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Dark Souls

Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

Play Dark Souls like a boss...literally

Get your own back with this new mod
Jul 01
// Vikki Blake
Dark Souls modder White Lord of DaTeHaCKs has created a mod that'll put you squarely in the shoes/hooves/claws/whatever of your favourite worst nightmare. The Darks Souls Boss Arena Mod "enhances the Debug Mode opt...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Prepare to draw: Dark Souls II: Design Works confirmed

Jun 19
// Chris Carter
The art of the Souls series always gets me excited. I mean, a lot of it is creepy as all hell and keeps me up at night, but there's a quiet beauty in nearly every single cel that's produced for this franchise. I generall...

What we know about Dark Souls III so far

Jun 17 // Nic Rowen
Lords of Cinder Apparently, the main plot of the game revolves around the Lord (or “Lords”) of Cinder and his (or their) resurrection. Details are obviously spotty at this point, but the general sense is that the Lord of Cinder isn't Gwyn (the boss of the first game) like you might immediately suspect, but another soul who chose to link the fire. You know, like you do as the Chosen Undead at the end of the first game. Dark Souls III might be you dealing with the sins and repercussions of your original character. For a series all about cycles, repetition and repeated mistakes, I think that is a very cool angle. Time is a flat circle, indeed. If it Bleeds... Combat in Dark Souls III will feel much closer to the pace and rhythm of Dark Souls and II than Bloodborne. Shields are back in fashion as the stylish choice for every fashion-forward undead interested in keeping all of their limbs intact. Interestingly enough though, bows and arrows will be receiving a lot more love. Drawing and firing an arrow will be much faster than any previous games, to the point where you could possibly use them as an up-close weapon. Miyazaki jokingly claimed that “using the short bow is a bit like being like Legolas in Lord of the Rings. Ok, I’m probably exaggerating a little.” Nice, but I can't imagine Legolas lasting long in the extra-harsh world of the Souls games. Stance switching will be a bigger thing than ever. While switching between one and two hands or the useful “power stance” of Dark Souls II has always been a thing, it seems some weapons will have even more stances and special properties. Short swords have a “ready” stance where the sword is held two-handed above the head and able to crush guards when used correctly, while the massive Greatswords will be getting a “lunge” move that allows you to jut forward quickly with an upward stab that may have some invincibility frames on it. Handy stuff for PvP. But it gets cooler. Enemies will be able to use stances and skills just like the player can. Expect undead to try and adapt to what you're doing and use all your own dirty tricks against you. This is one of those things that is both exciting and terrifying and I can't wait to see how it all works out. I'm imaging having to duel smart versions of the Silver Knights in Anor Londo and it's giving me chills. Oh yeah, KICKING IS BACK! *a heavenly choir sings in the background, babies laugh, grown-men weep with joy and all is right with the world* Dedicated servers? In a Q&A session after a hands-on demo, Miyazaki was quizzed about the PvP and co-op mechanics and how it would all work in Dark Souls III. While initially a bit evasive, Miyazaki eventually relented and spilled the beans on a few details that I'm sure fans will love. The Soul Memory system for match-making is gone (good riddance) and the game will be returning to a similar (but tweaked) version of the Soul Level matching system of the first game. Good news for anyone who enjoyed PvP fight clubs or bro-oping with friends and grew weary of micro-managing their soul intake. Probably the most earth-shattering detail about multiplayer released so far though, Miyazaki told the group that the game would be using dedicated servers for its multiplayer. This would be a huge change, as every other Souls game so far has relied on (occasionally less than stellar) peer-to-peer systems. I'm a little hesitant to get my hopes up super high -- there is always a chance this will get chalked up to a “translation error” or otherwise quietly scuttled later -- but the idea of a smoother and more consistent Souls multiplayer experience has me giddy. Boring technical shit The game will run at 30 FPS. Yes, some dude used his one chance to personally ask Miyazaki a question to harass him about the frame rate. Nice. I imagine this will be a sticking point for some people who react like their eyes melt at anything less than 60 FPS, but I'm fine with it. Not saying I don't love a good frame rate, but I think that concern is occasionally over inflated. All that really matters is that the game looks good (which can be accomplished better by art direction and design than sheer horsepower) and plays well. Dark Souls III will be the last in the series Now this seems like the piece of news most likely to change in a few years time (after Dark Souls III sells a shit-ton of copies and the money is too good to resist), but according to a Namco/Bandai press release, they “are happy to dedicate this final episode to them [the fans]!” I'm sorry, did you say “final?” This wouldn't be the first time a game was sold as “the last in the series” and it turned out not to be (side-eye to Gears 3) and the Souls games already have a history of spiritual successors and suspiciously similar sister-series, but it's still an interesting idea. With Miyazaki back at the helm and the story line focused on the end of the cycle of resurrection and decay, this might be a good place to leave the series. A bitter-sweet thing to think about. Those are the most interesting details I've heard about the game so far, but news is moving fast and the rumor mill is always churning. If you've heard anything cool, be sure to share it with the rest of us!  
Dark Souls III details photo
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down
I could not be more excited about Dark Souls III and the return of lead designer Miyazaki to the series. While I loved Dark Souls II (it was one of my favorite games of 2014), it felt like a very well executed and d...

Dark Souls III confirmed for early 2016

Jun 15 // Jordan Devore
(Cool box art, Namco.)
Dark Souls III photo
Rise from your grave!
The leaks killed the surprise, but I'm still into it -- Dark Souls III is coming early next year to PC, PS, and Xbox One. "Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team" are on the project, according to Bandai Namco. A pre-rendered video p...

Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III confirmed to be real, releasing in early 2016

According to this art leak
Jun 09
// Brett Makedonski
The past week has brought about speculation that From Software would follow up this year's Bloodborne with a third installment in the Dark Souls series. There were even some mighty convincing screenshots that h...
Dark Souls III photo
Supposedly releasing next year
Following a report that Bandai Namco would announce Dark Souls III later this month at E3, The Know has come out with a slew of supposed screenshots and information for the game. This is the same group responsible for that s...

Rumor photo

Rumor says Dark Souls 3 will be at E3

Are you ready to die yet again?
Jun 02
// Laura Kate Dale
According to a new rumor, Bandai Namco is planning to reveal Dark Souls 3 in just a couple of weeks time at E3. Initially reported by VG247, who cites "a source familiar to the matter," the rumor suggests that the game will b...

22 (probably) games that are way harder than Dark Souls

Jun 01 // Steven Hansen
Conversation around From Software's turgid-uttered sacred cow, the Souls series (Bloodborne, too) has such a strange fixation on difficulty, of shuddering players shivering under its hurts so good sadism. Namco Bandai fed into it with Dark Souls and Dark Souls II's marketing. I've died hundreds of times in hundreds of games. And it's very strange how people nod in agreement to the novelty of death and difficulty as if instant fail states were not one of gaming's founding blocks (to the point where some people have stupid arguments about whether things are or are not games). It reminds me of how Telltale's recent adventure games trump up "player choice" as if players haven't been choosing since positioning their Pong paddle. Ok, "narrative" choice? Umm, how about text adventures from 1981. Come on. Souls games aren't hard. I don't say that as a nose-upturned, "gotten gud" vet. They are about endurance and resilience more than sadistic, chronic difficulty. They are a challenge, but not monstrous or mean as people often make them out. Heck, I've seen someone who plays maybe one or two games a year get a platinum trophy in Demon's Souls. There's no club. Anyone can do this. They're designed to let anyone play and finish. Over on the webpage (and mobile application) Twitter, one-time Destructoid contributor Stephen Beirne (no relation!) loosed a series of posts about Souls and I am in accord. "I can't get behind the argument that Dark Souls is abusive due to its (presented sense of) difficulty. And I think this is because I find Dark Souls to be far, far less difficult than a game like, for example, Super Mario Brothers. Platforming is difficult! It's very difficult! It's not fun and it's agonizing and it's pointless and hateful." I love platformers, but this raises some great points, aside from the subjectivity of difficulty. No one's good at everything. I am bad at not having loads of sex, for example. Irish Stephen (not to be confused with Welsh Stephen) is bad at platformers. Young Steven (me) was bad at telling Kurt Russell and Patrick Swayze apart. There is a relative novelty to Souls games, though, and I think that's where some of the obsession over exaggerating the difficulty comes from (aside from general chest pounding reinforced by marketing to try and create a positive-feeling in-group). But it isn't in death. It's as a 3D action game. Late '80s, early '90s gaming was filthy with platformers. Mario, a pop culture icon up there with Michael Jordan and the wild shirtless Mark Farner, comes from New Jump City. The genre has only gotten easier, shedding quarter-gobbling design (the removal of "lives"), allowing you to skip levels after repeated death. While some folks are plum bad at 'em, we've had a lot of tries at being good at them. Compare to the 3D action game, which might not have even hit its stride until the PS2-era in the 2000s (PS1-era ones tended to be wonky and platforming-heavy), but at least didn't even exist until 3D graphics. In our young medium, the 3D action genre is younger still, (blood)born(e) of platformers and agèd over the last decade. Souls games occupy a genre that has a decent chance at being a new challenge to folks. It also operates different than genre-defining stuff like Devil May Cry or God of War, thanks in part to the RPG bits. The latter, reflex-based ilk are linear and need momentum. And so you can limp along, button mash, and be not all that good, for which they'll stratify you (chumps skirt by with C-ranks and stamina, experts carve up the world with SSS-rank endless combos). But you're still getting through, moving along. Even I meandered my way through the "hard" Devil May Cry games. And on the RPG side of the Souls mix, there's a history of having the numbers and grind fallback, limited reflex-oriented fighting. And suddenly, Souls, where the difference isn't "coast by or be good," but, more closely, "coast by or die." It rewrites the expectations of 3D, third-person action relative to genre standard bearers. All it asks you to do is get by, and so it skews the relationship to death and performance. The general experience of Devil May Cry is that sometimes you'll die. Mostly, you'll empty out rooms with the killing precision of a child flailing at a piñata. Eventually, you'll be an expert slayer. Souls changes that bell curve. Mostly you'll die. Eventually you'll get by. Rarely, you'll be a wrecking machine, an offensive weapon. It's about winning, eventually, instead of winning more and more impressively.  Souls offers other outs, too. You can go grind and level up, get more gear, buy more arrows. You can often fuck off elsewhere, to another stage, or on another path, rather than bang your head against one boss. Masochistic? When's the last time a text adventure let you type, "this is stupid, next question?" How about trying to suss a point-and-click puzzle that expects you to pry open a manhole, stretch a patch of human skin over it into a trampoline, and jump up through an open window? Souls games are designed to encourage you towards eventual success, even if it means breaks, detours, or extra hours. You don't get a gold star for killing the Flame Lurker without the ribcage exploit. You don't get a demerit for safely perching yourself with a bow and taking 100 potshots to down a far off creature. In Souls' judgment, it's all the same. What matters is you did it. I don't find that sadistic at all.
Not actually a listicle photo
Why the Souls series' hardened rep?
"Prepare to die," Dark Souls warns, flashlight under face, as if 30 years of video games hasn't already prepared me. "I'm not a masochist," people say, letting six years of Souls pass from afar, like they're looking out a tra...

Bloodborne photo

Bloodborne patch 1.04 arrives with some tweaks that make the game easier

Passworded co-op is now easier to play
May 25
// Chris Carter
Ah, Bloodborne. While I'm not quite sure how it ranks overall in terms of the Souls games (I need a few more years to ponder that), there's no doubt in my mind that I'll be returning to it periodically. A steady str...
Bloodborne expansion photo
Bloodborne expansion

Sony boss confirms Bloodborne expansion, more info late this year

May 20
// Steven Hansen
Despite the successes of Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, and Dark Souls 2, recent PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne sold well enough that Sony was still surprised with the results. It's not surprising, then, that the game would b...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

From Software fixed Dark Souls II's wonky weapons

Weapon durability update released
May 07
// Jordan Devore
The PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One versions of Dark Souls II suffered from an issue that caused players' weapons to degrade faster than normal, requiring frequent repairs. In short: The rate at which weapon durability decrea...

The beauty and tragedy of a perfectly planned character

Apr 27 // Nic Rowen
I spent way too much time looking at screens like this. City of Heroes probably holds the dubious distinction of having the most skewed relationship in terms of “time spent planning characters VS time spent playing characters” in my life. I spent entire nights pouring over different power sets, ability combinations, and team synergies for a game that doesn't exist anymore. I devoted hours upon hours to figuring out the perfect stat progression for super villains that I knew in my heart of hearts I'd never take out of the starter area. The only crime they'd ever commit would be loitering. However, City of Heroes wasn't the only game to trigger this kind of obsessive cataloging, not by a long shot. I have a stack of character builds and ideas as thick as the Yellow Pages for Dark Souls PvP set-ups, gimmicky X-Com squads, and Darkest Dungeon dream teams. I have concept characters (complete with embarrassing back stories) sketched out for both of the modern Fallout games. All of their would-be perks, S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats, and fashionable item accessories already plotted out -- all that’s left would be to actually wander out in the wastes and find them, but who could be bothered after so much work? This goes way back, long before I had easy access to the internet where character planners and clever apps make it simple to plot these things out. Go back to the Precambrian era of high school days, dig through the fossil records of my notebooks and I'm sure you could find Diablo 2 skill trees scribbled in the margins of my English homework. The cave wall painting blueprints of a Hammerdin specced holy warrior looming above my predictable observations about MacBeth (probably, hopefully, accompanied by a cool doodle of a flying hammer crushing a zombie's skull).   When I step back and look at the sheer amount of go-nowhere ideas and try to tally up the time I've sunk into them compared to the relatively meager hours I've clocked into some of the games they're for, it dawns on me -- maybe this is kind of messed up. Maybe I've been living all wrong. Looking at it from a distance, it all seems quietly sad. I've spent more time in my head with some of these games (some of my favorite games, I might add) than I have playing them. There's a small critical voice in the back of my mind that is furious with me for squandering those hours, for not doing something more productive with the time -- both in the sense of actually playing the fucking games, and in the broader and more judgmental “what are you doing with your life?!” sense.  I have perfectly good reasons (or maybe I should call them “justifications”) for all the obsessive plotting and scheming. For one thing, there are just too many cool ideas out there and not enough time to see them through. For as much as I beat myself up for the papery death of my stillborn characters, I never really would have had the time to convert those dreams into reality even if I had the work ethic of John Henry. How long does a full play through of Diablo 2 take anyway? How many trips through Hell do you need to make to grind through the necessary experience points? If you're after a certain item set (and you know you are because you're the kind of crazy person who didn't stop reading three paragraphs ago) you'd probably need to go online to trade and wheedle your way into a full set to see it done. It's a hell of a lot more of a time investment than goofing off in English class, that's for sure. Sketching out those ideas for gimmicky Paladins and upstart Mages let me stave off the temptation to roll another character while I took my (unfortunately less imaginative) Barbarian to kick the shit out of the Prince of Lies. In a weird (insincere) way, I could even argue it helped me save time. Besides, an immaculately planned character can be satisfying in its own right. It's always good to get your intellectual hands dirty, to put your fingers into the putty of an idea, to roll it around and shape it. As far as pastimes go, you could do worse. Let's not forget all the situations where actually playing a game would be impractical. You can goof off a little at the office and play around with the Borderlands skill editor without causing much of a scene. But try and boot up your lv 30 Gunzerker at your desk just once and you'll never hear the end of it. Human Resources takes a dim view on bringing akimbo guns blazing justice to the wasteland during company hours, apparently.  Still, I look at the swollen and poorly organized folder where I dump all of my character ideas, filthy with PDF character sheets, webpage saves from online builders, .txt documents imported from PC to PC for games I'm not even sure I own anymore, and I wonder if I have a problem. I can justify all the characters I cooked up sitting in class or during lunch breaks? I know I spent just as many perfectly fine nights sitting in front of the same machine that actually displays and runs the games I was thinking about, tapping away at some poorly conceived concept character while utterly ignoring the game itself. At the same time though, I love those characters, I love those ideas. Yeah, most of them never made it out of the gate, but those characters had character. If videogames are mostly an exercise in mental stimulation, of burning off stressed out braincells and decompressing after a long shitty day, does it really matter if the satisfaction you get from them is through play or by tinkering with the ideas they present? If I could swap those hours around, gut about a quarter of that folder and take the time spent on the fantasizing about those ideas to actually playing out a few of them, would I be more satisfied? Or would it shake out to be about the same? I honestly have no idea. What I do know is that while writing this article, I did have an idea for another Dark Souls 2 character, and it's been all I could do to keep myself from drifting over to a wiki to start putting him together. There may be no hope for me.
Character building photo
I'm the man with the plan (and little else)
I've probably spent more time creating characters, builds, and dreaming up party compositions in my head than I have actually playing games. It seems odd to think of it in that way, but if I could somehow tally it all up I be...

Pac-Man to show up in unexpected places this year, let's guess where

Apr 22 // Jed Whitaker
Mario Kart 8 Pac-Man is no stranger to Mario Kart games having been in all three iterations made for arcades, and with Pac's recent appearance in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS / Wii U, having him as a racer in Mario Kart 8 just makes sense. Running for president as a Republican This one is a no-brainer -- just think about it. What do Pac-Man and the Republican party have in common? They are mostly men, 35 years of age or older, greedy, don't play well with other races, and are deeply rooted in religion. Pac-Man isn't the typical white male that leads the party, but perhaps a recognizable yellow face could give Republicans the push they need to take the White House in 2016. Dark Souls II The Souls series and Pac-Man actually have a lot in common; in both, you play as a lone hero traversing dark mazes filled with spooky ghosts in a world where the only sure thing is death. Perhaps the original maze from Pac-Man will be reworked in a 3D space, much like that beer commercial, and released as free DLC for Dark Souls II. Pac-Man would of course be a grotesque version of himself that guards the end of the maze.  Pellets, Please Gritty, dark, realistic games are all the rage these days, so perhaps Bandai Namco Entertainment will give Pac-Man the reboot he deserves. Pac-Land has fallen on tough times and Pac-Man must sneak into the neighboring country of Arstotzka to find work and food, all while dealing with terrorists and extreme hunger. Pellets, Please could be the smash hit to bring Pac-Man into the two thousand teens. RuPaul's Drag Race Everyone's favorite feminist already told us that Ms. Pac-Man is just Pac-Man with a bow on his head, so Pac-Man decides to own it and joins RuPaul's Drag Race. Pac, Ms. Pac-Man if you're nasty, will take the other divas by storm. Mama Pac will be a ruthless, z-snapping glamazon that makes up for her size with an over-the-top personality. Drag and gays are so in right now to the point where people are trying to make laws against them, which is what happens when anything gets popular with the kids. Playgirl Pac-Man has always been a sex icon. He's known for running around in the nude in his early, drug-filled days; even now the dude doesn't wear pants, baring it all is a constant in his life. Plus, PlayGirl is a great publication to reach parts of the population that are rarely marketed to in gaming: women, and non-straight men. A bit of trivia for ya: the history of PlayGirl kind of falls in place with the history of Ms. Pac-Man, as they were both made as an answer to their male-oriented versions.  An Adam Sandler movie I'm just foolin', there is no way that Pac-Man would ever have a large role in an Adam Sandler film, right? 
Pac-Man's midlife crisis photo
35th anniversary, midlife crisis
This year is the 35th anniversary of Pac-Man, a fact that will surely make your dad feel old. At a recent event in Las Vegas, Bandai Namco Entertainment said to look for Pac-Man to "show up in unexpected places this year." I've thought long and hard about where those places could be and compiled my best guesses below. Feel free to post yours in the comments!

Dark Souls app photo
Dark Souls app

Soapstone app lets you leave Dark Souls messages in real life

Amazing item ahead
Apr 18
// Ben Davis
You know those helpful messages scattered on the ground in Dark Souls games, such as "Illusory wall ahead" or "Try jumping," which are never misleading? Well, now you can leave your own cryptic messages in real life with the ...
Dark Souls II update photo
Dark Souls II update

Dark Souls II weapon durability fix on the way

The glitch that wouldn't die
Apr 17
// Jordan Devore
In Dark Souls II, the speed with which weapons degrade is tied to the frame rate. That system wasn't an issue for those of us who played the sequel on last-generation consoles, but it has been an annoyance for PC, PS4, and Xb...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II re-release tops Japanese charts (but it's not as impressive as it sounds)

Not a whole lot going on this week
Apr 16
// Brett Makedonski
Dark Souls II's current-gen re-release Scholar of the First Sin found an opening in the Japanese sales charts and struck at an opportune moment. Most weeks, it would barely make a dent, but on this particular week, it wa...

What is your favorite Souls series boss?

Apr 07 // Chris Carter
Chris Carter: Ornstein & Smough I'm already a sucker for humanoid encounters already, so a dance with two of the most fearsome warriors in all of Lordran is pretty much a perfect situation for me. It helps that they were sufficiently tenacious in taking me down, leading to the source of most of my deaths in all of Dark Souls. It wasn't just the fight that was memorable though. Forging on to Anor Londo for the first time and seeing the stark contrast of brightly lit skies was breathtaking, and felt like a brief respite from the challenging areas that lied ahead. Stephen Turner: Capra Demon The Capra Demon scared the shit out of me. Then I realised he had a problem with stairs. He didn't seem too scary after that. Also, Moonlight Butterfly because I made the ghost witch with the big hat do all the hard work while I cowered in the corner. Honestly, I gave up after the Gaping Dragon and stopped at the gates of Blighttown. Never went any further than that. I heard there was a lot of poisoning going around and it was a bit rundown, so I imagined it looked exactly like Swansea. Occams: Gravelord Nito Talk about doing more with less?!  Just a writhing ball of skeletons wearing darkness like a cloak.  And it's arm ending in that wicked scythe. For such a simple design, it conveys a lovely sense of dread and power. From Software could have made Nito some undead Lord and gone the ornate route.  Instead, they focused on making it a primal force of nature.  For me, this elevates Nito to one of the most memorable designs in a series rife with amazing bosses. Mike Martin: The Asylum Demon Meeting him for the first time set the tone of the game and showed you what you were in for. His size, his design and his moves all seemed to be designed to intimidate. It's not a hard a fight at all, but it really sucked me into the world. From the moment he crashed down from his chicken-like flight, swinging his hammer, destroying pillars I knew this was a game I was going to be absorbed and challenged by. Best tutorial ever. Ben Davis: Tower Knight I think the Tower Knight from Demon's Souls will always be my favorite Souls boss, although a few other bosses from the later games, like Sif and the Looking Glass Knight, come pretty close. The Tower Knight was the second Souls boss I ever fought, and it's all thanks to him that I fell in love with Demon's and the series in general. The Tower Knight beat me to a pulp so many times that I didn't want to play the game anymore, but everything about the battle (aside from the losing) was so awesome that I couldn't stop thinking about it. The music, the sheer scale of the giant knight, the knowledge that I could die in an instant if I made even the slightest mistake...something about all of this made me feel like this was a game I needed to beat, a game I would love if I was ever able to master it. And so I came back and finally beat the Tower Knight, and promptly fell in love with Demon's Souls. Nic Rowen: Black Dragon Kalameet There are more imaginative bosses (Smough and Ornstein), ones with better atmosphere (Nito, Gwyn), and better soundtracks (Seath), but Kalameet is the one and only dragon I've ever fought in a videogame that actually felt like fighting a dragon. After watching Kalameet douse the entire battlefield in black flame, snatch an adventurers life away with a quick swipe of his tail, or pound through a knight's tower shield with relentless tearing claws, who could ever go back to the listless, floaty dragons of Skyrim or even the immobile Dragon God of Demon Souls? Jordan Devore: Gwyn, Lord of Cinder As you push through the fog gate leading into Gwyn's ash-covered domain, he's off in the distance, waiting patiently. It's all come down to this. Somber music fades in and the Lord of Cinder charges at you, culminating in a massive leap with his fiery sword aimed at your chest. After fighting and slaying so many huge bosses that looked scary at first glance but ended up being clumsy or easy to read, Gwyn intimidates. He's not much bigger than you, but he's swift and persistent. For me, the hardest part of this duel wasn't timing individual blocks, or rolls, or sword strikes during vulnerable moments -- it was remaining calm throughout the entire fight. And when I finally did kill Gwyn many attempts later, any satisfaction I felt was quickly replaced by another feeling: guilt. From Software somehow made me feel guilty for killing the final boss. Kyle MacGregor: Tower Knight The encounter with the Tower Knight is far and away the most indelible moment I've experienced in a From Software game. Just crossing paths with the hulking warrior means charging across a bridge patrolled by a giant fire-breathing dragon and a small army of men armed to the teeth with crossbows and other instruments of death. And it gets no easier upon reaching the end of the line. The Tower Knight is an utterly massive, imposing figure. He stands two stories tall, greeting players with a stomp of his colossal solleret and impenetrable tower shield. Behind him a clown-like man chuckles, as dozens of crossbowmen flank the player from the surrounding ramparts. The battle figures to be a short one where the player either ends up riddled with crossbow bolts or flattened under the behemoth's boot. Then the music kicks in. It's an eerie chant accompanied by unsettling horns and strings that heightens the mood. It's harrowing. Death seems all but certain. More so than the Phalanx before it, the Tower Knight sets the tone of what players can expect out of Demon's Souls and the rest of the series. This doesn't feel like a fair fight. Not in the slightest. But if you keep your wits about you and are persistent you'll eventually triumph. It's an incredible challenge, but a totally surmountable one. And that victory is all the sweeter for your hardships.
Favorite Souls bosses photo
It's hard to pick just one
Yesterday, we talked about From Software Director Hidetaka Miyazaki's favorite boss fight from the Souls series. Interestingly enough it was the Old Monk from Demon's Souls, an encounter that blurred the l...

One crucial tip for locating the new boss in Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin

Apr 07 // Chris Carter
Spoilers: The Dark Souls II re-release features a new character and boss, Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin. In order to face him as an encounter, you must have defeated Vendrick before you fight Nashandra, who can be considered the former "final boss" of the base game's story. If you don't kill Vendrick first, you won't get to see the new boss -- period. You'll have to replay the game to find Aldia. I actually made it all the way through and expected to face him, only to find out that I did it wrong. Alternatively, you can use a bonfire ascetic to restore the checkpoint [credit to community member Stairmasternem. Just tried this out and can verify. You will, however, have to fight the Throne Watcher & Defender again, as well as Nashandra and Aldia one after another. Due to the effects of the ascetic they are harder, so it's not recommended]. Killing Vendrick is much easier if you acquire any number of Giant Souls, four of which can be readily found in the world, and one of which needs to be obtained from from the Ancient Dragon, one of the toughest fights in the game. My advice? If you can't kill the dragon just get four -- Vendrick's attacks are easy enough to dodge.
Dark Souls II tip photo
Don't miss it
It goes without saying that there are minor spoilers involved (mainly just names that don't have any context) for Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin herein. This tip is mostly for returning players who want to experience the new content -- I don't want people to miss out on it for making a simple mistake.

Demon's Souls photo
Demon's Souls

Bloodborne creator's favorite Souls boss is from Demon's Souls

Old Monk look at your life, I'm a lot like you were
Apr 06
// Steven Hansen
The increasingly impressive From Software president, Demon's Souls and Bloodborne creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, has told Official PlayStation Magazine UK (via PSU) which Souls series boss is his favorite, going back to what a lo...
Favorite Souls game photo
Favorite Souls game

What is your favorite Souls game?

Demon's, Dark, Dark II, or Bloodborne
Apr 02
// Chris Carter
Between the recent release of Bloodborne and Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, I've completed five playthroughs between them. It's a perfect time as there aren't a lot of huge releases currently, and I'll rarely, if ever, see the release of two Souls games at basically the same time. So that got me thinking, what's your favorite?

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin's enhancements are minor, but I ended up beating it again

Apr 02 // Chris Carter
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PC, PS3, PS4 [tested], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: Namco BandaiReleased: April 2, 2014 (EU), April 7, 2014 (US)MSRP: $19.99-$49.99 (PC, see below), $39.99 (PS3, Xbox 360), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One) Scholar of the First Sin is basically a packaged version of Dark Souls II with all three DLCs, and a few other extras -- some of which are coming to older platforms with a free update. Oh, and Bandai Namco is also selling the Scholar disc on said older platforms to add more SKUs into the mix, and don't even get me started on the PC release. Still, I'll do my best to explain everything as I go so you aren't completely lost. After starting up Scholar on PS4, the first big change was immediately apparent after entering the first few zones -- the remixed placement of enemies. While casual fans may not notice this at all, I saw a few notable switcheroos, and they're generally for the best. The starting area won't have as many tougher enemies for instance, but the zone immediately following that will pay it back. Don't think it's inherently easier though, as it feels roughly the same, just with better pacing. It's not enough to get excited about but it makes for a better experience. Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin, is probably the other huge addition, a new NPC that pops up every now and then and can culminate in a boss fight if certain requirements are met. His character model not only fits the world but looks formidable, and the insertion of Aldia is fairly seamless into the core story, providing a bit more background on your main quest. Like the remixed placements he isn't anything to write home about, but he basically serves as a fourth DLC, albeit without a new zone. [embed]289666:57956:0[/embed] Other Scholar-specific additions on PC (DirectX 11), PS4, and Xbox One include a higher online player pool, and an upgrade to 1080p and 60 frames per second. The game is still noticeably dated, but the environments and backgrounds (see 3:00 here) are still as breathtaking as ever. On a more gameplay-related note, the frame rate was consistent, and it's so buttery smooth that it just feels perfect -- every attack is deliberate with no delay, even with tons of enemies on-screen. All action games should strive to be 60fps, period. All my tests were done with the PS4 version of the game, and I'm told the Xbox One edition is identical (if I can get a copy to confirm this I will). It's important to note though that nearly all of the non-graphical updates are coming to the previous-generation (360, PS3) in the form of a free update. But the way the PC version is being handled is as confusing as all hell. On PC, you can opt for the DX9 or DX11 version. There's a tiered pricing model that starts at $40 for the base DX9 game, or $50 for DX11. If you own the original and/or all the DLC you can get discounts ranging from $10 to $30. They even have separate Steam pages. So what's the difference? The DX11 versions mirror Scholar on the PS4 and Xbox One, essentially offering a separate instance of the game with prettier style and enhanced online player pool -- prior generation and DX9 users will not get that bonus bit. Still confused? Re-read these past few paragraphs until it sinks in. If you're coming off of Bloodborne and want more Souls, grabbing Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin would be a great idea. The fact that all three add-ons are included ($25 in total with the Season Pass, hosting the Sunken, Old, and Ivory DLCs) is the icing on the cake. For everyone else, Scholar can barely be considered a remake or remaster of any kind, and you're best served just downloading the free update on the copy you already own. Any goodwill Scholar earns is mostly based off of the core game, but either way you slice it, playing it in some form is recommended. Thankfully, those older copies still exist, and will likely go down in price if you aren't willing to pay Bandai Namco's premium.
Dark Souls II: SE photo
Don't double dip
Love 'em or hate 'em, this is the generation of remakes. It seems as if remasters of the previous generation pop up more frequently than actual new games, but if said remasters actually end up funding new games rather than th...

Miyazaki interview photo
Miyazaki interview

Ico showed Bloodborne's Hidetaka Miyazaki the 'possibilities of the medium'

Demon's Souls creator on his meteoric rise to From Software president
Apr 01
// Steven Hansen
Simon Parkin got a rare interview with From Software president, Demon's Souls and Bloodborne creator Hidetaka Miyazaki and it is fascinating stuff, charting Miyazaki's dramatic career change at age 29 (and equally dramatic 80...
Dark Souls II Upgrade photo
Dark Souls II Upgrade

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin upgrade and pricing systems detailed

While somewhat complicated, there's a good deal here for some
Mar 30
// Rob Morrow
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is scheduled to launch on Steam this Wednesday, April 1 with current and last-gen counterparts becoming available the following Tuesday, April 7. From Software has described the reissue...
Souls series photo
Souls series

Where's the best place to start if you've never played a Souls game?

The two recent entries
Mar 24
// Chris Carter
Here's a question that I've gotten a lot of in the past 24 hours -- "where do you recommend picking up the Souls series?" Due to quite a bit of buzz behind Bloodborne (which, thankfully, is actually good), people ha...
Dark Souls drums photo
Dark Souls drums

Guy beats Dark Souls with DK Bongos

You're a shining star
Mar 23
// Jordan Devore
That was a scary couple of minutes there while I dug through storage to confirm that, yes, my DK Bongos and copy of Donkey Konga have not vanished in recent years. My drum-whacking abilities have since dried up, though. Big ...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

Prepare to scroll: This Dark Souls illustration captures the complexity of Lordran

It just keeps going
Mar 20
// Jordan Devore
Uncovering the mysterious, unforgiving, crazy-but-believably-crafted world of Lordran is one of the greatest pleasures experienced in not only Dark Souls, but in the last decade of videogames. I'm still wrapping my head aroun...

Experience Points .05: Demon's Souls

Feb 21 // Ben Davis
Ben and the Giant Knight The Tower Knight was my very first foray into the Souls series' notorious difficulty. It's true that Phalanx is the first boss, but beating Phalanx is a test of patience more than anything else. Taking down the Tower Knight, however, requires strategy, planning, observation, and skill. If you just waltz up to the Tower Knight with your shields up or your swords swinging, you will die so quickly. Like many other players, I'm sure, my first encounter with the Tower Knight went a little like this: I entered the fog door, walked forward a little bit in awe and apprehension due to the sheer size of the boss, and was almost immediately hit square in the chest with the Tower Knight's giant lance, which killed me instantly. Well... damn. I tried again and again to beat him, or even so much as damage him sufficiently, but kept failing. I wasn't thinking like a true Souls player yet, and kept recklessly charging in to my death. Then I stopped playing, for like six months. I was so frustrated, and figured I just wasn't good enough to beat Demon's Souls. But I kept thinking about the Tower Knight and how badly I wanted to defeat him, how good it would feel to emerge victorious. So I finally picked it back up and tried again, this time being more careful and observant. I still died, but I soon figured out a reliable strategy. And then suddenly, after a particularly good run, victory was mine! I let out an audible roar of triumph, and it felt absolutely amazing. I felt like I could do anything, like I could actually beat Demon's Souls. And so I went on and did just that! Looking back now, the Tower Knight fight is actually pretty simple. I might not even rank it in the top twenty most difficult Souls bosses. But as a beginner to the series, it was hard enough. It was a hurdle I had to overcome in order to better understand Demon's Souls and what the game expected of me. Because of that, it will always remain one of my favorite boss fights of all time. The tower of terror The Tower of Latria... a dreary prison tower of unsettling sounds and Lovecraftian horrors. You begin in a prison cell, navigating your way around the other cells through cramped hallways and trying not to fall into the seemingly bottomless pit in the middle of each room. Mindless, sickly prisoners meet you at every turn, shackled to the walls, stuffed into urns and iron maidens, and otherwise being tortured to insanity. Mind Flayers patrol the halls, flexing their tentacles and ringing their eerie bells, the sound of which sends shivers down your spine. Descending down the tower, you'll find more unspeakable horrors: a massive, terrible machine that fires an unending volley of arrows and a deeply disturbing pile of prisoners, crushed into a spherical shape and moving around on several arms and legs. As you travel further up the tower, you are greeted by gargoyles, who fly about and pester you endlessly as you teeter across narrow walkways hundreds of feet above the ground. Up ahead, you can see a giant beating heart which is chained up to another tower and must be cut down. Eventually, you take a ride to the very bottom of the building and must trek through a swamp of disgusting pinkish goo riddled with huge, pulsating tentacles. The swamp is crawling with the most horrible abominations imaginable: these large, crazy, centipede-like creatures with multiple human faces. They lunge at you and make the most awful gurgling sounds when they're killed. Latria is disturbing to the max, and it's utterly amazing. The sheer amount of creepiness and creativity put into this level easily makes it my favorite area of Demon's Souls. The hunter becomes the hunted Demon's Souls introduced an intriguing new multiplayer mechanic which I'm sure you're all familiar with by now: invasions*! While playing online, at almost any moment during your adventure, another player could invade your world as an enemy Black Phantom. The other player could hunt you down, in your own game, and kill you. As someone who has never been very good at player vs. player duels, the thought terrified and excited me. My first encounter with an invader scared the crap out of me. A red message flashes at the bottom of the screen, saying, "Black Phantom so-and-so has invaded!" My heart skipped a beat, and I tried to search for a hiding spot while desperately scanning the area for the enemy. Of course, they were way more skilled than me. They managed to sneak up behind me for a backstab, which practically made me jump out of my seat. The next several invasions didn't go so well either, but eventually I got the hang of things and was able to hold my own. Nothing feels better than slaying an invading player. I'm sure many of them are decent people just trying to have some fun (after all, I've done my fair share of invasions too), but I always envision them as bullies just trying to kill other players so they can sit back and laugh at their misfortune. This makes killing invaders all the more satisfying. "You thought you could screw me over? Well take that! Muahaha!" Of course, it's all in good fun. Invaders may seem scary to new players, but they're just another threat that must be dealt with in a world where everything is trying to kill you. Sure, they may be more skilled than the NPCs you come across, but even if they kill you, it'll just send you back to the last bonfire like any other death. And you should be pretty used to death if you're playing a Souls game. * - Pictured above: not really an invader... it's Satsuki, but let's just pretend it's someone dressing up as him (finding quality images of this game is harder than you would think!). Heir to the Old Monk's throne Invasions were such an ingenious idea that From Software decided to use that potential to create one of the most unique boss fights around. The Old Monk is the final boss of the Tower of Latria. He's a decrepit old man, dressed in a ridiculously large orange robe and sitting atop a huge pile of chairs. You don't get the chance to fight him though, because he withers away and dies before you can even reach him. But with his final breath, he casts a spell to summon up a demon to fight in his stead. His orange robe swirls around the demon's head like a weird, tornado-shaped turban, passing on the Old Monk's powers. For some players, this duel will be a lot like fighting the other invading Black Phantom NPCs, which can be kind of underwhelming. But for those playing online, they actually got to fight other players who were summoned to their world to fight for the Old Monk. The boss fight essentially became a player vs. player match, forcing some people to go toe to toe with an invader. The invader also gains the Old Monk's Homing Soul Arrow attack, which is cast automatically throughout the fight, giving them a bit of an edge. But even so, it all comes down to skill. The better player will emerge victorious. The first time this happened to me, I was so confused and terrified. I was still at that stage where invaders scared the heck out of me, so I dreaded entering the fog door. Later, when I became more comfortable fighting other players, I started to realize just how great of an idea this boss fight was. I even played a few sessions as the Old Monk's phantom in other peoples' games, and had a bit too much fun slaughtering the various hosts. From Software revisited this idea in Dark Souls II with the Looking Glass Knight, and I actually enjoyed that boss fight even more! Transient souls Aside from invasions, Demon's Souls also introduced some other unique multiplayer mechanics which were a bit more subtle. During your adventures through Boletaria, you would occasionally catch glimpses of ghosts. These fleeting specters were actually other players traversing Boletaria in their own games, like shadows of parallel universes. You weren't able to interact with them, but their mere existence was somehow comforting. These ghosts made you feel as though you weren't so alone in this dangerous world full of enemies. Other people were dealing with the same things you were. Perhaps they could see a shadow of you as well, giving them comfort and hope. You would also occasionally come across bloodstains on ground. Sometimes it would be your own blood, from where you died last, allowing you to retrieve your lost souls. But many other bloodstains would litter the ground, which were clearly not left by you. These were the spots where other players perished in their own worlds. If you interacted with them, a red phantom would appear, reenacting their last few moments before death. These could be useful as warnings of danger up ahead, an opportunity to prepare for traps or ambushes. They were also comforting, much like the ghosts, because you got to see others players failing and dying right alongside you. Some of them were also pretty damn funny to watch. For the really mysterious ones, I liked to try and imagine what could have possibly happened to them. How could they have died here, of all places? Some of them were so crazy that I watched them over and over, seeing their spectral bodies smashed into the ground and flung this way and that before they'd finally had enough and toppled over dead. Poor guy must have had the worst luck, but at least it was entertaining! One sword to rule them all I didn't really have any favorite weapons in this series until Dark Souls. I mostly just ran through Demon's Souls with a winged spear. Not too exciting, but it got the job done. However, there was one weapon that really stood out to me, even though I only used it for a few specific moments. At the end of the Shrine of Storms, you have to fight the Storm King, a gigantic flying manta ray that shoots spikes and creates thunder. He flies in a large loop in the sky way above you, so the only way to reach him is by firing arrows or using magic. I've always preferred melee characters, so I was kind of screwed during this fight, and resorted to casting wimpy soul arrows to try and take the beast down. It took forever. During my second playthrough, I dreaded having to fight him again. When I returned to the Storm King's arena, I spent a lot of time goofing off and searching for items rather than fighting the boss. That's when I came across the Storm Ruler, a sword sticking out of the ground in the Storm King's domain. Stats-wise, it wasn't as powerful as my winged spear, but I decided to fool around with it, since I was trying to delay the boss fight anyway. I always like to test out the movesets of any new weapon I come across. So I tried the heavy attack and... WOOSH! Something shot off the sword! It looked like an intense air current cutting through the sky, and it went pretty far. I tested it out on the Storm King as he flew by, and sure enough, it hit him square in the chest for decent damage. So there IS a way to defeat this boss using melee tactics, and I had no idea! The Storm Ruler took the boss down in no time, and I sat there thinking about how long it had taken previously when I was using Soul Arrows, and felt completely foolish. Unfortunately, the Storm Ruler's special ability only works in the Storm King's arena. Otherwise, it behaves like a normal sword, albeit one with lots of knockback. I went back to using my winged spear for the rest of the game, but I still found occasional uses for the Storm Ruler. I utilized the sword's heavy force by knocking some enemies off of cliffs with it. I even used it to kill Old King Doran once, by continually knocking him back further and further until he eventually fell down a long staircase and died on impact. Take that, Doran, you evasive bastard! Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine
Demon's Souls highlights photo
Let strength be granted, so the world might be mended
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is more than just a remaster

Feb 05 // Alessandro Fillari
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PC, PS3, PS4 [previewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: Bandai Namco GamesRelease date: April 7, 2015MSRP: $59.99 "It's about the rediscovery of the Dark Souls II experience, from the director's perspective," said Yoshimura during his presentation on Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. "That was something that the team at From Software in Japan really wanted players to experience." The developers and publisher Bandai Namco have kept many details close to the vest, in part due to the studio working on another Souls-esque experience with Bloodborne, and wanting to keep fans in suspense. It's easy to think of this as nothing more than a remastered game-of-the-year edition, which is totally fair, but From Software wanted to set the record straight. In the cursed kingdom of Drangelic, you play as an afflicted traveler looking to find a cure to end their suffering. With the kingdom filled with monsters and other nefarious foes, you'll discover that the curse, and those crazy enough to remain in the defiled lands, are all linked in the fate of Drangelic. Granted, you know this if you played the original Dark Souls II. You might even be comfortable with what lurks in the cursed lands. But what if I were to tell you that things are a bit different with the coming of Scholar of the First Sin? With this release, From Software wanted to spice things up by adding characters as well as overhauling and retweaking gameplay. "If you played Dark Souls II on Xbox 360 or PS3 all the way through, then you would think of this game, Scholar of the First Sin, as roughly the same game with all of the DLCs," said marketing director Brian Hong. "But what we're really trying to get across with players is that with [current-generation systems], we have a completely different experience for Dark Souls II." A common criticism of the original release last year was that it was much easier than its predecessor. While there is an argument for that case, even though it was still an immensely challenging game, the folks at From Software want to address those concerns head-on. Scholar of the First Sin is to Dark Souls II what Master Quest is to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It's not only for newcomers looking to see what the Souls experience is all about, it's also for those who may think they've mastered Dark Souls II. In my brief time with the game, it was apparent the game wanted me to feel very uncomfortable with what lied behind the corner even though I've already cleared the previous title. But of course, the feeling of discomfort is a normal part of the series' experience. One of Scholar of the First Sin's most apparent changes is that enemy and monster placements have been reworked. Foes you encountered at certain points in DSII will appear much earlier, and in greater numbers. During my session in the Forest of Fallen Giants, Ogres were wandering throughout, and Hollow Infantry are in larger groups. Surprisingly, the Heide Knights were nowhere to be seen, as they've been moved to other locations. With the increased number of foes, and different placement of them, I found myself having to effectively relearn aspects of areas I was quite familiar with. What's even more surprising was that the A.I. was not only improved, but the enemies of Dark Souls II had also lost their fear of Bonfire spots. They will have no qualms about chasing players down to their safe havens. To put it simply, you're more vulnerable in Scholar of the First Sin than in the original, which means you'll be using your hoards of lifegems far more often. As any fan of the Souls series will tell, mastering your environment and knowing the limits of your enemies is everything. So it was especially interesting to see that Scholar of the First Sin pulls the rug from under the players. From Software has especially had fun in placing monsters in areas that were not present in the original game. For instance, elevators that lead to bosses or shortcuts now house enemies that lay in wait for the player. With the technology that the current-gen has brought, the developers were very keen on getting the title out on the new hardware. With the increased horsepower, From Software was able to bring a visual boost to the Souls experience. In addition to the title running at 60 frames per second and at 1080p, the texture quality and lighting are improved to give the atmosphere an extra kick. Moreover, online multiplayer has also seen a boost with a maximum of six players during engagements. Much like another upcoming remaster, the developers were also inspired by much of what PC modders were able to accomplish, and wanted to offer the same level of content boosts (like textures and lighting) to the console releases. "Thanks to those players online, we were surprised by what they came up with," said Yoshimura. "Just one week after the release of [Dark Souls II], we saw all these mods being released, and the team at From Software were surprised and like 'This mod is awesome!'" Surprisingly, the producer was candid about the state of parity between each version. As there was some controversy over the differences in the original game to the one that was ultimately released, Bandai Namco was very adamant about what's in Scholar of the First Sin. "All [current-gen] versions will run at 1080p and 60 frames per second, including the Xbox One. So it is not 900p blah-blah-blah, it's 1080p and 60 FPS for all three platforms. Though some people said that it is worse to play the game on PC without DirectX 11, and the answer is yes. I'm really confident about clarifying this, because the improved lighting and shadows, clothing effects, and etc. -- this is only available on DirectX 11 technology, and not on DirectX 9." If you have the PS3, Xbox 360, or PC (DX9) versions of Scholar of the First Sin, then you might find yourself surprised to see that nothing has been altered visually or tech-wise, though you'll definitely experience the gameplay enhancements and new content. I dug what I played of the PlayStation 4 version. Though I was a little disappointed that no new areas were implemented, it's exciting to see that the developers sought to redefine what Dark Souls II was. The graphical boosts are very apparent -- quite stunning in person, even -- and the smooth 60 FPS combat is immediately noticeable. Though it's a bit disappointing that only those with new hardware will be able to experience it (without mods, of course). It's an interesting experience to re-learn Dark Souls II. Coming off of its predecessor, it seemed to have gotten flack for not quite living up to that standard while wanting to try something different. But with Scholar of the First Sin, which the folks at From Software consider the definitive edition, it feels like the game has gotten a much-needed invigoration -- especially with Bloodborne coming out the month before. It's not often you get to experience a game like this for the first time all over again, and that's something fans should love.
Dark Souls II photo
Prepare to die harder
I'll be the first to say it: it's going to be the year of Souls. With the release of Bloodborne only a month away, which looks to redefine the experience along with its wonderful change of setting, From Software has been...

Minecraft map photo
Minecraft map

You can explore Dark Souls' Lordran in Minecraft

Praise the sun!
Jan 23
// Ben Davis
Minecraft user Davweed is currently recreating the world of Lordran from Dark Souls, block by block. If you've played Dark Souls, you probably know how crazy this is. Lordran is full of grandiose locations that interconnect a...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

Dark Souls PC multiplayer no longer region locked

Phantom menace
Jan 20
// Jordan Devore
Region-free Dark Souls multiplayer, just the way we like it. From Software has issued an update on Steam that allows players to summon and invade one another regardless of where they live. While these cross-country connection...

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