Dark Souls 2 journal #5: playing silly buggers in Drangleic Castle and beyond

By Dave Cook, Monday, 14 April 2014 09:35 GMT

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Dark Souls 2 continues to back-stab Dave Cook with its Zweihander+10 of suffering, as he marches through the gates of Drangleic Castle and gets closer to his confrontation with the king.

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This entry covers Dave’s progress up to level 142 and over 46 hours into the quest, you can catch up with his previous journals here:

Here’s this entry’s status update:

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Do you remember when, in my last journal entry, I said that I played Dark Souls 2 until 4am without realising it? I did it again while playing to write this entry, except this time it was due to the game taking another one of its ‘easy’ turns that saw me barrelling through it like a hot halberd through Hollow limbs. I’ve come quite far since my last post.

But first; let’s have a little talk about the Iron Keep shall we? It’s like… Bowser’s Castle from Super Mario Kart, with metallic structures, stone walkways and lava everywhere. It’s a place that’ll eat up those with shite flame resistance and shit them out as ash in moments unless they can get their stats up. It starts off not so bad, with easily-defeated footsoldiers roaming the castle’s halls, but once you start to get a little bit cocksure you come to a wide open area swarming with archers.

Remember those utter bastards from Anor Londo, the ones that hurl giant arrows at you that couldn’t be blocked? Well, these guys aren’t so bad but they can sap your health down to nought in a few moments if you aren’t careful. It came to a head when I was trying to lower both sides of a drawbridge leading to the next boss fog gate. I found that meandering too much resulted in taking an arrow to the back, then the side, then front, then the side again, then the back and, well, you get my point.

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I still haven’t figured out how to get that item over there without melting

Going slow and methodically while keeping my shield up seemed to do the trick, and because I had my Covetous Silver Serpent Ring equipped I was earning a lot of souls from killing both the swordsmen and the archers. Before I proceeded to the fog gate I decided to make all of these extinct after killing each of them ten times, and then returned to Majula to boost my Soul Level a little, but nothing could fully prepare me for what lay on the other side of that bastard fog gate.

Enter the Smelter Demon, a giant horned prick with a flaming sword and a mid-section so hot you take big damage just by standing near him. He’s one of those bosses that starts off simple, but then levels up as the fight goes on. At first I had no trouble rolling around his attacks and jumping ground pound to dish out a few hits, but twice in the fight he’ll stop and kindle his core, which makes him utterly lethal. It’s at this point I realised my flame resistance wasn’t high enough.

He killed me so many times and it actually riled me up because I knew I could beat him if it wasn’t for his searing heat. So off I went to level up some more to raise my fire resistance stat and save up enough souls to purchase the Flame Quartz Ring. You can buy it from the pyromancer lady in Majula, who can be found standing at the bottom of steps leading up to the big monument at the cliff’s edge. I’d highly recommend pairing it with the pyromancy Flash Sweat – which boosts your fire defence greatly – when fighting the Smelter Demon.

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This is the Smelter Demon room. Going back here after killing him will see The Pursuer emerge again and attack you. Kill him to earn a Ring of Blases+1, which is good for boosting your attack strength. Don’t go back in there if you’re low on health though.

The problem is that even if you’re able to dodge the demon’s attacks, the heat of his flaming core will hurt you over time. What I found helped was that rolling to the left as he swipes often triggers a combo that leaves his back exposed. The third attack in that chain is occasionally a jumping move that you can roll under. Instead of swiping as he recovers, just back off and re-cast Flash Sweat or drink an Estus Flask. In fact, only hitting him once or twice per attack is advisable, as you’ll need all your stamina.

There are times when – instead of standing up slowly after his jump attack – he’ll unleash a flaming shockwave that can take half of your health off in one hit. It just pays to back off each time just to be sure. Anyway, after much swearing and heart-break I sent the bastard packing, and venture on to the Iron Keep’s second bonfire. Things let up every so slightly from there, but it was by no means easy.

Not by a long shot…

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