Dark Souls 2. © Bandai Namco

FromSoftware set the bar very high with Dark Souls and had to meet the fans’ high expectations when releasing the sequel. Dark Souls 2 is actually the third installment in the franchise and was initially released on Microsoft Windows operating systems. Bandai Namco published the game internationally and soon after players could enjoy it on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. The action role-playing video game builds on the popularity of the prequel while introducing new and original game mechanics.

Key facts about Dark Souls 2

  • Dark Souls 2 pits players against undead foes in a gloomy environment, where even the most unassuming enemies can inflict critical damage.
  • The game builds on the popular game mechanics of Dark Souls, while introducing new elements and an updated combat system.
  • Dark Souls 2 has an interesting learning curve, easier in the early stages and more difficult as the game progresses.
  • The action role-playing videogame supports PVE, PVP and has co-op game modes, with hundreds of game hours.
  • Hidetaka Miyazaki only served as an adviser for Dark Souls 2 developers, after directing the titles in the franchise.

The Dark Souls 2 games

Many of those who play Dark Souls 2 are at least remotely familiar with the action and gameplay of the original title. That’s why despite the fact that there is no tutorial, the learning curve is not particularly steep and by the end of the single player campaign players know the game inside out. This action role-playing game is mostly about the PVE experience but shines in multiplayer and also supports more games modes, so diversity is ensured.

There are many similarities between Dark Souls 2 and the prequel, with the combat system being revamped to include new elements. The difficulty level is scalable and compared to the Dark Souls game, it is easier for players to progress with the mission pack. While the rules are easy to pick up, the complex gameplay is difficult to master and it takes a while until players learn how to use the entire arsenal of weapons and multiple battle stances effectively.

What is Dark Souls 2?

Dark Souls 2 appeared into the spotlight for the first time in December 2012 and it was the first game in the franchise not to be directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki. It continues the narrative of Dark Souls and takes place in the Drangleic universe, where players compete against computer-controlled opponents, but also their peers. They get to enjoy the same challenging gameplay, better graphics and smarter opponents as the AI system has been greatly improved. The popularity of the game prompted developers to come up with an updated version in 2015 that goes by the name of Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin.

Gameplay of Dark Souls 2

The gameplay of Dark Souls 2 adds new elements, but the core mechanics of the prequel are maintained and improved. Players will die often in this game, but whenever they suffer an untimely demise, the maximum health is reduced all the way down to 5%. The only way to restore the hit points is by collecting the limited healing items or by using the coveted human effigy.

The short supply of both items makes it particularly important to think a couple of steps in advanced, since even regular monsters can inflict critical damage. By popular demand, Dark Souls 2 introduced better items in the low levels, so newcomers have a better chance at surviving in this hostile environment. It gets increasingly difficult to find equally powerful weapons and here in the advanced levels, but players can compensate the weaker inventory with greater skills. Compared to Dark Souls, this game allows players to change the difficulty of the game based on their experience, which is a more flexible approach.

Screenshot of Dark Souls 2. © Bandai Namco
Screenshot of Dark Souls 2. © Bandai Namco

Plot of Dark Souls 2

Dark Souls 2 has a narrative centered on a human cursed to come back to life each time he dies, hence continuing an endless circle of pain. He seeks redemption in the fallen kingdom of Drangleic and embarks on an endless quest of obtaining Great Souls from his powerful peers. The chain of quest has the leading character chasing powerful undead creatures, such as the Queen Nashandra and her minions.

The storyline is long and twisted, with players dealing with deception, elaborated schemes and various plots set in place by the main characters. In Dark Souls 2 players explore an eerie environment, where giants, undead and dragons roam freely, causing terrible pain. The Emerald Herald acts as a beacon and provides direction to our hero, while gradually revealing the true state of affairs and instructing him to embark on new quests.

Dark Souls 2 is also a game where players need to make difficult decisions and apparently there is always an alternative to every major choice. As the storyline progresses, the impact of these choices grows insignificance and will ultimately decide the outcome of the main quest. Whether they choose to restart the Age of Fire or embrace mortality and put an end to the endless cycle, the mission set will keep players at the edge of their seats and hungry for more.

Development of Dark Souls 2

Dark Souls 2 developers realized the importance of taking their time, as the sequel had to meet the high expectations set by Dark Souls. While the game mechanics are very similar to the previous installment, the environment has changed completely and players plunge into a whole new world. Some characters from the original game make a reappearance, while new monsters and undead creatures surface.

Screenshot of Dark Souls 2. © Bandai Namco
Screenshot of Dark Souls 2. © Bandai Namco

In terms of sheer size, this new installment is comparable with the original, but players enjoy more freedom and the impact of their decisions is more significant. There is no easy mode in Dark Souls 2 and even though the learning curve has changed, the action role-playing videogame is still difficult to master. Developed for both consoles and PCs, the game was delayed several times to make sure that the optimal version was released. Several DLCs were released in the upcoming years, with the latest in 2015.

Where can I download Dark Souls 2?

Players can download Dark Souls 2 from the Bandai Namco official website as a standalone product or purchase the entire pack containing the three games. With Dark Souls 3 at the horizon, it is very likely that those who purchased all the games in the franchise will enjoy a generous discount when the latest installment hits the stores. Downloadable content includes new enemy types, more bosses and map areas and also exclusive wallpapers and branded merchandise.

What are others saying about Dark Souls 2?

Despite the numerous delays, Dark Souls 2 was well received by the critics and there was a consensus that postponing the release was a smart decision. With an average score of 90 out of 100, the game was equally popular on consoles and Microsoft Windows. The reviews highlighted the difficulty of the game, but praised the atmosphere and superior graphics, all significantly improved versions of Dark Souls.

The players were equally impressed by Dark Souls 2 and the vast majority of those who play the prequel purchased the second installment. The action role-playing videogame brilliantly succeeded at capturing the very essence of the franchise, while staying fresh and promoting new ideas. The New Game Plus elements, the new levels and more powerful foes made the 60 hours of gameplay immensely rewarding.

Screenshot of Dark Souls 2. © Bandai Namco
Screenshot of Dark Souls 2. © Bandai Namco

Dark Souls 2 tournaments

Dark Souls 2 can be played exclusively in single player, with a huge environment to explore and an impressive assortment of enemies to vanquish. Interaction with other players is limited to the PVP gameplay, a welcomed addition to the player versus environment mode. Those who were hoping for Dark Souls 2 tournaments were probably disappointed to hear that such competitions are not on the menu.

My rating of Dark Souls 2

I’m the kind of player who feels compelled to buy and play any new installment after playing a truly enjoyable game. Given my amazing experience with Dark Souls, I was anxiously waiting for the sequel to be released and found the ever-changing release dates frustrating. Let’s just say that once I got the chance to get my hands-on Dark Souls 2, I completely forgot about all these delays and got fully immersed into this fantastic gaming environment.

Dark Souls 2 was everything I wished for from this RPG game. It takes pride in having one of the highest difficulty levels of all action role-playing video games. It was a pleasure exploring the huge maps and I never backed away from the challenge of defeating increasingly powerful enemies. The game got me wired for two straight weeks and I don’t regret a single hour spent playing and replaying these great missions. For all these reasons and many more, I rate this game 9.5 out of 10.

Overall Score