originals\ Oct 3, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Dark Souls 2 Japanese Beta: Insight into the lore and new gameplay mechanics

If you’re a Dark Souls fanatic like me, you live for every piece of new information that comes out for the game. Now that the beta is out in Japan, we’re getting to see the first bits of footage – and it is glorious. With new footage comes new information about how certain mechanics work. While I previously wrote a Dark Souls II beta preview based on my own gameplay and that of others, these new videos have closed some doors while opening a bunch of others. (And I should point out that, besides graphics details, it would appear that ENB was right about nearly everything.)
If you’re a Dark Souls II purist, there will be information and potential SPOILERS below. I warned you.
First of all, let’s take a look see at the character sheet. Thanks to a NeoGAF post, a very generous beta tester took the time to break down the Japanese text and explain the stats in English. Stats like Vitality and Endurance have been broken up, as you can see in the image below.

Dark Souls II Stats

  • Vigor: total HP
  • Endurance: total Stamina
  • Vitality: total equipment load
  • Attunement: number of spells that can be cast, spell speed
  • Strength: boosts weapon damage, allows for heavier weapons, improves break attack
  • Dexterity: allows for more finesses weapon use, boots bleed and poison damage
  • Resistance: boosts defense and bleed/poison resist
  • Agility: boots swiftness of movement, evasion, action speed, and trap disarming
  • Intelligence: allows for greater sorceries and pyromancies, boots fire damage and resist 
  • Faith: allows for greater miracles, boost lighting/dark damage and resist
(Note: I didn't make that image, but you can click on it to see a larger format and go to the original link.)
Agility is a brand new stat that makes you faster overall, whether it be movement, raising your shield, parrying, using an item, roll speed, and trap disarming. So yeah, it’s pretty important, especially in PvP.
“Break Attack” is a new aspect to strength that affects damage to enemy equipment. I'm not exactly sure what that means; perhaps it gives you more armor penetration or durability damage in PvP? To counter this, there is “Break Resist” which helps resistance against Break Attacks. Makes sense.
Understanding the larger and smaller White Soapstones takes a bit of detective work. From the item descriptions, it would appear that the White Soapstone lasts longer and can bused anywhere while the Small White Soapstone is short-lived and can only be used in specific places. The larger one makes the "summon sign" we’re familiar with while the smaller one makes an "invasion sign." Both of these items appear to grant successful phantoms a “Token of Fidelity.” White phantoms are told “Task Completed” once successful. Successful invading phantoms are rewarded with a “Token of Spite.” the flavor text is below:
Dark Souls II Task Completed
Be summoned as a phantom to another world
in order to help that world's master for
a certain time. You will be rewarded with
a Token of Fidelity for successfully
assisting the other player.
The flow of time is distorted in these lands,
and the White Sign Soapstone allows
Undead to assist one another. Leave summon sign. 
Be summoned as a shade to another world
in order to help that world's master for
a certain time. You will be rewarded for
successfully assisting the other player.
The effect is not as long-lived as that of
the White Sign Soapstone, and it is used
only in particular places to provide assistance.
Each white phantom has an hourglass icon that tells the host how long he/she will have help for. Both white phantoms and invading phantoms have reduced health. So while you’ll be able to be invaded even while hallow, you stand more of a chance due to the surplus of white/blue phantoms and the fact that red phantoms will be naturally weaker than you. Also remember, there will be an entire covenant dedicated to protecting you if you’re in it. The moral of the story: If you want help, you’ll have help.
One of the videos shows the guy pictured below. He is one of those dual-wielding sickle characters, but he has the red color of an invading phantom. This, to me, says there will be a “Grave Lord” type covenant to make other players miserable. I love it. Also, a “Dark Wraith” PvP covenant will exist, it will just be called the “Brotherhood of Blood” instead. Once again, multiplayer is going to be the focus of Dark Souls II, especially through use of covenants.    
Dark Souls II Red Gravelord
The last detail I want to point out is that rings and arrows/bolts add to your equipment burden. Back in the original Dark Souls, rings and arrows/blots we’re 100% weightless. Since archery is a viable tactic in Dark Souls II, you know From Soft has to add a negative to the benefit of such a long range. I can’t imagine rings will be too heavy, but you just know at some point there will be an extremely good ring that will be ridiculously heavy. Looks like you’re going to need to sneak a bit more vitality into your build.

Now let's look at the item descriptions for lore clues. Here are some key names, gods, lands, organizations, materials, and items that pop up: 

  • King Vendrick: just king, leads country to prosperity
  • Iron King: (possibly Vendrick)
  • Straid: sorcerer, friend of King of Olaphis, killed ancient dragons, created sorceries 
  • Llewellyn: master smith, focused on simple and efficient 
  • Tiny Gren: wears heavy hoods
  • Unnamed female saint who uses bows
  • Unnamed greatshield-wielding man (possibly “The Pursuer”)
  • "The Pursuer:" extremely strong and dexterous, greatsword-wileder
  • War God Faraam
  • War God Nahr Alma
  • Lost Land of Olaphis
  • Land of Lindeldt
  • Forossa
  • Melfian Clergy
  • House Osteria
  • Lion Knights: wear heavy armor, from Forossa, nimble two-handed swordplay
  • Drangleic: rivals of Lindelt, knights loyal and recognized by King Vendrick
  • Lindelt: rivals of Drangleic
  • Folkloric: master archers
  • Dragonriders: heavy halberd users loyal to a king
  • Orthodox order of knights from the East:” use greatswords that require high dexterity 
  • Inquisitors: katana-wielding organization that uses oaths
  • Geisteel: light and sturdy metal, crafted by Llewellyn
  • Inscribed Katana: used by accomplished knights, inscribe oaths onto the blades
  • Uninscribed Katana:  knights who failed to distinguish themselves

Sources: [NeoGAF & DemonSouls Forums & Pastie]

YouTube footage: [wanko Leo & monchi mon & iHandsomeDevil]

Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ

About The Author
Andrew Clouther Human, historian, teacher, writer, reviewer, gamer, League of Pralay, Persona fanboy, and GameZone paragon - no super powers as of yet. Message me on the Twitters: @AndrewC_GZ
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