Ok, before I get hate, I just want to start by saying I have not yet completed Dark Souls 3 (probably at about 65% through, just reached Anor Londo , and I am so far really enjoying it, this is by no means a hate thread.
With that out of the way, and with what I have so far played of DS3, I am actually inclined to say I feel DS2 is better in a lot ways.
For starters, whilst I'm not 'disappointed' per say in DS3, it definitely at times feels a little lazy, especially when compared to how much DS2 clearly tries to push the franchise forwards.
One such example is covenants. Back in the day in Dark Souls 1, there were 9 covenants, each representing a different moral alignment.
While they had different stances, the way you went about the covenants themselves changed very little - they were all purely based around either summoning or invading, and ranking up by doing X number of them. In the day this was fine, but now in 2016 we have DS3 which has covenants (to what I have discovered so far) almost identical to this; nearly all covenants from what I understand in DS3 once again rely on either invading or being summoned.
This would be fine, but then look at DS2. DS2 clearly tried to push covenants forwards. In DS2 not only do you have the summon and invasion covenants, but you also have a covenant dedicated to the hardcore players, which makes the game not only harder, but also removes the ability to summon allies and makes you more likely to be invaded. Another covenant is dedicated to conquering whole new dungeons inaccessible to others that acts as its own questline.
Not laziness as such this time, but another reason I feel DS3 falls short of DS2 is that it has maybe too much 'fan service'.
Don't get me wrong, I love a little fan service, but DS3 is just screaming "Hey look how much I am like Dark Souls 1 and nothing like Dark Souls 2!" I mean everything from painting of Dark Souls 1 characters, to a large chunk of Anor Londo appearing, to complete armour sets and references to Dark Souls 1. We get it, Dark Souls 1 is often praised more than Dark Souls 2, but making every possible reference to Dark Souls 1 and making people forget about Dark Souls 2 won't make Dark Souls 3 any better! It feels almost like they're trying to ride of DS1 glory, as if they can't create it again themselves so they have to remind people of it!
My next point is depth. Dark Souls 3 feels like a compromise in depth of mechanics compared with previous Souls games.
Dark Souls has always encouraged experimentation. Experimentation with builds, playstyle, equipment, covenants, etc. etc. While this is still true in Dark Souls 3, it feels somewhat less deep than Dark Souls 2. Suddenly encumbrance is almost a non issue. Where there used to be fast-medium-heavy rolls depending on your encumbrance, now there is only fast and slow, with the cut off being 70% encumbrance. This means that you barely need to even consider your equipment for you to be able to roll quickly, and there is very little in terms of penalisation for those wearing heavier armour. This removes some possibilies in terms of builds, what's the point in wearing the lightest armour if you're not even going to be able to roll faster than those wearing medium weight armour?
Along with this, Dark Souls 3 seems to have stripped a few of the weapon types that were available in Dark Souls 2. Where are the lances? Lances in Dark Souls 2 were maybe not the most common weapon types, but darn were they fun to use; and in a Souls game it feels important to offer options.
Finally, identity. Dark Souls 3 feels like a bastard child of Demon's Souls, all of Dark Souls, and Bloodborne all in one.
While it is good they tried to use the best features, it seems to make Dark Souls 3 have a bit of an identity crisis. As mentioned previously, the game mechanics seem to have been stripped in complexity a bit, similar to how Bloodborne was a bit more shallow to allow more people access.
At the same time though the atmosphere and art direction just no longer seem to match. Maybe this is just to do with the Bloodborne engine, but all the time I've been playing it so far the atmosphere just 'feels' far more like Demon's Souls, but 'looks' straight out of Bloodborne, what is even going on?
So all of this has made me come to realise just how great Dark Souls 2 actually is. Dark Souls 2 usually gets all the criticism, but it could be that some of that criticism is simply that Dark Souls is not and could never be Dark Souls 1; and this could be why Dark Souls 3 decided to be so similar to Dark Souls 1, backstepping over some of the advancements found in Dark Souls 2.
What are your thoughts? Is Dark Souls 2 actually better than Dark Souls 3, or am I just a madman?
As I said earlier in the thread, I am still enjoying Dark Souls 3 immensley, in fact the combat, which I haven't touched upon here is easily the best and most polished in the series; but just something has been nagging me about this game since I started playing.
Dark Souls 2 feels like a more advanced and developed game than Dark Souls 3, with a clear identity of what it is and with great depth and longevity that are partially stripped from Dark Souls 3. Come at me (sun)bro.