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Dark Souls

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...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Free Dark Souls II patch to bring content parity with PS4, Xbox One versions


Also improved load times (PS3 only)
Jan 15
// Steven Hansen
Dark Souls II is coming to PS4 and Xbox One on April 7 as Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. The re-release, which collects all three DLC packs and makes other improvements, is also coming to PC, PS3, and Xbox 360,...
PS' GOTYs photo
PS' GOTYs

PlayStation owners loved Destiny more than any other game in 2014


Dark Souls II won best PS3 game
Jan 08
// Brett Makedonski
We're well into the new year, but not everyone's put 2014 squarely in their rearviewmirror. PlayStation Blog just finished tallying the votes to determine which games Sony fans were most fond of last year. All PlayStation pla...

Swery's 2014 games that I haven't completed, but think are amazing

Jan 07 // Steven Hansen
4: Dark Souls II Even though the previous game broke me, the addictive nature of the game drew me to buy this sequel. Obviously, this game created a lot of waves, and I decided that I had to play it simply to experience that cycle of bitter aftertaste, frustration, and then catharsis one more time. Hardcore users say this game was easier compared to the original, but it was still enough to break me again. Getting killed by a player who invades especially makes me want to throw my controller. This is unrelated, but while I've never met the director, Miyazaki Hidetaka, his personal name is the same as mine (Hidetaka), so I feel a sense of closeness to him. Why I quit playing: The frustration from the game crept into my real life. 3: Destiny It may not be too much to say that this was the year's most talked-about title. I was too busy with development to take part in the beta test, but I bought the Xbox One version on the day it came out. Unfortunately, though, it wasn't localized into Japanese. When someone asked me "Why did you buy it if you weren't sure," I didn't really have an excuse, but that's what happened. Of course, not only the story, but the menu was also in English as well, so I had trouble understanding the system. I was really behind compared to my friends who had already bought the PS4 version, and became a bit of a Destiny dunce. Then I got busy with D4's release and PR, so there was no way I was going to finish it. Why I quit playing: My friends made fun of me so much that I lost all my confidence. 2: Dragon Age: Inquisition I added this game only after preparing myself to get yelled at. Why? Because I haven't played it. Right after I bought it, I suddenly got bombarded with things I had to take care of, and then there was an update to the consumer version of Minecraft, and I became desperate just to play that. Then, I went on a trip overseas without even getting to play it. I'm still on that trip now as I write this list. So, if I haven't played it, how can I say it's amazing? Well... just by using my intuition. Or, my sense of smell, should I say? I'm not a writer or a critic. I'm just a creator, so I have the right to self-righteously purchase and play games how I want to. Simple, right? Why I quit playing: My first vacation in four years. 1: Drakengard 3 The continuation of the famous series that Access Games developed. In this game, the action and graphics were renewed, essentially reviving the series. Ally NPCs and dragon growth were added, and you don't need to know the entire series to be able to enjoy the game. However, the story wasn't any good. It's really unfortunate, but it's the truth. And the graphics could have been a bit better, I think. If we get another chance, I'd like to use what we learned here to make an even better game. Why I quit playing: Self-hatred and self-defense. Runner-Up: Kirby: Triple Deluxe The world will wash your heart clean. The characters were just so cute, I couldn't not buy it. But the game was too beautiful for my heart. It ended up blinding me. It was hard for me to keep staring at the vibrant Kirby as he ran all around. It makes me wish that I could make a game someday like this, but at the same time, it also fills me with despair. That's all. Thanks to everyone who read this, and thanks to everyone at Destructoid for giving me the chance to write this! I apologize to anyone who was offended by anything I wrote. This is a list filled with personal taste and bias, but regardless of how it appears, I think it's very important for people to organize their thoughts as words, which is why I wrote this. I'm hoping from the bottom of my heart that 2015 will be a big step forward for the game industry. I Love You All!! SWERY
SWERY's 2014 GotY photo
The director of Deadly Premonition and D4 looks back at 2014
[Swery is the man behind Deadly Premonition and D4. The latter has kept him busy over the last year, so he hasn't been able to finish every game he loves. But love is not finite, finished, and with an eyebrow game this o...

Dark Souls Steam photo
Dark Souls Steam

You defeated Games for Windows Live, Dark Souls Steam migration update out now


You can keep your save data and achievements
Dec 15
// Jordan Devore
The long-time-coming update that replaces Games for Windows Live with Steamworks in Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition for PC is out today. Full instructions on how to transfer your achievements and save data are over here, b...

How did Destructoid's most anticipated games of 2014 come out?

Dec 15 // Steven Hansen
Brett Makedonski, Tom Clancy's The Division HAHAHA, I said I wanted The Division? God, early 2014 me was dumb. Let's revisit that in 2018. For now, let's pretend I said my most anticipated game was Valiant Hearts. Wow, was I ever spot-on with that one. It's one of the most important war games ever, and my hands-down pick for game of the year in 2014. Golly, I'm super good at picking these. Darren Nakamura, Starbound Going back and reading about Starbound being my most anticipated game of 2014 almost makes me a little bit sad. The game is still great, and the team at Chucklefish has been doing a fine job providing constant updates on its progress toward official release, but at some point my interest in keeping up with the minutiae just dropped off. I am still utterly fascinated by the concept, and I could still see myself losing hours to it if I started it up, but at this point I just want to wait until the final release so I can experience the universe it has to offer to its fullest. I am not even sure if the final release is scheduled for 2014 any more. Wake me up when it's ready. Until then, I can't dedicate my attention to it as much as I used to want to. It's not you, Starbound; it's me. Jordan Devore, Yoshi's Woolly World Unsurprisingly, my choice, Yarn Yoshi, didn't come out this year. Good-feels take a long time to make. But it did get a new name and a stage in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Having revisited the E3 trailer for Yoshi's Woolly World just now, yep, it's still my most anticipated game. Josh Tolentino, Watch Dogs Well, that was kind of a wash, wasn't it? Watch Dogs wasn't terrible, certainly, but it didn't set the world on fire like Ubisoft was hoping. Hell, I haven't even finished the story campaign yet, and the name "Aiden Pearce" is already a punchline in my mind. That said, the most intriguing parts of Watch Dogs' setup, namely its shared-world competitive multiplayer, did hold up to an extent. It's a real rush whenever someone invades my game, or I invade theirs, and there's nothing quite like pulling off a perfect one of the little cat-and-mouse hunts that come from the Online Hacking mode, or acting like a proper NPC to accomplish Online Tailing. If there's one positive that Watch_Dogs  may be able to leave in its legacy, it's that its best concepts may at some point come in to populate future, possibly better, Ubisoft games, because that's just how they tend to do things these days. Jonathan Holmes, Cat Girl Without Salad I have pestered WayForward about the missed release date of Cat Girl Without Salad for the past year. I have asked them questions like, "Why did you lie to me?" and "Do you enjoy making people feel glad only so that you can later make them feel sad?" In response, WayForward has said things that I can not tell you.  Cat Girl Without Salad is my most anticipated game of 2015.  Abel Girmay, Destiny So when we did the "Most Anticipated of 2014" list, I picked Infamous: Second Son as my most anticipated because Brett Z beat me to it when he called dibs on Destiny. Not knocking Second Son of course, it's just really difficult to talk about how a game turned out when you only manage to work through the first two hours. What I did play a lot of, though, was Destiny. Oh boy. What's left to say of this game that hasn't been already between all the reviews, Reddit posts, and parody Twitter accounts. Destiny was not a terrible game of course, but it was a deeply flawed one. Where we were promised a rich lore, we got 343 Dinkle Spark talking through a nonsensical narrative. Where we were told each weapon and armor piece would have a unique player story behind them, we got the endless grind for Strange Coins, hoping that Xur would have something good for our class. The latter touches on my biggest issue with Destiny, the endgame. Amidst promises of "the real game" starting after level 20, all that was waiting was a hamster wheel loop of grinding through the same missions, praying for that one good drop. Destiny has no postgame, just a grind that demands more than most modern MMOs, and no content to make the grind make it feel like anything but. I pushed my Warlock to level 25 and my Titan to 22, so it's not as if I didn't give Destiny a chance. Looking back at it, I just wish I would have given Second Son some of that time. Chris Carter, Dark Souls II The anticipated follow-up to From Software's Souls legacy was pretty much everything I wanted. While there were a few nasty tricks like tracking on some bosses, the actual environments were true to the series and, as always, the combat and itemization aspects were incredibly deep. There are too many memorable zones to count, and I can still map them out in my head as I type this. The new directors  Shibuya and Tanimura did right by Miyazaki, and even the three DLC bits were good in their own way. While I'm expecting a bit more variety from the next chapter, I'm happy to add Dark Souls II to my replay list for years to come right alongside of the other two Souls brothers. Steven Hansen, Gravity Rush 2 Not a damn word. Not a even a, "hey, how's it going?" phone call all year. I joked about waiting on word from Gravity Rush 2 to save a middling E3 (eventually saved by Metal Gear footage and Alien gameplay). I was actually let down to see nothing at Tokyo Game Show 2014 (it was announced at TGS 2013). By the time PlayStation Experience happened, I stopped getting even mild hope up.  There is a pulse. A mild blip of "this game is still being developed." Gravity Rush 2 is the fluttering eyelids of a comatose system and with last week's reassurance comes a doctor telling you, "don't get your hopes up yet," we don't know when it'll come out of this. Could be years. RIP PlayStation Vita.   -- I guess the good thing is that we can recycle half of last year's entries for "Most Anticipated Games of 2015" next month.  What were you looking forward to in 2014? Did it actually come out? Was it everything you ever wanted, setting your heart a flutter? Are you now planning the perfect Roadhouse theme wedding with it? Just make sure you do not tell me what you're anticipating in 2015. I will upload another post for you to do that in. Please understand.  
Anticipated retrospective photo
Mostly they didn't come out at all!
Want to feel old? January 2014 was just about one year ago. That's one whole season of a TV show or a complete Earth's orbit around the sun. Way back then--I can hardly remember it in the shadow of the god awful year--the Des...

Dark Souls vs. GFWL photo
Dark Souls vs. GFWL

Dark Souls' transition from GFWL pushed into December


Games for Windows Live is the final Boss
Nov 30
// Rob Morrow
Publisher Bandai Namco recently took to the Steam discussion boards to issue an official statement in regards to Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition's planned November transition away from Games for Windows Live in this ...
Dark Souls II re-release photo
Dark Souls II re-release

Dark Souls II is set to respawn on PS4 and Xbox One


Time is a flat circle
Nov 25
// Nic Rowen
A re-release of Dark Souls II for the current-gen consoles and a DX11 version for the PC has been announced in classic Souls fashion – with a moody and cryptic trailer showing scenes of unimaginable horror. Sign me up.
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II gets a pretty sweet first-person mod


Challenge accepted
Oct 23
// Chris Carter
Dark Souls II had a few of the toughest bosses in the series, but they'd be especially hard if you played the game in first-person. That's what a modder named Benzoin-Gun has done, detailing his creation in the vid...
Dark Souls PC photo
Dark Souls PC

Dark Souls will shed Games for Windows Live next month


And I'll shed a tear of joy
Oct 20
// Jordan Devore
There were enough worthwhile PC games tied to Games for Windows Live that I was willing to put up with service, which seemed to range from mildly annoying to downright frustrating, depending on the day. For many of us, Dark S...
Dark Souls Design Works photo
Dark Souls Design Works

Dark Souls II Design Works book is full of bleak, gloomy pictures


Just how Dark Souls fans like it
Oct 16
// Nic Rowen
Today in news that made me squeal like a fanboy, From Software has released a Design Works book for Dark Souls II just like its predecessor in Japan. It features over 200 pages of the darkly beautiful art of the Souls world,...
Dark Souls II DLC bosses photo
Dark Souls II DLC bosses

Dark Souls II's DLC bosses are HARD


Who would have thought?
Oct 12
// Nic Rowen
Dark Souls II players aren't doing so hot against the Fume Knight from the Crown of the Old Iron King DLC. According to stats released by From Software, 93% of attempts against him haven ended in miserable, abject failure. GG Chosen Undead.

Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Ivory King

Oct 01 // Chris Carter
Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Ivory King (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: September 30, 2014MSRP: $9.99 ($24.99 Season Pass) Like the previous add-ons, you'll have to access the DLC manually within the game -- in this case, you'll have to enter through the Shrine of Winter in the Shaded Woods. Without wasting a moment, Ivory King presents one of the most memorable openers for an area that I've ever seen in the series, alongside of a breathtaking snowy landscape. Although the engine has only taken baby steps from its predecessor, the art direction is phenomenal, and this is yet another area to ogle at while you're taking a much-needed break. The lore is a bit more in-your-face this time around, but never so much that it breaks the conceit of the Souls series and over-explains itself. You'll get a neat bit of exposition, and even a final chat with a major player in the overarching story. It definitely has a different feel from the detached Sunken and Iron scenarios, and I enjoyed the attempt to unite Ivory with the core game. Just don't expect an amazing conclusion -- but that's par for the course, really. Enemies consist of an array of ice-centric creatures, with only one real "new" addition -- a deadly porcupine-like thing. The good news is that the cast is varied in terms of forcing you to adapt strategies on a constant basis, which keeps gameplay engaging even if there aren't a whole lot of fresh faces. Ideally though, I would have liked to have seen all-new enemies. Here, it's not so much how the enemies change things necessarily, but the environment, which is true of a number of zones in the franchise. While consistent in their design, Ivory King doesn't really throw anything at you that you haven't seen before with one exception. In addition to the claustrophobic corridors the DLCs are known for, there's also one very open area that takes place in a low-visibility snowstorm. Much like the foggy woods before it, it can be the source of quite a bit of anxiety not knowing what to expect from any given angle. Boss fights are a little more imaginative this time around -- though still not what I'd call "classic" -- with a confrontation against a tiger (Aava), and a foe called the Burnt Ivory King. The former battle has a bit of a twist to it that will stump players if they attempt to fight without fulfilling a certain requirement, which is a nice little devious extra. The King mostly just throws adds at you (which was fine a few times in Dark Souls II, but gets old fast) and delivers standard swordplay to boot, but the introduction and battle arena are more than worth the lack of bravado. This is also one of the most difficult challenges yet in addition to the Iron King DLC -- so much so that I'd make the claim that it's easily up there with some of Demon's and both Souls games' toughest portions. Difficulty doesn't automatically make something good, but those who revel in it will enjoy seeing their talents put to the test. None of Dark Souls II's DLC is particularly spectacular compared to what was already in the base game, but they are great companion pieces to the proper package. If you're a diehard fan this is all you're going to get until Bloodborne arrives, and with multiple playthroughs and New Game+ runs, odds are you'll get your money's worth. Everyone else who took a more casual approach to Dark Souls II should probably wait for a possible Game of the Year edition or a sale.
Dark Souls II DLC review photo
And that's a wrap on the DLC
Dark Souls II was quite the ride. Although the game had its fair share of issues, I had a blast playing it, and a number of its zones now have a place in my list of all-time favorite Souls locations. One of those areas includes the last piece of DLC, The Crown of the Ivory King, which brings back some of the powerful icy imagery from the Painted World of Ariamis.

Dark Souls II DLC photo
Dark Souls II DLC

Dark Souls II's final Lost Crowns DLC chapter is here


Crown of the Ivory King
Sep 30
// Jordan Devore
After a brief delay, the Dark Souls II DLC trilogy has come to an end with Crown of the Ivory King. It's available today on Steam and Xbox 360 and tomorrow on PlayStation 3 for $9.99 -- or you can get all three add-ons bundle...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II's third DLC, 'Crown of the Ivory King' delayed


By one week
Sep 22
// Chris Carter
Bandai Namco has announced that the third (and presumably final) DLC for Dark Souls II, the Crown of the Ivory King, has been delayed by one week. Originally it was set for this Wednesday, but now it's due on September 30th a...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Feel the icy chill of these Dark Souls II Crown of the Ivory King DLC screens


I'm interested to see what From can do with snow
Sep 18
// Chris Carter
Snow isn't a common theme with the Souls series, so it's interesting that the upcoming Dark Souls II DLC Crown of the Ivory King will take place on an icy tundra. This new batch of screens looks suitably dreary...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

This guy's better than you at Dark Souls, because he plays with a Rock Band guitar


And that's the worst of the guitar controllers
Sep 08
// Brett Makedonski
Fancy yourself quite the Dark Souls player? Bet you can cruise right through that game, patiently parrying and rolling your way to victory after victory. Good for you. Now, do it with a Rock Band controller. It may seem...

Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Old Iron King

Aug 27 // Chris Carter
Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Iron King (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: August 26, 2014 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)MSRP: $9.99 ($24.99 Season Pass) Iron King starts off exactly the same way as Sunken King. This time around you'll make your way through fire and brimstone to the Primal Bonfire of the Old Iron King, which will allow you to enter a door and enter the DLC. Almost immediately the zone draws you in, kicking off with a vast expanse of castles, clouds, and a giant imposing chain that leads to the core part of the add-on -- Brume Tower. From there you can touch the bonfire and teleport around to any area at will. Unlike Sunken King where I had no real attachment to the zone, Old Iron King exhumes lore and nuance. Ghostly whispers in the dark, melted and ash-ridden corpses, and even the types of enemies you'll encounter all tell a story that's relevant to the area you rode in on. Don't expect anything new or mind-blowing -- it simply fits, is all. The imposing bronze-kitted skeletons feel like natural denizens, as do the hulking giants that spew lava from their arms. One of my favorite new enemy types are the harmless barrel-holding imps, who you can "corral" into fires to blow them up and dish out damage to other baddies. In addition to a set of brand new foes you'll also find the Ashen Idols -- mysterious demons that are impervious to damage unless you strike them with special items called "smelter wedges." You'll get a handful of these items at the start of the DLC, then you're on your own after that. If you're the type of person who rushes through zones in Souls games, you're going to be disappointed when you conquer the main path in just several hours. But fortunately as someone who loves the spirit of exploration, I found a number of sidepaths, including a giant optional zone that is one of the biggest tests of skill in the entire game. Everything in Iron King thankfully gels with rest of the game both aesthetically, and in terms of overall level design. While there were a few parts of Sunken where I became frustrated and didn't feel as compelled to go on, Iron King sucked me in. Bosses however are still a problem, re-iterating the biggest issue from the first DLC. They simply either aren't memorable enough on their own, or they're complete re-skins of prior encounters from the core game. That's not to say that they aren't just as satisfying at times as their predecessors, but for a piece of $10 DLC it would be nice to have all-new content.  Crown of the Iron King didn't blow me away, but it's a very nice zone that feels like a natural extension of Dark Souls II, and it's meaty enough to feel like a real DLC and not just a bonus area. Now that there are two DLCs down and one to go, it's hard to really recommend the Season Pass unless the third zone really knocks it out of the park. Stay tuned in September for our coverage of The Crown of the Ivory King.
Dark Souls II DLC review photo
That white hot light
While Dark Souls II brought me back to that special place that I found with Demon's Souls in many ways, the first DLC pack, Crown of the Sunken King, didn't go far enough with its concepts. It's really hard to give ...

Dark Souls DLC photo
Dark Souls DLC

Dark Souls II 'Crown of the Old Iron King' DLC out today


Journey past the Iron Keep
Aug 26
// Jordan Devore
When From Software announced the three-part Lost Crowns DLC for Dark Souls II, it all seemed so far away. But here we are, already on the second release. Time is flying. Crown of the Old Iron King hits today on Steam, PlaySta...
Bloodborne photo
Bloodborne

Check out new direct-feed Bloodborne gameplay


It's a Victorian-era Dark Souls, basically
Aug 19
// Alessandro Fillari
Last week, I got to go hands-on with Bloodborne. This visually evocative and bleak follow-up to Dark Souls II is a change of pace, but also something that feels and plays very much like the games of the past. While the change...
Bloodborne photo
Bloodborne

Bloodborne's health regaining system detailed


Regain System revealed at gamescom
Aug 13
// Dale North
A new system for upcoming From Software PS4 title Bloodborne was revealed at gamescom today in a behind-closed-doors meeting. It's called the Regain System, and it lets you recover health after taking a hit.  It's not as easy as it sounds to get your health back, though. 
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II gets patch 1.08, fixes and balances in tow


Not quite as major as some fixes in the first Dark Souls
Jul 25
// Chris Carter
Fresh off its new Crown of the Sunken King DLC, From Software has updated and tweaked Dark Souls II for everyone. Weapons have been balanced (with extra or decreased damage depending on the item), and spells have be...

Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Sunken King

Jul 22 // Chris Carter
Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Sunken King (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: From SoftwarePublisher: Bandai NamcoReleased: July 22, 2014 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)MSRP: $9.99 ($24.99 Season Pass) So here's what you're getting with Crown -- three new areas, new spells, more items, and extra enemies. Not all of them are created equal however, as some of the baddies feel like re-skins of prior models (one actually is a re-skin), and not all of the weapons and items are particularly useful for extended playthroughs. Still, the core areas are very well done and manage to differentiate themselves from the rest of the series. Entering the DLC is dead simple, and will likely appease fans who found the process to access the Artorias content in the previous game frustrating. All you have to do is have the Black Gulch area cleared (up to and including The Rotten boss). In that area is a new snake-like statue -- just touch the statue and you're in. There's a bonfire right near the start of the DLC, and with Dark Souls II's convenient travel system, you can head to and from the content anytime you please. This is a huge plus for me, since the DLC doesn't lock you out after completing it and feels like a genuine expanded portion of the game that you can return to and explore freely. Crown of the Sunken King starts off in a giant open cavernous area, filled with ancient Aztec-like structures. It gives a real Indiana Jones vibe, which is accentuated by special obelisks that you can strike to raise or lower specific platforms. The Souls series has always had environmental manipulation in some form, but here it feels a lot more liquid than normal, and figuring out the puzzle of the ruins felt more taxing than most zones. In fact, the DLC is actually one of the more difficult zones I encountered in general, as enemies do tons of damage, nearly everything poisons (even regular foes) and there are pits at every turn. Just when I thought I had mastered an enemy type a new concept sprung up in its place, and I can't count the amount of times I misjudged a jump only to fall into the abyss. If you're looking for more of a challenge, this will suit that need nicely. As far as the enemies go, the base models feel like modified skeletons, but have an interesting "glass armor" feel with a unique green color scheme. The entire DLC has a cohesive green hue to it, without going overboard like Blood Gulch's shiny emerald lighting. One of the most devious adversaries though is the poison statue cluster -- which is basically just a bunch of poison statues cobbled together. It's a lazy design, but it's an effective enemy that will keep you on your toes. Sadly, the boss fights aren't nearly as memorable as the bar that was set in Artorias. While those had completely original and terrifying models like Manus, Crown borrows some concepts from the original game -- and even if a few aren't directly taken, they still feel pretty static overall outside of the final boss. Having said that, I was still consistently entertained throughout the entire DLC, even if I wasn't blown away. Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Sunken King is not a "must have" add-on, but it does its job of delivering more Dark Souls. As always, I advise you to skip out on the Season Pass until all three of its pieces are out so you can judge it by the strength of its parts. However, hardcore Souls fans will want to at least buy Crown simply to experience a challenging new area that's worth trekking through.
Dark Souls II DLC review photo
It's no Artorias, but it'll do
2014 has been very good to me, but Dark Souls II is one of my favorite games of the year. Many debates have raged on as to whether or not it's as exceptional as its predecessor (Demon's Souls is better than bot...

Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

One week to go: More Dark Souls II DLC screens while we wait


July 22 for PC and Xbox 360; July 23 for PS3
Jul 15
// Jordan Devore
The last batch of images for Crown of the Sunken King left me anticipating this Dark Souls II DLC which is, oh good, only a week off. There's more where that came from. Using an item acquired in the DLC, players will reach th...
Dark Souls as an eSport photo
Dark Souls as an eSport

Here's what Dark Souls II would be like as an eSport


A glorious peek into a potential future for professional gaming competitions
Jul 05
// Kyle MacGregor
A lot of us would find eSports far more alluring if the genres associated with these competitions were more diverse. We see plenty of first-person shooters, RTS, fighting games, and MOBAs. But what about something atypical l...
Dark Souls II photo
Dark Souls II

Enjoy these new Dark Souls II DLC screens before you cryogenically freeze yourself until July


'Crown of the Sunken King' DLC
Jun 11
// Chris Carter
In case you haven't heard, DLC is coming to Dark Souls II. Three add-ons in fact! The first up is Crown of the Sunken King, set to drop on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on July 22nd. To celebrate, Bandai Namco sent over some scre...

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