In Defense Of Dark Souls 2 And Why It Was An Amazing Game
Dark Souls 2 seems to be universally regarded as the black sheep of the Soulsborne series. In a way, I get it. It’s not created by the same design and development teams that the first and third games are, and doesn’t have Miyazaki’s creative stamp on it. Already there it has an uphill climb trying to claim the same “cred” as the rest of the games. It has a different storytelling style and setting than Dark Soul 1 and 3, and in a way inverts much of the challenge of those games (with the bosses being relatively easy but areas being generally harder). It’s very different in a lot of ways from every other game in the series, almost as radically as Bloodborne is from the Souls games.
But does that make it bad? I think no. In fact, Dark Souls 2 is my favorite game of the series. I feel it struck the perfect balance in weapon variety (the removal of powerstancing in 3 was a huge misstep), with many viable and interesting builds and weapons. Its areas are nicely designed, with Bonfires being not too close together (unlike 3, which has a notorious spot where you can see one bonfire from the next) nor too far apart. Just enough to make you feel desperate for a shortcut, but not enough to crush you. The addition of Lifegems as an alternate healing method to help power through more and varied enemy encounters was fun, leaving your precious flasks as burst healing for particularly tough fights and bosses. It has a few missteps; many of the bosses are uninspired, and some locations are a little too saturated with enemies, particularly in Scholar of the First Sin but its upsides far outweigh its downsides in my mind.
In many ways I feel that Dark Souls 2 is the best designed game in the series from a mechanical standpoint for the above reasons and others. Dark Souls 3 beats it in many quality of life aspects (the removal of the annoying Soul Memory mechanic and not requiring an in-game item to filter out people you didn’t want to play with) but loses a lot in that trade. The DLC likewise are better made and more plentiful to boot (Brume Tower is one of my favorite areas from the Souls series and indeed any game ever) So why is it that so many prefer 3?
I think the answer lies with Bloodborne, the fastest paced entry in the series yet. The game was immensely popular, for good reason. And so when many of the fast-paced elements were ported to Dark Souls 3, a portion of the audience that had gotten on board with Bloodborne swapped over. And I can’t deny that, at first, Dark Souls 3 feels more fun, fluid, and exhilarating. And for a player that merely plays the game once to completion and barely dabbles in the PvP aspects of the game, this is perfect. It’s only with repeated play or more than casual immersion in PvP that the cracks start to show. Limited optimal build options, healing is too fast and plentiful, rolling can be done too many times consecutively with too little that can be done about it (to say nothing of Quickstep weapons). In essence for the vast majority of the audience, the game is better, because what it offers to a casual player (and I mean that in the least derogatory sense possible) is what feels like an upgraded Dark Souls experience.
I get, then, why Dark Souls 2 is often spat upon by many. It’s not the pioneer of the series like the first Dark Souls, and it’s not the fast-paced endpoint of the series like 3. But I feel it has a lot to offer, particularly for those more willing to delve deep into the game. I urge anyone who hasn’t tried it, or was turned off early to give it another shot. You’re missing out on an excellent underrated gem of the series.
#In Defense Of Dark Souls 2 And Why It Was Amazing