Feature Article

Everything you need to know before playing Dark Souls 2

Amazing chest (of information) ahead.

by

Dark Souls II launches next week, and From Software's follow-up to surprise hit Dark Souls looks set to be just as intricate as untangling a set of earphones that have been sitting in your pocket for a week.

Even more daunting: If you're a player familiar with Dark Souls, well, you can pretty much say goodbye to all the tricks you (may have) used to get through those ominous dungeons. Goodbye, rolling around like you're Sonic the Hedgehog! Arrivederci, invulnerable backstab animations! Here's a list of everything we know (so far) about Dark Souls II.

Warning: what follows might spoil your enjoyment of the game if you're looking to go in completely blind!

One caveat is that there's likely to be dozens of things that are still unknown, and that some of the stuff here might turn out to have, say, some kind of side effect or context that we just don't know yet. Understanding the original Dark Souls was a huge, complex effort that took gaming communities months and months, and there's no reason why that won't also be the case for Dark Souls II.

If you're looking to take the plunge into From Software's punishing RPG next week, here's what you'll be getting yourself into:

Matters of life and death

  • You'll still die all the time.
  • The act of healing has been changed heavily from the original Dark Souls. The Estus Flask persists, but it's much harder to find charges for it--you start with just 1. There's also consumable lifegems. Both healing items take a lot of time to activate, but players can walk (slowly) while using them.
  • Your maximum health is reduced when you die, down to a maximum penalty of 50 percent. Going from an undead (hollow) state to a human state reverses the effect.
  • You can recover your humanity by consuming a human effigy. Unlike in Dark Souls, these items do not have to be used at bonfires.
  • There is a ring players can discover early on that makes players lose less of their health bar when they die.
  • The curse ailment is not as brutally debilitating in Dark Souls II, and petrification--which went hand-in-hand with Curse in Dark Souls--has been made a separately awful thing that can happen to you.

Exploration

These ladies help you on your quest.
  • Players can travel immediately between all lit bonfires from the beginning of the game.
  • The controls for sliding down a ladder have been modified by default. Tapping the roll button will now cause you to drop instead of slide down. Don't learn this the hard way!
  • You can now be invaded while hollow, although the game is more likely to have invaders travel to the worlds of players who are alive, and players who have sinned, ahead of undead players.
  • Players can carry a torch to provide a portable light source that can also ignite beacons. When equipped, the torch replaces a shield.
  • Items can be burnt at bonfires to modify the world. The Bonfire Ascetic will make enemies in the region stronger. It is irreversible. Burning a Human Effigy at a bonfire will also make it more difficult for you to be invaded.
  • The ragdoll physics have been made less hilarious. No longer will you be running around with a fleet of dead cragspiders stuck to your feet.
  • Merchants have limited amounts of supplies, so don't expect to buy 85 titanite shards whenever you fancy it.
  • Traditionally in the Souls series, enemies have respawned when players rest at a bonfire. In Dark Souls II, the majority of enemies stop respawning when killed a certain amount of times.
  • There's now a Small White Sign Soapstone, which allows players to be summoned into other games for a shorter duration of time than with a regular White Soapstone.
The regular undead soldier poses very little challenge.

Character

  • Performing backstabs in Dark Souls II works in a completely different way to the original. Hitting an enemy anywhere in the back now triggers the animation, but players are no longer invulnerable when performing the move.
  • Rolling has been changed. It is now much, much harder to evade horizontal attacks without taking damage.
  • Jumping, which can be performed when players are sprinting, is now mapped by default to clicking the left analog stick.
  • Levelling up your character is now handled by talking to an NPC at Majula, the game's central hub area, rather than at any bonfire.
  • There is a new attribute: Adaptability. This affects movement speed and resistances. The other character attributes are vigour, endurance, vitality, attunement, strength, dexterity, intelligence, and faith.
  • Characters now stagger backwards and are unable to move for a moment if their stamina bar runs out while holding up a shield.
  • A guard break move has replaced the kick, with bigger weapons being able to stagger enemies for a longer amount of time.
  • The weight load percentage of how much gear you've got equipped--used to determined how fast your character can sprint, move, and roll--is now shown in the inventory.
  • The inventory and UI is cleaner and easier to navigate in Dark Souls II than it was in the original, although it is still quite complex.
  • Players now get two arrow slots, allowing archers to flick between two different quivers without having to break the flow of combat.
  • There are now three left-hand and right-hand slots per character, allowing for more versatile weapon builds.
  • Dual wielding strategies are now viable.
  • It is possible to respec your stats, but the item that allows for this is rare.
  • Your equipment degrades at a faster rate than in Dark Souls, but resting at a bonfire repairs items. If an item breaks, however, it will need to be repaired.
  • The starting classes are warrior, knight, swordsman, bandit, cleric, sorcerer, explorer, and deprived.

Covenants and online

This can happen at any time. Uh oh.
  • Dark Souls II, unlike its predecessor, will feature dedicated servers.
  • There we be an area devoted to dedicated PVP, similar to the area in Dark Souls' Artorias of the Abyss DLC.
  • Players can still leave messages for one another, from a preselected list of statements, and the game now allows for more complex sentences.
  • There is now optional voice chat in co-op play.
  • An item found early on suggests that players will be more likely to be matched with one another in co-op if they follow the same god. From Software has said there are 10 gods in the game.

And the rest…

  • You should still always carry a Homeward Bone at all times.
  • Dark Souls II does not immediately appear to be connected to the original Dark Souls.
  • Original series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki only had a supervisory role for the sequel, and Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura have both co-directed the project.
  • From Software says Dark Souls II has been built on an entirely new engine.
  • The PC version will run at 60fps, offer improved textures over the console versions, and feature proper support for keyboard and mouse controls. It will require Steam to play.
  • Dark Souls II will be released on March 11 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and on April 26 for PC.
  • Preordering the title will grant access to the Black Armor Weapons Pack, which dishes out a selection of weapons and shields to players at the start of the game.
  • From Software has said that DLC for the game depends on fan feedback.

Aching for more Dark Souls II information? You can read about Dan Hindes' first 20 deaths in the game, and follow it up with Tom McShea's six wild theories. And don't forget to watch Kevin VanOrd playing 20 minutes of Dark Souls II on GameSpot's weekly show The Lobby.

Discussion

408 comments
lilflipp
lilflipp

This is one of the hardest, most depressing, horrific, creepy and frustrating games... Why do we love this? This is the kind of game that if I played in my teens I'd probably cry like a little girl from frustration at one point in the game.

blkgsr
blkgsr

@uck i wanna play it but i hate low fps and screen tearing so not getting ps3 or xbox  version sounds like the pc game gonna be good unlike dark souls man that was a bad port. but i might get it for ps3 hate the sub 20fps framerate but the screen tearing in the 360 version would make it a no go. i cant stand screen tearing im always looking for it if a game has it. why didn't they put a vsync option because the 360 version would've been better it has a slight gpu advantage on the ps3. But the 360 averages 30-40fps and ps3 20-30fps and worse in some places for both.

sheatan66
sheatan66

Give us smooth! Give us silky!

saintkido
saintkido

so does anyone here have played the game ?


have ya get to Majula ?


the blue knight in the small tower near the bonfire has the same voice of the guy in firelink in the begining of DS 1....i hated that guy ¬¬

stevenhearnn
stevenhearnn

The post seems to be a great review of the Drak souls-2. i have never played this game before. But after going through this post I think I must try it once. I hope I am going to love it because I love playing action packed games.

rabih55555
rabih55555

If you read this article you will know why Dark Souls 2 is bad for consoles

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-dark-souls-2-face-off


The game runs only at 720p in both consoles. And each consoles have its problems. For example the xbox 360 version often drop below 30fps, has inferior texture filter and no Vsync which results in screen tearing. On the other hand PS3 frame rate is even worse than xbox 360 even though PS3 version has Vsync and filters


People should wait for Dark Souls 2 for PC, because this time it has better proper keyboard and mouse support. No to mention that you can play it at 1080p or over, 60fps, Vsync and better AA than consoles. Not to mention that PC is going to get a boost in texture resolution. I don't see any reason to buy console version. Even a cheap a A10 APU will probably run this game at better settings and fps than consoles.

mrgorgun
mrgorgun

still ps3 and xbox 360 while new consoles  are gathering dust..really devs wtf you thinking?

jasammalidabar
jasammalidabar

lol i give, up, every single review is paid, all 9 out of 10 scores, great, here is de javu of dragon age 2, well im not gonna be a sheep, ill pass!!!

jasammalidabar
jasammalidabar

Come on gamespot with the review, dont tell me that you still haven't found an agreement with namco about settling financial compensation for writing a sweet review? and this fatso from gaamespot, o i have 100 hours of gamplay and no comment, no comment i cant say anything...Yeah, you sure cant, gotta wait and see how will the transaction go before you're allowed to open your moth, everyone is sold, no honest, neutral reviewers anymore, just business.

hestar69
hestar69

What do you think is the best class to use?

cboye18
cboye18

Will this game be as depressive as the first one? Couldn't stand it.

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

Praise the Sun!!!

warship_satin
warship_satin

its crazy that theyre changing the rolling mechanics - i thought the movement and combat were a huge reason fans liked the game so much


if the new mechanics are better thats great its just strange to me to change something that was so integral to the dark souls experience and that i dont think anyone considered broken anyway

mattress805
mattress805

I refuse to read any of this article although it looks interesting. I'm going into this game blind..just like Dark Souls. I'll Only read a little bit if I start pulling my hair out and setting it into little clumps around the room from frustration.

j_kizi
j_kizi

Just watched the "locomotive breathe" trailer. I after seeing the gigantic bosses, and sinister looking enemies. I was so happy.... Why am I happy when I know I will suffer, break my controller, weep like a lil b!@$# ?

Alecmrhand
Alecmrhand

When is Gamespot going to post the review for Dark Souls 2? I figured it would be up today.

riff_farmer
riff_farmer

For a game hyped to be "easier" than DS this sounds alot harder.  Do the lifegems scale with soul/monster level?  If not that could make late game difficult without Etsus flasks

hussam403
hussam403

Characters have more dialogues now and explain much of the history. You won't be disappointed!

hussam403
hussam403

I'm playing the full version now. it's amazing!!!

caramel_cod
caramel_cod

"In Dark Souls II, the majority of enemies stop respawning when killed a certain amount of times."

This is the only change that seems totally detrimental to the experience. I can see why they'd do it (prevents farming), but I'd rather have it be a temporary thing until the boss is beaten than something that leaves the world barren.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@lilflipp  

if you grew up with NES games. (GnG .. or even just Metroid and Zelda II, without a walkthough or map...)

lilflipp
lilflipp

@blkgsr Dark Souls was a really terrible port. One of the worst I've played. Such a bad port to such a good game. It's a shame. Even devs admitted that it was a terrible "rushed port".

The good thing is that they acknowledged it, and this time, they seem like they over compensated.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@saintkido  

they used a few of the same voices... (some really are creepy or depressive...., somehow they fit into the overall morbid and decay amtosphere of the game ..)

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@stevenhearnn  

you'll either love over the top it or hate it like hell

...  

but be prepard to die a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot.... so much, that even old sadistic hags will be giggling at your deaths and efforts...

but don't give up after the first 10 or 20  (or 30) deaths....  

(there's always a way, tactic, clou, trick, weapon, move, area, level up, satus increase ect. ect ect... that will allow you to over come every enemy, obstacle, ect. ect..., and the harder and futher it gets, the more rewarding it becomes...)

lilflipp
lilflipp

@jasammalidabar Okay so you can't rely on reviews to gauge how good a game is. Yet, you make the decision that it's bad, and that you're not even going to attempt to play it.

What exactly are you basing your judgement on, if nothing?

You sound like my daughter when I try to get her to taste new food.

"I don't like it :(" 

"But you haven't even tasted it yet, how can you know you don't like it?!"

"I don't care bleuh

michael176585
michael176585

@jasammalidabar  Why don't you play the game before commenting on a review.  Dark Souls 1 was a fantastic game for fans of action RPG's, and Dark Souls 2 is a clear improvement.  Read the reviews for details regarding a game you're interested in, but actually play the game itself if you want to know how good it is/isn't.  

blackheartx
blackheartx

@jasammalidabarI think you mean "déjà vu" also. How can you tell if a review is "paid" or not? If it doesn't say what you want to hear?

saintkido
saintkido

@hestar69  class is only relative in the first part of the game if ya want a chalenge go with swordsman......

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@cboye18

even more depressive.. (at least the start feels like that...., cursed, cursed, cursed....)

Vienreich
Vienreich

@j_kizi cause your mind wants to be tortured and rewarded, like a cute little dog. 

Tremblay343
Tremblay343

@Alecmrhand  embargo is up tomorrow at 9am pst

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

@caramel_cod  

You have two ways make them respawn.

And make them harder at the same time.

riff_farmer
riff_farmer

@caramel_cod  


Maybe not barren but imagine areas with %50 less percent enemies, making it still a chore to get through although not as farming intensive?

bhmg
bhmg

@caramel_cod  no, because this force the player to go trough new game +1~2~3


blkgsr
blkgsr

@ninboxstation  Check the digital foundry videos on dark souls 2 and you will see the 360 has around a 10fps advantage but has screen tearing.

ninboxstation
ninboxstation

@bhmg @caramel_codbut if you reach the new Game+  at all with the Deprived, I'm already starting to get low on enemies... 

(due to the need of grinding/farming so much, since he's the only character that starts a Level 1 and you need to rais him.... but then again, later on in the game, it shouldn't have such an effect... ,  hope not.., just afraid, that if I start to lose souls too, I'll end  up with not enough enemies /souls around...., but the enemies probably only vanish, when you level up... not when you just kill them and lose souls...)

Demon's Souls More Info

  • Released
    • PlayStation 3
    Demon's Souls is an action RPG which pits you against the forces of The Old One as you fight to save humanity from extinction.