You are the chosen Undead, who is tasked to collect four giant souls and attempt to eliminate the curse on humans in the world called Drangleic. Humans have become undead, and will become Hollow themselves if their minds are totally lost. As the chosen Undead, you will fight countless enemies as you collect their souls.
This game takes place in the same world of Dark Souls, with several connections can be guessed by players between these two games. Like the first Dark Souls game, the lore is very interesting, and I find that both Dark Souls games have more comprehensive plots compared to Demon's Souls. However, Demon's Souls lore is still more interesting and darker than Dark Souls series lore.
Characters in this game are rather interesting, with their own interesting designs and quirks. Many of the NPCs act as merchants, and others may also help you in battle.
The three expansions add more depth to the lore of the game itself, with many new characters and bosses introduced in each expansion. Although beating the expansions are not required to beat the game, it is recommended to tackle them to learn more about the game's mysterious yet interesting lore.
NOTE: This review has 90% same written material from my original Dark Souls II review on PS3.
This is a remastered version of Dark Souls II, with numerous changes as well the inclusion of all three DLC expansions, which are Crown of the Sunken King, Crown of the Old Iron King, and Crown of the Ivory King. This version also supports 1080p and 60fps, as well as a slightly readjusted Trophy List. Not only that, many item locations are changed in this version.
2) Progression and Exploration Section
Like the previous Souls games, this game features non-linear progression and exploration, where you are free to explore and combat against enemies. There are few objectives, which are obtaining four great Souls in this game to progress, and so forth. In this case, you need to fight a number of bosses in this game and obtain their souls. Areas are interconnected to each other like the first Dark Souls game, and you can fast travel between locations where you have activated a bonfire. A guide can be read online in case you are lost in the game.
Bonfire acts as a checkpoint, supplies box, and fast travel mechanism. You may keep any unwanted items in the Item Box, or take out any needed items or weapons. You may also attune a magic spell to your Spell Slots, or fast travel to another location. Whenever you die in this game, you will always respawn back to the latest Bonfire that you have used. A new feature in this game is the ability to use Torches. Torches are useful when exploring unknown terrains or in dark-lit areas.
Dying in this game will give some serious negative effects. For example, when you are in Hollow form after dying, you are more susceptible from online invasions by other players. Also, you current maximum HP will be reduced by a certain percentage. The current maximum HP will be also reduced upon dying continuously, until your reduced maximum HP is currently 50% from your actual maximum HP. There are ways to restore your form back to human, such as using items or help people online fighting bosses.
You will encounter many obstacles and traps in the game, such as poison pool, arrow traps, and many more. In this game, there are many places that you can reach by jumping upon dashing, so practice that. As you explore, you will find treasure chests or items from dead bodies. They may contain useful items or weapons, and they are worth getting to. Be careful as you may get ambushed by enemies or traps.
3) Leveling and Customisation Section
You gain souls by defeating enemies. defeating major bosses as well as using certain items. Souls are used to buy items, armour sets or pieces, and increase your stats. Weapons and armour sets can be upgraded by spending certain amount of souls and materials. Materials can be bought from certain merchants in the game, and can also be found from enemy loots, dead bodies, or treasures. As certain materials are rare in this game, it is imperative that you choose wisely on which weapons or armour sets that you wish to upgrade.
You can level up by talking with one of the main NPCs in the game's central hub, Majula. She will allow you to level up by spending souls or enhance your Estus Flasks usage, which is your main healing item.
Before you want to level up, you need to spend a certain amount of souls by increasing a stat. There are many stats available for your character, and you need to increase your stat if you want to survive in the game more efficiently. For example, STR stat increases certain melee weapons damage, and INT stat increases the power of your sorceries as well as your magic defense. Depending on your character build, you may need to spend your souls in upgrading your stats that you think is good, such as increasing INT for increased magic damage and others.
4) Combat Section
In combat, you can use a variety of weapons to fight enemies, such as swords, daggers, bow, and other weapons. Choosing proper weapons while fighting enemies as well as taking consideration with your character build is important. You may also use a shield to block incoming attacks. Many melee weapons have their regular or strong attacks, and only certain weapons such as staves can be used to cast sorceries or hexes in this game. You may also choose to dual-wield two weapons, or wield a single weapon two-handed for increase damage. You can also parry certain enemy attacks or backstab them.
The stamina bar also returns in this game, where most of your actions in the game consumes a certain amount of stamina, such as rolling, blocking, or attacking. Stamina bar can be increased by spending souls on a certain stat, and it is important to watch your stamina gauge to avoid yourself from being staggered and attacked by enemy at the same time.
Many enemies in this game have weakness, and it is important to exploit it against them to gain advantage in battles. Bosses have weaknesses as well, so exploiting them in battle is highly recommended.
As you defeat enemies, you will gain souls and possibly item dropped by enemies. Be aware that if you die, you will lose all of your souls and will be in Hollow form, with some negative effects. If you touch the bloodstain at the place where you have died, you can regain the souls back. But if you die again, the souls will be gone permanently.
Before certain boss fights, you may summon an NPC to help you during combat. However, you can only summon them only if you are in Human form. It is recommended to summon them, as they can distract the bosses a bit while you can focus on offense as well.
A fair bit of warning: enemies will stop spawning after you use a Bonfire in that area. This is to prevent excess grinding as well as to impose challenge on players. Fear not, as you can use certain items to make them respawn at the cost of increased difficulty, or you can continue to your second playthrough.
5) Online Section
You may choose to play this game online, where you can read or write messages on the ground in many areas in this game. Some of the messages can be helpful, but others may be outright lies. You may write messages to help any fellow players. There are some conditions before you can do online co-op with online players or do online invasions.
As you progress in the game, you may place a Summon Sign so that you can help other online players. If you defeated a boss during the host's game or by playing in the host's game while the time limit expires, you may gain a certain reward as proof of helping players online, gain souls, as well as regain Human form. There are certain conditions to being summoned or summon an online player, such as you need to have the appropriate Soul Memory range.
Conversely, you may invade online players' games and kill them to get their souls. Online players may also invade your game as well, and you need to fight them off.
5) Gameplay Conclusion
I like this game a lot, as it has some improved controls, more punishing yet rewarding difficulty, more new spells to be used, and lots of bosses to be fought. Like the previous Souls games, this game will not appeal to casual players as this game is extremely challenging and punishing to non-regular RPG players. Death penalties are a bit too punishing, but not a problem if you know your way around in this game. Character Creation is improved compared to previous games, but still a bit lacking in terms of preset customisation features like hairstyle.
The overall gameplay feels too similar with the previous Dark Souls game, and there isn't much new stuff other than the new spells such as hexes, new weapons, etc.Several boss fights feel too similar to each other, as many boss fights in this game are humanoid bosses. Regardless, the gameplay is simply fantastic.
Like previous Souls game, this game has great graphics, boasting great looking bosses, enemies, NPCs, and environments like Dragon Aerie. Game performance seems better this time, as I do not notice any serious framerate issues like the Blighttown area in the first Dark Souls game. 1080fps and 60fps work wonders in this game.
Music is played sparsely in the game, where most of the music is played during the boss fights and in important scenes. Like the previous game, I like this game's soundtrack as they sound appropriate and give enough 'epic' feeling to me.
Like previous Souls games, this game has high replay value, only if you want to play the game again in a thoroughly more difficult journey.
You may try out different build for your character, such as using sorceries and hexes instead of melee weapons this time. You may also create a new character, or start New Game Plus mode. In New Game Plus, enemies will be more tougher, as well as new items to be collected in the game and new enemies to be encountered. You may also choose to complete all three expansion areas, which are more arguably difficult than the main game's areas.
This is a great remastered version from a good game, with lots of new content added into the game. From Software delivered another difficult, punishing, and rewarding game, and the expansions are noticeably more difficult than the main game, due to the level designs and bosses. I love this game as it has improved user interface, improved controls, more combat options, and increased number of bosses to be fought. However, I personally feel this game is easier than Dark Souls and Demon's Souls, particularly if you have beaten both games prior to this game. This may be the easiest Souls game, but it is still harder than average action RPGs. There are also not many progression methods like other Souls games, so don't expect any puzzle solving and stuff as you will need to test your wits in conquering your enemies as well as when traversing in new areas. Despite some issues, this game is recommended to all hardcore RPG players, or to Souls series fans.
Pros and Cons
- Inclusion of three DLC expansions.
- Smooth gameplay performance of 60fps.
- Interesting story and lore.
- Improved controls.
- Improved user interface.
- Non-linear exploration and progression.
- Amazing gameplay.
- Deep yet easy-to-learn combat.
- Many challenging bosses.
- Punishing yet rewarding difficulty.
- High replay value.
- Amazing online experience.
- Great sense of accomplishment upon playing it.
- Core gameplay remains the same as previous Souls games.
- Difficulty can be too punishing for new players, such as reduced maximum HP upon dying.
- Many boss fights felt too derivative and similar to each other.
- Players may be lost while playing this game.
- Minor online connection issues.