When I think back to the early days of gaming I remember spending hours and hours trying to complete a single title, and many of my most well loved titles I still haven’t actually completed 100% Now obviously I was a young lad and my gaming ability has improved since then, but there is nonetheless something to be said about a game that really challenges the player. Now when I say ‘challenges’ I don’t mean a game that is so outlandishly hard it borderlines on impossible, but rather one that gives the player just enough to survive but actually forces some amount of skill from the player as well. Namco Bandai’s 2011 release Dark Souls was, for many, the perfect challenge. A year later the developer is bringing the title to PC gamers everywhere with the aptly titled Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition.
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition retains everything players loved about the first game, but with loads of new content and a brand new story segment that sends players back in time to learn more about the history of the game world. Anyone thinking that the world of Dark Souls was any easier before the events of the original scenario will be in for quite the surprise; the new content has all the challenge of the original and then some.
Upon picking up the title I was immediately dropped into a boss battle with a scorpion-tailed chimera and had my butt handed to me. Repeatedly. Harkening back to my experiences with the original scenario it took me multiple attempts at this boss to simply figure out how to approach the battle. By the time I figured out the proper strategy to take with this chimera I realized I was running short on time and needed to see the rest of the game. Thanks to some developer magic I was able to press forward and make my way into one of the new areas and take on new enemies.
One of the most impressive areas of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is its sprawling seamless world that fully integrates dungeons and open areas. Everywhere you can see, you can go, no matter how high or low. Want to go climb a mountain? Well you can, and there’s probably something waiting for you when you reach the peak. Seeing the game running on a high end PC really highlighted how much work was put into even the smallest of details. And as much as I wanted to stop and spin the camera around to take in the views, there were enemies around every corner and even the most basic of enemies require the player’s utmost attention. New golem-like Stone Knights proved particularly difficult to take down.
Besides the new areas, enemies, and story content the biggest addition to the original Dark Souls is the inclusion of a new PVP mode that allows players to take their characters online in 1v1, 2v2, and 4 player battle royales. In addition to adding quite the replay value to an already long game, the new multiplayer functionality allows players to build their characters by fighting against actual people instead of just grinding with the same computer-controlled enemies over and over again. Multiplayer in this game is not limited to PVP, though; via network play players will also be able to run into each other in the game world, track other players’ progress, leave messages for each other (survival strategies or misleading information, it’s up to you) as well as join together to take on more difficult bosses cooperatively.
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is hardly a hack and slash fest; beneath the butt-kicking boss battles and inevitable rage quits to come is one of the most complicated and nuanced roleplaying systems out there. Character development is key to progression here, and players will find a way to move their character forward in a way that is unique to the individual. Namco Bandai has really put as much work under the hood as they have on the top-coat of paint. What’s more, with over 60 hours of gameplay (not including all the time you’ll spend dying and redoing areas) this is a title that will keep you busy for quite some time.
If you're prepared to die…. and I know I am, you're in luck because Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition drops for PC on August 24th, with all of the new content coming to consoles as DLC sometime later this year.