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Dark Souls II
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xtal
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April 15, 2014 - 12:27 pm
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Patch 1.03 has fixed some problems. Namely the start menu lag is gone; I've tested this thoroughly, no more possible random 5 second delay. Very nice.

Also you will have your humanity restored after lending yourself for 1 summon that ends in success; large and small soapstones both work. Previously it seemed to happen at random.

Other changes seem to be balance related.

 

I am enjoying my sorcerer/hexer character. Hexes are incredibly powerful as I gain levels. I have a spell that, at full power, does 800 damage to things. Even made short work of the Smelter Demon, one of the harder bosses.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Helmut
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April 16, 2014 - 11:12 am
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Where's the chatter? Are you people all done, bored, stuck... ? 

My Dark Souls single player sensibilities are protected by a +10 GfWL Firewall of Ineptitude

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Pokey
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April 16, 2014 - 4:52 pm
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I'm still playing and certainly not bored. Very glad to be out of the Gutter with all its confusing platforms. The boss was kind of funny and scary at the same time, but he wasn't very hard with help. I'm just starting Doors of Pharros and finishing up the Shaded Ruins after killing the scorpion lady. Those guys in the Shaded Ruinss hit a ton. I've been killed so many times when they gang up on me. Now I'm just running around avoiding them while I pick up missed items. I'm at level 90 using a lightning Claymore, +7, I believe.

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Steerpike
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April 17, 2014 - 9:30 am
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I've fallen way behind due to falling way behind. And traveling. But I'm back now! I'm up at the top of the Earthen Peak mill, having just set it on fire. Fighting the scantily clad mirror-carrying fireball ladies. I also found a sweet pike I'd love to upgrade, but of course that'd require Titanite that's no longer available anywhere in the game, so I'm still using the Broadsword I started out with, pumped to +10.

What's the story with the Undead Purgatory? I helped a few players get there as a phantom and had missed it entirely during my visit to the Huntsman's Copse. It looks scary. When should I go there?

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Steerpike
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April 20, 2014 - 12:19 pm
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ALL RIGHT THEN.

I like the Iron Keep. Normally I don't enjoy places that seem like they'd be warm, because I hate being hot, but for some reason I do like the Iron Keep. Found me a Dull Ember and gave it (reluctantly) to Steady Hand MacDuff - I say reluctantly because it wouldn't have killed him to say may I please have that ember, instead of give it here you imbecile - but in the long run it was worth it. Invested heavily in a fancy new Winged Spear +8 with Lightning, and upgraded my Bellkeeper Bow to +8 as well, bought about a trillion Iron Arrows, then went and stabbed one of those mummy men in the Lost Bastille out of sheer spite.

Back in the Iron Keep, waving my spear around and bellowing.

They need to add a new phrase to the message system for Dark Souls III: this door, though unassuming, leads to a room that contains a Smelter Demon. Even if there is no Smelter Demon in Dark Souls III, it'd be nice to have the option. Little side fog doors usually lead to bonfires, not Smelter Demons.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Pokey
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April 20, 2014 - 4:08 pm
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I liked the Iron Keep. Somewhat pleasant environment compared to places I went later. I finally defeated Freja after many tries. So many of the players I summoned weren't a lot of help. I finally summoned the NPC at the boss door and he lasted the fight. I just entered Drangleic Castle and am doing a few summons to get an idea of the layout. Level 100 now.

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xtal
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April 22, 2014 - 2:21 pm
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Nice job, Pokey. The castle is a rather terrifying place.

Steerpike, was that Bellkeeper Bow you got a covenant reward? I don't recall possessing one. On my hexer I've done a fair bit of bell tower invading (it's a lot more fun in Belfry Sol than Belfry Luna) but am still rank 1. I've left the Bell Keepers to join the Pilgrims of Dark. Did the first dungeon that Grandahl opens up and I think I have two left. Hoping there will be some Dark-related rewards.

Somewhat predictably, I have indeed been drawn toward the Dark. Its warm embrace is warm. And embrace-y.

I quite like hexes. They require an equally high investment of intelligence and faith but it's worked out to make me a formidable caster with high versatility. I have Dark everything, seemingly: Dark Rapier+10 (a beast), Dark Archdrake Chime+10, it's all quite wonderful. Though the sorcerers back home would probably see me as somewhat of a heathen these days.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Steerpike
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April 23, 2014 - 9:55 am
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It must have been a Covenant reward, Xtal, because I have no memory of picking it up. I was in the Bellkeeper Covenant for some time - I only just quit and became a Blue Sentinel, though it doesn't seem to work - because I wanted Titanite Chunks.

A pretty good bow all told. Requires 20-ish Dex but does reasonable damage, though I've got my eye on the Dragonrider Bow now that I have access to a new Fragrant Branch of Yore and can thus unpetrify Straid of Olaphis.

I still haven't defeated the Belfry Gargoyles (BTW, has anyone been to Belfry Sol? Or have any idea how to make it happen?)

Did get past Smelter Demon, however. I scouted him a few times as a summon and was able to beat him on the first try with help, but got bogged down last night in Iron Keep being summoned to help others. I kept dying one micron before Smelter went down. This, coupled with about a dozen humiliatingly bad performances against the Pursuer in Smelter's old room, means I'm Hollow and at less than half my health. I hate wasting Human Effigies, but it has to happen.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Pokey
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April 23, 2014 - 4:04 pm
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It is very difficult to find a summon sign at the castle entrance. I finally got one and he tried to melee the elephant guards and died in five seconds. I killed one of the guards and the second went back up the stairs and trounced around up there till he fell off the edge. I checked the door and it was open! I didn't have to fight all those Royal Swordsmen. The first boss is dead and I am exploring to find  where to go next. There is one door still closed in the big room next to the first bonfire. A few enemies keep reappearing, so I guess it can be opened. Still don't know what is going on in the throne room.

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xtal
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April 24, 2014 - 2:07 pm
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Pokey, apparently the throne room hosts a battle only when you're in NG+.

Steerpike, from the post-Smelter Demon bonfire do the following: head out the door, take a right and dust off those two turtle guys, then head left through the door on the ground floor there and use the Pharros contraption. It will open an illusory wall which takes you up a ladder, which takes you to the Belfry Sol bonfire. Beware, when you drop into the bonfire cubby you cannot walk back out, so you either have to head through the Belfry Sol (it's worth it) or warp elsewhere. It would have been devious if they cut off that bonfire from others, a la Painted World.

Also, I've been meaning to post this information in here after I discovered it because it concerns what was for me a very confusing subject. Covenant summons! So as you know many of the covenants have to do with summons. A few are special though. The Bell Keepers, the Rat King and the Blue Sentinals are the three covenants which require you to wear their respective covenant rings to engage in summons. I've seen so many Gamefaqs and Reddit threads of confused people, rightly so. They still failed to make it clear how the covenants work in some cases. I'm here to clarify this. Let me detail the specifics, insofar as I know.

Way of Blue

You do not need to wear the Blue Seal [insert Arrested Development joke!] to have a Blue Sentinal summoned to your defense. You do not need to be fully human either. If you can be invaded you can be defended.

Blue Sentinals

You must be wearing the Guardian's Seal. You must be fully human. You must be in an online play area. This is one thing that I think still confuses a lot of people so let me clarify further. Something I do all the time is leave one of my white soapstones in an equip slot. This is a very handy way to check if you are in a safe zone or not because if you are then the soapstone will be grayed out. Typically the following is true: if your white sign soapstone is grayed out (i.e. cannot be used) then it means that you are in an area of the game where online interactions cannot take place. For example, boss rooms. Or Majula. Or certain bonfires (Harval's Resting Place). The only exception to this rule, as long as you are in your own world of course, is that you are already invaded or are being invaded. If your white sign soapstone ever disappears and you receive a message saying as much there is a quick way to confirm you're being invaded: go to the menu, the very right tab and the Quit Game option will be grayed out.

So again, there are very specific rules to be summoned as a Blue Sentinal, and I think this is why a lot of people are saying the covenant is broken, which it isn't. You must be human. You must wear the Guardian's Seal. You must be in an online traffic area, i.e. you cannot be summoned if you are not at risk of being invaded yourself. This is similar to how the red sign soapstone works: you must be human and in an online play area so you can't sit there without risk. The rule of thumb to go by, I find, is that if you want to engage in any type of multiplayer you will have to be in a situation where you are at risk of being invaded also. Fair and smart, in my opinion.

Rat King

You must be wearing the Crest of the Rat. You must be located in the specific boundaries of either the Grave of Saints or Doors of Pharros. You do not have to be human.

Bell Keeper

You must be wearing the Bell Keeper's Seal. You must be located in an online play area. You do not have to be human. I don't know what the rules are for which Belfry you get summoned to. Whenever I wear the ring in the Iron Keep I get summoned to Belfry Sol. When I've worn it somewhere closer to Belfry Luna I get summoned there. It may be as simple as that, or maybe not. As far as I know you do not need to be in Iron Keep, Belfry Sol, the Lost Bastille or Belfry Luna to be summoned as a defender of the Bells. I think you simply need to be in an online play area.

 

tl;dr:

Is it still unclear? Mercifully there is a subtle in game mechanic to let you know for certain that you're currently meeting the requirements. See your nice little covenant icon beside your health/stamina bars? If your covenant ring is currently in the process of matchmaking then you will see your covenant logo subtly flashing a dull gold hue. This is the simplest way to tell if you're eligible for summons.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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xtal
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April 24, 2014 - 2:13 pm
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Oh, Steerpike, one thing I forgot to mention: if you defeat the Gargoyles before fighting the Lost Sinner it makes the latter fight much easier. Remember how it's very difficult to lock onto the Lost Sinner? When you defeat the Gargoyles you can access an area to get the Bastille Key (beware of dog ambush...fucking dogs) which unlocks those doors to the sides of the Sinner's arena. Inside those you can light giant sconces that illuminate the boss room and let you lock onto the Lost Sinner.

Incredibly useful information to know before fighting her, don't you think?

But you know for next time! wink

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Pokey
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April 24, 2014 - 2:27 pm
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Thanks for the tip on the throne room, xtal. I just finished off the Looking Glass Knight with the help of the npc. Before that, I was invaded twice in a  few minutes. The first was at the top of the elevator. I got him but he had a lot of defense and my best soul arrow barely touched him. Then later in the bonfire room, I was invaded again. Thought I would try the talisman to hide from him. I became a box, which was dumb since there aren't boxes in the bonfire rooms. I should have gone into the empty boss room, where I wouldn't be so evident. He was fooled for a while but I had to fight him. He was more my speed and I won the battle. Level 102.

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Steerpike
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April 24, 2014 - 9:26 pm
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All that's good to know, thanks xtal. I'm not human as often as I could be, so that would explain why Blue Sentinel summons don't seem to be happening. Honestly, though I love the idea, I question its practicality. They've improved the online system a lot, but still, the amount of time likely to pass between a player getting invaded and a Blue Sentinel arriving to help... you'd be looking at 1-2 minutes minumum, I'd think. I rarely last that long when I get invaded. But I do like the "help is on the way!" concept.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Pokey
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April 24, 2014 - 9:38 pm
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I want some silver talismans. I've found the guy that sells them but he wants me to join the Brotherhood of Blood first. Would that be a big mistake? I wouldn't mind a few invasions, but I want to remain a Sunbro. Can I join and then revoke my membership right away?

.....I did join, got my silver talismans and then visited the cat to revoke my membership. Will get back in the Sunbros soon. Running around in the water and dodging magic castings in the Shrine of Amana. I believe I missed a bonfire....and then I stepped in deep water and died.

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Pokey
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April 27, 2014 - 3:42 pm
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Finished the Shrine of Amana. I recommend using a torch there, especially in the later part in the water. It is hard to see the bottom unless you move very slowly and I died several times falling into deep water. The Undead Crypt has some tough parts that probably need the help of a summon. The last area I did was The Throne of Want, behind the door that requires the Kings Ring.

xtal, I never experienced the showing of all the bonfires, including  ones I missed.

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xtal
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April 29, 2014 - 3:50 pm
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That's strange, Pokey. Are you sure you can't see undiscovered bonfire locations yet? Look carefully, they appear almost the same colour as the empty boxes do but you'll see fuzzed out images and can scroll over them (they produce a "???" where the bonfire name would normally be). This is supposed to "unlock" once you reach Drangleic Castle.

I went through Shrine of Amana on my second character a few days ago and it was immensely disappointing. They nerfed the hell out of the enemies in that area. I don't think I died once. Compared to my first character where I died more than anywhere else in the game, but it wasn't frustrating at all, just a good bit of work to reach the boss. Honestly though, the bonfires are pretty generous ... maybe what I miss most about Demon's and to a lesser extent Dark 1: fewer starting spots. Many Demon's levels had incredibly rewarding shortcuts, and the world design of Dark 1 was so tight that fewer bonfires was appropriate. But Dark Souls 2 is all about the sprawl. If Lordran was a clenched fist of interwoven areas Drangleic is an open palm, digits extended far apart. Pathways and ends. More bonfires required. I still would like to have seen fewer to increase the challenge.

Steerpike, about Blue summons, I've heard that concern often that summons don't reach the world of the invaded quick enough. Haven't experienced it myself, but I could make one comparison: when being summoned for the Looking Glass Knight, every time I've tried it your phantom loads into the game, you can hear the audio and the sounds of what is likely other players killing you, but the loading screen is still up. It basically ruins that multiplayer aspect of the fight. This may not be a problem with faster load times in the PC version, but to offset that I'm sure it will be full of hackers like Dark Souls was, and render PC Online terrible again.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Pokey
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April 29, 2014 - 7:13 pm
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xtal, I didn't see any bonfire sites other than the ones I visited. I checked a while ago, after I left Drangleic Castle, and the one I missed there, the bonfire you fall through the floor to reach, was not visible. I have since reached it when I found out that you can't get through that door if you used co-op. It is now showing. I checked out all the bonfires and they are only ones I visited. Was it the last update that nerfed the Shrine?. I went through there earlier.

I am at the Dragon Aerie now. It is great looking with all the dragons and the wind blowing strongly. I was greeted at the first bonfire with an invasion. I wish I had a corrosive urn handy. I will be ready next time.

Edit...I figured out what happened. I didn't talk to the Queen.

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Steerpike
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April 30, 2014 - 7:34 pm
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I made the mistake of starting a character on the PC version, so I'm going to try and juggle them even though I never want to go to Harvest Valley again. With two plates to spin plus a few evenings of other commitments, I'm now officially a sluggard. I'm still in the Iron Keep.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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May 1, 2014 - 2:43 pm
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I'm watching some Let's Plays that began at launch and still have not completed the game. I'm beginning to think it's too long. Is that even possible? At times it doesn't seem bigger than Dark Souls but other times it does.

Rant incoming:

I'm always an outlier / dissenting opinion / less is more person but I think if there is another Souls game (probably - Dark Souls 3) they should make a smaller world, much less sprawl, take your pick whether that more resembles DkS1 or Demon's ... and call me crazy, but I think they should just completely change the formula. That's how Dark 1 stayed fresh is it not? Heavily changed up the formula of Demon's while retaining its core excellence (the combat).

I think Dark Souls 2 drags too much. I think Dark 1 dragged too much as well. I don't think The Quest For 4 Things is the best approach. Demon's Souls never dragged in my opinion. You could jump around to a degree so in that regard it finds common ground with Dark 2 but there is little sprawl. It is all hard fought progress, but clear progress. I think From has proved they can create an interesting world shrouded in mystery with rich lore.

I think they should pull a 180 and make a game that is completely clear. Reinsert the clarity that Demon's Souls and to a lesser extent Dark 1 had, polish that, and make a Video Game, not a "Souls Game". It could have the widest appeal yet and provide the most challenge. I don't want to ramble for eons so the core thought is this: lose all the stuff tucked away in crevices that people can miss. Get rid of grinding for drops, get rid of the "you won't get X item until X part of game" factor; that means no corpses scattered around the world holding important items. Have a hub area with a small number of vendors. Give the vendors every item in the game you will ever need. Yeah, I said that. Have some be locked, and give them special descriptions that say "this becomes available after doing X task." Go back to the idea of arch stones, or paths, but again make them very clear. Design the hub and paths leading out of it crystal clear. Basically: hang a sign over every path. "This path goes here, it leads to the lair of X, there will be X along the way, aspiring mages should go here first, etc." for example.

No relying on random drops, no mystery as to whether or not you've missed items, spells, etc. Have it all be clearly available in a hub area. You just need to go out and get souls to buy stuff. Too easy? Okay, there are certain bosses or special enemies or whatever and you need to obtain their souls and with those you can, for example, unlock Tier 1 of purchasable items from so and so. And on like that. A clear, straightforward game with the core excellence this series is known for.

Am I crazy? This thought came to me when I was thinking what DkS2 DLC should be, if there is any at all.

 

Aside: FromSoftware, by the way, were just bought by some company, whose name escapes me, who are the publishers of Lollipop Chainsaw and some other games, but they don't have a lot of industry experience ... I wonder what will happen to Dark Souls. Bandai owns the property I think ... but what publisher that owns a developer lets that developer produce content for another publisher? In other words, is this the end of From's involvement in the Souls series? Will we see a new developer? I think that's inevitable, likely failure be damned.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Pokey
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I visited the Ancient Dragon today. Not an easy guy to reach. After fighting my way to the top of the castle, through tough knights and quick tough golden enemies, I had just one smaller enemy in my way when I got invaded, died and had to start over again. The next time I just ran past nearly all of them and reached my goal. I have an item and need to think about what to do with it. I remember some places that might be what I'm looking for. Seems like I'm on the homestretch.

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