In a sentence that will surprise no one, I absolutely love Dark Souls. It is my most played game of...ever. On PC alone, I have put in 120 hours, after putting in nearly 200 on XBox. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot compared to people who really like games like Civ 5 or Skyrim, but for me, that is some serious dedication. So basically, I know a thing or two about the game, and hold it near and dear. With that, I wanted to talk about the preorder bonuses that everyone has been ranting and raving about, and why they don’t matter. At all.
1. The Game Isn’t About Your Gear
This isn't my accomplishment. I am not that masochistic
There are a lot of ways that you can prove this point to yourself. Consider level one runs where the character doesn’t have the stats to wield anything too strong, yet they can still beat the game. I know I have imposed many a challenge run on myself for the game, including using only a whip, only a fist, uppercutting bosses to death, only using a crossbow to kill bosses, and outside of that I have used a vast majority of the weapons during a normal playthrough. The only weapon I don’t think would be relatively easy to beat the game with is the broken sword. After the first sword you pick up, anything can take you from T to G. Taurus….to Gwyn….it sounded cooler in my head, OK? The reason for this is because Dark Souls isn’t about how good your character is, its about how good your player is. Everything is about how you play.
Think about what made Blighttown hard on your first playthrough. Assholes with poisoned clubs. Assholes with poison darts. Assholes that jump on to you. Assholes that shoot fire at you. A single asshole with tentacles. Also, the fact that you don’t know where you are going, and a single misstep can send you back twenty minutes of progress. And at the bottom of Blighttown, what do you find? Some asshole poisoned the entire bloody swamp, and you have to crawl through it. So now you have to wander by assholes with teeth, assholes with rocks, assholes with clubs, while on a timer, searching for a bonfire (assuming you thought it was there...you could just try and rush the boss). So what does your super awesome weapon do? Let you stab the swamp? Slash the poison out of your system? Just like you will slash the boulder trap in Sen’s? All in all, the design, the placement, and the war of attrition will bring down an idiot with a good sword in no time flat.
Finally, the bosses. I spent a run just trying to build the highest damage I could. The strongest weapon, crystal magic weapon, and power within. There was a lot of sequence breaking and grinding to get that going. And yeah, it helps a lot to have a weapon that can do 900 damage in a single hit to a boss. But do you know what I knew? Every single bosses animation, the relative timing to swing my weapon, and how long I have before they will counter. The strength would do me nothing fighting against a tough boss. A lesson I learned my tenth time fighting Kalameet.
2. Weapons Are (kind of) Balanced
Quick, name the best weapon in Dark Souls! Is it the low durability lightning katana? The long animation Avelyn? Slow as balls Dragon Tooth? The ‘30 seconds is all I need’ Ricard’s Rapier? As I mentioned above, every weapon is viable. In order for this to be possible, they all have to be within the same power curve, offering the same DPS, plus or minus a few. Why do I say ‘kind of’ above? Novelty weapons. The whip sucks something fierce. The shotel is cute. The bleed on the LIfehunt Scythe is symmetrical.
3. Invaders Will Always be Dicks
I saw a lot of people say things along the lines of ‘but then people who pre ordered will have better gear to invade people with’. Have you never played Dark Souls online? So many times I would make it to the Parish to be invaded by a player in full dragon form with a +5 lightning weapon. The only time where this is a valid argument is if you played the game on the midnight release for the first four hours. After that, you are going to have low level players with high level gear griefing those who know less about the game. The speculation is that the pre order weapons will have less scalability into the mid game, which means that you should replace them after maybe four or five hours. The good weapons will probably be maybe twelve hours in before someone figures it out? After a week, there will be a guide on how to rush to the most overpowered weapon at level one, just to invade people at the start of the game. There will be videos. There will be indictments. There will be Dark Souls.
4.Accessibility Doesn’t Suck and There is Some Custom Difficulty
I’ll go ahead and say it. I believe it. The first Dark Souls could have used some improvement. Especially to make it more accessible. You can’t play at the highest level until you understand equipment burdens, poise, and stability. It could have stood to teach you more about kindling and reinforcing weapons. Trying to beat the gargoyles with a +0 halberd and 5 estus was not fun for me. The game was torture. But it was pretty, and it was different, so I wanted to keep going with it. If items like the pre order ones let people get a little bit further in than they would otherwise, if it lets them get hooked into the game, then so much the better. On top of that, this in no way affects how you get to play the game. If you want to start with a slightly worse weapon and impose some more strict guidelines, you have that ability! I have been doing it since about playthrough 3, because otherwise the game is too easy, and too much the same. Or you could go Diablo on it and beat the ‘too easy’ version and go straight to NG+. Or run and get yourself cursed early. Turn off the HUD. The game doesn’t hurt for challenge if you look for it.