Dark Souls 2 Beta Impressions: Prepare to multiplayer edition

If you follow the Demon Souls and Dark Souls online scene, there is a more than immense chance you’ve come across the name EpicNameBro (ENB) before. If you haven’t, I strongly recommend you check out his YouTube page and just absorb the massive knowledge that exists there.  What I’m getting at here is that he knows his Souls games. So when he went to the Namco Bandai Tokyo Game Show 2013 Press Event today and talked about his Dark Souls II experience, I take it as gospel.

ENB was generous enough to record a 26 minute video about what he learned and experienced during the 20 minutes he got to get his hands on Dark Souls II. The video can be found below. So while I was not there, I need to share his discoveries. I’ll make sure to separate facts from stipulation. With that said, let’s talk about new Dark Souls II discoveries.

First off and perhaps most importantly, prepare to get invaded. While you were in your hollow form in Dark Souls you were protected from players entering your world to attempt to murder your very existence. This won’t be the case in the sequel. That’s right, in both human and hollow form, other players can invade you. So unless you unplug your internet for an offline experience, get ready for sporadic PvP encounters.  

What does this mean exactly? Well no more safe soul farming/leveling anymore. Players are out for blood and they will be entering your world to take it by force. This also means that your builds should focus a bit more on PvP ability and survivability. Purely PvE builds will most likely get you murdered on the way to objectives. Also in Dark Souls, you couldn’t get invaded once the area boss was killed. I don’t know if this holds over to DS2, but if that is the case then this is when you’ll want to grind some.

Covenants are going to play a larger role and feed into this greater multiplayer experience desired in Dark Souls II. With dedicated servers, From Soft wants your experience to be very influenced by other players. ENB talks about a “Covenant of Blue,” which is most likely a placement name, that will literally send you a guardian to protect you when you’re invaded. This guardian is a player in the “Guardian of Blue” covenant. Just by this system alone, we get a glimpse of some of the PvP systems being installed. A “Dark Wraith” equivalent covenant has also been confirmed for those who like to ruin people’s days.

Even White Phantoms will play out differently. There are two types of white soapstone messages, one larger than the other. While phantoms will be on timers for how long they stay in your world for. I assume that the different sized messages are some sort of determination for the length they’ll stay in your world for, but I’m uncertain. Each time a white phantom kills an enemy their time will be reduced. This system encourages the host to actually take part in the game and not rely on the phantom to do 100% of the work. Sure, the phantom can lower the enemy health and have the host finish it, but that promotes co-op gameplay which is the assumed desired result.     

DSII Brdige

The human/hollow system has also been changed. Since you couldn’t get invaded while hollow in Dark Souls, it was almost a benefit to spend most the game hollow. DS2 want to remedy this and give players benefits while human. While in your human form, you’ll have access to all of your hit points. Each time you die you’ll lose a percentage of your total HP until a fixed point. The cure to this process is to become human again. Instead of humanity, DS2 uses an item called a Human Effigy. That’s all I know about this item.

Dexterity will no longer be the casting speed stat. Attunement will be adding this function to the stat in addition to expected extra spells aspect. I expect to see less int/dex builds, but who knows. Also, casting speed will now be a viable stat on your character sheet page. Overall, I see this as good news for players who want to play a caster as their primary role.

On the topic of casters, different stats are rumored to effect different types of spells; similar to how in Dark Souls intelligence applied to sorceries and faith applied to miracles. This part isn’t confirmed, but it’s what ENB noticed. In Dark Souls II intelligence will boost magic/fire damage, faith will boost lightning/dark damage, and dexterity will boost bleed/poison damage. From a gameplay and even lore standpoint, this makes sense to me but is still different enough from Dark Souls.

While ENB only had a 20 minute hands-on experience, he spent 2 of those minutes just on the stats screen. He was uncertain if there is a new stat called “agility,” or if it was dexterity, or if he just didn’t translate it correctly. So this next information is not confirmed but worth mentioning. “Agility” is possibly linked to evasion, raising your shield to block, parrying, and trap disabling. ENB noticed that parrying had a longer wind up which messes with timing. More agility may make this faster. When he played, he was a warrior which had heavier armor. While in that armor and when naked, he rolled at the same speed. This leads us to believe that there is a stat associated with roll speed – possibly this “agility” stat.

DsII Ambush

Overall, ENB said combat felt slower but more hardcore. The enemies are generally more aggressive and more difficult. The demo could be in the middle of the game though where gameplay is more challenging. The AI of the creatures also chases and sticks on you until you die or they die – I love it. Parrying knocks the enemy down, then you have to wait a second, than you can riposte. If you parry then attack instantly you’ll just do a normal attack and miss the riposte window. While not 100% positive, ENB was fairly certain that different weapons have an easier time backstabbing than others. If this is true, he thought this may be a way to balance high damage strength weapons doing massive backstab damage vs. a smaller more dexterous weapon backstabbing.

That’s all I got for now. I couldn’t be more excited for Dark Souls II and March 11th can’t come soon enough. There is a huge emphasis on multiplayer which sounds simply amazing. Did you see those collector’s edition sets!? On a personal note, I started playing Dark Souls a year after it came out and missed the discovery phase of the game and I kick myself over this. This time around I’ll be there at the start and try to add to the community like people like ENB have done; endless thanks for all this great new information. Once again, check out EpicNameBro’s YouTube and get that anticipation flowing through your blood again. Here is a LINK to my hands on time with DS2 from E3. Cross your fingers for that PS3 beta and build the community! I welcome the invasions!