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Dark Souls II - "Network Test Ver."
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xtal
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October 27, 2013 - 2:32 am
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I'll post as much as I can hold in my brain once the network test wraps up.

It's now 02:31 ET and nobody is in yet. Apparently Namco has tweeted that it's about an hour behind. Now starting at 03:00 ET and supposedly going to run until 06:30 ... I'm on my second pot of coffee.

I am torn over what class to play.

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

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Pokey
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October 27, 2013 - 2:54 am
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I keep getting the same message that I don't have the latest version. frown

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xtal
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October 27, 2013 - 3:42 am
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Still nobody from North America in, Pokey.

Some Japanese and EU players are apparently in. North America servers having problems, still not letting people in.

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

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xtal
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October 27, 2013 - 4:06 am
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From Namco Bandai's twitter:

"Attention Dark Souls II Testers! It seems that North and South American players will not be able to log into the servers for this test."

"We thoroughly apologize for all of the confusion and issues. We will be rescheduling the Network Test for another date."

 

 

4am ... 7 cups of coffee ... all systems failing   cry

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Synonamess Botch
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October 27, 2013 - 4:51 am
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I fell asleep.  Then found NB's lovely twitter message after I woke up and couldn't get in.  Just as well then...

 

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Pokey
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October 27, 2013 - 3:16 pm
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Looks like the rescheduled test will be on Nov 10 at about the same time. Hope it goes better than this one.

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Pokey
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October 29, 2013 - 8:47 pm
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If you intend to try the next network test, be sure you download the 1.02 update. I guess this is the one we should have had before the last test.

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xtal
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November 1, 2013 - 10:12 am
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I've seen the new time confirmed, you're right, Pokey: Nov 10, 02:00 - 05:00 ET. That's again a Saturday night/Sunday AM. I guess the reasoning being FromSoftware will have a lot of staff working at that time. Hope it works this time ... my body will fail entirely if it's awake until 5 in the morning twice in three weeks without Souls happiness in return!

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Pokey
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November 9, 2013 - 8:19 pm
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I just realized that I need another update before tonight's test. I thought that 1.02 was the final one. Oh well, plenty of time to get ready.

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xtal
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November 10, 2013 - 2:06 am
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Let it commence! I am officially playing Dark Souls II!

 

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Pokey
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November 10, 2013 - 2:50 am
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Me too, but all I am doing is dying. I get mobbed at the first building. I am a dual wielder and am missing my shield. Later, I finally got past that and across a bridge only to meet a giant with huge sickles. I think I should have run. I dropped the dual wield for a shield.

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xtal
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November 10, 2013 - 5:16 am
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Yeah so my impressions after the network beta are: There Will Be No Easy Mode. Granted, it was like your first time with Demon's or Dark again, but it was very difficult, and for the last 30 minutes of the test a message came up saying they were ramping up the difficulty for "balance testing." Ha! It was like NG+10. I had two summons fighting an NPC red phantom (gravelord type I guess) and it killed them both in one swing of its sword, then me on the next, all from full HP. Got to love FromSoft having fun with people.

I didn't even make it to one of the bosses; unless you count the one time I was a phantom in someone else's world and walked through the fog gate, only to die within one second of that chariot boss running me over.

The difficulty was crazy. The game feels Souls-y ... but at the same time very different. It feels slower, but more precise as well. One thing I noticed most was that in previous games you could basically hit R2 for an attack that would home in on enemies; you can now actively miss on those attacks if you are not aiming at the enemy, and that is even when you are locked on.

 

Dark II is not going to be any easier if the Huntsman's Copse area was anything to judge by.

beerchug

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Synonamess Botch
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November 10, 2013 - 10:30 am
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I think I signed up too late - it said my code was already used.  No matter.  I was too tired to stay up anyway.  I am just a little disappointed at missing it though.  I want to hear more of your takes on how the controls feel - movement, attacking and such, since that part looks so different based on what I've watched so far.  Details people!

 

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Pokey
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November 10, 2013 - 12:43 pm
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It was interesting but I was disappointed. It didn't feel like Dark Souls. The darkness and cramped areas to fight as well as the difficulty definitely put me off purchasing the game for now. The animations seemed sluggish at times. I decided to get summoned and along with another summoned one, we advanced quite a way in the test. I wouldn't have gotten that far on my own. I saw many summon signs but was never able to summon anyone. The person who summoned me was able to summon two helpers rather quickly. I didn't understand why I couldn't get help as well. I didn't like that they used icons for the stats rather than easily readable labels.

SB, I checked the message I got on the 7th and it said that my code was already used when I checked it at the Playstation store, but it worked when I tried to play.

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November 10, 2013 - 2:42 pm
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Pokey, did it seem like you were in an actual part of the game? Were there AI enemies and stuff? Or was this really, really focused on network testing and thus in like a PVP arena or something? And do you testers have any mechanism to provide feedback?

Sluggish controls can be fixed - though your assessment concerns me since others have also said they've "changed" the controls a bit. I can get used to change, but I'd like it to be for the better.

The darkness and challenge worry me more. I read that there were HUGE sections of the game with Tomb of the Giants lighting, but elected to pretend it was a lie and I hadn't read any such thing. If true, that would really put me off. That's nothing but a careless method to inflate difficulty by taking the player's shield away. As for challenge... it depends how they implement it, I guess. People have complained that it's almost never one-on-one. Given how 2+ enemies would destroy you in Dark Souls, that also is a cause for worry.

I'm still getting ready to do the Diaries sequel and just made it into the Anor Londo palace with my PC build. Those two Silver Knights with the Dragonslayer bows... that's bad "too hard." The sentinels outside the gate, or Sen's Fortress, that's good "too hard." Before DkS came out, I worried they were going to run with a lot of bad-too-hard, misunderstanding what made Demon's work. They didn't, to much rejoicing, but again... this new dude's at the helm this time. Who knows what he thinks?

Dammit! I should've gotten in that damned line at Eurogamer.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Pokey
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November 10, 2013 - 2:54 pm
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Steerpike, it was like an actual part of a game with AI enemies and all. It was dark, especially in the beginning through a cave. I got a torch for the first try but dropped it for the shield as soon as I knew the way. The rest of the game was fairly dark and dismal but didn't need a torch again, as far as I played. There were lots of places with multiple enemies. Alone, it would be very difficult. When I tried rolling, it was slow to activate and there were trees all around that you had to avoid. I think there was a way to report serious bugs.

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Synonamess Botch
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November 10, 2013 - 10:46 pm
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From what I've read, your stats now directly affect things such as movement and roll speed.  So Pokey I can see how that might play into the sluggishness you experienced.  This is one of my biggest concerns though.  Part of the brilliance of Souls, apart from the lore and hidden story elements, was the tight control.  I know I'm preaching to the converted here, but just imagine Dark Souls with loose, imprecise combat.  Instant rage quit.

I'm not a game programmer, but I can imagine that there's more "feel" than science behind getting controls right.  I suppose moving to mo-cap animations meant starting from scratch on their equations.

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Steerpike
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November 11, 2013 - 1:42 am
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There is a lot of feel to it, but there are also good formulas to follow. Good controls can be defined mathematically, but defining is one thing and implementing is another. Programmers all say there's no secret to "good" controls - it's latency. The trick lies in how good your programmers are, because getting your action/reaction stacks beyond a certain latency threshold calls for skills outside those of most line programmers, even good ones.

Play-wise, I guess I don't mind stats more directly affecting individual characters, because it will give us more variety in types and how we play. But I also don't want to see that carried too far. If DkS2 is like DkS, levels are hard-won, attribute points few and far between. I dislike the idea of a system that encourages spamming all your points into one or two attributes in order to excel at them. In some ways the brilliance of the DkS character system was that anyone could be anything and you weren't defined by your class.

Dark Souls with squishy or unresponsive controls, whether stat-governed or not? Count me out.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Synonamess Botch
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November 11, 2013 - 12:20 pm
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Well they say the best programmers are game programmers and I believe it.  The head guy may have changed, but the studs in the trenches haven't right?  I remain optimistic.

I dislike the idea of a system that encourages spamming all your points into one or two attributes in order to excel at them.

You've encapsulated the concerns of many commenters right there.  But also from what I've read and heard, I think the attempt is to balance things while creating even more viable build options.  Just look at PvP now and you'll rarely see fatty rollers.  It's do-able, but not trivial.  I can't really explain it better than that.  You'll just have to check out, say, ENB's videos, unless of course you're trying to insulate yourself from too much foreknowledge.

 

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xtal
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November 11, 2013 - 9:44 pm
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I feel I should weigh in a bit more here. The number one thing to keep in mind is that we were playing a beta that was prepared with over 5 months still to the game's release. Always keep this in mind.

Overall, yes I too was a bit disappointed from what I played. But that's because of the insane circumstances: I have played hundreds of hours of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, and am now trying to suss out what's different about the third Souls game having played 3 hours. And 3 hours of not a lot of progress, either. Like I said, I didn't defeat a single boss. I saw the chariot boss, but the Mirror Knight? Who knows how far off I was.

Let me address-- and understand this is my perspective only-- some common concerns raised in this thread and among the general fanbase.

 

Concern: Regarding darkness, I wasn't a big fan of it. It was hard to see, there were many missteps, and enemies were shrouded in darkness until they were very near. It did make for one hell of a frightening atmosphere. Again, this was one area of the game. We don't know the significance of the Huntsman's Copse.

My thoughts: A lot of people have speculated that Dark Souls II is a prequel. My first reaction to that is weren't you listening to Solaire? - "We are amidst strange beings in a strange land. The flow of time itself is convoluted, with heroes centuries old phasing in and out. The very fabric wavers, and relations shift and obscure." These lines of dialogue when meeting Solaire are, in my opinion, the most important to all of Souls lore, and the crux of the lore behind, and allowance for, online play. "Phasing in and out." This always should be considered; time is very relative. Now, my speculation on the broader issue is ... well I think Dark Souls II just might, logically, be a "sequel," in that whether the Chosen Undead kindled the First Flame or let it die out, the inevitable is occurring: the Fire is going out. The Age of Man is being ushered in, slowly, hideously, violently. If Dark Souls was about the fading gods clinging onto whatever usefulness they could find in the creation of man, then perhaps Dark Souls II foretells what happens when all gods have abandoned the land, whether willingly or not; when the lights quite literally go out, if you will. This wouldn't necessitate an entire world of darkness either; see: Anor Londo. My point is, whatever's up with this particular area of the game it probably has reasons rooted in the lore.

 

Concern: The UI and its general vagueness.

My thoughts: I firmly believe the UI used in the network test is a placeholder. Not necessarily how you navigate the menus, that's probably how it will end up. But the lack of proper words and sole reliance on tiny icons. Demon's Souls fucked up large in this area, and Dark Souls corrected it quite a bit. This network test was worse than Demon's Souls, so I can't believe this will be the final product. This is just a guess, but my gut feeling is that FromSoft wanted players spending as much time as possible playing the game with others; I think they purposely made these minimalistic menus without words so we couldn't dissect them. And that's that, really.

 

Concern: The changing of stats; will the balance of Dark Souls be wrecked?

My thoughts: I think a thriving online PvE and PvP community has highlighted that, while utterly brilliant, Dark Souls was not without flaws. We worry about balances being wrecked in DksII, but really think on that. They're broken in Dark Souls. Let us count the ways:

  1. The Resistance stat is 100% useless in Dark Souls. This is accepted as fact by the entire community. Bleed and poison resistance just weren't that important.
  2. Dexterity increasing cast speed was broken: it gave an unfair advantage to Dex spellswords.
  3. For your character to be a participant in serious PvE or PvP you had to have 40 Endurance.
  4. Elemental weapons were pointless because they didn't scale with stats and their damage was hamstrung after a certain level.
  5. Leveling up Attunement as a requirement for INT/FTH characters handicapped them because pure physical/melee players could have full blown pyromancy, formidable melee prowess and comparable Attunement to a wizard or cleric - all because Pyromancy required no stats.

These problems are all seemingly solved in DksII. Resistance is the only way to level up defense, instead of it leveling with every stat increase. Casting speed is now affected by Attunement. Endurance now raises only stamina; Vitality raises equip load but no longer HP; Vigor raises HP. There will be more stats; more balancing. It will be harder (rightfully so) for everyone. And apparently elemental weapons will be more viable this time around for reasons I can't think of at the moment.

 

Concern: The character movement felt sluggish. Or was it soo swift? Or was it too glidey? Or too sticky?

My thoughts: This bothered me more than anything, because it seems like something that will not change a whole lot. Character movement felt ... different. I think this is a large unknown because there is a new stat called Agility that affects several things. It apparently controls the speed at which you can raise your shield, roll away from being stunned, and possibly much more. It might even affect roll speed. I don't think roll speeds will be as simple as DeS and DkS where you had, respectively, 2 and 3 roll speeds. One thing that was difficult to adjust to was when you release the thumbstick, it felt like your character came to an immediate hault, where previously it felt like they would glide on for another inch or so. It's very hard to put into words; you need to experience it. Overall, movement did not feel as good as it did in Dark Souls. But there is so much we don't know at this point, so it's crazy to judge. I'd by lying if I said I wasn't at least slightly concerned though.

 

Concern: The difficulty.

My thoughts: I have no concern at all here. Taking a stab, an honest guess, at how many times I think I died in the network test, which was almost exactly 3 hours long, it was probably around 20 times. I probably haven't died 20 times in Demon's and Dark Souls combined this year. To me, though, this is promising. I think there's nowhere else the series can go. I think its reputation for insane difficulty is overblown, but if the new guys at the helm feel they need to take that angle to new heights I am in support of it. I don't want to play a game that I can beat with my hands behind my back relying on what I've learned in Demon's and Dark. I want it to teach me something new. It was encouraging to see a wealth of bloodstains scattered throughout the Copse.

 

To wrap up this lengthy post, overall I have never felt better about Dark Souls II than I do right now. When I saw that trailer from the Spike TV awards last December I was 100% skeptical. We've had time now, and in the immortal words of Kevin from Home Alone: I'm not afraid anymore.

Of all the Souls content to date, I think the best quality-- From Software's best work-- came in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC. The 4 bosses were all immediate classics - even the Sanctuary Guardian. In one large patch with 2 minor fixes afterward they managed to add a whole new element to the PvP, simultaneously offering some necessary rebalancing too. For the player who craves the online experience of Souls, I strongly believe Dark Souls II will outshine its predecessors. They're fixing mistakes of the past and adding new challenge based on everything they learned from the way people played Dark Souls.

Obviously I cannot say it's a foregone conclusion, but I genuinely believe there is no reason the third Souls game will not be the best, by far. Not even the departure of Miyazaki. Which seems crazy to say, since I already think the first two are the two finest games ever made.

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

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