"“Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.”"
-Jake the Dog
God. Damn. I don’t typically like to swear except in conversations with my friends, but goddamn guys. Spoilers for the series: This is the finale. I rushed through the end, because 5 is a nice, even number. Before I get into anything else, I just want to say that this has been incredibly fun. This challenge was amazing. First of all, I have learned things I didn’t know about the game, from a new weapon, to scaling, to attacks that bosses have that I never knew existed. There is such a depth of strategy, and so much to explore and do in this game that it is no wonder that I am still so happy to be playing it still. And this might sounds like pandering (it is), but being part of this community, and talking to people who have yet to explore this world, and hearing stories of those who have has been pretty wonderful as well. As the run ended, I actually stood up off my couch and let out a few fist pumps and choice celebratory expletives. Again, I am proud to say that all bosses featured today were defeated without the use of miracles. The only weapon used was a +15 divine whip. My gear was a +9 Holy Shirt, +9 Holy Pants, +9 Balder Gauntlets (check that five, count it again, five poise!), and no hat. A man’s gotta look good. For those of you just tuning in, you can find the rest of the series:
Once again, I dove into the deep end of the pool and decided to start today with a fight against the Four Kings. I ran past the Darkwraiths because I am sick of looking at them, leeches, and bone towers. Seriously. I made it past the fog gate mostly unscathed, and equipped the Covenant of Artorias, and made the plunge. I know very well that no matter what build you use in this fight, the key is the highest DPS you can manage, so I quickly switched out to the Cloranthy ring and died. Turns out, the floor will literally eat you if you ever take off the ring, so I had to either go Beyonce style, or break my FAP ring. I opted to go the man’s route (yet again), and go in with no rings, and no grass. Typically, I haven’t seen more than two kings, and usually the second shows up in time for me to run over to it. Today, that was not the case. Since the end of King 1, I was dealing with three kings. Unlike in poker, that is pretty much the worst situation to be in. And it kept up. Through King 4. And I won. On my first try. Because I got mad skills, apparently (I was honestly really, really, really surprised too, which is today’s theme). I warped out and made my way to Anor Londo to deal with the last remaining Lord, Seath the Scaleless.
I used Force of Will on the boars in the hallway, because my whip wasn’t stopping them for anything. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my whip was fairly effective against the crystal soldiers, so I donned the Wolf’s Ring to let me finish them off easier. After the usual routine of bait, kite, kill, I cleared out the rooms required to get to a bonfire. After Seath brutally murdered me, I went to jail and did not collect 200 dollars. It was here that I found out that the whip is also incredibly effective against the mindflayers, dealing upwards of 400 damage. Those things must just be a walking pile of sin if they whip deals that to them, but you will hear zero complaints from me. I made my way past the enchanters, trying to ignore as many enemies as I could, getting me to a bonfire I was sure I would be returning to. I turned myself human, and kindled it up to 20 estus. It was only five minutes later that I realized I fell into the carefully laid trap of ‘make the game easier’, because I was invaded before I was able to open the level’s shortcut. I had two options: admit defeat, clear an arena, and hope for the best, OR press on and get stabbed in the back. I chose the latter option, which actually panned out. He was busy looking for me in a maze of books, so I was able to flip the switch and get down to ground level by the bonfire. I took the time to whip every table I could to clear a little area, signaling that we were meeting in the library after class, NERD. After I did some pre-fight Tebowing, he found me and the fight was off. However, he was clearly not prepared to fight...well, anyone. He was using a lightning rapier and some kind hideous combination of Smough’s armor. There was no point where I felt remotely threatened, and I proceeded to whip him to death. That makes me 3 for 4 in invasions, which again, would never have called that when using the freaking feather duster of a weapon that is the whip.
Today's blog is brought to you by: Awesome art direction
With him out of the way, I could continue through the crystal caves. Again, I opted to zerg rush past all of the enemies and just get to the boss. This is really depressing because when I first played the game, this place was amazing. It was a world where anything could happen, anywhere could be a ledge, butterflies could attack at any moment. But for me, it was just Thursday. I stopped at the Clams, because they can join the fight, and I didn’t want that added aggravation, so I made like Poppins and flew a kite. I equipped the cursebite ring, and....wow...that is a lot of curse resistance. Like...unnecessary amounts.
When fighting Seath, it's always a terrible night to have a curse!
The fight with Seath was....interesting. I had a Youtube playlist going at this point (extremely relevant later, trust me), so I know more or less how long this fight took. Twelve. Minutes. The whip was dealing sixty damage per hit. According to a wiki, Seath has 5,000 hit points. That, ladies and gentlemen, is 84 hits to kill. Against a giant dragon, who can curse you with an AOE explosion in a smaller-than-you-would-like arena. There were about a dozen times where I thought “I could just use a miracle, and call it a day”, but the thing is...the fight was incredibly in my favor. Seaths crystal attacks did almost zero damage, and I would die three times over before I became cursed. Really, neither of us could do anything to each other. It was kind of funny that way. I knew all of his moves already, so this one was just patience more than anything. The only thing that could hurt me was his tail, his claw, or a direct hit to my thermal exhaust port. But then he did the unthinkable. He attacked...my framerate. Those crystals are a pain in the processor, so my framerate dropped from 60 to 8. Well, at least the fight was interesting. However, in this arena, attrition won out, and after my first try, I had another Lord Soul. This meant there was only one thing left to do.
This is my favorite scene of the game. Everything about it is absolutely amazing. You emerge into a blasted out shell of a world, where Lord Gwyn, the man from the intro cutscene who rebelled against Gods and Dragons, the man who restored fire to the world, the man who has a dominion over Lightning and the Sun. THE SUN. And you walk in, and it is just a soot covered crater. You see the silver knights from Anor Londo now covered in black, presumably a combination of the effect of the fire and the soot that came from it. There are no other inhabitants. The whole scene isn’t an epic ‘last charge on a castle’, it is like walking into the results of an atomic blast to finish a fight you have been raging your entire life. Such an atmosphere. Fantastic.
For my first run, I had to soak it all in, so I fought each knight on my way, picking up the armor as I went. Subsequent runs through involved a ring of fog, then a quick switch to whatever I thought would help at the time. I experimented between stamina regeneration, fire damage reduction, and regular damage reduction. Regular damage seemed the most effective. I equipped Sanctus because it looks cool. The health regeneration wasn’t going to matter, but in the grand scheme of this fight, neither would the 5% chip he could get in, so I was fine with looking cool while I fought him. While I fought Gwyn, Lord of Cinder. GOD. Even that name! Lord of Cinder is such a worthless title. If he were in Fable, it would be Gwyn, Chicken Kicker. He is an old man, withered and tired, and his entire kingdom is nothing but ash. Sorry for nothing funny on that, this entire atmosphere is just genuinely of the best ones in a videogame. I guess he looks kind of like the Ice King. He’s funny right? Oh...oh no...I am just receiving word that the story of the Ice King is IN FACT incredibly depressing too, more so than any kids show should have to right to show. Oh well.
I could really use some john DiMaggio about now
Entering that arena, and seeing him walk towards you, then suddenly begin to run, taking an enormous leap...chills man, chills. As old as he may look, this man hits like a howitzer. The only way I was going to win was by parrying. Missing 1 parry took out about 30% of my health. Each blocked hit took about half on my stamina. If I blocked, parried, then attacked, I was out of stamina. This left me in an awkward situation where I would parry, attack, then have to run away or die. The first round I managed a measly handful of parries, not taking him below 75%. Subsequent rounds did not go much better. I soon got a feel for when to dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge each of his attacks. There were times where rolling was exponentially better than blocking. Finally, he has a grab and a kick attack. The grab is the BEST MOVE for him to use. If you are at full health, you get a free punish. If you aren’t at full health and are out of range you can get a free heal. Oh god, did I pray that the old man would try to grab me. The kick let you regen stamina and punish, but didn’t allow for a heal. When he backed up, he almost always lunged, and the lunge could take out all of my stamina, and he is more than willing to w-w-w-wombo comboooo you after this (authors note: no idea why I like that phrase, but its fun to say. Wombo combo. Wombo. Woooombo).
I realized in round three that Gwyn fights EXACTLY the same way that his knights do. He has a shield breaker, some combos, a lunge, and a running lunge. You can tell by the way that he wields his weapon, and the way that they use theirs, that he taught all of them how to fight. The exception is that he hits so much harder and so much faster. He has a four hit combo that if the first hits you, there is no parry window. Just roll away. This fight, much like the Black Dragon Kalmeet fight that I talked about in my DLC run (wink wink), this was the best fight of the game. Reading his attacks, positioning yourself in the battlefield, scraping in hits, and just getting brutally punished make every successful parry, each dodge, and each chip off his life bar exponentially more satisfying than fighting Seath. Seath was a wall that I had to take down, brick by brick. Nothing more than a solid obstacle wasting my time. Gwyn was a challenge. A fight truely worthy of being a last boss (because I can’t riposte). If you play this game again, do yourself a favor and never use a riposte against him. Do that fight as two men, in an arena. One, an old man refusing to see the writing on the wall, the other an idealistic pilgrim, fighting for what he believes in. I had the great fortune to start capturing at the end of my final run, giving you all the last few seconds of this fight, and hopefully an insight into the combined joy and relief that beating this boss gave me. After I quit the game, I was literally shaking with excitement. This game, guys. God. Damn.
Two notes on the video below: 1. I only have the demo of fraps. I can only capture 30 seconds at a time, and I have to find and press F9 to begin capturing. This is why I don’t show full fights, and why I missed out on a lot of clips. It is really hard to want to do that, especially if you think it might end your run! 2. I am so sorry for the end. Remember when I said that I had a YouTube playlist up? Much like when I was fighting Ornstein, I was too in the zone to fully appreciate the music that was playing. After I began my joy-gasm, I realized what song was playing, and laughed for a solid two minutes straight. And I got it on ‘film’. Hoo boy. Kills the mood, but really, really worth it.
Speaking of being worth it, this was insanely fun, as mentioned above. Total playtime was 16 hours, 47 minutes for those curious. Final Soul Level was 83. I hope you enjoyed reading this series, everyone! I am thinking of doing another run solely for the chance to make a video of me killing every boss in the game with the Dragon Bone Fist’s shoryuken, but that would likely be a one of instead of a five parter. I would be open to suggestions to other challenges or concept builds, if anyone would be interested in reading more. Otherwise...I guess I could play other games. Like...Scribblenauts. But...why?
It's calling for me...
[Again, thanks so much for reading everyone, this has been a blast!]