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Dark Souls II - Initial Impressions

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Hello everyone. As some of you may have been aware, some of the guys at Wikia recently invited an editor of the wiki to a closed Bandai Namco press event in San Francisco, and I happened to be the only one that lived in the area that responded. It took place on the 28th, and I was fortunate enough to play the beginning of Dark Souls II for about 40 minutes.

I'd first like to thank the guys at Wikia for offering to bring one of us along and for attending the event with me, Bandai Namco for hosting the event, and all of the Dark Souls Wiki admins and contributors – this post is for all of you, because without the wiki, I wouldn't have had this opportunity.

I was told that the game is complete – what I played is essentially the finished product. I was allowed to take some notes but had a limited amount of time. This post will be filled with whatever information and lore I could collect, but I will start with my general impressions of the gameplay and some of the changes I noticed.


Those that played the first game will be very comfortable; the basic mechanics and controls appeared to be largely unchanged. I chose the Bandit class, which starts with the Hand Axe (seemingly identical to the Pyromancer's Hand Axe) and a bow, but no shield.

Weapons appear to break significantly faster and it's something that you will have to be prepared for ahead of time – at least relative to the previous title. There was no obvious way to repair weapons from merchants or items (at least I didn't figure it out in the time I had); however, this seemed partly to be a way of encouraging the player to experiment with other weapons during early game. There was also no obvious way of leveling up at a bonfire, or otherwise. The Emerald Herald vaguely suggests that strength can be gained by bringing her powerful souls (more on her below), but this service was apparently not offered in the version that I played. I should add that it's possible to get to the main village very quickly and without encountering a single enemy.

Kicking has apparently been removed and replaced by what looks like a strike with the hilt of your weapon. This presumably still staggers an enemy (I never actually got to try it on an enemy). It felt a bit slower than kicking and I had the impression that it would be a bit harder to pull off in a fight. There also seemed to be less invincibility frames when rolling, and possibly none when in the middle of a backstab. Firing a bow was slightly different; no part of the player's head/body is visible when zooming in, and it seemed possible to lock on to targets at a greater distance.

I didn't experience PvP at all, but there is an interesting side note: there was an option in the config menu to enable/disable cross regional play.

Enemy AI seemed to be generally improved. In groups, they appear to circle behind the player and approach at different angles. There were the typical tricks of enemies coaxing you forward, while another was hidden behind a corner. Unfortunately, I never got to a boss, but there were a few "mini-bosses" put in your way. It was a bit hard to judge overall difficulty since I only played in the earlier areas, but one of the starting gifts increases enemy difficulty when used at a bonfire. All in all, the game felt like a true successor Dark Souls, and I am looking forward to the game's release with greater anticipation than before. Now on to the story and what I saw on my run through.

Opening Story & Early Moments

The way the game's story is revealed to the player is very similar to the first title. There was an early director interview which suggested that the game will be more direct in its story telling, but this was not at all my impression. For those willing to search for it, item descriptions and character dialogue reveal much, but leave you wanting more. While the game's story is apart from Lordran, everything still feels like it is within one world. There are pieces of lore that, while vague, reference characters and themes from the first game.

*SPOILERS* – Fair warning. There will be spoilers to the story ahead, but most of everything here can be learned within the first hour of gameplay.

Things Betwixt

Like the first Dark Souls, the game starts off with a cinematic, some of which is featured in the Cursed trailer, but unlike the previous title, you do not yet create your character. After the cinematic ends, I assumed control and found myself in a dreamlike area called "Things Betwixt", which is described as a kind of limbo. Soon I entered a house with the sage-like Old Ladies and their servant, Milibeth. In a cut-scene they explain, among other things, some of the familiar themes of Dark Souls: the cursed Undead, hollowing, etc. They ask the player to recall their name and this leads to the character creation screen (more details below). They also hand over a Human Effigy and send you on your way. Talking to Milibith reveals that the three old ladies are sisters and were once Fire Keepers, and she mentions a fourth sister.

Old Ladies

After leaving the house, I passed many fog doors (which have a thicker, smokier, more three-dimensional appearance). I simply ran past them all but have since read that there is an optional tutorial which I now assume is what these lead to. Majula is soon reached, a small town that functions in a similar way to Firelink Shrine or The Nexus. It's filled with various characters, many of which have already been revealed, but there were a few exceptions. A covenant can be joined in Majula (it was named something like the Champion's Covenant) whose purpose was not entirely clear but that its followers took on a difficult path.

The immediate area beyond Majula is the Forest of Giants; it's full of hollowed enemies, and one larger enemy that was entirely optional as he only became aggressive when attacked. Its helmet resembled Solaire's, and its armor, cape, and movement was reminiscent of Artorias. It dropped a sword which I remember dealt some lightning damage, but my stats weren't high enough to wield it properly. The path moves in an upward direction and eventually leads to more of an urban area. It was around this point that my time was running out, so I Homeward Boned myself back to Majula to interact with the characters a little more.

Characters & Lore

These are only a few of the more interesting characters, as well as any information that I came across relating to them.

Sweet Shalquire is a talking cat encountered in Majula. She looks very different from Alvina, having more of a regular house cat appearance. From her dialogue, she appears to fill the role of Oswald, pardoning sins, and is seemingly invincible.

I witnessed the interactions of Benhart over someone's shoulder, so props to that guy. He carries around a sword that looks very much like the Moonlight Greatsword, which he drops if killed by the player. It's called the "Blue Moon Greatsword" and its description mentions that it came from a "great white being" (obvious Seath reference). However, the description goes on to imply that there may be some kind of "mistake" in the sword's identification, as the sword is "lifeless" (someone mentioned that it lacked any kind of scaling). Further contradiction is in the revealed achievements: the "Moonlight Greatsword" trophy is acquired when you "inherit Benhart of Jugo's equipment". Perhaps it is possible to restore the sword? I can only guess.

Emerald Herald

The Emerald Herald tells you about some of the lore surrounding Drangleic and alludes to more concrete objectives. She speaks cryptically, mentioning something about the player possibly becoming the new monarch and then refers to King Vendrick. She gives you one Estus Flask and tells you to bring powerful souls to her so that you may (presumably) gain strength. She drops (yes, I killed her) the "Aged Feather" item, which is a kind of reusable Homeward Bone that transports you to the bonfire last rested at. It's not consumed upon use, and its description reveals some interesting things about her. She is the child of a dragon and was "sequestered away" to a separate world, though she bears no physical resemblance to Priscilla.

Character Creation

Starting Classes

There are some differences from the classes featured in the beta. The following is the complete list of what was selectable:

  • Warrior
  • Knight
  • Swordsman - Dual wielder
  • Bandit - They seemed to have almost combined the Bandit and Hunter class from the previous game, as it starts with an axe and bow.
  • Cleric
  • Sorcerer
  • Explorer - Domhnall-esque in appearance. Basically the opposite of the Deprived class – starts with mediocre stats but with various items, including a headpiece that apparently increases item discovery, and a ring.
  • Deprived - Very similar to the Deprived of Dark Souls, or Barbarian of Demon's Souls.

Starting Gifts

This list is incomplete:

  • A ring very similar to Tiny Being's Ring, but now without the misleading description.
  • A package of assorted healing items.
  • "Bonfire Ascetic" - Can be fed to a bonfire to increase enemy difficulty.
  • There were also a couple of choices with vague descriptions and no obvious use, but may have been lore related. They had names like: "Petrified Something" and "Seed of a Giant" (what I remember).

And you can still adjust your facial features and body type, which appeared to be more expansive than the first. I did not spend much time with it, however.

This is about everything I have to share, but will add anything that I may not have remembered. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

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