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on March 23, 2014
Before my review I would like to address some complaints people have and inform you how to avoid these situations and potential angry moments towards the game. The complaints I'll briefly address will be 'the game is too hard', leveling and improving your estus flask.

So, while hollow, when you die your health bar progressively gets smaller and smaller until you are at 50% health. To avoid this you can use a human effigy to restore your humanity and then wear a Ring of Life Protection. Like Dark Souls 1 this ring will break when you die but you won't lose any of your souls or humanity and you'll be returned to the last bonfire without having to risk returning to where you died. But here's how it's different from Dark Souls 1 in this game you can repair your broken Ring of Life Protection in Majula for 3,000 souls at the blacksmith. Which takes out essientially any risk factor in the game, making the game easier than Dark Souls 1 not harder. And I've come across three of these rings.

People also seem to have trouble with understanding how to level up or how to level up their estus flask. You don't level up at bonfires anymore, you level up from the lady in green by the bonfire in Majula and only her. Leveling up your estus flask is not done by increasing the intensity of bonfires doing that in this game by using a bonfire ascetic makes that specific area NG+ difficulty and respawns the enemies including bosses. So you give the lady in green estus flask shards to increase your total count of estus flasks and to increase their healing ability you have to burn sublime bone dust at the bonfire. These items are found throughout the game as you progress.

-Overall I feel like the story is easier to understand than the first game. And that it's overall more fun.
-Graphics are improved from Dark Souls 1.
-Movement, jumping, rolling and combat are improved.
-Summoning is now easier especially with friends by using the name engraved ring.
-All new enemies, covenants, weapons and areas for the most part.
-Very in depth game where you get to choose your path fighting numerous bosses along the way. Depending on which initial routes you take you will fight them in a different order than someone else and a lot are missable.
-The sense of reward and accomplishment is still there like with the first game.
-I would rate this a high 9 out of 10.
-Overall I like the improvements and how they simplified things. For example in Dark Souls 1 if you had 3 specific souls you wanted to use you had to use them individually. Now you can select the amount and use them all at once. Little improvements like that are nice but all in all the game is greatly improved over the first one.

-Humanity. The counter is gone from the top left corner. Now human effigies are used to become human.
-Leveling up your character and estus flask.
-Leveling up only can be done in Majula, which is Firelink Shrine of DS2.
-Increasing bonfire intensity makes the game more difficult for that specific area.
-Additional useable items, right/left hand slots, and two more ring slots.
-Each armor piece has its own section now so it isn't all clumped into one location.
-Decreasing health bar while hollow (having the dark pyromancy glove scales with your 'hollowness').
-The Dark Souls 1 DLC that added 'dark magic' is now more prominent in this game they're called hexes.
-New 'cross region' feature added in the in game menu which allows you to restrict it for better connection during co-op and PvP which I find does work. I've had very few laggy moments.
-You are now matched with people based on your soul level AND overall total soul count. Meaning staying low level to match low levels will no longer work for PvP.
-Name engraved ring which allows for you to connect with friends easier while wearing it.
-Along with the cross region being set to restricted by default so is in game voice chat.
-Soul Vessels acquired throughout the game allow you to reallocate your skill points.
-Fairly in depth tutorial at the beginning for new players.
-You can no longer farm enemies in this game they will stop respawing after you kill them around 10 times.
-Only one ember required for all weapon infusions.

This game is loads of fun which you will undoubtedly spend at least 60+ hours per playthrough. The sense of reward and accomplishment is still there like the first game when you defeat a tough boss that has killed you multiple times. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fun challenge. And I hope this review / mini guide helps out.
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on April 18, 2014
I've had my share of DS2 review comments up here and now that I'm finally far enough along in the game I figured I'd make my own review of this one. I'm looking at this from the perspective of a longtime DS1 player so that might skew some elements and I appologize in advance.

The good:

It's for sure a Dark Souls game, make no mistake. It's gritty, it's difficult, you'll die hundreds of times easily (the last time I checked the monolith I was at 351 and that was a week ago). When you finally take down that boss who's taken you out 20 times in a row you'll jump up and down and start screaming like a little girl regardless of the time of day.. You have access to tons of weapons, armor, rings, and other magical items to help you along the way.

They've made some very good improvements this time around. For starters, characters can now equip up to 4 rings instead of 2. Considering the giant amount of useful rings you'll get, this was almost a necessity. You can even find upgraded rings occassionaly that increase the core effect at the cost of some minor additional weight and slightly lower item durability ( a trade well worth it, to be sure). Your guy can now equip up to 3 weapons per hand to swap out on the fly and this is just fantastic. As a tank who's started to go the sorcery route it's nice not having to go into your full inventory just to whip out a sorcerer's staff for that 90 second 'magic weapon' buff.

Online play for the most part has been greatly improved. Not only do the connections seem more stable, you can find many people to play with at any time of the day. Now this could be because DS2 is a relatively new game, but only time will tell on that one. Jolly co-op with players through a difficult area or boss enemy, invade guys to screw up their PvE action, invade players who've invaded too many times to teach them a lesson- it's just really cool. I usually hate PvP in my games but it's tolerable and even borderline fun in this one.

There are no "Blight Town Framerate Drops-(tm)" in this game. That was a really bad sticking point with the first game for me. It made me want to grab the master key and completely skip that area in each subsequent playthrough and that's not right.

Magic is now awesome. I never used magic much in DS1, but here it's not only useful many spells are borderline OP. I like some of the aux spells the best. For example, if you see that you're getting invaded you can cast the chameleon spell and turn into a vase or a crate or something and hide from the invader. Or better still, joint the rat brothers covenant and turn into a box and wait until a tresspasser phantom shows up and when he walks by.. BLAMMO! The tresspasser has been vanquished. This might sound like a crappy thing to do but remember these are the same guys who'll invade you at the most inopportune times while you're running for your life in those last few game areas.

There are more viable weapon types this time around, most notably whips. There are many more whips in this game and unlike the 2 or whatever you got in DS1, these can actually kill more than your average Firelink Shrine brand hollow wussies. In fact, I'd say whips are the best weapon to take out those lion enemies at the shaded woods fort.

Equipment can still be upgraded, and most of it can be further enhanced with either fire, lightning, dark, poison, bleeding, etc, you get the idea. Curiously missing in this installment is the Holy attribute from the first game, but oh well what can you do? Infusing a weapon will reduce its stat scaling and lower its base damage, but in some cases it's still worth it. For instance, I've infused my mace +10 with magic because my high INT (intelligence) score boosted that magic damage a lot. This is all optional, and up to you.

The bad:

The world / level design, while good, isn't nearly on par with the bar they set with DS1. Let me allow a special guest to tell you about this: C'mon up, Galvan! "I GALVAN, IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE!" "GALVAN DEAL, DARK SOULS 2 MAP LIKE WHEEL!!" Yes, I'd like to think of the overall world layout of DS2 as a wheel design. That is, a central hub area (Majula, the main town) and many other single spokes that lead out to other game areas. In contrast, DS1's map design was like this genius vertical pretzel- Each area seemed to be interconnected to many others.

There are not nearly enough 100% physical reduction shields in this game. Even most of the largest greatshields you'll find towards the endgame. This is just a strange design descision. I mean I guess they did this because nobody in their right mind ever used a non 100% phys reduction shield in DS1 aside from maybe the Grass Crest Shield for the stamina reduction, who knows? For this very reason, I've kept the drangelic shield I found towards the start of the game all the way up to the Dragon Aerie and beyond when my main Fire Rebel Greatshield +10 doesn't cut the mustard.

It's awesome that you can easily summon help at most of the bosses, but honestly some of these things are just too cheap. To the point that I don't know how I would have ever beat some of them without other players' phantoms to assist me. Try soloing the Old Iron king with dual daggers or something and tell me how that works out. I love the single player campaign of most games but I fear when this game has aged to the point where summons are hard to find I'm going to have some real tough times ahead.

Now when you die, they reduce your max HP a little. Every time you die. This will eventually stop when you're at 50%, but honestly I think this game mechanic sucks. Now there IS a ring you can find that will lessen this effect, but I don't think this is a good 'reward' for a player who's died because something was too hard for him. See, wasn't that hard? Guess what, now you'll have even less life than before. Now it's harder. Hooray! I'm not a wuss when it comes to hard games, I just don't think this was a very smart idea.

Another controversial aspect of the game is a new stat called "Soul Memory". It's a running total of every single soul you've ever collected thus far. At first I thought this was kind of cool- like how some games will tell you how many gold pieces you've ever earned, you know for curiousity's sake. Unfortunately, this isn't just for show it actually does something. I guess it's used for summons compatability. So instead of using your overall Soul Level they use this. This isn't a good idea IMO. For example, I stayed away from GameFAQs and wikis for this game for awhile because I didn't want to have anything spoiled for me for a few weeks. So in this time I was laying down my summon signs in order to help other players defeat some of the game's first couple bosses for fun, and it was a good source of souls to boot. The problem with this is that my Soul Memory kept getting higher and higher, and then eventually I COULDN'T be summoned for help anymore for that boss. I guess they put this system in to prevent twinks and other crap, but I don't know..

Overall, the game controls seem a bit 'off' too. Like you'll go to swap weapons or two-hand a sword and it just won't work, so you'll have to press the button twice. This sounds like no big deal but when you're a split second away from getting whacked by the Smelter Demon's firey sword you'll see how much this can suck.

Also when you're at a store and want to buy some new gear there's no way to tell if it's better or worse than what you're already wearing. For some bizarre reason they took this useful and dare I say necessary aspect from the first game (and most games, ever) out for DS2. So if you're looking at a flamberge and are toting a greatsword you'll be hectically swapping stat screens trying to see if that flamberge is better (blue numbers) or worse (red numbers) and it's futile because IT'S NOT THERE. I'd say I really hope they patch this feature in later but it's probably a big pain in the ass to do now after the fact. I guess there's always Dark Souls 3 for this?

A good thing is that there's more NPCs to talk to, but the bad thing is that many of them are just so damn boring as hell and uninteresting. In DS1, there were not a lot of other people to talk to- and many of them died- but at least they were good. There's nobody on par with Seigmeyer the Onion Bro here I'm afraid. Galvan is the best one I can think of, but that could be because he's the only guy who you can sell your stuff to. And where's the levity? Remember how everybody in DS1 thought everything was funny, no matter how bleak their situations really were? How many times did they laugh after talking to you? "Well, better to be burned in acid than be crushed by a boulder. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!"
11 comment14 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 27, 2014
I would like to start this off by saying that I am a huge fan of the first Dark Souls. While I am not the stoutest supporter, I still gave it a good run, completing the game and playing through new game plus. The first game was difficult, but incredibly fair. Every situation was surmountable. The gameplay, especially combat, was very tight and precise. I can think of only one death I experienced playing the original Dark Souls that was not my fault (it wasn't even really the gameplay; my character got caught in a wall and fell out of the geometry of the game). Dark Souls 2 does not continue this method of fair gameplay. The sequel instead forgoes the precise combat, all while raising the stakes and asking even more of you in the process. I'm fine with the depleting life-bar and the tougher enemies. But the combat needs to be fixed. I cannot tell you how many times I have been hit in combat when the blow didn't connect. Likewise, there have been many times that a blow connected, but no damage was taken/given. There have also been plenty of times that I have hit a button only to have it not work (I tried two controllers on this). The hitbox is inaccurate, whether you are the one dealing or receiving damage. This makes it really difficult to plan attacks in boss fights, as you never really know if you're going to get screwed over for it. Granted, this may not be a problem with every copy of the game. Other people have noted issues such as the world not feeling as interconnected as the last game, the decrease in quality of graphics and lighting, difficulty in-balance from one area to the next. These things didn't bother me quite as much. I like the graphics and lighting in the game, it creates a great atmosphere, even if textures aren't quite up to the speed of the last game. I like a lot of things about this game, even if it isn't as brilliantly paced, balanced, or constructed as its predecessor. I love the new creatures, the new level designs, the improved archery, the higher frame rate (thank God). But the buggy combat is an issue for a game that relies so heavily on fair and accurate gameplay in order to counter its brutal difficulty. No matter how well constructed the game might be, no matter how carefully enemies are placed, it all falls apart if you can't rely on the mechanics of the combat. The game becomes cheap, and I can't help but feel trolled. Maybe this is an issue that they will resolve with a patch, but for the moment, I have no desire to play anymore. The first Dark Souls made you feel accomplished when you overcame. The new one merely makes you feel lucky, and is all the masochism of the first game and none of the gain.

Long and short of it, its a good game with a major flaw in an otherwise great combat system. If you go in expecting this, and you're patient, then it may be worth it for you.

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on June 19, 2014
I didn't think it was possible, but they did it. They improved a lot of things in Dark souls 2 compared to the previous game. Things like, Fast travel allowed early on, more diverse rank ups, more diverse move sets for weapons, and it is harder because you get punished if you die a lot. Your health will be halved if you die a certain amount of times.

I give this game a 10/10 because I put 180 hours into this game. Versus the 70 hours in the first dark souls which I gave a 9/10. If you are a casual fan of the first dark souls, then you will love this game. If you are a diehard fan of the first dark souls, then you might not like this game because you have certain standards that aren't easily satisfied. Hope this helps a little. I would type more but my hands hurt.
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on March 11, 2014
Let me start by saying that DSII is awesome but very hard, most likely only hardcore or masochistic people will enjoy this game. You must learn from your mistakes, and you -WILL- die, a lot. If you disliked Dark Souls you most likely won't enjoy Dark Souls II since they are so similar, but if you did enjoy Dark Souls then you know what you're in for. DSII is familiar in a way DS vets will understand (controls, mechanics, UI mostly the same), with enough new material and variation to keep things fresh.

A few great changes: you can warp from any bonfire to any other bonfire you've already discovered, basic fast-travel is fine and unlocked at the beginning of the game; secondly, DSII holds a solid 30fps at all times even when there are a dozen things happening on screen at once (remember how awful Blighttown was in Dark Souls?); thirdly, DSII has an updated game engine and visually it's an obvious step above DS, the lighting is especially enhanced and really makes for some fun exploring - especially when monsters come sneaking out of the shadows! You're also able to light torches at bonfires now which helps you explore extra dark areas, it's a very cool feature.

Souls `vets will find just as much difficulty as DS offered and new players may find the game a bit strenuous. Players who explore, persist, and learn from their deaths will find great reward in the new challenges DSII offers - especially those players who explore each nook and cranny in the world. The stakes have never been higher in DS, with each death your total life will be reduced, and while a rare human effigy will restore this, it makes each venture into the unknown a tad overwhelming (which is kinda the point, amirite?).

Multiplayer is monstrously improved this time, connections are smoother, and joining another player is much easier - the best part, if you summon another player you get an immediate response whether or not it was a success, thank goodness! It wasn't as hard for me to buddy up with a phantom in the first few hours and we had a jolly good time breaking faces. There are new covenants this time around, each offers a different take on multiplayer, but I won't spoil those here.
New-Game+ is here as always but now you can choose when to begin, very nice if you're holding off for late game PvP. Over all it's a really dang fun and a worthy successor to Dark Souls, definitely a must buy for me.

One thing is for certain though, DSII is not watered down.

Prepare to die, over and over and over again.
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on September 24, 2014
First off I just want to start off by saying yes I played the first Dark Souls but gave up because some of the bosses were actually affecting my mental health. The first game could be brutal and absolutely unforgiving. The sequel takes what made the first one so great: boss and game design and toned down the challenge just enough to still be very difficult and reward patience without feeling like you never had a chance. Dark Souls 2 had me hooked to my Xbox 360 for 2 weeks straight, farming souls for hours before I was powerful enough to take on that last boss that got the better of me. My first playthrough took me around 75 hours but don't think this is a game about only beating it once. The second time you play through it your character level, weapons, armor, and most non quest related items will carry right over for infinite playthroughs. You'll also be able to acquire new, more powerful weapons and armor, and have access to parts of the world that were inaccessible during your very first playthrough. Make no mistake, this is still Dark Souls. I would say that enemies are more difficult than in DS1 but bosses were quite a bit tougher in DS1. That's not a bad thing though because if you never played DS1 the bosses were quite unfair. Yes, I know people in the Dark Souls community don't like to use the word "unfair" but most of the bosses in DS1 were. Anyways to sum up my review, this is a must buy and so far my favorite game of 2014. If you are an RPG fan or looking for a unique gaming experience then this is a must buy.
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on June 20, 2014
Let me start with a fair warning. If you are looking for a clone of dark souls this is not it. If you see any negative reviews for this game it is likely because it differs too much from the original for some people. I think those people just may not have wanted any changes at all. That all being said, I love the game so much. It's a brand new world and a brand new story filled with new creatures, npcs, weapons, and a new world to explore. There are slight variations on menus and ways certain things are done but for the most part it is the same game. I think the things that are different won't be off putting to most true dark souls fans. Graphics are superb. Overall I think the game lived up to everything I hoped it would.
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on December 18, 2014
This game is ridiculously, over-the-top difficult!! Seriously, I died as soon as I started. Literally, took two steps forward and was mauled by some crazy dog things. Re-spawned, took a few more cautious steps forward - fell off a cliff. After a few weeks of coaching from a friend I was able to get the hang of the combat controls. I think it's growing on me now that I got the combat down, but the pace of the game is achingly slow...I'll give it a few more sessions, then probably give up. I'm not a huge gamer, so maybe that's why this game didn't work for me?
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on March 17, 2014
A true oldschool RPG. Very hard and not for the faint of heart. A lot of poeple quit before they really get going. I almost gave up but a friend told me to keep playing. It gets better as you go, not that it was bad, just very hard at the beginning. The combat is tough but very fun, you die a lot - but that is the tag line of the game:

Prepare to DIE!!

If you stick it out you'll love it, it feels likea crossover between dark souls and demon souls. A lot of people complain about changes (what's new?) but they changes arent game breaking, just different. Evolve and move forward. It always helps to summon friends in game to help with tough areas or bosses. Would recommend, but only if you like punishment.
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on August 16, 2014
I absolutely love this game. This game is a love and/or hate affair. The reason for the "and/or", is that even if you love this game, you are liable to rage quit at some point. This game is meant to be extremely hard, and requires a lot of trial and error. Enemies hit hard, and they can sometimes alter tactics against you; which can make following a walkthrough a fruitless exercise. The game really doesn't have a story arc. It basically gives you a brief history and tells you what your final goal is. You then must find your own way to the next point; without any real assistance from the game. On top of all this, other players can invade your game; which lock you into a certain small area of your current location until either one of you are defeated. The invasions can be either accepted by you, (by going up to red sign on the ground and summoning an invader) or someone can force an invasion into a random player's realm. You can choose to play offline, to avoid these conflict; but they don't give you an option to turn it off. You have to cut your internet connection, or be in party chat (regardless if you are the only one in the party). Also, if you cut your internet connection while being invaded, the game recognizes this and administers penalties to your account. You can be in private chat and remain online, however. The penalties are basically that co-op summons from other players are less likely to appear and invasions are more likely to happen when you are online. There are ways to fix that, so it's not a game breaker if you choose such practices to avoid being invaded. Don't expect to get help from those on your friend's list to help you via co-op. While it could happen, one or both of you would need to be in a "human" state (as opposed to a "hollow" state). Only player's in a "human" state can summon other players (as in being the "host"); while you can be in either a "human" or "hollow" state to be summoned. You can summon up to 2 allies. This makes the enemies tougher, but the benefits definitely outweigh the disadvantages.

To summarize, if you love a challenge and don't mind having your hand held guiding you throughout the game; you may want to give this game a look. If you prefer working alone, or playing with random people, this game maybe further appealing. However, if you like annoying other people with the prospect of invading their game and ruining their day, expect negative feedback for some players to mess with your reputation. This game brings out the best, and the worst in gamers. In that regard, you must truly experience this, to fully appreciate it.
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