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Dark Souls 2 journal #6: I did it! – the final verdict

Tuesday, 6th May 2014 08:31 GMT By Dave Cook

Dark Souls 2 obsessive Dave Cook has finally finished From Software’s sequel and he’s formulated a final opinion that he’s sure at least five of you have been waiting for. It’s all been leading up to this.

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This entry covers Dave’s progress up to level 167 and over 59 hours into the quest. He has now completed the game, but you can catch up with his previous journals here:

Here’s his final completion status:

Dark_souls_2_journal

Well, that was… easy?! Wait, what?

Yes it’s true. I managed to defeat the final boss in Dark Souls 2 on my first attempt with no summons or co-op buddy (I’m running an offline-only debug version anyway), and the ending left me feeling quite short-changed. I absolutely was not expecting to feel this way by the time those credits rolled.

Life has lost some of its lustre as a result, but let’s back up a bit first.

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The Deadliest Sing-A-Long Ever

When we last left my human punching-bag, he was standing outside the Shrine of Amana, a water-logged shit of a place where the mages just WON’T STOP CASTING HOMING SOUL ARROW. The big bold capital letters suggest irritation, by the way, because this place really gave me a headache the first time I entered its soggy pain-hole. What struck me initially was the fact this area has music, well, sort of.

I later found out that the softly sung words echoing throughout the lake were coming from the Milfanito sisters, a pair of siblings who keep singing despite all of the death and nasty shit going on around them. If you remember from my fifth journal entry, there’s a third sister caged up in Drangleic Castle who’s being guarded by a weird creature called the Embedded, and she can only be freed by defeating the Shrines boss, a giant monstrous frog-thing called the Demon of Song.

He’s easy too. Now, I’ve been saying that Dark Souls 2 is getting easy for a while now and that’s because – and I really hate to say this – it is. There’s no other way I can say this, and it pains me to do so, but the game started to get really simple around this point, and right up until the very end, I felt that the last truly challenging boss was the Smelter Demon. That’s not a good sign.

But of course, part of this ‘easy’ progression is due to my obsession with the first Dark Souls. Going into the sequel I knew exactly what sort of class I needed to beat certain enemies, how to spec my build properly, and how to read then react to attack patterns. I know this sort of suggests that beating Dark Souls games is more like a science than a show of true skill, but anyone who’s played these games knows that’s not true.

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Behold my final character stats. You can tell I’m a man of little faith. HAHAHAHA!

But yeah, I just felt that where I was initially intimidated by the fact that enemies could become extinct after ten deaths each, this actually makes the game easier as you progress. For example, those mages in Shrine of Amana may be annoying sure, but there’s so little space between bonfires that I was able to kill the first wave of those guys, hit the bonfire to respawn them, and repeat the process until I never had to worry about them again.

People on the social feeds and the Dark Souls 2 wiki forum have been saying that this extinction makes farming crafting items difficult, except it really doesn’t. If you speak with Stone Trader Chloanne by Harvest Valley’s ‘Poison Pool’ bonfire until her dialogue runs out, she’ll relocate to Majula and sell an infinite number of large and regular Titanite Shards, along with finite amounts of every mineral in the game. You have to pay for them sure, but trust me, you won’t find souls hard to come by.

If you do run out of enemies and souls – you seriously won’t – you can burn an item called Bonfire Ascetic that will respawn nearby enemies and make them one New Game+ harder. By the end I had levelled named armour and boosted weapons thanks to Twinkling Titanite and Petrified Dragon Bones, along with an abundance of souls thanks to my Covetous Silver Serpent Ring+1, which gave me more souls per kill.

Put it this way, while the grind of travelling back and forth between the first game’s merchants in Anor Londo and Darkroot Forest is no longer an issue, I felt that From Software’s attempts to keep everything convenient by simplifying the unique weapon and crafting systems, as well as placing every merchant you need in one place, to be a welcome move at first. By the end, I felt like it was making things too easy. I’ll repeat at this point that I still thoroughly enjoyed Dark Souls 2. Seriously.

Woah this has been a big tangent. Sorry. So anyway, I’ll skip through Shrine of Amana because if you stick behind pillars, take the mages on slowly and in small numbers while avoiding the big ogre guy – you won’t miss him – then you’ll get through it with some patience. The Undead Crypt came after that, and that proved to be a touch more challenging, with a big chamber full of bells that, if you allow a Hollow to ring them, summon a gang of spirit warriors into the area that pile on top of you like some sort of rugby death-scrum.

Basically, you need to smash the warrior’s tombstones to stop their ghosts from spawning. Once they’re smashed those guys never come back, even if a Hollow manages to ring a bell. It’ll catch you off guard the first time I’m sure so because I love you guys, here’s a screen grab of me standing before the area in question. It’s down this hole, beyond a pair of big knights who use two shields as weapons. Prepare yourself, health-up and get ready for a fight:

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The knights before this section are intimidating, but with good poise and a strong shield you can take them out. After clearing out the grave site down that hole I was able to lower a drawbridge that gave me a shortcut to the next boss, the notorious Velstadt. I’ll admit that this guy was a pain in the ass, and getting to him sees you fighting through wave after wave of big iron knights. Making them extinct isn’t really an option unless you have hours upon hours spare.

Velstadt’s weapon of choice is a bloody great hammer that can utterly smash through your stamina unless you have it levelled up to a suitable degree. As I said in previous entries, I knew from my time with Dark Souls that stamina is important, so I had it levelled higher than my health from the start of the sequel. Like many bosses, crushing this guy is a matter of memorising attack patterns and knowing when to retreat and recover.

After getting the sequence down I found the first half of this battle to be a breeze, but then he started using Hexes and dark magic around 50% health. He can absolutely destroy you with his ranged magic attacks, so the key here is to stay close. During the battle that finally saw Velstadt killed, he never used ranged shots on me once, purely because I stayed close and circled the bastard until he keeled over. It works, try it.

So with him out of the picture it was time to move on to Aldia’s Keep, but first, did someone say ‘cheating’?

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12 Comments

  1. JonFE

    How did you “overclock armour and weapons“?!? :)

    Joking aside, I’m 30 hours and less than half locations (according to the wiki list that I refuse to consult before finishing each location) in and I’m enjoying this enormously. Apparently my familiarity with the previous titles has dented the surprise element, but nevertheless it’s great!!!

    #1 3 months ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @JonFE Well, you can level unlevellable (not a word, I know) items using Twinkling Titanite and Petrified Dragon Bone :)

    Those that can’t be upgraded using regular Titanite etc.

    I agree, my familiarity with the past games was a factor that made it feel easier by comparison. I might NG+ if I find the time.

    Thanks for reading.

    #2 3 months ago
  3. a7md1990

    Good piece Dave. Keep up the good work ;) also keep an eye on “Project Beast” aka “Demon’s Souls 2″ :P

    #3 3 months ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @a7md1990 Thanks :D Oh trust me, I’ll be sniffing around that one a lot. Already excited!

    #4 3 months ago
  5. Game Hunter

    Congrats, Dave.I don’t know why but I don’t feel like continuing DS2 right now.haven’t played since being killed by The Lost Sinner a month ago.at that time I also searched for my DS 1 copy and played it again after 2 years.hell,I was playing a lot better since last time I played it 2 years ago and I even managed to kill Taurus Demon,the boss who made me give up on DS 1.and you’re right,DS2 is much more easier than DS1.From Software kept its promise of making DS2 more accessible. I couldn’t beat DS1′s second boss,but now I’m level 68 and killed 7 bosses until now.It was a wise choice shortening the distance between bonfires and bosses,cuz I rather fight a boss 10 times than fighting some stupid hollow soldiers 10 times.I remember I had to fight my way through 12 hollow soldiers in DS1 before reaching the bridge with that annoying red dragon on top of it.DS2 is hard,while being accessible to new players.anyway thanks for the journals,I enjoyed them a lot.

    #5 3 months ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @Game Hunter No, thank YOU for reading, seriously appreciate everyone who has stuck with this series, as it’s a franchise that’s very close to my heart :)

    #6 3 months ago
  7. Rosseu

    Grats Dave, my game time was close to that but I had tons of help and farmed souls in the memories. Beating this solo takes a lot of effort so I salute you! :p

    #7 3 months ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @Rosseu Thank you :) Yeah it was tough in parts, but I think my knowledge of previous games helped. Thanks for reading!

    #8 3 months ago
  9. Darkfield

    @Game Hunter Lost Sinner is actually quite easy you just need a shield with 100 Physical reduction and you’ll be fine.
    here’s a recording of the fight out of mi’own game: http://youtu.be/yzQCTvssTDE

    @Dave I have a confession to make, I can’t read these since I’m sure there variety of spoilers in there, but this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them, so I have bookmarked them for latter read. Keep it up man. :D

    #9 3 months ago
  10. Dave Cook

    @Darkfield Not a problem dude, they are spoiler heavy after all :D Hope your playthrough goes well!

    #10 3 months ago
  11. Game Hunter

    @Darkfield I didn’t say that I couldn’t beat it.I have the Drangleic shield which has 100 protection. It’s just that I’m near my finals and can’t get myself to play right now.

    @Dave no sir,if you didn’t write these journals,I wouldn’t even consider buying DS2 three days after launch.my previous plan was to pass on this game,because DS1 was too hard for me.your journals made me interested in the game.so kodus to you.I would drink an Estus Flask in your name!uhhhh…I’m in the real world godammit!why doesn’t this world has Estus Flasks?!

    #11 3 months ago
  12. VTchitcherine

    I haven’t finished it yet but it does seem to be a weaker title than Dark Souls, perhaps it is my experience from the first game but it seems so much less challenging and often redolent of a rushed production attempting to create dozens upon dozens of hours of content.

    The sublime interlocking creation of Lordran has been jettisoned for less design-intensive sprawl that feels more like a collection of instances, at times even physically contradictory, than a cohesive section of a larger world. Majula and the Doors of Pharros are beautiful… the Earthen Peak and Brightstone Cove look woeful. Other locations just feel generic like the Iron Keep.

    I remember being stunned by the Demon Ruins after ringing the second bell and marvelling at the scale of Lost Izalith only to be outdone by seeing Anor Londo… It just isn’t the same. I’m not even fanatical in my admiration unlike other fans, there was definite room for improvement in the first game, the last third of the game really lost steam severely for instance and yet playing the second has only made me like the first more in preference.

    Much like the disparate polish apportioned to areas, it just feels so much more inconsistent than Dark Souls. Only a few bosses feel as difficult as those in the original game and some don’t even really deserve to be called bosses. Certain player concessions are just stunningly obvious and necessary additions (a ‘help’ window to learn what stats do instead of searching a Wiki) and others just exacerbated ill-considered design like fast travel. Some sections are immaculately rendered and others have simplistic geometry with obviously tiling textures.

    It’s still a very engaging and enjoyable game yet it’s just not an unambiguous improvement upon Dark Souls and it should have been. Why should one expect any less? I just hope Project Beast has a PC release as well.

    #12 3 months ago

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