Quick Thoughts on Dark Souls 2

I’m a big fan of the Dark Souls games, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of Dark Souls 2.  I’ve only put in around 15 hours so I haven’t seen too much of the game yet. Had I not gotten the game two days late and restarted my character five times I would probably be farther along. Still, there’s a lot of interesting changes worth noting, both positive and negative.

Spells Require Stamina

This is actually a pretty big deal. Your spells still have a limited number of charges but they also require stamina to use. So after you run away or roll to the side to avoid a nasty blow you have to regain enough stamina to cast your spells. This is pretty much why I decided not to try playing a caster on my first go through.

Cool New Covenants

I really like most of the new Covenants they added to the game. There is a decent mix of co-op and pvp along with some new PvE covenants. There’s a Champion one, for example, that makes the game more difficult and disables all summoning so you have to do it yourself. Another interesting one is the Blue Sentinals, a PVP covenant that summons people to defend members of the Way of the Blue co-op covenant when they get invaded by enemy players.

Soul Memory

This a record of all the souls you have acquired. I believe the idea of it is to prevent people from making low-level characters with powerful gear to invade the worlds of new players. Some people also claim that this prevents co-op summoning if the range is above 500k or something like that. It seems that nobody is exactly sure about the mechanics of this but it sure is bothering a lot of people.

Dual Wielding, Improved Weapons, Equipment, etc.

Now you can dual wield weapons. I still prefer using a shield but it is sometimes cool to swing multiple swords around. Some weapons have also be greatly improved like the whip, which actually has a totally awesome animation and has good damge and range, and they’ve even added some new ones like the Darth Maul style double-blade. Another interesting change I noticed was the ability to wear up to four rings which really opens up some more options for you. Your encumbrance is also a lot more forgiving this time since the “fat roll” happen unless you are at 70% or more capacity.


This is a pretty frustrating change. Your equipment durability will come into play way more than it did in Dark Souls. What is really confusing is why some of the more interesting weapons have such low durability. The whip and the double-blade will break ridiculously fast to the point of almost being useless. The durability is repaired if you sit at a bonfire, providing it isn’t already broken which requires a visit to the blacksmith. Even so, if you set it with such a weapon you better bring some alternate options because these things will wear out incredibly fast.

Limited Respawns on Enemies

Once you clear enemies a certain number of times, 15 or something, they will stop spawning. Initially this didn’t bother me much since I could still farm souls by getting summoned for bosses. However when I wanted to farm a specific mob for gear I was pretty much screwed after they stopped spawning and my item hadn’t dropped. You can remedy this by burning a special item in the area’s bonfire but all it does it reset the count while making the bad guys more difficult. Not a terrible trade-off but I have yet to find any of these.

Overall Initial Impression

I am really enjoying the game but there are a lot of things that need work. So far there doesn’t seem to be anything that couldn’t be tweaked with a patch, though. After I’ve put in a few dozen more hours I might get around to writing a full on review but for now I’d say it’s totally worth picking up if you are a fan of the series or are looking for a really challenging action RPG.

  • A few questions for people reviewing these comments, hopefully without any spoilers:

    Was your first death a “classic” Dark Souls death?
    What was the most rewarding boss fight in the game for you?
    What the the biggest ‘lessons learned’ moment in the game so far?
    Did you have any “Wow ! That was amazing ! Someone actually thought of this?” moments?
    Which encounter did you think was the best boss mechanic?

    I’ll add my (long, memorable) answer to the first question:

    My wife heard my frustrations when fighting against The Pursuer, came down and watch me with the quick, snark remark: “I really do not understand why you like this game so much – you die -all- the time. It seems so.. frustrating !”

    She then watches me try the encounter, this time with me dying at 30% of the Pursuer’s health. I tell her that she’s good luck, and persuade her to stick around for another fight. Obviously, her support is making a big difference.

    The next two encounters were amazing:
    1. The first ended with an accidental but glorious death rolling off the rampart wall, with me also rolling off the couch onto the ground laughing my ass off and my wife saying, “Seriously? You can die that easily?”
    2. The second was an epic battle about 15min long. As time progressed, and the encounter become more intense, my wife started shouting: “Dodge ! Use your potion ! Run !” The reminders were somewhat helpful, but I was in the zone. The Pursuer was down to 10% and my wife starts saying: “Two more hit ! You can do this !” I block, dodge, then jump + spear thrust, following up with one more risky hit. The boss dies.

    At this point, my wife and I jump from the couch, hugging each other and jumping like we’ve just won the lottery. It was a memory I will probably never forget in my life. And my wife now fully understands why I enjoy Dark Souls so much – the risk versus reward, and the sense of accomplishment when you pull off a feat is unparalleled in other PC and console games since playing the original Dark Souls back in 2012.

    My vote is for Dark Souls 2 as the game of the year. And for me, probably one of the best games I’ve ever played throughout my gaming career. Highly recommended, but only for gamers who enjoy challenges.

    Side Note: Three of my colleagues at work are playing the game at the same time. Our water cooler discussions are thoroughly enjoyable as we talk about progressing in the game without offering spoilers and/or hints. A daily reflection on the most glorious death the day before is probably the best part of the conversation, followed by the discovery of amazing mechanics/details in the game.

  • Oops. Added more questions before I hit post comment, and actually answered my own question 2. Sorry !

    Revised question list:

    Was your first death a “classic” Dark Souls death?
    What was the most rewarding boss fight in the game?
    What the the biggest ‘lessons learned’ moment in the game so far?
    Did you have any “Wow ! That was amazing ! Someone actually thought of this?” moments?

  • I wish I had the time for the Dark Souls games but I have to schedule a colonoscopy this month which by all accounts is the same thing.

  • So far it’s been awesome. My only concern so far is the limited amount of Human Effigies in the game, and it seems like a lot of spells are locked behind Covenant ranks. I’ve been in the Way of the Blue for about 20 hours, but haven’t been invaded once. I’m not sure how I’m going to get my rank up to get ‘Hush’ spell. This is going to make for a more difficulty platinum trophy.