Dark Souls II will feature a number of key changes to underlying gameplay systems, according to From Software director Yui Tanimura, including revamped rules for player interactions, co-op, and PVP.
Tanimura explained the changes during a recent presentation attended by GameSpot.
Unlike the peer-to-peer lobbies that fuel the original Dark Souls, players will now populate dedicated servers, like the spiritual predecessor, Demon's Souls, thus increasing the number of players that populate a given instance of the game.
In order to encourage player interaction, blood messaging is built into Dark Souls II as a system command, negating the original game's item requirements.
Summoned players--players who join the game of another character--no longer automatically exit a game upon the defeat of a boss. By utilizing different sized White Soapstone items, players gain different amounts of time for co-op play, but this allotment depletes as the summoned player defeats enemies. Players can also now summon two players at once, creating a three-player co-op experience.
When a player's game is invaded, they have the chance to receive backup from fellow covenant members if they belong to the "Way of the Blue" covenant. This will make it harder for stronger players to torment low-level characters, and give players a chance to act as a savior for the weak.
The final changes noted during the presentation pertained to characters with undead status. If a player dies while fighting as an undead character, their HP limits will decrease with each consecutive death. In order to recover from undead status, players now must expend a "Human Effigy" item, rather than an amount of humanity.
Lastly, unlike the original Dark Souls, undead players are susceptible to invaders in the sequel.
Dark Souls II will be released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on March 11, 2014. A release date for the PC version has not been announced. PlayStation 3 owners in North America, Europe, and Australasia can sign up for the beta, which begins on October 12.
For more on Dark Souls II, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.