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Dark Souls 2 on the PC: Has From Software Learned its Lessons?

I have a proposition, if you have a moment.

If you’ve been looking forward to Dark Souls II on the PC, you're likely more than aware of what a troubled port its predecessor was. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition was not welcomed by PC players with wholly open arms, given its low rendering resolution, limited frame rate, and poor mouse and keyboard support. Community members immediately set about rectifying the perceived slights, releasing modifications that unlocked the frame rate, increased the resolution, and added high-resolution textures that enhanced the original release while keeping the game’s spirit intact.

It’s no surprise that PC enthusiasts should expect better--and that they remain wary of the impending release of Dark Souls II. And so I bring some good news: Based on the preview copy I’ve been immersed in, Dark Souls II is a notably better port than the original Dark Souls was. When you set the resolution at 1920 X 1080, the image you see is actually rendering at that resolution, in contrast to Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition. The game runs at a brisk 60 frames per second, even on modest PCs. Unfortunately, the game still bombards you with Xbox 360 controller button prompts, even when you do not have a controller plugged in and are navigating with a mouse and keyboard. On the bright side, playing with a mouse and keyboard is absolutely viable, though you must dig around in the menus to come to grips with the default keybindings. It would never have crossed my mind to press shift and tap a mouse button to interact with objects and open doors, for instance, though once you’re used to this unusual approach, you may not miss the controller.

Given the higher resolution and brisker frame rate, it should be no shock that the PC version of Dark Souls II looks better than the console versions. The higher resolution and sharper textures give places like Sinner’s Rise and Huntsman’s Copse greater visual definition. Details on armor are easier to admire, and subtle touches like the intricate runes carved into the monument in Majula, and the mosaic artwork of the Tower of Flame’s stone pathways, stand out all the more. This is all well and good, and in the world of PC gaming, expected.

Unfortunately, if you were hoping for the PC version to showcase the impressive lighting we saw in pre-release video, you’ll be sad to learn that the lighting remains as flat on the PC as it did on consoles. Carrying a torch through the dim hallways of The Lost Bastille brings with it a few moody moments, but nothing on par with the way lightning pierced the bleak darkness as it did in early previews, in which we traversed Drangleic Castle in pursuit of the Looking Glass Knight. I have no doubt that modern PCs could have rendered the elaborate real-time lighting that characterized the game’s early builds without trouble, but it appears that From Software sought platform parity, which is a shame. After all, the community has already proven how beautiful these games can be with a little extra development effort.

Of course, the PC modding community is likely to tackle Dark Souls II in the way it tackled the original, and so I went one step further and asked myself just how Dark Souls II stacks up to the original Dark Souls when community mods are applied to it. And so I downloaded two popular Dark Souls mods: DSFix by Durante at Nexus Mods, and Toology86’s high-definition texture pack, also from Nexus. Dark Souls II looks more impressive than the modded original in certain respects, featuring topography that looks more organic and less severe than in Dark Souls. The draw distance, too, offers more clarity in Dark Souls II than in the original. On the other hand, Toology86’s excellent textures make the crumbling stonework seen in Undead Parish look more weathered and chipped than do similar textures in Dark Souls II’s Lost Bastille. Additionally, in the modded Dark Souls, the dark is darker, and illumination without obvious sources is less common.

It goes without saying, of course, that Dark Souls II on the PC feels just as it did on consoles, and in that respect, it seems likely that the game will be enchanting a new community of players come April 25th. On that day, I look forward to joining each of you in a show of jolly cooperation, though I don’t know that you could describe any element of this tense and exhausting adventure as “jolly,” with all respect to Solaire of Astoria, who clearly felt otherwise.

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Kevin-V

Kevin VanOrd

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play bass in Rock Band.
Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II

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425 comments
njs72
njs72

i absolutley love this game on the PC and have no issue whatsoever wit M+K here, infact the controls are the most natural ive even setup in a computer game.

AGuyInPhoenix
AGuyInPhoenix

The PC controls are fucking god awful, everything has to be shift clicks and alt clicks and crap, and you have no capability to remap them to something functional because it gives you a list of the only milti key combos you are aloud to use for each function...  I had high hopes and intentions of purchasing this game but very glad I first played a cracked version, 5 different cracked versions actually, before I decided no, I'm skipping this one.  Not even worth suffering with for free.

Kickable
Kickable

/QQ  i hate how 99% of the screenshot comparisons for games I come across over the years are never exact so it's easy to see every single detail. 

pcty
pcty

pre-loading it right now!

gracek90
gracek90

Thinking of buying Dark Souls 2? Try kinguin.net as far as I am sure they have best prices.

NightmareP3
NightmareP3

Great, looks like no version of the game will have the graphics from the trailers : l

I just hope some nice moders will be able to fix that 

Scorch_22
Scorch_22

Wait, what is this article about? I got distracted playing around with those picture sliders...

Gravelord_Nito
Gravelord_Nito

@Scorch_22 you made me laugh so much, and thank you for that :D mainly out of the idea i am not the only one who gets distracted by a fly by butterfly ^^

Scorch_22
Scorch_22

@Gravelord_Nito Haha, glad I could make you laugh! Now I'm gonna go stare at this fly on my window for a couple of hours :D

Breyant
Breyant

It's clear I am not a PC/graphics enthusiast because I can see no difference.

maitkarro
maitkarro

Wtf, are they really doing the same crap as marvel did with their game ports, give PC the PS2 version and PS3 will have the superior version, seems like the superior looking one gonna come on PS4. DS Fix creator to the rescue on 25th april, well a week later maybe.


And I'm enjoying it on the PS3 now, but I want the PC version use the PC's full capabilities, not just come by halfassed.

Zodiarck
Zodiarck

So your telling me that the PC version of Dark Souls II is still Lacking post-processing lighting effects? That's ok.


Bring on the ENB mods!!! :D

strrckshn
strrckshn

When the horror takes you - when the crushing, inevitable sense of loss and mortality makes your soul weep, and the sucking unknown darkness is alone enough to make you pray for the death's icy caress - only then you will understand that looks don't matter here. Graphics are just something you can make out through the bitter, constant tears - if you're lucky. This is to those that whinged about graphics.  Truly, children - you are not ready for Dark Souls 2 :) 

Pavlara
Pavlara

Wow a downgrade to the PC version too.  So what hardware was the E3 demo running on? NASA computer? Shame on you Fromsoftware.  The average gamer isn't a complete idiot (idiot maybe).  Your pockets will feel this down the road. Game devs are becoming like politicians nowadays.  Cant be avoided I guess in a multi billion $ industry

greyclam
greyclam

Its just sad that people hate on this game because the graphics are downgraded. Aren't atmosphere and art design far more important then lightning effects and textures??

baldy40
baldy40

Well to those that have no complains.  I bet you be modding it regardless.  

So I think it makes your comments look ,well yes you guess it.

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

What I don't understand is why Dark Souls II isn't also coming to ps4/xbox1?

If the architecture is similar enough to PC, then I really don't see why it would be a fairly simple port from PC...

Maybe they are waiting to release an 'ultimate/enhanced/definitive/ edition' at the end of the year after sales slow a bit?

That seems to be the trend these days...

Zodiarck
Zodiarck

@punkdsk8erdude  


I still don't understand this either. My only thought would be that the PC version isn't really as next-gen as FROMSOFTWARE has convinced us it is. So basically the PC version port may end up being the exact same game as on console with only a minor increase in resolution and framerate - not enough to warrant the 'remastered' or 'enhanced' treatment on PS4/XO.

Lykanthropie
Lykanthropie

to bad this is just another port and not what was promised, without the lighting effects its looks ugly for me, they took away the best of the atmosphere, even the first DS with mods looks better for me.

I wont spend any money for this, while i was going to buy 2 CEs and 2 copies for plaiyng - i will pirate it - have my fun and save over 300 bucks, there is no excuse for another bad port that looks nearly the same as on 8 year old consoles.

As wirtten it runs even on modest PCs, (guess 5-6 year old?).

All just as console players should not complain about the better PCs Version.

I wouldn't wonder to see a PS4 Version with the "real" graphics ina year or so.

Why do they even need more time to release a port like this?


They make fools of everyone waiting for the PC Version and the missing lighting makes it extremly ugly in my eyes.

dionycef
dionycef

Dudes, Calm down . Dont want , dont buy it. Attacking the devs because this game is not something to showcase in your rigs, isv ery far from what this game was intended for. Just leave it and have another run in BF4. Let us enjoy this masterpiece as it is in peace.

headbanger1186
headbanger1186

@dionycef  I'm not mad or hurt about it, I can notice the increased textures and double the framerate of the console build, and I remain confident that it will only be a matter of time before the PC modders release some excellent shader and texture mods to make it look how it was intended.

LordCrash88
LordCrash88

@dionycef  So why do you comment here instead of playing this masterpiece all the time? Pathetic...

Commander010
Commander010

How are we supposed to compare graphics if they are comparing completely different images in different settings? The images have to be in the same location and with the same angle on both consoles for the comparison to be fair.

chibistevo32
chibistevo32

When you start to gripe over texture details, you lose what the whole point of playing a game is. As bad as people think Dks2 looks (it doesn't look bad at all) I'd sooner play that than Witcher 2, Skyrim et al, because the game is just infinitely better.

Darkhol0w
Darkhol0w

@artorias80 Well someone could argue that CDPR are mainly a PC developer and their roots are in PC gaming even though they took their time to properly port Witcher 2 to X360.

You could say that they have more experience when it comes to making games on that platform compared to From Soft that have said before that they are not that well versed in PC (which is ironic because all games are made with a PC). 

I don't think Namco would of had any problems outsourcing their game to Nixxes who are well known to making good PC ports, but no..this is not looking like a "PC lead platform" at all. Since they are the ones at fault for making FS drop the lighting and keep parity with all the platforms just so console people would not complain about it.

Zodiarck
Zodiarck

@artorias80  


Only problem with that game is that it wont launch on alot of peoples computers - high-end rigs even. It's sorta random, it's not a 64bit, 32bit thing, or a windows 7 or 8 thing: the game just doesn't launch for alot of people. So as good looking as Witcher 2 is, it fails to even run for alot of people, and that's a problem darksouls didn't have.


Love CDProjectRed tho.

GunEye
GunEye

Sadly, not so much...

groowagon
groowagon

extremely unimpressive. why can't it just look like it looked in the preview videos?


oh well, it's a last-gen game and more importantly a great one at that. can't wait for the PC release!

groowagon
groowagon

actually, being last-gen is not even an excuse for slacking with the PC version. Crysis 3 and BF4 are proof of it.

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

Doesn't matter, still praised the sun \[T]/


It is disappointing to see the very noticeable flat lighting in certain areas, and the weapons lack the excellent detail that they had in DS1, but honestly, it hasn't diminished the fun at all for me. I had to slow the camera speed all the way down to stop the constant screen tearing, but that shouldn't be an issue at all in the PC version.

crognalsen
crognalsen

I thought the game (Dark Souls) was good in it's original state on PC.  I'm sure I'll be content with the 1080p 60 FPS (Dark Souls 2).  The biggest thing on PC is it will load super fast and be a lot more responsive.  It seems that way with all games I play that are on both console and PC.

Arcturuss
Arcturuss

PC is the best looking at launch.

And it will be even better once some modders have dug their teeth into it.

soolkiki
soolkiki

I know I'll be picking it up! The Port of the first was so bad that even my mod to keep the game running is now crashing it, keeping me from playing. The fact that I'll be able to play this thing without having to mod it makes me incredibly happy! :) 

Also, if the only complains are graphics based, then I'm a happy camper.

angrycreep
angrycreep

No matter what you all think or say, the PC version of game is the best looking port, and better than the console version. especially if you don't own any of the other versions of the game. It runs at 60 frames per second, the texture looks much better, and a few minor graphical fixed. Is not the graphical jump that you expect for a PC game in 2014, and that's the sad part about it. I don't own the Console version, so I'm getting the PC version when it comes out.

BuBsay
BuBsay

I'm really happy to see that Gamespot is starting to use these slider images to show difference in graphics rather than overly compressed videos (nothing like trying to show the difference between 720p and 1080p on a compressed 720p video...)


If the screenshots just lined up more this would be the perfect way to show differences between systems.

jesot
jesot

I just want to say that PC users weren't that upset about the state of Dark Souls. We wanted it really bad, and they gave it to us.  It was a crude port, but that's all we needed.  Mods fixed anything wrong with the game, and it runs like a champ.  There were no "lessons" to be learned.  From warned us it'd be a crude port, and that's what it was.  It was hastily released to please the fans demanding it.

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

@jesot  Yes, all PC gamers were happy to be able to play Dark Souls, none of them ever complained about that. The problem is the developer saying "Let's release some crappy port and let the modders fix the game."

jesot
jesot

@leikeylosh @jesot  Yeah, but they told us that's what we were getting, so while it was rough at first, there really wasn't a lot to complain about.

supasonic02
supasonic02

@jesot @leikeylosh Yeah maybe for the guys who were following every detail up until release, but what about the people who bought it a couple months after on a steam sale? I don't remember it being advertised there that the game would look and run worse than on ps3.

soolkiki
soolkiki

@jesot  I would argue, however, that they learned that the PC is a platform that really wants this game. :) So happy that they are delivering!

jesot
jesot

@soolkiki @jesot  Oh, totally.  They learned that and have catered this new game to the PC market.  The success of Dark Souls on PC has opened the eyes <waits for inappropriate joke> in the JapDev community as a whole.

gruby2
gruby2

That moment when you read the whole article in Kevin's voice.


Mercaptan
Mercaptan

Geez its 2014 and this game looks like crap , i know that  graphychs do not make a game but c'mon its 2014 , fallout new vegas looks better...