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Dark Souls

Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

PS Plus members in the US can download a Dark Souls III beta now

But it's not quite ready to play
Oct 09
// Brett Makedonski
Prepare to die again, this time in a possibly buggy fashion. From Software is conducting a network stress test for Dark Souls III on PlayStation 4 in the very near future. This amounts to an open-ish beta, and the barrie...
Twitch Plays Dark Souls photo
Twitch Plays Dark Souls

Twitch Plays Dark Souls has beaten the whole game

Hooray, Dark Souls is done forever
Sep 29
// Joe Parlock
Despite not being the biggest fan of Dark Souls, I’ve been strangely invested in tracking Twitch Plays Dark Souls’ progress. It’s been a wild journey, from spending over three days stuck in the game’s...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

Get in on the Dark Souls III beta

You'll need a PlayStation 4 and PS Plus
Sep 18
// Jordan Devore
My favorite part of this beta sign-up page for Dark Souls III is that you can shake the guy by wiggling your mouse from side to side. Life's a lot more fun when you treasure the little things. Anyway, the actual beta registra...
Dark Souls @ TGS photo
Dark Souls @ TGS

Dark Souls III looks good at Tokyo Game Show

Albeit familiar
Sep 17
// Jordan Devore
I'm with Chris in that I don't see myself getting tired of From Software's action-RPGs anytime soon. Fatigue hasn't set in yet. That said, the opening areas of Dark Souls III aren't exactly fresh. See for yourself! This footage from TGS 2015 covers the same stuff Steven and Chris previewed.

Dark Souls III date photo
Dark Souls III date

Dark Souls III gets April 2016 release date

In the Americas and Europe
Sep 16
// Steven Hansen
Bandai Namco announced here at Toyko Game Show 2015 that Dark Souls III will be releasing in April of 2016 in North and South America as well as Europe. That puts the latest entry in the Dark Souls series just a year after th...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

Twitch Plays Dark Souls has beaten Ornstein & Smough

Seems like they actually did git gud
Sep 14
// Joe Parlock
Well this is embarrassing. Twitch Plays Dark Souls is officially now doing better in the game than I ever have. They’ve beaten what is considered by some to be the game’s most difficult boss: Ornstein & Smoug...
Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

Here are some ways Dark Souls III is a-changin'

Fast travel, hidden walls return
Sep 08
// Zack Furniss
Steven and Chris both tried their hands at Dark Souls III last month. Despite the increase in overall speed and the addition of the Battle Arts mechanic, they both came away with the opinion that it felt like m...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

What's your take on Twitch Plays Dark Souls, and its shift to cheating?

It still has the modded pause feature
Aug 27
// Chris Carter
When Twitch Plays Dark Souls managed to get to the first boss of the game, there was quite the commotion. Sadly, it seems as if they just couldn't manage it amidst all the chaos, and thus, they decided to cheat. How did they ...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

Twitch Plays Dark Souls managed to defeat the second boss

Taurus Demon is toast
Aug 26
// Joe Parlock
Twitch Plays Dark Souls had been a bit of a shambles right from the get go. Players spent days and days stuck in the very first section of the game, at which point the creator of the stream changed the rules and made the ent...
Twitch Plays Dark Souls photo
Twitch Plays Dark Souls

Welp, Twitch is playing Dark Souls

One button at a time
Aug 14
// Steven Hansen
Twitch Plays Pokemon happened a year and a half ago. Participants all entered individual button presses willy-nilly to get through the entirety of Pokémon. Monkeys on a typewriter, and all that. Twitch has not been playing Dark Souls for 18 hours. I mean, if one person could beat the entire game with individual voice commands...nah. If it's your sort of thing, enjoy.
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

This handcrafted Dark Souls Astora Elite Knight armor is amazing

Props to this dude
Aug 13
// Chris Carter
It "only" took him eight months, but this massive Souls fan crafted an Astora Elite Knight armor set in real life. Hailing from Dark Souls II, you can watch the process above -- and it looks pretty damn nifty. He takes common household items and basically bangs them into submission, until he comes up with the armor in the picture above. That's dedication! @nanonanananono [Twitter]
Protect your neck photo
Protect your neck

It only took 112 tries to beat Dark Souls' hardest boss with voice commands

The power of language
Aug 10
// Steven Hansen
Please save your hardest boss arguments for someone else, as Dark Souls isn't even hard anyways, as I have deftly proven a second time. To enough folks, Ornstein and Smough are pegged as toughest. The duo, "was responsible f...
Miyazaki new projects photo
Miyazaki new projects

Dark Souls III 'turning point for the franchise,' new projects planned

Planning 'several new projects'
Aug 10
// Steven Hansen
Dark Souls III is not the last game in the series, but it is a "turning point," the last From Software game which began development before its new president took over in 2014. "Dark Souls is my life's work," From Software pre...

Panic! Dark Souls III is so easy I didn't die by the boss once

Aug 05 // Steven Hansen
[embed]297197:59811:0[/embed] Site Souls-expert Chris Carter reckons this slice of Dark Souls III was about five hours into the game, so it's no first boss gimme that I took down casually and without a sweat. Also, henceforth, I am Destructoid's resident Souls expert. Chris was the first to beat the boss out of everyone (I came in a close second), but not even he managed to do it first try and so he is usurped. In fact, I almost made it all the way to the boss without dying until I got stuck investigating a corner and some malnourished dogs attacked me. My attacks got caught on the shelves and wall on either side, interrupting the animation, and I was pinned. Streak nixed, I explored a bit more, fought a black tendril-y roof monster, and so on. My natural investigative nature is probably the only reason Chris beat me to the boss, if you think about it. Even to a handsome newbie like myself, Dark Souls III was instantly familiar. Despite matching Bloodborne's speed, it doesn't have that same novelty learning curve that came with playing sans shield, with a giant transforming axe scythe thing and a gun. The big new addition, Weapon Arts, are activated by holding L2 and then doing attacks for alternate strikes, but I never put them into play during combat. The skill went from unlimited to a cap of 20, refueled at bonfires, which should help undercut my joking fear mongering regarding the difficulty level of the game. All of this could change and likely will. We were shown a stage and system that feels completely final (art, animation, etc.) save for the most important thing: balance and tuning to feel. [Disclosure: Bandai Namco provided local travel to the event, as well as dinner.]
Dank souls photo
Hands-on preview
When I wrote about why Souls games are not that hard earlier this year, I told you all that I was neither expert (under 30 series hours total) nor savant (not skilled at anything). And yet, this lumbering galoot, after quite ...

Dark Souls III wears its Bloodborne influences on its sleeve

Aug 05 // Chris Carter
Our demo started out in an era called the "Wall of Lodeleth," which to me, looks like a mix between the Undead Burg and Boletarian Palace. The layout was fairly linear, but offered up a ton of surprises like the standard "dragon guarding loot" offshoot, and a mini-boss of sorts. Lodeleth was multi-tiered, and featured a number of side rooms accessed by way of ladders, as well as some rooftop shenanigans. It was par for the course, but still felt right. Combat as a whole is quicker, which is likely a direct response to Bloodborne changing the game. Rolls and dodges are faster, and enemies as a whole feel faster, too. It's not quite "fighting game" fast, but it's a comfortable medium between Souls and Bloodborne, which I'm more than okay with. One big addition is "Battle Arts," which are basically super moves triggered by different equipment combinations. "Not all shields parry now," I was told by Bandai Namco producer Brandon Williams, and you can see that distinction by way of an icon on the item itself in the lower-left equipment corner. A shield icon denotes a defensive action, and a sword icon is more aggressive. In this instance, it allowed my axe to power up for a short period, granting me a damage boon, which was depicted by a glowing aura on my weapon. In essence, it's a more "on-demand" spell system for folks who prefer direct combat -- I say bring it on. My personal style for Souls games involves using the shield as blocking insurance, but not necessarily for parrying, so I'm all for this change. As a note, these are limited-use abilities, and will recharge at a bonfire much like flasks. As I made my way through the demo, I eventually encountered the only boss, the Dancer of the Frigid Valley (1:45 in the trailer). Based on my experience, it was very similar to Bloodborne's Vicar Amelia fight -- for the most part attacks are easy to dodge, but if you get caught up, you're going to get punished, and possibly one-shotted. The boss also sports a flaming sword, which produces chip damage even if you block, forcing you to be more aggressive. It was a standard but fun fight. [embed]296887:59812:0[/embed] One problem area I noticed during my hands-on session however was the frame rate. There was often times a lot of enemies on-screen, but it chugged on all of those occasions. Bloodborne was 30fps as well, but it's high-time that the series moved on without needing a re-release to bring us into higher territory -- Scholar of the First Sin is incredibly smooth at 60fps. For reference, the build we played with seemed to be PC-based, using an Xbox One controller. Another sort of more personal issue I had was the fact that it felt a little too samey. As I mentioned above, Lodeleth felt like an amalgamation of existing areas in past Souls games. Even something like Huntsman's Copse in Dark Souls II, which is for all intents and purposes a "forest area" that had been done before, felt like something completely different. Bloodborne was a breath of fresh air, providing a unique perspective with a harrowing blight and a darker tone in general. With Dark Souls III, I'm distinctly getting the feeling of "more Souls," which for the most part is a good thing, but did wear on me a bit even during my brief time with the game. It took me roughly 30 minutes to make my way through the demo area and defeat the Dancer -- of which I was the first in the group to do (though Steven beat the boss in one shot!). At the end of it all, amidst the claps from my colleagues and the Namco Bandai reps, I felt that sense of accomplishment that I've felt since downing the Phalanx boss in Demon's Souls. I think Dark Souls III will be fine. [Disclosure: Bandai Namco provided travel to the event, as well as dinner.]
Dark Souls III preview photo
I also see a few problem areas
It's crazy to think that we're on the verge of yet another Souls game right after Bloodborne and Scholar of the First Sin. From Software doesn't seem to rest, and as soon as the studio has wrapped up one project, it's on...

Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

Tremble in fear at our first look at Dark Souls III

Yep, that's some Dark Souls right there
Aug 04
// Laura Kate Dale
At today's Microsoft gamescom press conference, the general public finally got its first look at Dark Souls III, and it certainly looks like a new-gen Dark Souls game. The trailer showed off several new bosses, multiple larg...
Hands-on photo

You can play Dark Souls III at gamescom

You can also buy me a beer
Jul 22
// Steven Hansen
Namco Bandai announced Dark Souls III at E3 this year, just a few months after the release of Bloodborne exclusively to PS4. It's coming early 2016. And any of you planning on attending gamescom in Germany in a couple of week...
Dark Souls photo
Dark Souls

Dark Souls franchise sells 8M copies

Just think of all those deaths
Jul 01
// Vikki Blake
The Dark Souls franchise has sold over eight million copies worldwide, with more than 3.25 million copies sold on PC alone. Famitsu - reporting from a From Software presentation - confirmed the original Dark Souls game s...
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...

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