One of the biggest fan-favorite features of the original Dark Souls was the sheer difficulty of playing through the title. Some people complained, others applauded, but it was definitely a feature discussed at length on video game forums around the Internet. So when we sat down for a quick behind closed doors demo of Dark Souls II, the first thing that was brought up was the fact that the new title retains the same level of difficulty as the original.
The character generation and customization has been altered a bit. This time around, instead of being in the dark about which stats equate to each class type, when you put in the desired stats, the game will tell you what class your character falls into. This will help with some of the issues of the previous game, in which players weren’t as familiar with the various stats and would end up with a character class that didn’t suit their play style.
Dual wielding has been added to Dark Souls, but that doesn’t mean things will be any easier for players. The AI has also been significantly improved upon. Computer-controlled characters will act more like real people instead of following set patterns. They will react to what you do. For instance, if you try to heal when you’re too close to an enemy, the opponent will quickly dash toward you to take advantage of your temporary vulnerability.
For those familiar with higher level play and advanced tactics in Dark Souls, the back stab technique was extremely powerful. In fact, it was arguably one of the best attacks in the game and was used almost to the point of being abused by top Dark Souls players. This time around, the back stab attack has been adjusted so that it can no longer be abused. In Dark Souls II, the attack can actually miss the opponent if not timed correctly.
While the development staff was clear to point out that the difficulty of Dark Souls II matches the original, they’ve also been clear that they felt changes needed to be made to make the game more accessible. One of these changes is the ability to warp to any previously visited bonfire. This doesn’t make the game easier, but instead allows players to travel around the world of Dark Souls with less obstructions. It saves time more than anything else, and should be a welcome feature to the game.
Dark Souls II is scheduled to hit the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC on March 14, 2014. With the popularity of the series, it’s only a matter of time before we see a next-generation Dark Souls game, but for now, fans of the franchise can enjoy the new title on their existing consoles.