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Dark Souls 2 Starter Guide

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Over the last 2+ years Dark Souls has cemented itself as one of the watershed games of its generation, generating some of the most passionate and die-hard fans imaginable. With its notorious difficulty, eerie visual design, and unique feel, it's really unlike any other game out there. Not many games can stay relevant long after their release window, but people are still talking about, and playing, Dark Souls years after its release.

Dark Souls II is set to arrive one month from now, and to say the anticipation is high is a gross understatement. With an increased focus on the game's integrated PVP multiplayer, and a whole new realm full of danger to explore, it's time to prepare to die all over again.

Characters

Emerald Herald Render
The Player - You play as a lone, wandering adventurer who arrives in Drangleic under mysterious circumstances. As with the previous game, your character bears the Darksign, a curse that sentences them to an endless state of undeath, until one day they finally go Hollow and lose their mind.

Emerald Herald - The Emerald Herald is a new character who, unlike many of Dark Souls’ NPCs, seems interested in helping the player. While she resembles the Maiden in Black from Demon’s Souls, her purpose is less clear. Can she be trusted?

Mild-Mannered Pate - As his name implies, Pate is a mild-mannered treasure hunter who is on some sort of quest. It is rumored that Pate is a recurring NPC with a very long series of side-quests to complete, similar to Siegmeyer of Catarina.

Saulden, the Crestfallen Warrior - The Crestfallen Warrior has been a constant in every Souls game, a morose, defeated adventurer who’s given up the fight. If you can cope with his snark though, he'll reluctantly give the player useful information.

Learn about more of Dark Souls II’s characters here.

Gameplay

Dark Souls II differs from its predecessor in several ways. Players are now capable of warping between bonfires from the beginning, which should significantly reduce travel time. The Humanity system has also been removed, with players now using Human Effigies to reverse the hollowing that occurs after death.

Dark Souls 2 looks to be just as packed with swords, daggers, axes and spears as its predecessor, though DS II adds the ability to dual wield weapons. The player now has a unique set of moves while dual wielding, allowing for special combos.

Have you played a Souls game before?
 
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The poll was created at 19:33 on February 13, 2014, and so far 222 people voted.

Story & Location

Drangleic

Panoramic view of Drangleic.

The Dark Souls series has been much beloved for keeping the intricacies of its story generally masked from the general gameplay. Only the broadest ideas are told directly to the player with a lot of the surrounding story locked away in character dialogue and item descriptions. Dark Souls looks like it’ll be taking the same approach, though there are a few concrete details that have slipped out:

Dark Souls II is set in the kingdom of Drangleic, a new realm separate from the previous games’ Lordran and Boletaria. Whether Drangleic is in any way connected to the previous kingdoms remains to be seen. Drangleic was at one time ruled by King Vendrick and his knights, though the curse of the undead has taken hold and the kingdom now lies in chaos.

Trailer

Official E3 2013 Dark Souls 2 Trailer01:32

Official E3 2013 Dark Souls 2 Trailer

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Multiplayer

DarkSpiritInvasion

A Dark Spirit Invades

As in previous Souls games, multiplayer is integrated into the single player experience. Previously, players uninterested in being invaded would play as a Hollowed (think zombified) version of their character since there was very little downside to doing so.

Dark Souls II makes a major change in that regard though; even if your character is Hollowed you can still be invaded. Add to that a significant reduction to your maximum health when playing as a Hollow, and the incentive to remain in human form gets stronger than ever. Unless you unplug your console from the internet entirely, get ready for invaders.

Fortunately, the game’s covenant system has been given an overhaul, and certain covenants like The Way of Blue will help new players by summoning other players to their defense when they get invaded.

Which Covenant are you most excited to join?
 
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The poll was created at 22:29 on February 13, 2014, and so far 96 people voted.

Classes

Dark Souls 2 classes are close to what they were before, offering the player several options that will effect your playstyle early in the game, but can change quickly according to the player’s choices. Different classes get different equipment, which can sometimes prove more worthwhile than just the statistics.

Which Class will you choose?
 
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The poll was created at 19:33 on February 13, 2014, and so far 124 people voted.

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