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Dark Souls II
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Pokey
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May 6, 2014 - 12:08 am
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The Giant Lord was very tough and took many tries, mostly by myself since Benhart of Jugo didn't seem that effective and I was worried about running out of effigies. Got close, but either Benhart died or the boss directed all the action at me. On our final try with Benhart, he did good and we both survived. I was impressed with the design of the battle. Lots going on and fun to figure out the best approach.

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Pokey
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May 7, 2014 - 1:30 am
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And done. The game seemed a bit long but I liked the memories at the end. I have a few places I want to visit. I didn't do Belfry Luna or Sol. After the credits, I returned to the first bonfire at Castle Drangleic and I was quickly invaded. I ran over to the storage room with all the boxes and became a box myself. I had a good laugh watching the invader run back and forth looking for me until finally he was vanquished. Must have killed himself in frustration. Good times.

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xtal
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May 9, 2014 - 12:25 pm
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Pokey, one thing to know: if you want to go back to the Undead Crypt to fight Vendrick it would behoove you to have the maximum amount of Giant Souls in your inventory (5). This makes the fight possible; apparently without them it's not feasible. I could only obtain 4 of the 5 giant souls because the Ancient Dragon takes more patience to defeat than I'm willing to give. After killing Vendrick you have to go to some random door in the Shrine of Amana that unlocks after he's dead. His soul is in there. It's quite bizarre.

As cool as the Ancient Dragon is, it shouldn't be a fight. I can imagine a lot of stupid people approaching and just shooting him with arrows to the point where he becomes hostile and is now converted to a boss fight. You'd have to defeat him (which is insanely hard) to acquire the Ashen Mist Heart which is required to finish the game. I can see that breaking the game for a lot of people. Bad design choice.

Oh, and congrats on finishing! How was Nashandra for you? Melee I found the fight almost impossible. Picking her off with lightning spears and anything else ranged, however, was laughably easy. Not the best battle; I liked her curses but they could have made a better challenge out of it (and a way for it to be fair to melee dependent characters).

My favourite bosses:

1. Darklurker, 2. Scorpionness Najka, 3. Duke's Dear Freja, 4. Smelter Demon, 5. Velstadt

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

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Pokey
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May 9, 2014 - 12:56 pm
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That Ancient Dragon fight bothered me too. When I first saw him, it was as a summon and so everyone was trying to  kill him. I tried a few times that way, but no one was victorious. Later I realized that you didn't need to fight him, so I fought my way up alone. I feared if I took summons, they would attack him. So much better to just talk to the old guy. It was a bad design choice. I will be leaving Vendrick alone.

I had Benhart's help with Nashandra and he made it much easier since he occupied her attention while I spammed lightning bolts. Due to the curses, I had to claim the throne as an undead, but that was fine.

I did Belfry Sol and there were numerous invasions. I did throw down a seed and got a message that they were defeated, though I didn't see it. Pulled the lever, went up the ladder and got  invaded again, Didn't bother going back. I decided to do Belfry Luna offline, which was much easier. Haven't defeated the Gargoyles. Tried by myself and that didn't go well. If I can find some summon signs, I'll try the mad dash to the fog door.

I didn't like the Smelter Demon. Seemed like he singled me out and he was fast and hard to avoid. I liked Duke's Dear Freja, Giant Lord and the Chariot fight.

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Steerpike
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May 9, 2014 - 5:10 pm
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I'm at Belfry Sol in my PS3 run, but something's wrong with my build over there. My knight and longsword +10 aren't doing the kind of damage I expect - less, all told, than my purple-haired anime cleric with a mace on PC. So I think I'm going to stick with her even though it means retracing a fair amount of progress.

Obviously I'm far behind here. Another project has had my attention. You'd all forgive me if you knew what it was but I can't say until I look at the NDA again and find out if it's allowed. This weekend will be Dark Souls 2 weekend!

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Pokey
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May 9, 2014 - 5:21 pm
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Steerpike, those little guys are a lot tougher than they look and they hit hard. Have you compared your characters in some other area? Have you infused the longsword?

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Steerpike
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May 9, 2014 - 11:19 pm
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You ain't kidding about them hitting hard. Little murderous oil-slick midgets in hard hats.

It's a regular +10 longbroadsword, not infused. I have a lightning spear for elemental work and since I still have no reliable access to small shards I'm minimizing unnecessary upgrades. As far as I can tell I haven't done anything odd with the character, but it seems like my level 60-odd cleric does as much or more damage with a mace than my level 89 knight with a broadsword. It's not exactly a 1:1 comparison though. I should probably do some experimenting before I say for sure.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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May 11, 2014 - 11:10 pm
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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...

That certainly is a different direction, and probably would be popular.  Doesn't sound like any game I'd ever want to play though.  Just let the DkSII director do that one and let Miyazaki go back to what he does best.

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Steerpike
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May 12, 2014 - 12:25 pm
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From now has three distinct properties to experiment with in this area: Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, and King's Field. It seems like some of xtal's suggestions could be funneled into one or another.

Most of the DkS2 reviews are saying that the ability to warp to and from any bonfire is troublesome, and I agree completely. There's less cohesion to the world (this is why Morrowind's fast travel options were preferable to all other Elder Scrolls/Fallout FT), less sense of place, and far less architectural brilliance, because there's no need for stuff to loop around like it did in DkS1. It also creates a setup where more appears optional, including chunks of otherwise necessary levels. Aside from Dragonrider (and therefore access to the lady who sells miracles and opens the Huntsman's Copse path), wouldn't all of Heide's Tower and No-Man's Wharf be entirely optional? Quite a structural difference between that and Belfry Luna or the Painted World.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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May 12, 2014 - 2:58 pm
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I made the suggestions I did because I think the series should always be changing (if it is in fact to continue as a series). I personally don't want another Dark Souls because I already have it. It's called Dark Souls.

Dark Souls II seems to be a move in a good direction in many ways, but it fails in a lot too. Surprising ways considering what we'd heard about some things being simplified. I just don't see the point in trying to identically replicate the Dark Souls 1 experience. What's the point? If you want that experience go play Dark Souls 1, it's a pretty spectacular thing! Covenants are still highly awkward (and in most cases a means to an end, not an experience enhancer); summoning mechanics can still be improved; I think they could also take a step back and tone down the lore from all angles. It was perfect in Dark Souls (and reached tantalizing levels of intrigue with the DLC) and suitably vague in Demon's. I'd like them to rein in the crazy item descriptions which, in some cases in Dark Souls II, reach uncomfortable levels of self-reference and wank, bordering on cute.

Then there are the sad design flaws. The "overworld" (let's just call it that) of Dark II is the most disappointing aspect for a lot of people. I don't have a problem with many of the individual areas themselves but the world is definitely disappointing, there's no other way to slice it. The worst example (that I didn't even connect the dots on until reading it in a Gamefaqs thread) is Earthen Peak to Iron Keep. Earthen Peak is an old, charred tower with an elevator that you ... ride into, seemingly, the sky and reach Iron Keep, a castle that has sunk into lava. Sadly, Dark Souls II, for this alone, has unanimously and almost by default won the 2014 award for the worst creative decision in world design. Sorry if any of you hadn't connected those dots either and are now very sad. I don't really care, because it doesn't affect how the game plays one bit, but at the end of the day I don't think there is anything in Dark 1 that you can point to like that. Maybe the Tomb of the Giants view where you can supposedly see the Demon Ruins ('cause that's fake, it's just distant background art), but nothing remotely glaring like the Earthen Peak thing. Fun level on the whole, but hands down the most disappointing geographical place in all the Souls games. You can't see where you came from (Huntsman's Copse, Majula) and you can't see where you proceed to (Iron Keep).

Still, I make no denial about loving the game. It's still better than almost anything else out there and it did manage to improve on several things from Dark Souls.

 

I just think a tight, straightforward Souls game with the core experience intact (and enhanced) could be a beautiful thing. It's never going to get better than the near-perfection it already has been, so it might as well be different. If it remains a niche it won't be a series for long.

Who knows, Botch, maybe Miyazaki is secretly working on Demon's Souls 2 as a Sony exclusive, since they do own that property and it would seem strange not to capitalize on that. An exclusive Souls game would move PS4s and have another chance to bring in new players alike.

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

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Synonamess Botch
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May 12, 2014 - 8:22 pm
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My point was that I don't play Souls games for the challenge, not alone anyway.  I love them for the atmosphere, the mystery, and sense of place.  A pure challenge run wouldn't feel like a souls game to me.  Miyazaki himself said that the difficultly was merely a means to draw you into the world.  It was never an end in itself.

That said, I wasn't looking for just another Dark Souls game in Dark Souls 2.  I would have been fine with going in a different direction.  They didn't do that.  Or rather, they couldn't choose between going in a different direction and doing the same thing.  And what we got was a jumbled mess of fan service and haphazard design.  They did the worst thing they could do: they played it safe.

If I had to choose between Souls for the masses or no Souls at all, I choose the latter.  Because I'll always have Dark Souls.

Speaking of Miyazaki, check out the rumors of Project Beast.  It could very well be Miyazaki returning to Demons' Souls.  With shotguns.

Rule #2: Double-tap

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xtal
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May 14, 2014 - 1:45 pm
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I heard about it. Sounds bizarre, unsurprisingly.

I'm still waiting to hear how this buyout is going to affect From, too. I think it's possible that Dark Souls keeps going on but without From at the helm. Which would probably be bad. Whatever comes next I'm sure it will be divisive.

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

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Synonamess Botch
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July 27, 2014 - 11:53 am
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So has From been patching at all?  I doubt I'll ever come back to the game, but I'm mildly curious if they've changed anything.

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Steerpike
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July 27, 2014 - 1:45 pm
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Pretty regularly, yeah. It's had maybe three or four patches in the past two months, though what they do is anybody's guess.

They didn't remove Black Gulch or anything. I know because I was just there. My PS3 game is well ahead of my PC game, yet for some reason I bought the DLC on Steam.

All in all I don't share your disappointment with it, though it hasn't had me enraptured like the first Dark Souls did. I like the tone and feel they gave the world, which seems like a reasonable follow-on to Lordran. Some reviews complain that the world was ending in DkS and now here it is, clearly still ending in DkS2 even though it seems many thousands of years have passed, but to me it feels like the world explains itself on that front. I'm looking forward to the story beginning to come together, because I'm curious if the emotional vibe I've gotten turns out to be accurate.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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July 29, 2014 - 2:12 pm
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As Steerpike said there have been a few patches, the latest being for the first DLC. It was done in the same way AotA was: content patched into everyone's game, purchasing DLC gives you the item to access it. As far as gameplay adjustments I'm not sure what's changed in the last month. The most disappointing change I witnessed was the huge nerf to all the enemies in the Shrine of Amana. It was a really good challenge before, I believe, the second patch. After that it seemed like marching through the place was a formality. I don't know what's been re-balanced recently. I don't know where you ended up, Botch, but some of the end areas really are worth going back for. I also don't share your level of disappointment, but I think I understand it. 

I've played a few hours of the DLC and so far am liking it. Not far enough to see much enemy variety, have seen maybe 5 new ones and they're enjoyable to fight but generally seem to have very bad pathfinding AI. I've tricked a few into walking off cliffs; by this point though that's almost standard for the series. There's one really great new enemy though that looks like...not a phantom in your world, but how you see other people around a bonfire. They make for a good battle.

The level design of this first new area is interesting. It's on par with the better Dks2 areas with multiple paths. Steerpike, much to your delight the DLC is accessed via Black Gulch! As in: at the very back, behind that blob boss. I appreciate the idea behind the Gutter, of having that hole just sitting in Majula; it's very much like New Londo or the Catacombs, but I do wish there was something at the end of it that wasn't Black Gulch. It was interesting once but it's the worst place to revisit. Those fucking statues. No wonder Lucatiel lost her marbles.

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

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Steerpike
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July 29, 2014 - 3:36 pm
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No wonder Lucatiel lost her marbles.

Spoilers! JEEZ

 

Actually I was meaning to post and ask about her. I haven't seen Lucatiel since the Heide Passage bonfire and was beginning to worry. Long absences usually mean lost marbles and, still haunted by Solaire of Astora's fate, I was hoping to avoid the same this time around. Oh well.

Overall my take on Dark Souls 2 is that it's a solid sequel with goods and bads; I'm not over the moon but neither do I have many tangible complaints. One I do have is that I haven't felt the same way about any of the people I've met so far, except maybe Lucatiel who I did like. There's certainly nobody on the level of Pyromancer Laurentius or Seigmeyer of Catarina here. 

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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July 29, 2014 - 5:36 pm
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I never got past the Iron Keep.  And never explored beyond that area you open after un-petrifying that one lady - the one who asks you for clothes.

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Steerpike
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August 1, 2014 - 11:51 am
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I gave Durante a month or so to cook it, but last night I finally grabbed his new GeDoSaTo tool and gave it a test run. This is the successor to DSFix, basically, only it works with many more games and focuses on adaptive downsampling so you can run your games at like 32352526x23623462 and then GeDoSaTo downsamples to a resolution your monitor is capable of, essentially faking the benefits of insanely high resolutions through the power of arithmetick and science.

Once you figure out how GeDoSaTo works, it's remarkably powerful and will be great for bringing old games back to life. The downsampling, though, at least on my aging rig, still needs a lot of optimization. DkS2 plummeted to 7 frames per second as soon as told it to downsample 3840x2160 to 1920x1080. I also couldn't see much difference. The other tools, however, work great for DkS2 - lovely blooms and halos for light, depth of field, new AA, and SSAO that doesn't give your GPU a heart attack. The GeDoSaTo tool has a basic UI and then you edit text files (it even has a handy built in editor) to make specific adjustments, much like DSFix. You can even create game-specific .inis. That's not all - for those with a little patience, GeDoSaTo allows you to program your own shaders and trick (basically) any game into using them. This would open up all kinds of styling options (film grained black and white Dark Souls 2?) that'd be fun. 

Hit up Durante's blog, http://blog.metaclassofnil.com/ for info.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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September 9, 2014 - 12:25 pm
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It's weird, Steerpike; Lucatiel appears those two times early (No-man's wharf; Lost Bastille), and then does not appear until much later in the game three more times. Black Gulch being the second of three (most commonly, I assume).

I finished the first DLC (Sunken King) and have moved a bit into the second (Old Iron King). The Sunken King content was easily on par with the best DKS2 content, it arguably is the best since the Shrine of Amana is far too easy post-nerf. Two very good boss fights and one mediocre. There is one which comes close to rivaling Kalameet. There was not a single NPC though. It's as if they've conceded that the characters of DKS2 were not as interesting and maybe have just stopped trying altogether? That's a bit disappointing, though I wasn't expecting anything on the excellent level of Elizabeth/Ciaran/Gough/Chester, so I didn't really set myself up for much disappointment.

Content wise though it was very good. For any of you who finished the Black Gulch boss and can easily access that area again I recommend giving the Sunken King DLC a shot. Very good level design, reminiscent of Dark Souls, and good challenge. My only complaint (which goes for most of the game) is that there are too many bonfires. It takes away the satisfaction of opening up one more shortcut.

The second DLC hasn't started off as strongly but to be fair I'm not far at all.

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

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Steerpike
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September 9, 2014 - 5:49 pm
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Hmmm. I missed her in Black Gulch on PS3. On PC I'm at Baneful Queen Mytha's door waiting for a summon sign to appear. I'll visit the Gutter after I clear out Iron Keep.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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