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Dark Souls 2 journal #4: spiders, windmills and a lot of lava

Thursday, 27 March 2014 11:22 GMT By Dave Cook

Dark Souls 2 continues to punch Dave Cook around the head with its Cestus +10, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing his play-through journal for your sadistic pleasure. He’s really far now.

dark souls 2 boxart

(This is the fourth chapter in Dave’s ongoing Dark Souls 2 impressions journal, in which he plays the game from start to finish. This update follows his progress up to level 127, and over 38 hours into the campaign)

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Last Saturday at around 10pm I sat down to play some more of Dark Souls 2 after being distracted by my inFamous, Metal Gear Solid, and BioShock Infinite DLC write-ups, to name just a few. There were to be no more interruptions, just me, Dranglaeic and a shitload of death. Whisky on the rocks in one hand and PS3 pad in the other, I battled my way through many bosses and new areas, confident in my ever evolving ass-kicking potential.

Then I looked at my watch and realise it was 4am.

Now; you may think that doing this job comes with many late night gaming sessions, but that’s honestly not the case. Regardless, I had played the game for some six hours straight without actually realising it, and while I felt appalled at myself, it was something I hadn’t done for a very long time. It was all productive too. This journal entry covers that entire six hour session and another evening’s play.

Here’s what went down.

Dark_souls_2_doors_of_pharros

Scorpioness Najka & the Doors of Pharros

I closed part three of my journal just before my encounter with Scorpioness Najka, a half scorpion-half woman monstrosity whose bark was definitely worse than her bite. Her boss area is completely filled with sand and while her pincer and ranged magic attacks were pretty easy to dodge, she’d occasionally burrow under the sand and jump back up to the surface, slicing a huge section of my health off each time. Running at full pelt and rolling at the right time saw me emerge unscathed once I got the timing down, and before long I was able to cut her down for good.

”It’s times like this I wish Will Smith would kick down my door with that mind-erasing dildo from Men in Black in his hand, before using it to wipe clean my past experience of the series.”

As with all ‘Souls’ boss fights; defeating Najka was a matter of memorising attack patterns and figuring out the best time to attack, dodge and and block. What I noticed across the contents of this journal edition was that those patterns are becoming much easier to identify, and as I feared in part three; the game seems to be getting really easy now. I’ll discuss why I feel this way as the article goes, so bear with me while I explain. I also appreciate that as with all games in this series; what’s true for me may not be true for you.

I think part of this uneven difficulty curve was – once again – the fact that I sort-of knew what I was getting in to at the start. If you read my articles often on VG247, you’ll know that I finished both Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls for the first time last year. All those tricks and stat considerations – such as levelling up your stamina gauge adequately to increase blocking – are still burned into my mind and I’ve stuck to them religiously here.

It’s times like this I wish Will Smith would kick down my door with that mind-erasing dildo from Men in Black in his hand, before using it to wipe clean my past experience of the series. All but two of the bosses I encountered in this part of the journal were defeated on the first try, and were really easy to read. The same goes for normal enemies, which can be tricked into leaving themselves vulnerable by coaxing them into attacking, before springing an assault of your own from a safe angle or distance. It’s more of a scientific formula now than ever before.

Dark_souls_2_praise_the_sun

I can’t take a picture of Najka as she’s dead, so here’s me using the ‘Praise the Sun’ emote in her lair.

Anyway; beyond Najka’s domain lay the Doors of Pharros, a strange cavernous place littered with Pharros Lockstone switches. Seriously, there’s absolutely loads of them and I get the feeling that you won’t be able to unlock them all in just one playthrough – hello NG+! – and it’s not quite clear what each of them does. The strangest aspect of this place was that while the initial enemies will attack you on sight, those further into the area will not. I ran circles around a group of large elephant warriors for ages, while lashing out at them to find that my sword had to effect. “Hmm… ” I thought. Hmm indeed.

”What I’m hearing from players is that while you get red, flaming Great Souls in your inventory for killing The Rotten and The Lost Sinner, you don’t have to keep them to access Drangleic Castle.”

So of course I got cocky, which is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in any ‘Souls’ game. I’m guessing maybe about seven hours after I first encountered the passive elephant guys, I returned to this area to find the merchant Gavlan, who eventually stops moving around and takes permanent residence near the area’s first bonfire.

After entering a cave to the right of the bonfire, I realised that the enemies inside were suddenly taking notice of me, and that an AI Black Phantom had just invaded in the same room. I panicked and went to run back to find a fog gate blocking my way before being stabbed to death from behind.

Mother. Fucker.

I respawned and decided to leave that area for a while, turning my attention to completing the fist half of the quest first. While this isn’t made clear at the start of Dark Souls 2, I later discovered that your real first goal is to collect four Old Lord Souls from The Lost Sinner, The Rotten, The Duke’s Dear Freja and The Old King. Once you have them all you will be granted access to Drangleic Castle, and on reflection the whole process is a bit like slaying bosses in the first game to acquire Lord Souls, before entering the Kiln of the First Flame. It’s not exactly spelled out for you, but then again, ambiguity is big part of the series.

Dark_souls_2_gavlan

“Gavlan make deal. Gavlan have trouble speak in proper sentence.”

I killed the Lost Sinner in part two of my journal, and I had already been beaten a few times by The Rotten in the Black Gulch during part three, but now I felt ready to take him on. For your reference, the Black Gulch sits beyond The Gutter, an area that resembles Blighttown from Dark Souls and The Valley of Defilement from Demon’s Souls. Check out my speed run video guide to learn how to get through it without a headache.

Luckily, my stamina and poise were massively increased so The Rotten’s big cleaver swipes were no match for my guard. It also helped that I had successfully forged my Twin Dragon Shield up to +10 by this point too. Needless to say; the process of levelling up armour and weapons is much easier than it was in the first game, without those long treks back and forth between the Anor Londo and Darkroot Garden blacksmiths while farming Titanite. There’s none of that crap here, just easy-access crafting in Majula or the Lost Bastille.

Anyway, by keeping my distance and smacking the Rotten with Soul Arrows, I was able to mix up long range hits with melee blows at close range to whittle him down to death. You really need to be aware of the flaming patches on the ground however, as they’ll sap your health rapidly. The boss’s cooldown after doing his big attacks is also quite big, so I found that dodge rolling to the side at the last moment gave me time to dish out a fair few hits before taking time to recover. Either way, he fell to my blade and I earned my second Old Lord Soul. Two to go.

Interestingly; what I’m hearing from players is that while you get red, flaming Great Souls in your inventory for killing The Rotten and The Lost Sinner, you don’t have to keep them to access Drangleic Castle. For example. I later managed to fell The Duke’s Dear Freja – a hulking great spider below Brightstone Cove Tseldora – and her soul in my inventory looks like a regular boss soul. She dropped the actual Old Lord Soul on the ground, and after picking it up it was nowhere to be found in my inventory. You can see how this could be confusing.

Dark_souls_2_shrine_of_winter

Take a right after the second Shaded Wood bonfire to reach this particular King’s Door. It leads to the Shrine of Winter.

Apparently, you just have to kill these four bosses to enter the castle and pick up their Old Lord Souls, rather than presenting the normal boss souls in your inventory at the King’s door. You can also kill three of the bosses and have 1 million souls in your posession to open the door instead. Either way, I’m too scared to trade their plain boss souls in for gear for now, just in case I actually do need them.

I’ll keep an eye on that one once I finally get into the castle, but for now, let’s move on to tracking and slaying Freja.

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3 Comments

  1. locus2k1

    Stay Calm, and then Praise the Sun!

    I like the new message formats in DS2 :D

    #1 1 year ago
  2. polygem

    april 25,26,27 = dsII247
    soon the wait will be over! (and i wil finaly read these articles too)

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Rosseu

    I’m at around level 150 with 36 hours game time and Im currently stuck at Aldia’s Keep. Seriously, don’t try to power level until ng+ or you’ll lose allies. Very hard to play without them even with all the hints plastered everywhere :’(

    #3 1 year ago

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  • This is what Crossy Road looks like in first-person

    Crossy Road is fun and addictive. But in first-person, it’s mostly frightening. YouTube user Andy Front Films likes Crossy Road so much he decided to show off what it would look like in first-person. If crossing roads quickly and watching around for cars and trains, all of this as the camera chases you felt intense […]

  • Take a small behind-the-scenes peek at Mass Effect 4

    BioWare cinematic director Ken Thain has given us a very slim look behind the scenes at some motion capture work from the upcoming Mass Effect game. The upcoming Mass Effect game, whether it ends up being called Mass Effect 4 or not, will most definitely incorporate some form of motion capture work. How do we […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – 8GB day one patch on PS4, 16GB on Xbox One

    Day one patches for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection are pretty hefty. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection require players to download lots of gigabytes to make the experience as smooth as possible. The PlayStation 4 version has an 8.31GB day one patch. The Xbox One version however has […]

  • Get a PlayStation 4 with Bloodborne and The Last of Us for $435

    If you’ve been waiting for the perfect game to get to buy a PlayStation 4, there’s no better time than the present. Amazon is offering a good PlayStation 4 bundle at the moment. For $434.99, you get a PlayStation 4 console, The Last of Us, and Bloodborne. The Last of Us is of course the […]

  • Upcoming Battlefield Hardline patch to nerf the K10, buff battle rifles

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch will focus on weapon balance and a few changes have been proposed. Battlefield Hardline lead multiplayer designer Thaddeus Sasser posted a few of the balance changes that the team is considering for the next patch. K10: reduce bullet damage to 33 Saiga and PTR: reduce recoil to bring more in line […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and a new Resident Evil game coming this year, according to research firm

    According to digital games analyst SuperData, a new Resident Evil game is due this fall and that this year’s Call of Duty is Black Ops 3. In its latest report on digital console games, research and analytics firm SuperData revealed that a new Resident Evil is coming this fall. “We anticipate this month’s downturn to […]

  • Bloodborne: you can add gestures to your messages

    As players get deeper into Bloodborne, they keep uncovering so many of its little new additions, including this one. Bloodborne, like all of the Souls games before it, allows players to leave messages for other players. These messages could be used to point players towards impending doom, treasure, or just be sarcastic and witty. What […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 is now live

    PlayStation 4 firmware update version 2.50 has started rolling out. Reports are coming in saying that Yukimura, PlayStation 4′s firmware 2.50 has been made available to download. The update is clocking in at just 245mb, so get downloading. 2.50 brings with it many new additions, including the suspend/resume feature, backup and restore, accessibility options and […]

  • Harley Quinn DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight is a prequel

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s Harley Quinn pre-order DLC is set before the events of the main game, according to Amazon’s description. Today we learned a few details about the pre-order DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight, namely the Harley Quinn one. According to the description on Amazon, the DLC takes place in the lead-up to the events […]

  • Bloodborne Vicar Amelia summon mystery solved

    Bloodborne players unable to summon near Vicar Amelia: here’s your solution. Bloodborne’s secrets are unfolding by the hour as clever players piece together From Software’s cunning design. Yesterday we reported problems summoning in the Cathedral Ward, before the Vicar Amelia boss fight. It turns out this isn’t a bug – or if it is, it’s […]

  • Steven Spielberg will direct film adaption of Ready Player One

    Steven Spielberg will direct the film adaption of the sci-fi, virtual world, video game themed novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film in June 2010 and hired screenwriter Zak Penn to rewrite the previous draft written by Eric Eason, according to Deadline. The book takes place in […]

  • Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets shouldn’t forget about the custom audio

    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]

  • Kojima Station show suspended

    In another episode in the the ongoing kerfuffle between Hideo Kojima and Konami, the publisher has suspended the Kojima Station web show. Recent tweets from the newly created Japanese Metal Gear Solid account confirm that Kojima Station will not be broadcast tomorrow, but would not provide a date for the next episode. The Tweets were […]

  • Watch Battle Royale for free this weekend on Xbox Live

    Square Enix is celebrating the launch of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD by offering Xbox Live members in the UK a free rental of Battle Royale. Starting Saturday, March 28 and through Sunday, March 29, Xbox Live members in the UK will be able to rent Battle Royale through the Xbox Video Store, for free. The […]

  • Bloodborne journal, part 1: managing anxiety on the path to the Cleric Beast

    Bloodborne is both like and unlike the Souls games. Brenna descends into Yharnam with reluctance and trepidation. Need help succeeding in Bloodborne? You need our Bloodborne walkthrough and boss guide. Bloodborne isn’t Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. Let’s get that out of the way right off. I enjoyed both Dark Souls games, but it was […]