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on March 11, 2014
As a person who played Dark Souls to death (haha) and watched just about every lore video I could find on Youtube, this collector's guide is a must-have for any fan of the series. To begin with, the guide contains just about every single enemy (from minions to bosses) as well as the different types of armor sets with pictures included. On each enemy, there is a small paragraph that details the lore of the character which was written in company with EpicNameBro, the man who became famous for his Dark Souls lore videos on Youtube. The guide is in full-color with bosses having a bigger picture frame, clear map details, A list (and pictures of) the different types of weapons, armors, and spells. And yes, they have an index that's simple to use also! The authors also painstakingly wrote the guide to the point where you won't miss a single thing such as making sure you have enough of X items or Y amount of enemies are in each room and what to prepare for.

All in all, I'm very grateful they put so much detail into a guide that will definitely get lots of use out of whether it's for light reading, when you're stuck, or for being a completionist!
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VINE VOICEon March 12, 2014
Future Press made the guide for the original Dark Souls. It was probably one of the most helpful strategy guides I'd ever used. The layout and design made it user friendly, but more importantly, the strategies and info contained within the guide were invaluable. As far as strategy guides were concerned, very few could compliment their game the way the original Dark Souls guide did. So I was very pleased to see that Future Press made a guide for Dark Souls II. And I was even more pleased to see that they stuck to the same design they used for the first guide. That is to say that this guide is very user friendly and has A LOT of information for the player. It is an encyclopedia for Dark Souls II. If you need a leg up in Dark Souls II this guide will give it to you.

The guide begins by explaining all the basics and the game system. Even Dark Souls veterans might want to start here as there are a few major changes from the first game. While combat hasn't changed much it is worth reading about things such as the Human Effigy system and how dying works in this one. Beyond that all the basics are still there. If there's more that you want to learn about combat, you can find it here. But the most useful stuff is all the preliminary things. The guide not only fully details combat and everything there is to know about it, but it also talks about all the stats and attributes. It also gives a run down of all the classes and how to best develop them. More than that, it even helps you get started by suggesting a gift for veterans (or non veterans) to take. If you are confused about anything in Dark Souls II you should most definitely start with the game basics section of this guide. Without it you'll be lost. It also gives you basic tips about exploring. Basic tips on how to utilize some stats to the best of their ability. These are all things to take in. Most guides typically tend to focus on the most basic of basic stuff, but Future Press really seems to want you to understand the game you're playing. Being that Dark Souls II doesn't really explain anything to you (such as advanced combat) it's probably a good thing. Even returning Dark Souls veterans have a lot of learn from this section.

Once we get beyond the basics, the walkthrough begins. Here it is known as the area guide. It's very complimentary to the game itself. Each section begins with a list of items in the area you can find as well as the enemies there. There are also neatly drawn maps that are easy to read and understand. The maps will point out items, bonfires and points of interest. The walkthrough is laid out in a wave point like fashion. That is to say that if you see "1" on the map you need to look for "1" in the text so that you can see what you need to do at point "1". This makes for a really well organized guide. It's a very text heavy guide, though. One that tells you everything you need while also pointing out how things may change upon you doing it. It's very specific, direct and to the point with everything it says. And it will show you everything. It won't really "spoil" the story, but if you're the type that likes to explore on your own the guide most definitely does not leave any stone unturned. Every area is covered in full detail.

The walkthrough is also easy to use because of how well organized it is. When reading the text it will always tell you which screen shot you need to look at to make sure you understand what they mean (each screenshot is numbered). There are also "position points." These are markers to tell you exactly where you need to be standing to get to certain items or where to find very specific enemies. If you are one who insists on not reading the walkthrough, you can make do with just the maps alone.

It is what the text is saying that's also important. They tell you when powerful enemies are nearby (and sometimes if you're strong enough to take them) and it tells you how to go about things in clear detail. The walkthrough is exhaustive, though. It's absolutely huge. It can be a lot to take in, making the game come across as a lot more intimidating than it is. But the walkthrough is also precise, which is nice.

Each section of the walkthrough ends by detailing the enemies you encounter. In the original Dark Souls guide there was a separate chapter just for talking about the enemies that made for some needless page flipping at times. Here all new enemies are detailed when you first encounter them. If you used Future Press's first Dark Souls guide then you know this is probably one of the most important portions of the guide. Every enemy is given a short profile. After that the guide details a strategy to defeat the enemy. Their attacks are also detailed in a chart that also tells you whether or not you can block those attacks. Bosses get a lot more attention, however. Instead of just a chart, there is a detailed explanation of each attack, including screenshots to show you what the attack looks like. The guide also gives you tips on how to block or evade the attack. Again, this may be one of the most important things to take from the guide. Reading about your enemies is one of the biggest keys to survival in Dark Souls II.

The walkthrough also has other tiny aspects that make it good. It will give you a rating on how difficult a section is, as well as suggest a soul level for you to be at for the area. All this makes for such a comprehensive walkthrough that it becomes more like a companion than it does just a set of instructions. It's very detailed and has a lot of depth.

After the walkthrough are the appendices for weapons, items, armor, spells and shields. Everything is given exact stats. You can also see what everything looks like. This is a huge portion of the guide, but still rather helpful in a lot of ways. The spells are especially nice to read about because it's more than just a description, it actually gives strategies on how to utilize them. The same goes for some of the times. It isn't just reprinting the flavor text you see in the game, you'll actually learn about the stuff you're using and sometimes how to use it.

After all this is done with, the guide jumps into all the extras. Here you'll learn about the various NPCs and covenants. The guide will tell you how to progress NPC stories. If there are any rewards to be obtained the guide will tell you how to get them. The same goes for covenant characters. You'll learn about the covenant, learn about how to level that covenant up and you'll learn where to find them. The guide also lists all the merchants you'll find. You'll learn what they sell, how much of it they carry and how much it'll cost you. NPCs that can be attacked also have their stats listed. The guide also goes into any optional areas in the extras chapter, providing the same information you saw in the walkthrough.

There's more to the extras than just the optional stuff. The guide also makes sure to provide you with a lot of info concerning New Game+. This is very valuable for players who intend to go through the game in this fashion. What may strike some players as quite cool, though, is that there is an achievement/trophy guide in the guide. For some trophies it'll provide strategies on how to get them. If you're someone who likes achievements and trophies you should certainly give this section a look.

With all this information, the guide is definitely exhaustive. At 464 pages that's a lot of info scattered throughout. No doubt you'll be page flipping for a long time (it's a shame there's no ribbon bookmark or anything). There's an index in the back that can direct you to just about anything you need. But needless to say there will be a lot of page flipping in this guide.

The only word of caution about this guide is a simple one. The data for some monsters, weapons and armor is likely to change should FromSoftware ever decide to update the game in any fashion. It will NOT make the strategies and walkthrough useless at all, but it might affect how many souls an enemy drops or how strong a piece of armor could be. The inherent data could change, but it isn't likely enemies in and of themselves will. The first Dark Souls guide was never useless, but when the first patch came the data provided about monsters (soul drops, in particular) was no longer needed. The strategies were still top notch, the maps were still top notch and enemy strategies ceased to change. The data was more or less the only thing that did. Should Dark Souls II receive a patch it could potentially change some of the data contained within the guide. The introduction in the guide even mentions this, and thus this may be why there's less emphasis on the data about your enemies and more emphasis on strategies about how to defeat them.

All that aside, the Dark Souls II Official Strategy Guide is a must have for Dark Souls fans. You will still surely die in your journey. Several times. But at least with this guide by your side you'll be prepared for some of the worst Dark Souls has to offer.
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on March 18, 2014
Allow me to preface by saying that Dark Souls II is so complicated and its levels are so detailed that creating a perfect book would be next to impossible without an extra hundred pages or so. And in general, the information within it has been very helpful. But there were things that could and should have been done to make this much better.

1. The maps are drawn with several floors, as they should be, as the areas in Dark Souls are as deep as they are sprawling. But it would have been much easier to follow had they labeled where one set of stairs or a ladder connected to the next floor. This could easily be done by using a letter, number or some common symbol on both maps.

2. While the description of the enemies is good, noting what type of damage they are vulnerable to would be useful.

3. It shows if items have special effects, but doesn't always state by how much. For example, if a helmet increases the item discovery rate, knowing by how much, so it can be compared with other equipment with similar effects would be helpful.

4. The boss souls can be traded for specific items, but all the book says is under the item effect is "Acquire XXXX Souls or trade for item." The name of the items traded for would be helpful.

5. After reading through the book, I still don't know what the agility stat does. It just says that it improves your estus drinking speed and

6. The pages smudge very easily.

7. Lastly, and most importantly, the book has LOTS of misspellings and other typos that really should have been caught and fixed before publication. In the equipment descriptions, there are some pieces of equipment that describe one piece and show the stats and pictures for another.

This may seem like a lot, but for a book this size, covering a game this vast, it could be a lot worse. And there is a lot of very useful information that I may never have figured out on my own, and this is a game that has a lot of hidden little gems that you probably would never figure out any other way.
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on March 11, 2014
This hardcover Collector's Edition guide is divided into 4 sections/chapters.

Chapter 1 is about starting the game. This section goes into detail about the basic mechanics of Dark Souls II, like how to identify a character's possible covenant and, probably most importantly, how things have changed from Dark Souls I. Pay close attention to all sections that have an 'ii' symbol next to them. This highlights a change that has been made from the first game. For example, next to the description of the estus flask, it mentions that now to improve the flask, you have to find estus shards and bring these back to the emerald herald in order to have more uses. You start the game with only one estus flask use upon receiving it, not 5 like you do in the original Dark Souls. From reading the first section, I've realized the way I played DS is not going to cut it in DSII. I will be required to carefully use healing items and human effigies and not waste them throughout the game. This section is well worth reading before you even start your game.

Chapter 2 is the basic walkthrough with maps, suggested route to take throughout the game, recommended level for the area that you are in (the game sections have a skull rating showing how difficult that section is), hidden routes and items, soul count for each enemy, and strategies on how to kill those annoying enemies. I like to play a game and discover it for myself, but I do like to refer to this kind of section when there is a key item that must be found, or when I'm just plain lost, or to find out whether I'm wandering into a real dangerous section and I want to avoid losing 30 mins of hard soul grinding and get back quickly to a safe area. So this section could end up being a nice welcome mat, and a way to get out of a sticky situation.

Chapter 3 is the nuts and bolts of the book. It gives you a list of all the weapons, armors, spells, items, etc. in the game. This is the section I'll probably use the most as I like to have an idea what are some of the best early weapons and armor to look out for and what is a good mid-range game weapon armor etc. that is worth investing the time in to upgrade fully. Nothing is more frustrating to me than upgrading an item with rare resources to later come along one which would have been better to pick for the long haul. I already have an idea by studying this section that (1) I need to be careful with how I use my human effigies, (2) healing items are going to play a far more important role in this game, and (3) I can even turn a section of a game into the equivalent of new game+ to grind some extra souls. Though before I even consider something so drastic, I would want to be very strong for sure, so I suggest taking time out before starting your play through to study this section as it will most likely save a lot of heartache later on down the line.
On a personal note, I would have preferred to be able to see how many of an item is in the game world. This guide doesn't do that, and it would have been nice to know if there are plenty of a certain item, so then it's not so bad if I have to burn through a number of an item as I can recoup some later on in the game.

Chapter 4 is more for the NG+, and if you're like me and usually looking for that elusive trophy, this will be a very helpful guide for getting that one trophy you missed. Good to use when looking for conditions for a hidden trophy and if you're a completionist and want to find everything that there is. I'll really use this section later in my play through. There is a new map for optional area, new bosses, a lore index and a general index, and a trophy/achievement guide.

Overall, this is a very good strategy guide and is sure to help you on your quest to beat the game of Dark Souls II. The maps are detailed, the stats are great, and it will make your play through of the game easier. I hope that in the future the designers might consider adding the total number of an item and maybe have a rank order for armor and weapons for different types of classes rather than having to really study the stats in detail. Personally, for instance, I would like to be told that for a knight class that x weapon is the best and y armor is the best for that class rather than me studying the stats and making an assumption for myself. Overall, 4 stars means I'm happy with this guide and will get good use out of it.

As a side note, the Amazon price of $20.99 is less than the price I paid at another retailer this morning.
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on December 17, 2015
I got this to help me out with the ps4 Scholar of the First sins version of the game. This guide was not made for that version since the scholar of the first sin is slightly different than the original version, however this guide still does its job perfectly. I have only found minor differences such as certain enemies not being shown in the guide (I haven't really found much else different yet), the differences are minor and not a big deal at all to me. It covers all the trophies and explains everything to get the harder ones like how to get all the gestures, which is a huge help.

This guide literally covers everything about the game. From starting off it goes over your hud and what everything means and does, all the buttons, leveling up, what bonfires are and do, all the different stats from vigor, endurance, strength and all that. It gives you tips and strategies for fighting bosses, enemies, and it goes step by step throughout the game telling you which paths to take and what to expect while taking them.

In the map section it goes over every area telling you where to find all the items and enemies (which is a little in-accurate for the first sin edition). It goes over quests and how to complete them all. It covers all the items and weapons and where to find them and it gives you strategies of how to use each to their full potential.

With the bosses it tells you all about their attacks and how to avoid them It gives you their weaknesses and everything you could want to know so you can beat them. With all the other monsters it also tells you tips to beat them, the blood echoes and items they drop, weakness, and such.

I could go on all day about what's in this guide but just trust me when I say that this guide covers EVERYTHING (unless you have the scholar of the first sin edition, then it only almost covers everything). The book is massive and weighs a bit, its made very well and the cover is beautiful. This guide is one of the best I have even if it covers the old version of the game. I cant recommend this enough and it will save you lots of time and make you die a little less (hopefully) :)
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on March 9, 2014
Does exactly what it says in the description. and most of it was wrote from the Dark Souls Community. I personally bought it for the Lore aspect and also the details about NG+.
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‘Dark Souls II CE Strategy Guide’ published by Future Press is manual that was eagerly anticipated by numerous players of this great and extensive game which were so far finding all the game information on the net.

And although it is often the case, especially lately, that the manuals for the game disappoint the fans once they come out, with this guide luckily that was not the case because it is good, thorough and beautifully designed book that leads reader/player through the game making it recommended to anyone who so far enjoyed game or plan to do so.

The book contains plenty of helpful information, starting from detailed description on each enemy, map details, list of armor, useful weapons and magic, together with index which is a great thing in games of this type, where there is large quantity of various data that can be searched by various criteria. The authors made great overview of all the enemies that can be found inside the game and they even went so far as to specify the exact number of enemies encountered or things that can be found somewhere making this guide a good choice for casual gamers who want as quickly as possible and as painlessly go through the game.

After a long time it seems to me that this is a game guide that can be used as a benchmark for others to follow, because besides the nice visuals full in color and a lot of information that offers both for experienced and less skilled players, it’s beautifully designed and in every way is luring attention.

I plan to give it as a gift, but I could not resist to write a review right away because it is a brilliant book that I can recommend from the heart.
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on March 22, 2014
My first reaction to the detail and size of this guide, was that it was comparable to some of my college textbooks. I was through the majority of the game by the time I got it, but I like using it as a reference guide for weapons, items, and lore. I was also able to look back and see some of the things I missed, and I honestly never would have known certain areas existed or known how toobtain some of the items. Considering the Dark Souls 2 wiki page is a work in progress this was really nice to have now, and is probably for more detailed then the wiki page ever will be. I wish they bolded important items and characters in the walk through descriptions, but it's not a big deal. Most of the time I can look at the maps they've drawn up and figure out where to go. Awesome guide, and I think if you're a fan of the series you would appreciate it.
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on April 21, 2014
There are a few typos I've caught. They only show a full map with a list of items in the very beginning of every chapter. As they do the walkthrough, the items aren't called out in the partial maps, and the text just says "pick up the item." Hard to just open the book and flip to a section and figure out how to get past a challenge using this book. Some maps I suspect don't actually follow the real geometry of the game (the gutter). Would be nice if they could be like "to get to the dragon shield, do this". Also doesn't have a lot of information on weapon upgrades and how spells actually work in game. On the other hand, good art and good story background.
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First of all, I do appreciate the work that went into this guide. Some of the more passionate Dark Souls players and advocates worked on it, put in a lot of time and produced a literally massive, over 400 large, glossy pages of a resource that should be quite helpful for the rest of us, for a while.

The guide begins with a most valuable introductory chapters that briefly explain what the game is about, how combat works, covenants, leveling, PvP and PvE, trophies/achievements and so forth. This is useful and not only for first time Dark Souls players because quite a few things have changed on this installment.

The most important section of the guide is a useful, location-based description of what you need to do, where you go and what you get, complete with maps and hints. Even if you don't want spoilers for your game, you could still use use it after you clear an area, just to make sure you didn't miss anything.

There are also item by item descriptions of very much all of the many weapons, armor, spells and the various and numerous consumables. This section is useful to get an idea of "what's there" but in most cases it only offers the standard, in-game description of the item with no clues of what to do with it. Also, the upgrade information is sometimes inaccurate, stating that you would need 'titanite' to upgrade an item that may require a 'petrified' item instead. This is a good reference section but it's not very useful if you need to decide what armor or weapon to pick for upgrading.

Finally, the weakest section of the guide is the index and this is not a good thing. A 2-page index to a 450-page tome is by necessity incomplete. I often couldn't find what I was looking for even though I knew that the information was in the guide, somewhere. I suppose the publisher decided to save a few dollars by not hiring a professional indexer and it shows. It's not only missing items but also not all page references are accurate.

Which comes down to the 'will do for a while' statement in my review title. This guide will become less and less useful and the several Wiki sites grow and slowly and cover the game. Once that happens and they are getting better and more comprehensive every day, this paper guide will be surpassed and made obsolete because the Wikis tend to allow to search for just about anything (see my comment on the index), will update themselves as the game is almost inevitably patched and altered by the publisher, will have information and advice on strategies and builds and may of them come with forums where players share their experiences and advise each other.

I am still consulting the guide on my third week of playing the game but I am already going to the Wikis for additional information and I don't believe I will be still using the guide for much on my third month.

It's 3 stars for a useful resource whose usefulness will diminish quickly as the Dark Souls 2 gamers community matures.


NOTE: See my comment to this review for my favorite Wiki site's URL.
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