For my second playthrough I've been messing with all kinds of styles from heavy tanks to Miracle users to dual wielders to try and figure out how I want to tackle it. Usually when it comes to Souls games I play them at least twice, once as a magic user and once as a heavy melee guy. But for this game I wanted to do something different. I've already beaten it once as a magic guy, and while heavy melee is super practical it's been a little dry just blocking then attacking.
Then I tried the a dual wielder thing and managed to figure out the stance change when you're holding two weapons for heavier attacks and special moves. I played like this right up to the beginning of Iron Keep and realized I was pretty good at keeping my distance and dodging. I actually played almost half of Dark Souls II without a shield, which is something I've never ever done before with these games. So I decided to take it a step further and do something I've always wanted to do since I first played this game.
I'm going to punch everything to death. Or at least try to. Dark Souls II Punch-Out!! starts here.
Dark Souls II Punch-Out!!
I picked the warrior class, or the one that starts with a broken sword for the high strength stat and started swinging. Punching everything in Dark Souls II (without fist weapons) plays about as well as it does in every other game. Your move set is super limited and your range even more so. However, all the early enemies in the Forest of Fallen Giants get stun locked with each punch so they don't put up much of a fight. The only problem is that killing a guy with your fists takes an entire bar of stamina, so group management is even more important than ever before since you always have to save a tiny bit of stamina for evasive rolling.
I also used a few throwing knives for guys I couldn't reach with my fists who were perched in really annoying places. I suspect I might have to keep a bow handy for some areas later on. I don't know how I feel about that yet.
But fist fighting in Dark Souls II changes immediately when I bought a pair of Caestus from the merchant lady in Cardinal Tower. As soon as you can go into the dual wielding stance, things get real. First off, the scaling on Caestus weapons are A Strength and B Dexterity, which is the highest I've seen for a weapon so far. When you dual wield two of them, your stance change attacks are really cool. The left button light attack does a quick 1-2 punch while the right light attack does a quick single hook. My favorite attack in the dual wielding stance is the left button heavy attack, which is like a spinning lariat that does 4 hits and can OHKO almost all of the hallowed soldiers, and totally wrecks the Turtle Knights in the Forest of Fallen Giants. Haggar would approve.
Vs. The Last Giant (1 Round)
After I cleaned up the starting Forest Area and got the Stamina Ring from the Pharros door, I decided to go a few rounds with The Last Giant. Nothing really changed here, except I had to be like right on top of his leg to do damage. It made the Giant's stomping attack a little more frightening since I was always in a perfect position to get squashed. I did decent damage, but I had to be really careful not to get carried away. Sadly, the lariat attack misses the second and third hits due to the hitbox on the Giant's leg. So I just did some strong attacks until I killed him. I managed to do an uppercut as the finishing blow (right heavy attack twice) and that felt really good. Even if I uppercutted his leg.
Vs. The Pursuer (2 Rounds)
So here's the real test. This guy was a nightmare on my first playthrough as a magic guy. I went here right after the Last Giant and it was like night and day. I had his attacks clocked, so dodging was no problem. My adaptability was a little lower than usual, so getting off healing items was a little tougher. He managed to kill me once (I forgot how fast he can get off those sword swipes at medium range), but the second time I crushed him. Fist fighting the Pursuer felt so good. If there's any proof of concept it would be this. No magic. No fire sword. Just grinding him into nothing with metal boxing gloves. So satisfying.
Road to the Title Fight, Smelter Demon
I'm definitely going to tackle the rest of the game like this. The only other fist weapons I know of are the claws you can buy from a certain merchant later on in the game, so I guess I'll have to compare which one works better. I suppose if I want to, I could always buy more Caestus weapons and infuse them with fire or lightning or whatever. The merchant lady from Cardinal Tower never runs out, and I don't think Titanite will be a problem since I won't be using any other weapons. I think the major thing will be armor, and I'll have to find figure out a good balance between defense and mobility.
Of course, the real test I'm thinking about later on is the fight with the Smelter Demon. I guess this would be the Mike Tyson of the game. First playthrough, no boss was harder than the Smelter Demon. Fighting him with fists (and no fire proof shield) sounds really daunting. I'm guessing I'll probably have to spend a few deaths learning his moves and finding out the best time to dodge. That is if I don't get sick of dying to him first. I have no idea how this will play out, but if there's a hardest challenge in this game, the Smelter Demon will probably be it.
But fist fighting in Dark Souls II is way better than the previous games. The dual wielding stance attacks are a lot of fun, and you actually do decent damage. The major threat is the short range and lack of shielding, so if you aren't up on your dodging it's going to be a hard time. But I'm excited to see how the rest of the game stacks up. It feels way more doable than the previous games. I may update this as I go, depends on how fast I go and if it's worth reporting.
Now if only I could replace all the boss themes with the Punch-out!! fight music...