Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

I beat inFAMOUS Second Son a few days ago, and earlier today I beat Dark Souls II. I was meaning to write up a blog about Second Son last week, but I never got around to it. By which I really mean that I started several times, but couldn't do it. Been running into that a lot lately. Start trying to write something, but then I just don't have it in me. Even now, this isn't "flowing" anywhere near as well as it usually does. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's more that... Ah, never mind. Forget I said anything.

Anyway, before I put my foot in my mouth too many times, let me get started on Second Son. I'm kind of torn on this game. I really loved the first two inFAMOUS games, and I really like this one. And on paper, this game is better than the first two in most meaningful ways. It plays better, it looks (hell of) better, and I can point to this game and say, "This is why I paid $400 for a PS4" with a straight face.

And yet, it feels like half a game. It feels like there should be twice as many story missions, or maybe 30% more, I don't know. It's just, compared to the first two games, and what open world games usually have content wise, it feels pretty light. You could race through this game pretty quickly if you wanted to, and even 100%-ing the game didn't feel like it took very long. But, coincidentally, I don't think there's any in-game way to see how many hours have been spent playing it (I could be wrong though).

As I was getting to the final mission, it felt (to me) like I was where the half way point of the game should have been. That's not to say that the game doesn't wrap up the story, as the story is quite wrapped up at the end (at least with the good ending). I just wish there was more to the game. Which, I suppose, can be seen as a good thing to say about a game. It's better to be left wanting than to be left wishing it had stopped hours earlier, I guess.

But I'm willing to forgive the game's "shortness" (again, compared to the first two at least) because of two things. The first is that the game play is absolutely spot on and rock solid, and because the game looks absolutely amazing. I try not to use the word amazing (or at least I think I do, I don't know that it would hold true if you actually looked through the things I usually say), because I think you should actually be amazed if you use that word. I was amazed at how good this game looks.

After thinking about it, it's not too surprising, though. Before playing it, I had only ever seen videos of the game online. Videos at resolutions lower than 1080P, and on screens not as good as my TV. Everything ends up looking better on my TV running in the full resolution than it does in video form on my computer. I probably shouldn't have been so amazed, but gosh darn, does this game look good!

Well, most of it, at least. The colored lighting, particle effects, explosions, and wet pavement all look incredible. The facial animations? Stunning. Frame rate? Almost always solid (and even when not, it's less than a second and barely noticeable). But, there's some clipping. And the pedestrians don't look so good. And I noticed some shadow detail draw-in stuff. You know, the kind of thing where...Eh, forget about it, I'm nitpicking at this point.

I'm a sucker for colored lighting, sunsets, and sunrises, and this game has all of them in spades. If only there was more of it!

The story missions are all fun, but the side content is mostly not so good. There are enemy truck-generator-things that you need to blow up, and fighting past the enemies to get to them was always fun. And there is a spray painting mini-game that despite existing solely to make use of some of the controller's gimmicks, I actually enjoyed. You have to hold it sideways (like a spray paint can), and tilt to aim the paint. And when you pull the trigger to spray, it makes a spray painting noise out of the controller. It's really gimmicky, and kinda dumb, but I enjoyed it. It helps that the graffiti was usually pretty good, and often humorous.

But the rest of the side content is lame. There's no "side missions" in the sense of getting a quest from someone and then going and doing it. Well, unless you count that "buy a new copy" stuff about "what happened between inFAMOUS 2 and Second Son." Actually, if side missions in this game would have ended up like those, then maybe the game is better off without them. But the non-new-copy-code side stuff is about finding audio logs, shooting cameras, and chasing down a dude hiding in a crowd. Yawn.

It's a real shame, because something cool could have been done with all the powers in the game beyond the main mission stuff. And even then, the missions are either free-form enough that you can just use whatever power you have at the time, or they gin up some story reason to give you smoke (so you don't have as many traversal powers and can't just run over all the walls and get out). It would have been great if there were missions where you needed to have a certain power for one part, but then needed to switch on the fly to solve some other problem. As it is, I generally tended to just stick with neon unless I needed to get somewhere else really quickly, at which point I went to video (it has more flying-ish powers).

Also, and I guess this is slight spoiler territory, so I'll white it out, but you don't get the final (fourth) power until the final boss fight. I anticipated this happening, so I left one district of the game full of side stuff so I would have something to use the power on, but I think that's weird. Then again, it feels a little half-baked and unoriginal compared to the other three powers, so maybe that's why. Also, if it's a concrete power, how come I can't refill my power meter off concrete sidewalks? Or anything other than defeated enemies?

But overall I did like the game a lot. The core game play is fun. Fighting enemies is thrilling, and the simple act of traversing the world is a joy. If only there had been more reason to explore, and more things to do. But, as it is, it's the best PS4 exclusive, and that alone is enough reason to warrant anyone with a PS4 to pick it up. And with the binary good/evil morality stuff, there's good reason to play it twice, which I will do at some point in the near future. I played it good first, because that's what I always do.

Like I said above, I also beat Dark Souls II. I already wrote a blog about that, so I won't go into a ton of detail about that, but I do have some more things that I'd like to say on the subject. Like with Second Son, I'm a little torn about this game. On the one hand, the minute to minute game play of DS II is as fun and gripping as DS I was. But, it's just not quite as good. I'm not really sure how to put it into words. I guess part of it is that DS II is easier.

It's not just that though. DS II does get quite a bit harder in some of the game's later areas, but even then, it kinda feels like it's just aping the first game. Well, aping sounds cruel, and I don't want to sound cruel, because I still loved Dark Souls II. Just, not as much as the first one. I wrote a lot last time about how the world of DS II doesn't feel anywhere near as connected as DS I, and now that I've finished the game, I feel confident in saying that's true of the entire game.

For example, in DS I, the game was designed in such a way that there would often be one bonfire, and you'd later open up a shortcut to it (like in Undeadburg). DS II, conversely, is usually designed in such a way that the levels are, well, just that, levels. They start on one end, and you progress through it until you get to the next bonfire, and keep going to the next bonfire. There's definitely shortcuts to be had, but it's not like the first one, and I feel like the game is missing something without stuff like that.

I don't think the bosses are as good either, but I can't really get into that without going into details about the bosses in DS II, and I'd rather not spoil anything, so I won't. I do know (and I didn't notice this until a friend of mine pointed it out) that a lot of the bosses in DS II are "tall guys that you can just circle around and hit them." I'm paraphrasing, but his words were something like that. Which is not to say that bosses like that can't be fun (a lot of them are), but it is a running theme through a lot of the game's bosses, and it makes them feel a lot more generic (so thanks for pointing that out, KRIS).

And the final boss is too easy. Come on, you know better than to do something like that, From Software. I'm also not really sure why that boss was the final boss. In DS I, you were pretty clearly working toward a specific goal, and then the boss at the end made sense. Here, the boss is in a seemingly random place, and it's a "thing" (again, not trying to spoil too much) that didn't seem like "it" was important to the overall story until that point. But maybe I'm just missing something.

Don't get me wrong, there's a thing or two near the end of the game that are really cool/kind of crazy story wise, but aside from that I'd say I think the first one had a better story overall. But I could just be missing stuff. Well, I'm probably missing stuff, this is Dark Souls, after all.

In the end, it took me just under 70 hours to get to the end. The game lets you keep playing after the credits, so I might try to clean up another optional boss or two before I go into new game plus. And, after all this, I think that's what you should take away from what I'm saying. Despite not thinking it's as good as Dark Souls I, even after 70-ish hours, I want to go back in for more. I didn't have that feeling after DS I. That's kind of because there weren't any areas in DS II where I thought, "Well, that was fun, but I never want to do that again." DS I had several of those, and maybe that's the thing that DS II is missing.

There's no Sen's Fortress. There's no Anor Londo. There's no areas in this game that made me feel like I had accomplished the impossible after getting through it. That's what this game is missing. That feeling of doing the impossible.

I do wish that I had managed to do some jolly cooperation with that same friend of mine, but I'm afraid that now I'm much too high level (180s) for him. Yeah, that's another thing about this game. It's almost impossible to get into a game with a specific person. We tried, and tried, and tried. We did everything the internet said would help. We made sure we were within level range, we bought a ring to help connect us, we even joined the same covenant! Nothing worked. I did get to help some other random people, and even summoned some others for a couple of the boss fights. But nothing with my friend. Oh well!

Aside from these two games? I've played a bit more of Ground Zeroes. Still really enjoying the game part of it, but the more I play it, the more I realize just how little Kiefer Sutherland talks in that game. I'm really getting worried that this might be representative of The Phantom Pain, and that's a bummer if it is. What was the point of paying all sorts of money for Hollywood talent if he's going to talk so little that it starts to seem out of place during some vital story scenes? Hopefully I'm wrong, and he's appropriately chatty in The Phantom Pain.

Also, before I move on, I have a few things (game play wise) that I think HAVE to be changed by The Phantom Pain. I won't dwell on them though.

  1. There needs to be less clipping, especially with Big Boss's character model and his weapons.
  2. They need to do CQC animations WITHOUT Big Boss's guns just disappearing the second the animation starts.
  3. Weapon customization needs to be done BEFORE the missions start (this is the one I have the most hope for actually being addressed).
  4. Big Boss's shadow should have hair. Right now his shadow is mullet-less.
  5. Load time on the iDroid needs to be non-existent, there's no excuse for the map not loading for several seconds some of the time.
  6. The music for the helicopter arriving shouldn't reset to "no music" every time I turn the game off.
  7. Enemies should actually speak when you put a knife to their throats and demand information out of them.
  8. Draw distance needs to be improved.

The worst part is that several of these things shouldn't even be issues. This is the year 2014, clipping and hairless shadows shouldn't be in games with production values like this, and every line of dialog should be spoken, even if it's throwaway lines like "You'll find ammo over here."

That's about it for game related stuff that I have to talk about. I've been trying to work on my next book, but I haven't been able to get anything done. It's a combination of second guessing the direction I'm taking this one in, and of not thinking that any of this novel writing stuff is worth the time and effort I put into it. I mean, no one is buying either of the two books I put on Amazon. Granted, these are electronic books being published with no advertising, and from a "unknown" (I quote because if you're reading this, you are aware of me) author. I shouldn't be expecting killer sales, but it's next to impossible to put that much work into something and not feel real bad when I can't even get the people that read my blogs and follow me on Twitter to buy it (aside from a couple, and I appreciate them greatly).

I also feel like I've said this before. Several times. Deja vu? My whole life is just trudging through endless circles, doing the same stuff over and over and over and over...

I'm not even going to bother linking to either book. You can type "The Allegiance of Justice" or "SPACE COPS 5000" into Amazon. Or not, that's what you're probably going to do.

I'm going to end this now before this turns into me complaining about my life and how depressed I am. Wait, crap.

I was going to put in a picture from Goat Simulator, which I haven't played, but would if I had a computer than could handle its majesty, but I didn't immediately find one when I searched the site, so I'm not going to declare the successor to the Year of Luigi to be The Year of the Goat. I guess Waluigi will have to do, for now.

#1 Posted by Cheetoman (102 posts) -

Totally agree with the Ground Zeroes analysis. So many little things that add up to make it feel like this was a port from previous gen to current gen and not the other way around. I really can't find any faults with Dark Souls 2. Just so enthralling. Infamous on the other hand. The last 2 powers were an extreme disappointment. I thought they were keeping it a secret meaning that it was going to be something amazing visually and fun at the same time. The total opposite happened. Very boring powers and feel tacked on. Story had no real value. Didn't care for Deslin. While I didn't play through both ending, I don't have a real drive to go through it a second time, if I do its just for trophies. Really was expecting more from Second Son. Graphics are the only high point but clipping and some other small things kind of bog it down. Still no game right now that says this is next gen. Maybe Watch Dogs???? eh...

#2 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@cheetoman: Watch_Dogs does at least look interesting game play wise, if it really is as "intricate" and everything as Ubisoft is claiming it will be, even if the graphics have been "downgraded" like some are saying (I think the jury's still out on that though).

#3 Posted by awesomeusername (4154 posts) -

I have to say, I agree with everything you said about Second Son. Game looks and plays fantastic but is pretty damn short and very light in content for an open world game. But I beat it twice and platinum'd it in 2 days after release which shows how much I enjoyed it. As for your second playthrough, you should wait until all the Paper Trail missions are out to do if you do get a certain power those missions show off, you can play your second playthrough with a 5th power. As of now, I get on it every couple of days and every Friday to fool around and play the new Paper Trails missions. I can't wait for whatever DLC they put out for it. I'll eat up anything Infamous.

#4 Edited by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@awesomeusername: There's going to be a fifth power with that stuff? That's rad! I hadn't thought of having new powers as DLC.

Yeah, I'll definitely have to try to remember this.

#5 Posted by awesomeusername (4154 posts) -

@mooseymcman: Hey man. I said "if you do get a certain power" but it seems pretty likely. I mean, why wouldn't they do that? It's to awesome to not do!

#6 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@mooseymcman: Hey man. I said "if you do get a certain power" but it seems pretty likely. I mean, why wouldn't they do that? It's to awesome to not do!

You totally did! I should read more carefully.

#7 Edited by CJduke (782 posts) -

Sorry I ruined the Dark Souls bosses for you! I need to play that game more so I can talk to you about it again.

#8 Posted by probablytuna (3535 posts) -

You know, I never thought about tilting the controller sideways to use the paint spray until the second playthrough. I would turn it sideways to shake it, but then revert back to holding it like a controller to do the stencils.

I get the impression that not many people listen to the audio tapes in Ground Zeroes because Snake actually talks quite a fair bit there in the pre-mission briefings. Granted that's still not a whole lot but I'd imagine that it's only because Ground Zeroes needed to be released ASAP so they couldn't have more dialogue in it. I'm more worried that the lack of a codec in Ground Zeroes means there also won't be any in Phantom Pain, which is a real shame in my opinion. One of my favourite things about replaying the MGS series is looking at things then calling the Codec to hear what random conversations comes up or just calling them up to chat in general.

#9 Edited by Slag (4001 posts) -

Man that passage about the level design makes me super not psyched to play DS 2.

That's a bigtime bummer as that was probably my favorite part of DS 1

#10 Posted by Demoskinos (14562 posts) -

See I'm entirely opposite on Dark Souls II and I plan to write an extended blog at some point on Dark Souls II but for now I'll say that Dark Souls is the only souls game I never finished nor feel like finishing. I thought the second half of that game was just straight up boring. Duke's Archives, Tomb of Giants, Lost Izalith all those areas were just horribly boring and by the time I trudged my way through them I was done and quit playing. I went through the game nearly 2/3rds of the way three seprate times and never finished it due to getting bored before the credits rolled.

Never had that problem with Demon's Souls and haven't had that problem with Dark Souls II in fact I'm almost aggravated I'm enjoying it so much because its detracting from me playing other games! All i want to do is play Dark Souls II anymore. While I won't argue the fact that the world does seem way more patchwork than the previous game that doesn't bother me really. I just also generally enjoy the changes they've made to combat and how the game controls and plays. I've for the first time ever in a Souls game actually enjoyed PvP and am actually becoming decent at it! Its hit every single note I've wanted it to and I don't plan on stopping until I have that platinum trophy.

And a short little bit on Second Son. Simply put its my favorite inFAMOUS game by far I despised the previous two games I thought Cole and Zeke were horrible characters the city was boring and Cole's powers were lame. This game trumps that game in every way. The fact that the side activities are light is A-OK with me.

#11 Edited by csl316 (8108 posts) -

I agree with Infamous. I loved the first two, and this one has been solid (I'm a couple hours from the end).

Problem is, I feel like the game should've ramped up by now. Look at Infamous 2 and you have huge battles with a ton of guys, giant monsters, a big variety of locations and objectives. There's been nothing in this game that recreated the sensation of grinding a wire into a fort, blasting everyone, causing general chaos with gunfire everywhere, and then barely making it out. And even when there are a ton of guys, I can't toss explosive grenades that used to take the havoc even farther. Maybe I need to do those showdown missions to recreate some bigger scale battles, but there has been no reason to since the game's been pretty easy (even on expert). My moderately powered up abilities have been good enough.

On top of that, the gameplay hasn't felt as tactical because the enemy variety just isn't there. In 2, you'd be fighting one of those burrowing monsters. Then a gang might show up. Maybe some cops. You'd have to use all your tools to get by. I remember fighting guys on the huge ice tower and having an amazing time because the battlefield became vertical. Then hitting a warehouse and having a couple dozens dudes coming at me while a giant ice monster destroyed the environment. 2 was a maturation of the formula that made it one of my favorite games on the PS3.

That's why, despite this being a cool game, it still feels closer to a launch title. Graphics and performance appeared to be the focus this time. Seems like they won't hit the ambition the series has seen in the past until Second Son gets a sequel.

Online
#12 Posted by JackSukeru (5903 posts) -

My biggest problem with Dark Souls 2 is that they changed the color of all the poison from the usual purple (that poison seem to be in all Japanese media for some reason) to green.

Ok not really, but I am very curious about why they did it and do think it makes some levels that had green light in them look kinda cheesy. (examples: Aldia Keep, Earthen Peak, Black Gulch.)

Otherwise I have similar feelings on DS II. I like it, I will probably play a lot more of it on the PC and I've played so much OG Dark Souls that I don't want to go back and play that, but it is "missing" something. Maybe it's just missing the right kind of flaws, the kind that, once you get past them, gives a game you really enjoy an almost endearing character.

#13 Edited by Gabriel (4055 posts) -

The lore in DS2 so far has been extremely disappointing.

#14 Posted by golguin (3843 posts) -

You know what doesn't make Dark Souls 2 feel easy? Company of Champions. The way I see it any Dark Souls vet that didn't join that covenant the second they reached Majula simply didn't play the "real" game. I wouldn't say that to anyone that casually played Dark Souls, but whenever I hear the "easy" comment I just kinda shrug my shoulders and think to myself, "Why would they avoid the feature that was put in place for the vets of the series?"

If you were in it to just beat the game and summoned help to get through some of the tough areas that's fine, but people that would claim to say that Dark Souls 2 is in any way easy don't know what their missing by not being in the Company of Champions.

#15 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@golguin: If the game had actually explained what that was, then I might have. From what I could tell when I was playing it, it was just some weird thing in a rock wall with a message in front (from someone) that said "Think carefully and then don't you dare," so I just kept on walking.

How does that affect the game? Does it just give enemies more health and higher damage? I don't feel like that specifically would have made the game harder in a way that I would have liked. Even by the end of the game, enemies were still doing tons of damage, and that was with my +5 Havel armor.

#16 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@demoskinos: But the second half of Dark Souls I was when the story and the lore was really getting good! That's when you found out about the backstory behind the Duke!

Eh, whatever. The lack of connectedness between the areas in Dark Souls was, and is, a huge bummer to me, and removes a lot of reason for me to go back through areas and explore.

Also, I'd say that I think the Duke's Archives, Tomb of Giants, and Lost Izalith are more interesting and generally better than most of the areas in Dark Souls II. Almost every area in DS II just felt like a linear area to me, with a couple of secrets off to the side, but nothing like DS I where they felt like big areas with tons of nooks and crannies to explore, and secret paths that were shortcuts to other parts of the game.

So far as the core game play, I don't know that I have a preference. I know it was certainly easier to dodge enemy attacks in the first game, but I do like how I have to put more thought into figuring out when to roll in this one.

#17 Posted by golguin (3843 posts) -

@golguin: If the game had actually explained what that was, then I might have. From what I could tell when I was playing it, it was just some weird thing in a rock wall with a message in front (from someone) that said "Think carefully and then don't you dare," so I just kept on walking.

How does that affect the game? Does it just give enemies more health and higher damage? I don't feel like that specifically would have made the game harder in a way that I would have liked. Even by the end of the game, enemies were still doing tons of damage, and that was with my +5 Havel armor.

Most important thing is that it changes the enemy AI. Much more aggressive, will take advantage when you try to heal, comes hard at you in groups. They also hit harder (most normal enemies can two shot me at SL 99 with 3 ancients down) and you hit them for less damage. You are not allowed to summon while in the covenant and you can't put down your own summon sign. All bosses need to be killed solo.

It's different from the NG+ boost. It's an exclusive difficulty increase offered by the covenant. The game does explain what it does. It tells you that you will be placed on an "arduous path" and gives you a warning 3 times before being accepted into the covenant that everything would get harder. The details of how it would get harder would of course be something that you'd have to discover on your own before. I didn't know what it did until I was in it and there was no information about it online. My thread detailing my Company of Champions exploits was an attempt to figure out what it did.

The full details of the Company of Champions covenant is currently unknown as very few people have joined. When the game first came out only a few tens of people were in it (leaderboard confirms number) and now that number has grown to a few hundred.

#18 Edited by ElixirBronze (417 posts) -

I keep hearing people say Sen's Fortress was so difficult, and I never really get it. Enemies are relatively scarce, and the few that are there are kind of easy to kill, and the traps are very dodgable. To me, Tomb of the Giants was the one area that gave me the "wow, sure never wanna do that again"-feeling.

All in all, I enjoyed my time with Dark Souls II way more than the first game, but I'll agree with the poor world implementation of patched together areas in Dark Souls 2.

#19 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@golguin: Not being able to summon others is one thing, but I really like going to to help other people out, so I don't know that I would have enjoyed that anyway.

And yeah, I do remember the "arduous path" line, now that you mention it, but I didn't realize the default experience was going to be as "easy" as it was. Aside from knowing that enemies eventually stop spawning, I didn't have any indication that the game would be any less difficult than Dark Souls I, and "arduous path" at the start of a Souls game isn't necessarily the thing I want to do without any other knowledge of what it does.

#20 Posted by Karkarov (2982 posts) -

@golguin: If the game had actually explained what that was, then I might have. From what I could tell when I was playing it, it was just some weird thing in a rock wall with a message in front (from someone) that said "Think carefully and then don't you dare," so I just kept on walking.

How does that affect the game? Does it just give enemies more health and higher damage? I don't feel like that specifically would have made the game harder in a way that I would have liked. Even by the end of the game, enemies were still doing tons of damage, and that was with my +5 Havel armor.

It makes the game scale the enemies as if you are in one NG cycle higher than you actually are, makes all the bosses more aggressive, and you can no longer summon people but you can be invaded. Basically it just makes the game lots harder. That said there was plenty of challenging moments in or out of that covenant. As for the last boss... yeah you definitely were missing something. The fact that they showed up was no surprise at all to me and I was playing blind my first time. My only other comment though is what you said about none of the areas feeling like you never wanted to do them again.... I don't know what it is with "souls fans" but you realize that there being no areas in the game you just never wanted to play through ever again is actually a good thing right? You aren't supposed to never want to play it again after getting to the end, there is a NG+ for a reason and it is much tougher in certain encounters than NG is.

#21 Posted by golguin (3843 posts) -

@golguin: Not being able to summon others is one thing, but I really like going to to help other people out, so I don't know that I would have enjoyed that anyway.

And yeah, I do remember the "arduous path" line, now that you mention it, but I didn't realize the default experience was going to be as "easy" as it was. Aside from knowing that enemies eventually stop spawning, I didn't have any indication that the game would be any less difficult than Dark Souls I, and "arduous path" at the start of a Souls game isn't necessarily the thing I want to do without any other knowledge of what it does.

You could join and leave the covenant as many times as you want to experience what the other covenants have to offer. It doesn't lock you in forever.

I knew that anything that game threw at me would be easily overcome thanks to my Dark Souls experience so I was all over the Company of Champions since it promised the true Dark Souls 2 experience. It didn't disappoint. I've helped to kill bosses out of the covenant just to compare how different it feels and it's like night and day. Bosses go from aggressive beasts that can kill you in 1-2 hits to fairly simple fights that give plenty of room for error. The same goes for the normal enemies.

#22 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@elixirbronze: It's not so much the difficulty of Sen's Fortress as it is the fact that it's full of so many traps. It's a trapapalooza. I didn't have a ton of trouble getting through it, but I felt like I was just getting by, narrowing avoiding death at every turn, and I never really through any areas in Dark Souls II that gave me that same feeling.

#23 Edited by Red12b (9075 posts) -

i played through Infamous in a day, wasn't as good as the first and the last boss was DUMB! Lost all gravitas and turned real stupid, kessler was a much better boss.

#24 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5339 posts) -

Again the last boss is in the "too easy" region of hits for 1200 damage and (most likely) drains your HP throughout the fight. Granted people were stupid enough to call Gwyn easy and all they did was look on the intertubes and find out that they should parry him. Also 70 hours doesn't sound like you had that easy of a time.

You really did Shrine of Amana and said "man this so easy, wtf there should be like 7 sorcerors everywhere instead of 2; that'd be a real challenge." I'm assuming you just had an extremely overpowered spell build and didn't have the self consciousness to realize it, either that or you're completely oblivious. Or I suppose you were absolutely terrible at the original Dark Souls and now that you're marginally competent you've decided that the game is too easy.

#25 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@karkarov: Last night I was IM-ing with a friend of mine, and he said that in Dark Souls I, he had this constant feeling of uneasiness, like he was never safe. But, he (and admittedly, he's about halfway-ish into Dark Souls II) hasn't felt that at all in Dark Souls II. And until he said that, I hadn't quite been able to put my finger on it.

Dark Souls isn't about having fun. It's not about romping through and killing everything. It's about survival. It's about just barely getting by, and feeling like you triumphed over the impossible, and then never wanting to go through that horrible experience again.

So... That probably makes me sound like a crazy person. At a certain point, Dark Souls II stopped feeling like a Souls game, and felt more like any other action game, just a bit slower paced, in that regard.

How about this: To me, the fact that Dark Souls I had areas that I both feel like I accomplished something great by beating them, yet also don't want to go back through them feels like nothing else. There are other games that I never want to repeat things I've done in them, but I in those games I feel like that's bad design, or something along those lines.

I'm rambling at this point, and not making sense.

@golguin said:

@mooseymcman said:

@golguin: Not being able to summon others is one thing, but I really like going to to help other people out, so I don't know that I would have enjoyed that anyway.

And yeah, I do remember the "arduous path" line, now that you mention it, but I didn't realize the default experience was going to be as "easy" as it was. Aside from knowing that enemies eventually stop spawning, I didn't have any indication that the game would be any less difficult than Dark Souls I, and "arduous path" at the start of a Souls game isn't necessarily the thing I want to do without any other knowledge of what it does.

You could join and leave the covenant as many times as you want to experience what the other covenants have to offer. It doesn't lock you in forever.

I knew that anything that game threw at me would be easily overcome thanks to my Dark Souls experience so I was all over the Company of Champions since it promised the true Dark Souls 2 experience. It didn't disappoint. I've helped to kill bosses out of the covenant just to compare how different it feels and it's like night and day. Bosses go from aggressive beasts that can kill you in 1-2 hits to fairly simple fights that give plenty of room for error. The same goes for the normal enemies.

Maybe I'll give the Company of Champions a shot at some point, then. But for now, aside from maybe going back and trying to defeat King Vendrick, I think I'm Dark Souls-ed out for the time being.

#26 Edited by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: "Easy" isn't the right word. The game is still challenging, and there are certainly parts where I had difficulty. But compared to Dark Souls I, it felt "easy." So far as the 70 hours goes, well, I have a lot of free time on my hands, so I take my time.

Also, I should say that I did not think Gwyn was too easy (as someone who never even attempts parrying because I'm terrible with it), and that I didn't look anything up about beating Nashandra. I died once, to her curse fountain things, but then on my second attempt I was able to dodge all her attacks (pretty easily) and beat her without trouble. I'm sorry that the boss was easy to read and easy to dodge her attacks, and really easy to avoid those curse fountain things once you realize what they do.

#27 Posted by Karkarov (2982 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: "Easy" isn't the right word. The game is still challenging, and there are certainly parts where I had difficulty. But compared to Dark Souls I, it felt "easy." So far as the 70 hours goes, well, I have a lot of free time on my hands, so I take my time.

Also, I should say that I did not think Gwyn was too easy (as someone who never even attempts parrying because I'm terrible with it), and that I didn't look anything up about beating Nashandra. I died once, to her curse fountain things, but then on my second attempt I was able to dodge all her attacks (pretty easily) and beat her without trouble. I'm sorry that the boss was easy to read and easy to dodge her attacks, and really easy to avoid those curse fountain things once you realize what they do.

I think the problem is people confuse "challenging" with "cheap". Dark Souls 2 never felt more "challenging" than Demon's Souls but it did have a ton more cheap moments. Dark Souls 2 simply moved a chuck of the challenge (boss related especially) to NG+ and got rid of the cheap.

#28 Edited by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@karkarov said:

@mooseymcman said:

@fredchuckdave: "Easy" isn't the right word. The game is still challenging, and there are certainly parts where I had difficulty. But compared to Dark Souls I, it felt "easy." So far as the 70 hours goes, well, I have a lot of free time on my hands, so I take my time.

Also, I should say that I did not think Gwyn was too easy (as someone who never even attempts parrying because I'm terrible with it), and that I didn't look anything up about beating Nashandra. I died once, to her curse fountain things, but then on my second attempt I was able to dodge all her attacks (pretty easily) and beat her without trouble. I'm sorry that the boss was easy to read and easy to dodge her attacks, and really easy to avoid those curse fountain things once you realize what they do.

I think the problem is people confuse "challenging" with "cheap". Dark Souls 2 never felt more "challenging" than Demon's Souls but it did have a ton more cheap moments. Dark Souls 2 simply moved a chuck of the challenge (boss related especially) to NG+ and got rid of the cheap.

Did you mean to say Dark Souls 1, not Dark Souls 2? I didn't really think there was anything I would call cheap in Dark Souls 1. Aside from those two archers in Anor Londo, maybe. Those guys can go jump off a cliff. Hated them. Yet, I kinda really liked that encounter, for as much as I hated it at the time.

Maybe you're right.

EDIT: I still think the end boss of Dark Souls II is easy, though. I just want to be clear on that. At least on a new game, with no Company of Champions, it's an easy fight. Easy compared to a lot of the other fights in the game, and just easy in general.

#29 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5229 posts) -

While I also love Second Son (I beat it yesterday) I can agree with some of your problems. Having that last power unlocked when there was essentially nothing left to do was kind of a bummer. The main story seemed a little short and I was left wanting more. Hopefully they put out some more narrative based dlc.

I've liked the paper trail stuff so far and I really hope they give us that girl's power by the end of it(They've hinted enough to make me think they will), but again I've already done almost everything in the game and if we did get more powers there wouldn't be much to do with them. You could always start a new game I guess. All in all, I was left happy with the game, despite a few misgivings with it. It's a launch game, and while that's not an excuse by any means, it's still tiding me over till we get more stuff later in the year. Fingers crossed for Watch dogs!

#30 Edited by RonGalaxy (2872 posts) -

Are you guys sure the game doesn't tell you what the rock in majula does? I remember talking to the cat, her saying something about the rock, then going around the back to check the rock out and being able to instantly tell it was going to make things harder. I don't remember specifics, but I remember I was able to figure it out on my own.

#31 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

Are you guys sure the game doesn't tell you what the rock in majula does? I remember talking to the cat, her saying something about the rock, then going around the back to check the rock out and being able to instantly tell it was going to make things harder. I don't remember specifics, but I remember I was able to figure it out on my own.

It's obvious that it makes the game harder (at least it was at the time, in the couple weeks since I had managed to mostly forget), just not how it makes the game harder. To me, the idea of the same game, just with the enemies having more health and doing more damage didn't sound appealing. Apparently it's more than that though, which does sound interesting.

#32 Posted by Karkarov (2982 posts) -

@mooseymcman said: I still think the end boss of Dark Souls II is easy, though. I just want to be clear on that. At least on a new game, with no Company of Champions, it's an easy fight. Easy compared to a lot of the other fights in the game, and just easy in general.

The last boss of From Softwares RPG's being easy is sort of a From trope by this point. Probably part of why I like 2 more than 1, the sequel is way more evocative of their older games. Examples of this.... King's Field IV: The Ancient City, both Shadow Tower's, I think Eternal Ring pulled this too, and of course Demon's Souls.

#33 Edited by Xeiphyer (5594 posts) -

As for DSII, its not just about your soul level for connecting to specific players, you also have to have similar soul memory. So if you spend a bunch of hours grinding souls, even if you dont use them on levelling up, you're still gonna not be able to join each other.

#34 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@xeiphyer: We were aware of that, but according to the thing we found online that (supposedly) calculated the level range for people you could summon, we were also within range for soul memory. I just genuinely think the game hates this friend and me.

#35 Posted by dankempster (2249 posts) -

Great blog, as always. I don't really have anything to say games-wise, being as I haven't played any of the titles you talked about. I'm super-psyched to play Ground Zeroes, but I'm holding off on it until I can secure a next-gen console to play it on (which, realistically, might not be until next year). I know you're a fan of the series, so it's good to hear that it's suitably catering to its existing audience. In the meantime I'm scratching my Metal Gear itch by playing through Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance on the 360. It's not your typical Metal Gear fare, but it looks great and plays brilliantly for what it is. My only concern is that it's going to be over before it's even begun - I've heard it clocks in at around only five or six hours.

I mainly came here to drop a comment regarding your books. All I can say is, try not to get disheartened by lack of sales. I know that's something that's more easily said than done, because I empathise with you on that front. Sometimes it feels like you're just pushing content out into a vacuum, whether it be a novel, or a YouTube video, or a blog on a video games website. But I find all of that uncertainty is worth the little moments of pay-off that they can bring. With that said, here's my effort to bring one of those little moments to you. I actually read through 'The Allegiance of Justice' at the start of this month, in the space of about four days, and it's a good book. You've got some great ideas in there, you play around with conventional fantasy tropes, subverting them in ways that had me laughing in spots, and I really admired your occasional breaking of the fourth wall, because I know that's something I could never do as a writer. You define your characters really well, too, through both dialogue and behaviour, and that's a trait I envy because I personally think a lot of my own characters end up feeling pretty homogeneous. Some of your prose seemed a bit muddled and difficult to follow at times, and I would've liked a little more world-building, so I could learn more about the Michiganias, but they're not really 'complaints' per se - more like constructive criticism to bear in mind when working on future projects. Bottom line is, I bought 'Space Cops 5000' as soon as I finished 'The Allegiance of Justice', and I'm looking forward to reading it soon. So keep at it, because this duder is a part of your audience, and he appreciates what you're doing.

#36 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@dankempster: You just made my day, good sir! You're right, every comment I get from people that read the books, few though they may be, brings a joy to my heart that nothing else does.

The world building stuff gets a little tricky at times. I like to put in a lot of detail when I can, but I also don't want to bog it down with tons of backstory. It's a tough balance, especially when I often like to leave some things vague, in case I want to further elaborate on them in sequels (but that's probably a really bad habit to get into as a writer).

Again, I'm stoked that you liked it.

#37 Posted by Demoskinos (14562 posts) -

@mooseymcman: Linearity isn't a dirty word for me. If I like what I'm seeing I don't mind something being linear just make that linear experience worth my time. The Second half of Dark Souls felt really rushed to me. Dark Souls II just also feels way more evocative of Demon's Souls which I am way more a fan of that game's design plan. Dark Souls doesn't have a single moment as cool as walking through Winter Shrine going around the corner and seeing the ominous Castle Drangleic looming in the distance. And the fact in Dark Souls II that you can entirely skip bosses or find entirely different routes to the same objective I find really cool. I remember being extremely puzzled that everyone kept talking about "Pursuer" being the "second" boss and never even realized until halfway through the game that I entirely skipped him! The combat in general especially in PvP feels way more balanced.

#38 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10473 posts) -

@demoskinos: I'm not saying the game doesn't have great stuff in it. Yeah, the Drangleic Castle reveal is great. So is the Dragon Aerie Shrine whats-it. But to me, that exploration, that since of connectedness between the different parts of the world in Dark Souls I is a large part of why I loved that game as much as I did.

And, I suppose I should have been clearer in my original post. When I say that I like Dark Souls I more, I'm not saying that I don't like Dark Souls II. As my friend put it last night, even if it's not as good (so far as my friend and I think) as the first game, it's still better than just about everything else out there. I still really, REALLY like this game, I just like the first one more. And part of that may just be because it was the first one I played, I dunno. There's no way of knowing if I would have liked Dark Souls II more if I played them out of order, or if I had played Demon's Souls during any part of this.