5 Reasons Why Dark Souls 2 Is Becoming 2014’s Most Anticipated Early Release

The new year has hit and the release of Dark Souls II is looming ever closer. Upon release the first...

Tony Brimble

Contributor

Namco Bandai

Namco Bandai

The new year has hit and the release of Dark Souls II is looming ever closer. Upon release the first Dark Souls was met with critical acclaim with reviewers lauding it as a game of supreme depth and quality, but it didn’t leave the shelves particularly fast, not initially anyway. It wasn’t particularly widely marketed, which was probably smart, because of one reason. One word, Skyrim. In the blur of marketing and hype surrounding Skyrim it would have struggled to really obtain a lot of notice anyway. They were released quite close together and the majority of people’s money went to Bethesda.

Dark Souls has acquired a massive and obsessive cult following though, one which is clamouring for the sequel like a pack of braying hounds. This article is going to canter through some of the reasons why Dark Souls has captivated so many and why Dark Souls II is shaping up to be such a strong contender.

 

5. It Is Harder Than A Cross Between A Honey Badger And A Giant Tortoise

 

Namco Bandai Games

Namco Bandai Games

The Giant Honey Badge-oise is a creation I would not be overly shocked to find in the game, but that aside, Dark Souls is a challenge. In an age of gaming where we are told exactly where to go and precisely what do to, with a nice shiny marker hanging over the objective, Dark Souls drops you into a world that doesn’t so much as feel hostile as it does actively hate you.

After a tutorial section that informs you which buttons to press to make your nameless hero interact with the world, interaction which is largely limited to encountering something and then hitting it. You are presented with one of the most challenging boss fights you will have ever encountered, before you played Dark Souls. Unless you played Demons’ Souls, to which Dark Souls is a spiritual successor.

After the gruelling tutorial boss fight you are transported to a nexus point in the game world. Okay Dark Souls, what do I do now? Where do I go and why is my character doing it? A severely depressed warrior, who is paralysed with fear to such an extent he won’t leave Firelink Shrine, as the place is known, will make vague reference to ringing two bells and give you a vague direction to head in, but that is it.

But this is what makes it engaging, it is not a game that rewards running in and mashing a button, or grinding levels until you are stronger than everything else, you don’t get told where to go and how to achieve your goal, in fact you don’t really find out the point of it all until a fair way into the game. What it does reward is perseverance, skill, exploration and learning about the world you are in and the aggressors you are facing.

Frustration, challenge and hours invested meant that whenever you overcome adversity, the affective fallacy pays you back in spades and it made many fall in love with the game. It comes from the fact that in Dark Souls death has consequence. The main currency of the game, souls, along with any humanity, a rarer and more valuable resource are dropped  and can only be recovered by returning to the point of death. But die again and they’ll be lost permanently.

The director of DSII caused an uproar with the statement that they wanted to make the game “more accessible”. Following the backlash of fans that delight in the challenge, almost to a masochistic degree in some cases, he had to very carefully specify that they were not making the game easier; they just wanted to enable newcomers to the franchise to be able to understand the concept without playing Dark Souls.

Some of the showcases and videos being released have shown that, if anything, it may be getting harder, with a smarter AI that won’t fall for the same tricks any more, and as a result the adoring public are certainly prepared to die and desperate to go beyond death, as the games’ respective tag lines say.