the game being scrapped late into the development cycle and the changing of a bunch of fundamental aspects of the game, then Tanimura taking over the reigns by himself. It’s a surprise the game is as good as it is honestly. But among the many flaws that are present in Dark Souls 2, it actually did a lot of things right that would later become common practice in later Souls games, and Bloodborne.
Now a lot of these things are little ‘ease of life’ changes to the mechanics and/or UI that I felt were beneficial to the game and had a positive impact on the franchise as a whole, so without further ado let’s talk about some stuff Dark Souls 2 actually did right.
A Soul vessel is an item in Dark Souls 2 you can use to reallocate your stats, this was the first for the Souls series and was a welcomed addition, find a cool looking weapon but it’s strength and you’re currently on a dex build? Well, first and foremost what are you doing, secondly you can rectify this hideous mistake easily by visiting the old wenches. This aspect doesn’t really need explaining as to why this addition is a good thing, but I’ll try anyway.
With the ability to change your stats you have multiple ways you can progress your character as you play through the game, whereas in Dark Souls 1, for example; let’s say you get half way through the game, find a weapon you really like the look off – well sorry, but you’re shit out of luck, you leveled the wrong stats. With the ability to change your stats whenever you’d like, the possibility for further character development coupled with that fact you have the entire game’s arsenal at your disposal gives the player freedom of choice. Sometimes, choice over how we develop our character is a good thing, even if Dark Souls is somewhat hardcore, but it’s never really been a hardcore RPG. But the biggest reason is this; players can be indecisive, easily influenced or can be just curious. Giving them the ability to reallocate stats and letting them use whatever they want let’s players craft the character they truly want rather than being accidentally shoehorned down a path that can only be fixed by over leveling your character or starting a new play-through.
In Dark Souls 2 they opted out of the vertical user interface from Dark Souls 1 and went for a grid based system. This made things easily accessible and more straightforward to navigate, and cleared up a lot of space allowing more items to be visible. I like to think of user interfaces, whether it be games or something else. I treat is as if it’s a online store – how easy is it for me to find what it is I’m looking for? With Dark Souls 2 the menu isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot easier than previous iterations. Also, I love the fact when do you enter the menu, it shifts to the left allowing you to see your character and having the ability to crush numerous souls.
The UI and UX took strides towards making the experience more friendly for the user. You don’t really notice it unless you actively think about it often, normally a person will be vocal about something if it’s bad or they’ve had an unpleasant experience, but when it’s a good experience 9 times out 10 it’ll fly under the radar because it didn’t really warrant a response, but, Dark Souls 2‘s change to the user interface continued on into Dark Souls 3 but unfortunately was absent in Bloodborne although when talking about that game with it’s small cast of weapons it kind of gets a free pass, but that’s for another time.
Along with what we talked about with the whole ‘respeccing’ thing, this goes onto what we’ll go over next: build diversity. Even the people who hate the game for god knows what reason normally agree that Dark Souls 2 offers the best in the realm of build diversity. What this means is the tools that we, the players, have at our disposal are vast and how we can use them follows suite. Not only that but only a few of the weapons or spells are, quote, unquote, bad, leaving an array of weapons and spells that the player can use and feel as though they have chosen the right equipment and don’t get the feeling as though they’re hindering themselves. Obviously, that’s not to say you can’t use bad weapons, but for the average player, most of them want to feel gradually more and more powerful the further you progress in the game.
This, along with elemental infusions being somewhat good, poison especially, it gives the player plenty of options. That is what’s key here, and where diversity comes into play; you have more options as you progress through the game and these are accessible because of the respec option. Not only that, but there is the ability to power stance weapons. Power stance is a system that’s unique to Dark Souls 2 where if you have 1.5x the stats required to wield the weapons, weapons as power stance is a duel wielding system you’ll enter this special pose where you’ll get given a unique moveset for the two weapons you’ve equipped.
This to me is one of the best additions Dark Souls 2 has implemented, again it’s giving the player options upon options, and this bleeds into the PvP scene, it’s pretty common to hear from again even those who don’t like the game that Dark Souls 2 had the best player versus player experience. A lot of that stems down into the fact that there’s a bunch of stuff to use. You could argue that a lot of people were using the meta but that goes for everyday. People who want to do good will always gravitate towards what’s best, when I stopped PvPing in the game, the mundane Santier’s Spear was the best. Speaking of mundane, I love that stat so much, because it’s the community that almost exploited it in a way. Basically, if I were to try and explain it, mundane is a type of infusion that scales off of your lowest stat, sounds a bit crap right? But what if all your stats are the same across the board then the infusion would scale off all of those stats because they’re all your lowest, that’s amazing! Again I’ll put emphasis on this as I feel this is the most important when it comes to build diversity that makes it stand out from the rest of the Souls games, options, I know I keep harking on about it but it really is key for Dark Souls 2. When you launch a new game, you have to think about where you want to take this character and you’re free to do whatever you want. This obviously is fairly common practice now with it being in Dark Souls 3 but this originated in Dark Souls 2. I do wish they kept the power stance system in Dark Souls 3 though, it really was a lot of fun.
I’ve always been very vocal about how covenants are very hit and miss, with most of them lacking any real depth. The thing I like about the covenants in Dark Souls 2 is not only are there PvE and PvP ones but most of the covenants have a special ring like some of the Dark Souls 1 covenants. But, they have a nice little impact that coincides with the covenant you choose. Running a faith build? Well, if you’re in the Heirs of the sun your miracle strength will be increased by 5% this gives the covenants a sense of identity and an actual reason to enter them.
The best thing about the covenants in Dark Souls 2 is the PvP, mainly the Blue Sentinels and the Brotherhood of Blood. Now, this is purely down to personal preference, obviously, because like I’ve said before I thoroughly enjoyed PvP in Dark Souls 2 and I focused a majority of my time leveling up the PvP covenants. The key difference here when compared to the other covenants is how long it actually takes to progress. These take a considerable amount of time, 500 victories to be exact, to reach rank 3. We’ve talked about this in the past on my channel and I’ve expressed how much I like this. The biggest thing for me is the aesthetic aura obtained by reaching 150 victories, you glow your respective covenant colour, and honestly I’m not really sure why I like this so much, it doesn’t affect anything, just gives you something cool.
If I’m honest, it could be the fact I’m quite an envious persont:
If I see someone who has this aura I immediately think ‘wow, that’s badass, I want it,‘ but it stems deeper than that. Not only is this purely cosmetic and affects nothing gameplay wise. I mean, Jesus, nowadays something as simple as a cosmetic item, you’d be looking at forking over some cash for. But no, here… you earn it. When you see it or have it you know that there has been a lot of time invested into achieving it, which again takes time. It gave that audience, the dedicated PvPers, something else to strive for, something else to do. That’s what covenants should be in Dark Souls. No, it shouldn’t be something you’re forced to do – but the aspect as to be there in order to entice players to pick covenants, and they need rewards that are good enough that keep the player engaged in whatever activity that the chosen covenant requires – whether that be PvP or PvE.
The Dark Souls 2 covenants, mainly referring to the PvP and the Company of Champions are some of the best covenant experiences you can get in the Souls games, but it’s not really hard to be better than complete shit, is it Dark Souls 3?
In the vanilla version of Dark Souls 2 – not the Scholar of the First sin edition but, you know, the other one. In the weeks before the release of the DLCs the chest in Majula had a special item in that changed each week, these ranged from a couple of consumable items to upgrade materials then the week before the DLC actually dropped a super special item was in the chest – a reskinned weapon. Now although a reskinned weapon might not sounds too impressive, it actually looked rather cool, but that’s not really the point. The point of this little event they ran was mainly focused on community hype. I was thoroughly hyped during this event.
This is mainly down to nostalgia I suppose, but I remember the weeks leading up to the DLCs – reading on forums, watching streams with people speculating what could be in the treasure chest. It was just a very fun time to be apart of the Dark Souls community for me, and I didn’t really realize this until Dark Souls 3‘s DLC release, where they didn’t really do anything.
But with Dark Souls 2 not only was the DLC decent, but we had 3 of them which brought the amount of time it takes to do a full run of Dark Souls 2 up substantially, maybe too much for some but I quite enjoy the fact Dark Souls 2 is a huge game. The reason the DLC releases are here is purely down to the community from around that time, the experience I had and the fact that althought reskinned weapons might not sound amazing, it was cool having something some others perhaps might not have, maybe that’s the envious personality trait showing it’s colours again.
Whatever your opinion is on Dark Souls 2, whether you hate it or love it, you can’t deny that Dark Souls 2 made some changes that had a positive influence on the series as a whole. Whether that be the introduction of omnidirectional rolling, UI changes, or interesting gameplay mechanics such as Power Stancing, it’s just a shame these little additions got overshadowed by a lack luster PvE experience, which is usually the main draw to these games. Regardless, Dark Souls 2 is pretty okay in my books.
I’ve been Paragon, take care everyone.