I got the game yesterday, and, not wanting to deal with GFWL, I am playing offline, my question is whether or not this makes the game imbalanced, not about if it's more fun online.
Yeah its balanced fine, you can summon Solaire for some of the harder boss fights assuming you keep up with his storyline at all. You miss out on the messages players leave as well as their bloodstains though, which means you may miss some secret areas but its pretty minor.
There's also some cool multiplayer parts that you'll miss out on experiencing which is kind of a shame, but it won't affect your ability to finish the game.
Good luck with Ornstein and Smough though!
@cybertification: Play it online if you can (just to see ghosts of people dying and messages), but if you don't, absolutely no worries. I got through the bulk of my playthrough (80 hours) without summoning anyone or being led on by messages. Now I just need to finish the damn game...
@raineko: I would disagree with that. I think Dark Souls' difficulty is very well balanced. You can kill every boss solo and you can summon NPCs for a lot of boss fights. When you play online there are even more options to lower the difficulty, like summoning other players to clear a level and fight a boss with you.
The only boss that is really unfair and downright awful is the Bed of Chaos, a poorly designed gimmick fight.
@cybertification: There is one aspect that makes the game easier in offline mode. You can be in human form (which you only need to be to summon NPCs for bosses) without running the risk of getting invaded by other players. You can finish the game in offline mode, most of my playthrough were without the summoning of other players.
All online stuff is purely optional so it's perfectly balanced when offline. Well, apart from S+O who are going to be a bitch but even online they're rough.
You can even play online and still have the main online features (Summoning, PVP) be optional since it only kicks in when you "Reverse Hollow"
Dark Souls has no such thing as balance but yes you can beat it offline.
What? Dark Souls' main achievement is balancing and pacing difficulty.
Anyway, I've been playing it for about seven hours offline, for the first time, and it seems pretty well-balanced for single player. It's certainly not easy, but it's not impossible. The best advice I can give is "be patient".
Wait. Are we talking about offline or solo? Because those are two different things. Like Rorie and others have said, you can be online and play by yourself. You would have the option to summon other players if you so desire, and if you're not hollow you can be invaded (which makes the game more difficult, actually), but apart from that, being online or offline makes no difference. There's nothing you can do while you're connected to GFWL that you can't do if you remove it, though I strongly suggest you play the game as it was intended, i.e. seeing the ghosts and messages of other players, being able to summon them (if you want), having the risk of being invaded, etc.
I think the game's difficulty is meant to be tuned for online mode for bosses; I mean around release I heard that over and over again from different people.
That said, you can still beat the game in offline mode, though I remember the undead dragon, and smough and ornstein being royal pains.
Online is just a weird wrench (which admittedly can create some amazing moments), the game is reasonably balanced offline. If you play Online nonstop like keep invading people or keep trying to get summoned it gets really boring but if you just play the game online then you'll randomly have the best experiences while still enjoying the incredibly competent game itself.
I never summoned anyone my first two playthroughs (got invaded, but never summoned a white phantom). Seemed pretty perfect to me. The online really is just in the periphery and a way to deal with diffculty spikes that get annoying, rather than as some assumed advantage the devlopers balanced against.
Many people on this thread, and probably generally seem to miss that playing Dark Souls online is more than just PvP and Co-op. There are lots of little things and details that online brings that I, at least, would miss, if I were to play off-line. There are the bloodstains of other fallen players, their still living ghost, the ring of bells when someone succeeds in their first part of the journey. Those things, and others are small and almost meaningless in gameplay standpoint, but for me they are important part of the feel of Dark Souls.
Dark Souls can be played offline just fine, but it's just better online.