Need Humanity: Dark Souls 2 will never be as difficult to a ‘Souls’ fan
I’m going to go ahead and say right now that Dark Souls II is my most anticipated game of this fine year. There, I said it. There's no taking it back. March can’t come soon enough, and I know I will play the ever living piss out of it. While screwing around in Dark Souls over the holiday season (nothing says cheer quite like Dark Souls), I was killing Capra Demon and nostalgically thinking about the absolute dread I felt the very first time ever defeated this boss. I don’t recall the amount of times he killed me my first playthrough, I’ll ballpark over ten – I have no shame. This recent time though, as the “You Defeated” text flashed on the screen the first bout, I came to a frightening realization that things felt different. What if some of this magic is gone from Dark Souls II?
My style of play in game like Dark Souls is to go through it 100% on my own and look up how things are supposed to be done after I finish. When I first encountered Capra Demon, I was a thief with an upgraded starting dagger and had no concept of how damage and weapon stats work. Half the time I would die stun locked by the dogs as Capra would one shot me before I ever even fought him. That’s wildly frustrating. Knowing the tricks to the fight, upgrading your gear, and understanding how weapon stats work makes the battle so much simpler.
At this point, you're probably thinking "Duh, of course knowing the fight and doing it a bunch of times is going to make things easier" and you’d be right. This is the transition into my point. There are more factors that make experience the ultimate guide. After the X time defeating Capra Demon, it isn’t just you knowing the fight – it's you knowing the game. Sure, you’ve gotten better at this specific fight, but your skill from mastery over the game applies in every area of gameplay.
I’ve always found Undead Burg to be the location where you learn how to play Dark Souls. There are a variety of weapons and shields, you learn to backstab, you learn to parry, and you learn the benefits to rolling. It’s difficult your first time through, it doesn’t hold your hand, you can grind, there is a Black Knight (avoidable), and a boss with a trick to it. These skills are the foundation to any of the Souls games. If you’ve played Dark Souls, you know them, you have them, and you don’t need to relearn them.
A few months ago I played through Demon’s Souls because I love Dark Souls, and I'd never played its predecessor. Since I still don't own a PS3, I borrowed one and bought the game. Right off the bat I couldn’t believe just similar to Dark Souls it was. Between movement, controls, and game mechanics, I felt very comfortable from the start. Playing so much Dark Souls made Demon’s Souls a much easier game. There will always be debate over which of the two is more difficult, but it almost seems as though the hardest one is the one you play first. Personally, I feel like the levels in Demon’s Souls are tougher, but the bosses are easier.
What I’m getting at here is that is as a long term and hardcore Souls games fan, Dark Souls II will never be as challenging as your first time through your first Souls game. Yes, you’re going to have to learn some of the new mechanics, unlearn others, and learn every new boss fight – but you're going in with skills and experience from your endless hours playing the previous Souls titles. The Souls games are tough and frustrating, but they're also fair.
Will there ever be another Capra Demon? Will there ever be another Ornstein and Smough? While the Mirror Knight is undeniably hard, how many players defeated the Executioner’s Chariot and the Skeleton Lord on their first attempt during the Network Test? Now imagine you actually got to these bosses with a character you built from the ground up.
Don’t get me wrong, I still die all the time in Souls games, and the random/surprising deaths are always entertaining. Dark Souls II will be challenging, and we’re all going to die a million times. I’m just saying a little of the magic will be gone. Our knowledge of the game makes us that much better at it. I look forward to getting invaded by every one of you. Is it March 11th yet?
Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ