One of the key choices to be made by any Dark Souls players is whether or not they are going to play the role of invader. Personally, it’s something that I tried a couple of times but derived no real pleasure from, preferring instead to work collaboratively in multiplayer against the fearsome bosses or to fight off invaders that strayed into my world. However, in Dark Souls 2 From Software is attempting to leverage its popular invasion mechanic and implement a degree of parity by having PvP matches take place in specific locations.
A similar thing was attempted with the Artorias of the Abyss DLC for the original Dark Souls, which had an arena mode for dedicated PvP in addition to the standard invasion method with the former ultimately proving unpopular and limited in scope. I think that part of the thrill of invasions comes from playing cat and mouse in a familiar but labyrinthine area, like The Duke’s Archives, or having to negotiate the threat of a player invasion in addition to fighting off the standard enemies and it would be disappointing if this were to be lost in favour of straight-up duelling.
While there’s not too much information on that front at the moment, there are some additional details on how the matchmaking for these PvP encounters will take place. Having taken on board the feedback of the system in Dark Souls and examined how people were using it – and, in some cases, manipulating it – From has made various tweaks to the system.
“Spoilers are the biggest enemy of our game and we believe that spoilers are the biggest enemies of the fans too.”
Some of these have to do with the option for regional or worldwide matchmaking while others revolve around the ability to burn certain items at bonfires that affect different parameters, such as increasing the cooling-off time between potential invasions. At its most basic level, the formula used to determine matchmaking has also been amended, as Miyazoe explains.
“The formula for invasion has been complicated further because we found that really experienced players would maintain a low-level character in order to invade with high success rates. In order to try and avoid that we have taken into consideration more parameters such as game-play hours, number of souls and other factors.
“This makes the formula more complicated on the invasion side but on the collaborative side the [Name-engraved] ring will offer you a greater chance of teaming-up with a friend, or at least trying to, which will hopefully increase the fun factor.”
“Fun-factor” is perhaps not a phrase that one would usually associate with the Souls series but it’s not without precedent. The infamous pendant incident was a prime example of Dark Souls’ director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s sense of humour and while Miyazaki may only be on-board here in an advisory role I spied an item during my hands-on time that suggests his mischievous sense of humour may yet live on in the sequel.
One of the starting items available to my explorer class was the “Petrified Something”, which is described as “A simple petrified lump. It may be of use, someday”. So, could this be the item that proves that From Software is not beyond trolling its fans all over again or one that will kick-off an all together more rewarding treasure hunt? When I put this to Miyazoe the producer pauses and then laughs.
“The problem is that spoilers are the biggest enemy of our game and we believe that spoilers are the biggest enemies of the fans too,” Miyazoe begins with a grin. “So, there’s a part of me that wants to run through examples of what’s in the game and how they affect play but then there’s a part of me that knows that as much as people might want to hear about it, they’ll also hate me for telling them!”
It’s true, for as much as I want to know, I also don’t want to be robbed of the privilege of discovery or indeed risk spoiling it for others. Instead, I must wait for the release of Dark Souls 2 next month, when we’ll all be able to start to unravel its mysteries to gain a better understanding of the implications of the changes that have been made, for better or for worse. Perhaps then we’ll also find out just what that “petrified something” actually does; maybe some things are better left a mystery.
Dark Souls 2 will be available on PS3 and 360 from March 11 in the US, March 14 in Australia and Europe. A PC release will follow after.