One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Dark Souls II would be a fantastic game, if there was no Dark Souls. Dark Souls II falls short of the heights of its predecessor because it attempts to make both newcomers and veterans of Dark Souls happy. Steps are taken to make the game easier for newcomers, but steps are also taken to amp up the difficulty for the veterans of the franchise. These steps clash against each other and create a less satisfying experience.
Dark Souls II takes place in the world of Drangleic, some time after the events of Dark Souls (it’s unclear exactly how long). You are an undead who came to Drangleic to search for a cure to your undead curse. It is revealed that you are the chosen undead (shocker) and must replace the current monarch who has gone hollow. This is done by collecting four Great Souls (because four is the magic number in the Dark Souls universe) and ascending to the throne.
For those who did not play Dark Souls, your gameplay is the standard block, then attack. Wait for an enemy to complete its attack, then you attack when they’re vulnerable. Only thing is, enemies are significantly more powerful than you. So any misstep on your part results in death or massive damage. When you die, as you often will, you will lose all your souls (the in-game currency) and return to the last bonfire (checkpoint) you rested at. You can regain your souls, but only if you return to the spot you died last. Easy enough, except all your enemies respawn with full health.
Except not. Here’s the first major change in Dark Souls II. If you die enough time in a certain area, the enemies will stop respawning. This makes it easier to keep fighting the boss after you die, but I felt cheated. I felt like the game was judging me, something like “Oh, I see you’re not capable of defeating this boss as is, so let me ease it up for you.” Also, you can’t repeatedly kill the enemies to level up now.
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