Ahh, the Souls-games. Paragons of true craftmanship lauded for their clever design, lore and finely tuned difficulty. They are my favorite RPGs made in the western style and could be considered perfect. But every rose has its thorns and every Souls-game has its unfair bullshit.
It is my purpose here, in my let's bitch series to bring to light all the awful design decisions made in this series ('cept Bloodborne, 'cuz monay). I have divided the bullshit into the following categories:
OP Crap- This is stuff that the player can make use of to break the game in half.
Worthless Crap- These are things From Soft put in the game in order to fill up space and be useless.
Unfair Crap- Here is the bread and butter of the piece. It's a high concentration of what utter evil shit From puts their fans through.
Random Crap- Anything stupid that doesn't fit into the previous categories go here.
Bring your salt-shaker and prepare your anus so that we can explore the awfulness of Dark Souls. The supposed high-point of the series that hasn't been replicated since, the game that kickstarted the community and birthed a plethora of dank memes. The game that proved that cryptic bullshit still has a place in the mainstream.
If you haven't experienced the wonder that is poise in DS1, then you might be confused by the backlash 2 and 3 got for their implentations. On paper it doesn't sound that powerful, you just get resistance against being stunned. But in practice, it's a religious experience. You still take damage, but getting away with mistakes and not getting stunlocked is such a rush. Especially in a punishing game like Dark Souls.
This is only reinforced by the ridiculous 40 poise you get from the wolf ring. It's the only reason you can get away with light armor and not get stunlocked to oblivion. It's silly just how much better it is compared to its counterparts in DS2 & DS3.
Furthering the power of poise is the borderline free equipload you get from Havel's ring and the ring of FaP. Together they grant about 75% extra equipload, which allows even a low Endurance character the chance to don heavy armor.
But poise is only half of what makes the Chosen Undead broken beyond belief. The other power, is of course the criticals. Going from DeS to DS1, From decided to refine the way you do crits in order to make them more consistent. What they failed to realise, was that they went overboard and made them way to easy.
Backstabs are infamous for this reason, as they require close to no skill to achieve. According to what acclaimed Souls science man IllusoryWall says here, backstabs have a range of 1.5 ingame length units(about equal to the same in meters) and an angle of effect close to 120 degrees(LEFT, RIGHT). You almost have to make an effort in order to not do a backstab. Running around DS1 circle-strafing and doing pivot backstabs is why I find DS1 to be the most fun in the series to play. This is because you circumvent most of the game's well-crafted mechanics and prosper by abusing just one of them. And the patron saint of gamedesign wept.
But don't think the ride ends here, there is also the parries to consider. Sick parries are always a welcome mechanic to have, as they add a nice influx of risk versus reward. This only holds true if there is sufficient risk involved however, which there isn't in DS1. Comparing the parry frames in DS1 to the ones in Devil May Cry is astounding. If my understanding is correct, Dante gets 6 parry frames in 60 FPS and the chosen undead gets 6 parry frames in 30 FPS. This means that in DMC you get 1 tenth of a second and in DS1 you get 1 fifth of a second. It doesn't sound like much of a difference, but in practice it means that I can barely parry in DMC and that I can almost always parry in DS1, YMMW.
The critical situation isn't helped by the existance of the Hornet ring. This bastard of a ring boosts the already strong crits by 30%. This means you can oneshot a good deal of enemies and players. It feels great, but is just too strong. And the damn thing used to boost it by 50%!
The filthy amount of I-frames you get from the ninja flip is silly. And before the patch it worked at 50% equipload. The Fuck?
Shields on the whole are good to have, but greatshields make the game a walk in the park. If you get your hands on one then not even Manus' crazy multihit combo can do more than graze you.
Have you ever tried to push the plunging attack to the limits of its range? It has an effective explosive radius about 2 meters out from the point of impact. Proper hitboxes my ass!
”Hey boss, let's make a body buff that radiates an unending stream of equipment encumbrance up to about 5 meters that forces everybody hit with it into the fat roll.” ”Great idea Nakamura, let's make it last for an eternity as well!”
Magic still stands strong in DS1, limited spell casts not-withstanding. With the use of the sorcery boost ring, the fashion souls destroying crown of dusk and maybe hyper mode you can annihilate a great deal of bosses in just a few spells. Even the father of sorcery himself, Seath The Scaleless, doesn't have much in the way of magic defence. Gaem design!
And then there is the dark magic that was introduced in the DLC (and never touched by the nerf hammer), Jesus christ. Not only does two of them have low stat and slot requirements(16 Int and 1 slot!), it also does extra damage to stamina and poise. The six casts of the shotgun spell Dark Bead is almost enough to deprive The Father of the Abyss of all his 6666 hitpoints. I'm noticing a pattern here. The Pursuer spell you get from his soul is really a win-button in disguise.
Pyromancy isn't really that OP when compared to sorcery, but I can't leave it without a mention. The biggest culprits are it's non-dependacy on stats for damage as well as the wonders of Power Within. For a fair lifedrain over time, this spell boosts all damage by 40%. It's like Cursed Weapon from DeS, except it boosts all damage. Which means it can be stacked with the aforementioned sorcery buffs for some disgusting damage.
Miracles are quite balanced except for the Wrath of Gods spell. Unlike its brethren and their century long cast times, this incarnation has less range and power. In exchange it gains some casts and a great deal of speed. I don't think there is anything more fun to do than abuse the knockback of WoG and knock around everything susceptible to it. Makes me sad that it only has three casts, but that's balance. Unless it's used in PVP, then it causes some major headaches.
As much as it pains me to say, the Zweihander and it's pancaking ilk make many encounters cake. Many strength weapons can poisebreak the humanoid enemies without fail. At least they are of some use in this game.
The Grass Crest shield and its wondrous increased stamina regen borders on OP when combined with the Cloranthy ring and a green blossom. The jury is still out on this one, so I'll just leave it here.
The horrible collision of DS1 can actually be used for good and earn you a bunch of easy souls. By guiding the the forest hunter NPCs up the stairs to the bonfire, they'll happily just bounce on top of you and welcome the sweet embrace of gravity. This makes it a really easy to rack up a bunch of souls in minutes.
The healing system in a Souls-game is always a point of contention. It's rather balanced in DS1, for a while anyway. It's still a bit fast, but at least it's limited, until you get the Rite of Kindling. Once you get access to a staggering 20 estus, you can just face tank your way through the game without much issue.
A faceful of Elizabeth's mushrooms are even worse.
The covenants of DS1 are a bit of a wash. The Way of White grants early access to Petrus' paltry miracles. The guardians of the royal teets grants use of the near worthless group heal miracles. Those two also prioritises Co-op over invasions a tiny bit, which helps, I guess.
The Gravelords and Blades of the Darkmoon are cool in concept, but their implentations hamper them. Gravelording only works in NG+, so not many people will experience the greatness of black phantom enemies. The Dorkmoons are well known for being out of work. This is because it's rather rare to accrue sin as an invader and also keep bosses alive. At least they have dark Anor Londo.
I know this is sacrilege, but it has to be said. Out of the four lords, Papa Nito is the one who is most useless. All the other lords have some importance in the lore and something to do. Not Nito however, he just sleeps in his coffin, acting as the vaguely defined ”First of the Dead” and occasionly killing intruders with his bad BO. It's so bad that they had to retcon him a purpose in DS2.
An awesome purpose, I might add.
The throwing knifes in DS1 are so absolutely terrible. They were in DeS as well, but I forgot about them, that's how bad they are. Even at the start of the game, against the weakest of hollows, they still take like 2 or 3 knives to kill.
I harp on luck in DeS, but at least it had a small purpose. But resistance? Fucking none. Here is what you get by leveling it. A pitiful amount of points in defensive stats and poison resistance. Whoop-di-flapping-do.
Probably as penance for the murder-beasts of DeS, From decided that dark spirit NPCs in this game would be nothing more than soul pinatas. They barely hurt and can often be felled with a single backstab. Nerds.
The upgrade system isn't as convoluted as before, but I would still like to nominate a few paths for the prize of uselessness. These are the raw, latter magic, crystal and occult paths. I feel that none of these does anything worthwhile outside of lore and that the game would better without them.
It has been a rumor that the defence buff of the Blue Tearstone ring activates on the hit that would bring you down to critical health. This confusion has prospered because the alternative is that it's a useless piece of shit that only gives it's buff when you are near death in a super lethal game. Have a guess where the truth lies.
Ever had the urge to cosplay as a Belmont in Dark Souls? Well, too bad for you. The whips in DS1 are joke weapons pretending that they are worth a damn. They can't abuse the crits, the moveset sucks and they all have bad scaling.
Why the hell is there a ring that reduces equipment degradation by half? I don't think there has ever been anyone ever that thought that weapons degraded too fast.
You know how split damage sucks in a game with a flat damage reduction? From Soft sure doesn't. How else could could they give the Darkmoon bow so little damage that a Short bow at base stats almost always outperforms it? And that doesn't need expensive special ammo.
Ever tried to make use of the arena in the DLC? Me neither. But from the looks of it it seems like it could be a fun time. A pity then that the game's atrocius matchmaking system is not only slow, it can also fail permanently until you reset the game entirely, making the arena a ghost town.
Durability as a mechanic doesn't have a place in DS1. It's so lenient during normal play that it takes like a third of the game before you notice it. Special moves could easily have been relegated to the spell cast system instead. It's nothing more than a soul tax as it is now.
Poison in DeS was only acceptable because you could abuse the stealth mechanics in order to stack both poison and plague. Since they fixed that in Dark Souls, poison is only able to kill your patience, as it takes an eternity for it to proc and kill anything.
Seeing as estus is so powerful and that the game is so lethal, I'm surprised they decided to have a full heal item like the Divine Blessing. It's only worth using when you're out of estus or at low health, but due to the nature of the game, you will probably be dead before you can even think to use it.
I'll do my best to refrain from bashing the earlier versions of the games, but I have to mention just how awful vanilla Dark Souls is. Ignoring the glitches and OP stuff like the Ultra man frisbee and greatbow criticals, we're left with a sincerely evil experience. Not only were the merchants lacking and many enemies didn't even drop souls. The two biggest things were that the game could stack curses and that the amount of souls gained were pitiful. In the patch they increased the souls gained from normal enemies by around 100-150%. The Belfry Gargoyles were granted about 10 times more souls. Even with these buffs, I still find myself grinding a bit.
Torch hollows are minions of evil and will destroy an unsuspecting opponent at the first sign of weakness. Bunch of scary bastards.
The death cats in the forest are no different. Thank Gwyn for the shitty level collision that protects you from them.
The Capra demon isn't that hard of a battle. His asshole dogs are another story. The fight is over as soon as you manage to kill them. Thankfully you can just cheese it by throwing poop and firebombs over the fog gate.
Why does the greatarrows cost an absurd 500 souls when enemies that drop substantially less than that take at least two?
The Hellkite drake is a tad easier to sneak by than his brothers in DeS, but if you decide to actually fight him, it's a major pain. It becomes a damage race coupled with undodgeable fire attacks that can nearly oneshot you.
The blue drakes are complete bullshit however. Not only are they very tanky, they also have this awful tendancy to rotate and push you down the cliff. Makes farming scales even worse.
Another thing that does that is the Prowling/Titanite demons. They have the drake's awful ability to rotate and push you into their attacks. The jump they do also have great tracking and can ”accidentally” damage you twice at once, leading to a oneshot. The one in Izalith is the absolute worst.
The dps race known as the Four Kings are so bad. They require optimal damage in order to minimize the chance of fighting multiple kings.They are barely fair in NG, but as soon as you move to NG+ you'd best be dishing out the highest dps possible if you want a chance to live.
Bonewheels are a classic asshole enemy in the series and for good reason. Their nightmarish spin-2-win grinds down your healthbar in mere moments. Without a shield you better have some good legs on you. When they lost their stupid ten hits per attack in the sequels, they became utter pushovers. A fitting punishment.
Fatboy and Slim have earned their place amongst the best bosses in the series. But there is one little problem that keeps me from accepting them as a truly great fight. And that's Ornstein's bullshit charge attack that lets him wisp around both Smough and the pillars without stopping. Had he simply abided the laws of physics tad and stopped when appropriate, it would have been much better.
Isn't it swell that in order to fight Nito you must take an estus' worth of fall damage? No? Well screw you, that's how it is.
The hydra is another enemy in the dragon family that's annoying. This is only because his heads clips through the walls and floor making it unfairly hard to get the last one.
Questlines in DS1 aren't that bad this time around, but I'm still annoyed by some of the flags. Particulary those related to Patches, Lautrec, Laurentius and Siegmeyer.
The ghosts of New Londo hiding in the walls are way too numerous, especially in Ingward's building. Going there without a healthy helping of poise is suicide.
Tail cut weapons are cool, but trying to get Seath's or Kalameet's is way too hard. They trash around a bunch and Kalameet just refuses to keep his damn tail down. Getting their swords is probably the hardest thing in the game.
Normal drops aren't much better. The Channeler's trident and Balder Side sword are legendary for being impossible to get, but the slabs are worse. Someone decided that there would only be three guaranteed slabs per playthrough. One of these is in the DLC and another is hidden behind Siegmeyer's convoluted quest. The astute of you might notice that isn't really enough slabs if you want a fully upgraded set of armor, a shield and a weapon. The rest must then be farmed either from the assholian lizards in the Great Hollow or the Darkwraiths. Gives me conniptions.
After struggling through Sen's funhouse, I find it a tad mean that they hid the bonfire down the side of the wall. You can just activate the elevator, but I think it's a bit too much.
The way collision is programmed in this game sucks. If I mention ”that” edge in the Great Hollow, the diagonal path in the Crystal caves, and that fucking branch in Blighttown, you should get what I'm talking about.
The room with the Large Divine ember is nuts. There is like 6 giant skeletons having a conference down there, and if you can't kill most of them with a plunging attack, you're gonna be the tiny number 7.
How bad does a level have to be for it to become a meme? Blighttown bad, that's how bad it has to be. Not only is it ugly and full of crap, thanks to all the pathing calculations the framerate goes down the gutter. And then there is the pitfalls, the toxin and the army of enemies. At least you can get some decent titanite.
Getting into the DLC wouldn't be so complicated if the golem holding Dusk would just spawn directly after killing the hydra instead of needing a reload.
All of Lost Izalith. Just everything. From the dragon butts, copypasted bosses, eyemelting lava and lackluster loot. Take your pick.
It's unfair that you have to die to Seath. Why just not just make him cast a capture spell instead? He is the father of sorcery you know. You do get a free liquid humanity, but having your stack of souls stuck in his room for the duration of the level is just mean.
Having this be followed by the invisible paths in the Crystal caves is no fun either. Just getting to the boss room isn't that bad, but getting the slab is horrible.
The rafters are no better. I find it funny that the walkways up there are smaller than what the player can actually animate on. Going through there with a strength weapon will likely lead to a shared fate with Tarkus.
The insane twinking that can be done in DS1 makes it awful to be in human form during the start of the game. I've had the pleasure of being twoshotted by a havel wearing pyromancer in the burg and let me tell you, that was totally unfair. Almost makes me glad that the matchmaking server broke on the Steam release.
The Archer club of Anor Londo can't go without mention. I like the idea behind the encounter and appreciate the different ways you can deal with it, but it's way too easy to get killed for one mistake. Or simply because the AI of one of them decided to keep shooting at you for a little longer.
THE BED OF CHAOS! AAAAGGH!
I always get ticked off by the large amount of enemies in this game that have that random jump dodge that prolongs fights needlessly.
Aside from the ones in the Great Hollow, the crystal lizards in this game are absolute chumps. You can even save and reload and they'll just respawn in their original location, giving you a nice head start on them.
Out of the game's 26 bosses, why must 3 of them be Asylum demons? I understand a rematch fight, DS3 did it well and DS2 did it poorly, but the Asylum demon just isn't an interesting fight.
Who was the smartass that left a poor basilisk outside of the level geometry in the Great Hollow?
Why can you only attack the evil shrubbery early by doing a jump attack?
Why must it be so hard to get the Avelyn normally and so easy by abusing how reloading works on the rotating staircases?
Why can't I overwrite a body buff with a different one?
The boulders in Sen's Fortress are downright cheating. Not only can they somehow damage you without momentum, the switch magically switches their positions. Almost like you passed a trigger in the geometry that doesn't have an in-universe excuse. You're tearing muh immersion apart, From Soft!
Why must I be constricted to four-directional rolling during lock-on?
Partial parrys are dumb. Either I did it right or wrong, there is no middle ground.
Why does Kalameet drop the Obsidian greatsword instead of the Darkslayer? He is an expy of Guyra, why not give him the proper weapon like Seath?
Why did it take until DS3 for us to get the ability to dump all covenant items at once? It's so tedious to do it one at a time!
And so it ends. If you feel that I missed something, go ahead and post it below and I might just add it above.
And if that wasn't enough, you can always check out more of my bitching below. Praise the salt!