Preview: Dark Souls II

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Getting a hands-on preview with Dark Souls II is like going to your own funeral. Even if you thought you had skills as a gamer, Dark Souls II is here to remind you it all means absolutely nothing. Josh braced for the worst and prayed it would be gentle. It wasn’t.

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Lightning in a rain storm? Dude, that is not work safe!

Stepping back into Dark Souls II is kind of like trying to walk through lava. You will die, so the skill comes into how long you can stay alive. After firing up the E3 demo, I did the appropriate stretches and got ready for the challenge. First time I set off I managed to clear three rooms before being squashed by a heavy set chap with giant mace. The second time I set off, I learned from my mistake, lured my large friend into the open and began to wear him down.

To my dismay, after deftly dodging one of his strike,s I was crushed as he rolled onto his back and killed me in a single hit. Third time was the charm. I slaughtered all the plebs, avoided attacking from behind and killed the large bruiser. Within five minutes something bigger and badder showed up and the cycle begins again.

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Just keep trying to tell yourself there’s nothing down there

Dark Souls II may seem intimidating to some, but the real fun isn’t all about getting further. Admit it, sometimes we all wish games were a little more challenging and Dark Souls II is proof even the seemingly impossible can be exciting if there is a glimmer of hope.

This series focuses on breaking down gamers by giving you the tools and the moves to defeat anything, as long as you can stay focused. From a gameplay aspect very little has changed. Movement, combat and item switching are exactly the same. There are a few new items. Life gems refill your health slowly but steadily which come in handy if you know you’re going to take a hit and want start repairing in advance. New herbs have also been added but most seemed to work like standard buffs, apply them and your resistance increases.

One of the new weapons is a giant great sword. This is an interesting tool. The swing is incredibly slow leaving you dangerously open to damage, but the range and power is devastating. Using it on smaller enemies can send them flying, good for toppling them off edges or crowd control, but it has limited use against large enemies. This opens up more diverse weapon switching tactics, again adding a simple but new layer to an already well-conceived combatl system.

Bring it!

Bring it!

Past the gameplay, Dark Souls II shares the same visual style as its predecessor, just crisper and less jagged looking even in such early code. Dynamic lighting has been a focus as torches flicker beautifully throwing dangerous looking shadows onto the surrounding walls. The creature designs still have the same bizarre and menacing styles. The world itself is a little greener and more alive than seen in the original Dark Souls as nature often lushly breaks through dilapidated structures.

From these early glimpses Dark Souls II is looking strong. Developer From Software is working hard to perfect on the original’s solid foundation as opposed to starting over,  with most of the effort is going into tweaks and polish. Some gamers will still be put off by its gruelling nature, but fans should be excited to know that this is not a watered down sequel pandering to cry-babies. Dark Souls II is going to put you through your paces as a hardcore gamer and is now number one on my must have titles for next year.

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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