(Even more) Things Dark Souls II: SotFS is teaching me...

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#1 Edited by notnert427 (2207 posts) -

I am terrible.

Between my extremely slow learning curve, grinding every enemy into oblivion, and general ineptitude, let's just say I'm not Twitch streaming my Dark Souls run. I consider it a favor to everyone. I have a newfound appreciation for Vinny and Brad's playthroughs of Dark and Demon's Souls, respectively. That content was fantastic, whereas no one should ever bear witness to me getting up to speed. I wish I could un-see some of the failure, honestly, but the lost souls will eat away at my lost soul. My spirit officially broke when I tried to backstab this turtle-y thing, and it instead somehow saw it coming and basically gave me the people's elbow to immediately crush and kill me at a cost of about 4200 souls. At that time, I could have used that amount to level up about three times. That was the first time I'd been Dark Souled, but certainly not the last.

Top o' the mornin' to ya!
Top o' the mornin' to ya!

I do not play well with others.

Actually, I'm not playing with others at all. I'm only playing offline. I miss the messages, bloodstains, and seeing randoms run around, but I just have zero interest in PvP, invasions, or even summoning. I'm basically Lone Wolf McQuade minus the sweet-ass Ram Charger, Pearl beer, and combat ability. Actually, I could go get some Pearl beer. Combat ability is a work in progress. Sadly, I'm not sure a functional Ram Charger still exists. I digress. I know the general school of thought is that invasions are "part of the game", but I'll pass on that. Yes, it's worth the health hit to me to play permanently hollow (Edit: nevermind, it doesn't work like that, thanks @spoonman671), because the first time some yahoo kills me when I've got a significant amount of souls to recover, or if there's some kind of griefing item like the Demon's Souls scraping spear that exclusively dickheads use just to be dickheads, I won't handle that well. When I'm in the mood to play multiplayer with assholes; I'll play Call of Duty.

I Dark Souls alone. Yeaaaah, with nobody else....
I Dark Souls alone. Yeaaaah, with nobody else....

I am cheesy.

I have neither stones nor shame. I find myself trying to hide beside doorways to ambush enemies, fight them on stairwells, and generally do anything I can do to avoid a straight-up fight. I kite the shit out of everyone to the best possible spot. Stairs are my favorite. I'll gladly chop ankles while they swing over my head and run away like a wee girl if things go south. My playstyle is the anti-Vinny. I even went so far as to actively seek out the Soul Arrow that Brad refused to use in Demon's Souls because it was too effective, only to discover after buying it that as a Bandit, I was woefully short on stats for it. Learning that I couldn't even use the cheap strategy I was going for was a wonderfully pathetic moment. Someday I'll get that 10th Intelligence point, though, and then it's on for 30 potential moments of greatness. Until then, I'm pretty sure spamming arrows from afar is the definition of honor. Right?

I need to watch things die (from a good, safe distance).
I need to watch things die (from a good, safe distance).

I am Legend.

I'm on a path to murder every enemy in SotFS to extinction and enjoy some peace and quiet. Not in a cool, rampage-y way, in a sad, grind-y way because I refuse to face more than one opponent at once. I didn't plan to do this. I started grinding, enemies stopped respawning, and once I realized there was the possibility of perma-death, suddenly my goal became to wipe everyone out. It's working. I eradicate one enemy and move on to the next. Don't worry, no one has to know. It's not how you collect souls, it's that you collect souls. The Emerald Herald isn't worried about my strategy; she's just there to be impressed by all these hot souls I'm packing. And yes, I am the next monarch, because there will be very few alternatives by the time this shit's over. It ain't gonna be meek-ass Maughlin, lazy-ass Lenigrast, or the talking cat. Smart money is on this guy due to sheer determination. I'm going to rule a world with no one left alive unless I find them useful. Aaaaahhhh, what kind of awful dictator has this game turned me into?

You'll note here that I'm Vin Diesel-ing for effect.
You'll note here that I'm Vin Diesel-ing for effect.

I'm officially hooked on Dark Souls, though. I'm by no means good at this game, but I find the struggles highly rewarding when overcome. It's a thorough beatdown, but it's a well-crafted beatdown that makes you learn the hard way. I've been getting destroyed in Heide's Tower of Flame, but I'm gradually improving and being forced to try different strategies. Figuring out the patterns and getting the timing down is key. That is, until you get too excited and swing your stamina away, or get staggered, or an enemy busts out something you didn't expect, etc., etc. I'm actually doing this without much guidance, BTW. I looked up some early items like the Ring of Binding to get and checked out a few purchases, but that's about it. I have no idea where I'm going and have no desire to follow a walkthrough, and since I'm offline, no messages are helping me, either. It's just me and DSII, and I'm enjoying that.

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#2 Edited by Samaritan (1729 posts) -

Fun write-up, and welcome to your first Souls game! It only gets better from here, so hopefully you will go back to Dark Souls and maybe even Demon's Souls. Best of luck to you and your strategy of total annihilation, you're going to need it later in this game.

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#3 Edited by wchigo (900 posts) -

Don't sweat it too much man, especially about being cheesy. The game will take any opportunity it can to cheese you, so you should feel okay to do the same in return to it.

Honestly, I've played Dark Souls, vanilla Dark Souls II and am about 30 hours or so into Bloodborne. From what I saw of SotFS, it's a significant departure from vanilla DkS2 and looks pretty hard. So if you're making progress, I say be proud of yourself and keep going duder! Only good things await! :3

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#4 Edited by notnert427 (2207 posts) -

@captain_felafel: My only concern about Dark and Demon's Souls is that I've watched the Vinny and Brad playthroughs so much that I feel like I have played those games. I'd consider either if they get ported to current-gen, but that seems unlikely. I'll pick up Bloodborne when I get a PS4, though.

@wchigo: Thanks for defending the cheesing. I don't feel all that guilty about it because you're right that the game cheeses you, but I'll call it what it is....and continue to do it.

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#5 Edited by eroticfishcake (7856 posts) -

Glad you're enjoying it despite throwing your limp corpse against the wall. You'll get better though even though you may not realise until much later, probably not up until NG+. Also, in case you didn't know Scholar of the First Sin is actually harder compared to earlier versions of DaS2 mainly due to the reshuffled items/gear plus enemy positions have changed although from my playthroughs of both it seems it's mostly just the early areas that have the biggest changes. The game is hard for sure though but it's not hard just for the sake of it though perhaps it's not done so well in DaS2 compared to the others but that's whole other discussion in itself.

Don't concern yourself with cheesing and offline stuff. Personally speaking the former isn't how I would play and the latter I think is important but it's not essential. Just do whatever works for you. At the very least you're exploring and figuring stuff out on your own which what the series really rewards for. In any case, I look forward to hearing more on your thoughts. I'm a massive fan of the series if it wasn't obvious enough. Good luck with the DLC stuff too. It's tough but it's my favourite part of DaS2.

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#6 Edited by deactivated-582d227526464 (835 posts) -

I think sotfs is significant harder than vanilla ds2, specifically in the early game because of the absolutely careless new enemy placements. Way too many strong enemies that early imo.

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#7 Edited by Spoonman671 (5874 posts) -

@notnert427You should really play online!

I'm currently playing through Scholar of the First Sin as well, and I have yet to be invaded by another player after over 30 hours of play. There are no shitty weapons like the Scraping Spear from Demon's Souls. Also, you can be invaded while hollowed in Dark Souls 2 so there isn't any reason to intentionally play with less health. If you're that worried about it, you should locate and wear the Ring of Life Protection, or Ring of Soul Protection. These will allow you to maintain your souls and humanity at the cost of repairing the ring after each death.

Just don't miss out on the fun of messages, co-op, and bloodstains!

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#8 Edited by nickhead (1259 posts) -

I will second playing online. Honestly, if you're playing hollow a majority of the time (I do as well unless I'm seeking online play) then you have nothing to worry about. Because guess what? You'll get invaded by AI black phantoms anyway.

Scholar is definitely more difficult, but also a little easier in some areas. They really cleaned up enemy placement in terms of the "narrative" which is a very welcome change.

I just got to my first DLC area, Crown of Sunken King, and I'm getting my ass whooped.

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#9 Edited by BlueFalcon (255 posts) -

Lol, the red dragon at Heides Tower of Flame? I took it down like I do almost every dragon in Souls games. I shot it with arrows. A lot of cheap arrows while standing in a place it cant reach me.

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#10 Posted by FrostyRyan (2920 posts) -

Oh never ever EVER beat yourself up for cheesing the game out.

As Pat of Super Best Friends has said, "the enemy is better than you. SO CHEAT."

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#11 Posted by Samaritan (1729 posts) -

@notnert427 said:

@captain_felafel: My only concern about Dark and Demon's Souls is that I've watched the Vinny and Brad playthroughs so much that I feel like I have played those games. I'd consider either if they get ported to current-gen, but that seems unlikely. I'll pick up Bloodborne when I get a PS4, though.

That's a great point, but there's still a lot of value in playing those games on your own, even if you have seen a lot of the content hiding within.

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#12 Posted by Shindig (4914 posts) -

I didn't have that problem but my memory is such that I can forget specifics easily. Bed of Chaos being the exception. There's a lot of game to be had and you simply can't remember all of it.

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#13 Edited by wchigo (900 posts) -

@notnert427 said:

@wchigo: Thanks for defending the cheesing. I don't feel all that guilty about it because you're right that the game cheeses you, but I'll call it what it is....and continue to do it.

Fair enough. In general I don't go out of my way to cheese the game but if the opportunity presents itself, I will fully take advantage of it and not feel bad in the slightest. This happened somewhat recently in Bloodborne when a couple of the enemies I was fighting got caught up in an archway; they could fit through it no problem (as I found out in a subsequent run-by) by on this particular occasion they got caught on the edge of the arch.

I used a weapon with long reach and charged up a heavy attack, hit them, then rolled back and repeated until they were all dead. I just laughed and kept going, until I found out that they kept responding and I eventually died. :p

Take it from someone who had spent over 200 hours on Dark Souls with many different characters, builds and all the achievements, probably somewhere around 100 hours on Dark Souls II and the Platinum trophy, and now around 35+ hours of Bloodborne (work keeps me very busy nowadays, cutting into my gaming time); you're not terrible. If you're making progress, you're not terrible.

Well... actually, we might all be terrible regardless of progress, but you know what I mean. ;p For what it's worth I've generally played these games offline as well and I'm even doing that with Bloodborne, so don't feel that you have to play online. Also, glad the game has its hooks in you, we can welcome another to the brotherhood.

Praise the sun! \[+]/

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#14 Posted by Sbaitso (613 posts) -

@notnert427: While watching those playthroughs will spoil boss fights, levels, etc, the games can be played so many different ways. You could end up with a totally different build so the game would still have novelty despite having seen the whole thing through.

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#15 Posted by AzrealInc (17 posts) -

I still haven't gotten too far into DaS2. I having been jumping back and forth between Bloodborne and Borderlands. Yesterday I decided I wanted some Souls in me and fired up DaS2 for about 30 min. I am at Heide's Tower as well and after the twitchy action of Bloodborne, I find myself becoming TOO confident when it comes to fighting. That did not last long. Then after a few suicide rolls off the side of the bridge avoiding the Giant Armor assholes, I was good for the day. But I still find myself thinking about it almost all of the time.

I think I am going to wait until I finish Bloodborne before going back. That way I can just dedicate myself to becoming more patient in DaS2. I really wish they had re-released DaS1 on the PS4 as well, I only got about 5 or 6 hours in on my 360 and was having a great time with it before RRoD returned to claim it's 4th victim. Also, just bought Demon's Souls for $5 on the PSN, so good times ahead.

Keep up the good fight duder. I'll look forward to reading more about your journey.

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#16 Posted by ShotgunLincoln (396 posts) -

People exaggerate on how much you actually get invaded in that game. The only time I've been invaded in the re-release was in Heide's Tower.

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#17 Posted by gamefreak9 (2877 posts) -

I would say knowing where the enemy placement and moveset is not even half the battle so its worth playing DS.

Though it HAS to be online. The online component is the only thing that keeps the game from being fully deterministic.

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#18 Posted by ShadowConqueror (3413 posts) -

I've never understood why people are so concerned about getting invaded that they'll never play online. It rarely happens, and you're missing out on messages and blood stains. I'm glad you like the game, even if it's probably the weakest of the Souls games.

Also, nice Tool reference.

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#19 Posted by dudeglove (13737 posts) -

Pretty sure we all go through that phase of I Will Sit Here For 30 Minutes Shooting Poison Arrows

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#20 Edited by 49th (3896 posts) -

Seems like you're drastically making the game less fun for yourself. It's ok to play safe but taking down each enemy one at a time will burn you out really fast.

I'd suggest playing online. Summoning is a great way to get better at the game since there are no consequences if you die while helping someone, plus you become human and gain way more souls if you succeed in killing their boss. It's a win-win situation. It's also fun to summon help and there are a few NPC quests where you need to summon to complete them. You rarely get invaded and it's a non-issue even if you do. Nothing is precious in this game, you might lose a few thousand souls but you'll likely be able to run back to where someone kills you if you're smart about it. Messages are a big part of the appeal of these games for me, people leave jokes everywhere and they help you find hidden stuff and prevent you from dying to stuff no human would naturally notice.

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#21 Posted by Counterclockwork87 (1180 posts) -

@notnert427: I think you should try playing online. This isn't Dark Souls 1, you don't get invaded unless you're in specific areas and it's actually beneficial to be human, unlike Dark Souls 1.

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#22 Posted by notnert427 (2207 posts) -

Lol, the red dragon at Heides Tower of Flame? I took it down like I do almost every dragon in Souls games. I shot it with arrows. A lot of cheap arrows while standing in a place it cant reach me.

Believe it or not, I went with the opposite strategy on the dragon with great success. I went straight Vinny on it, running full speed at it to avoid the initial flame burst and then axing the shit out of its legs with some well-timed rolls to avoid its attempts to stomp on me. I killed it on the third try and ended up with a sweet shield from it, too. That was very redemptive. I wouldn't have bet on having far less trouble with the dragon than the various knights, but that's what happened.

On a related note, I should have been entirely discouraged of such ballsy play by that one "awakening" fucker sitting atop the stairs right before the dragon. I charged him, got stabbed in the face three times in about one second, and died immediately. Completely disheartening. That guy was rough, mainly because he had ridiculous range. He actually dropped his badass spear, and I'm tempted to focus on leveling up my strength to 25 so I can use it, but I figure by the time I would get there, I'll have found/bought a better weapon. Right now, I'm pretty balanced build-wise, with endurance, strength, and dexterity the few exceptions I've dumped extra points into. I like my axe, and have a good sword that I'm not using all that much, but I'm definitely intrigued by the range of a spear. I also want a sweet bow. Finding "my weapon" is still TBD. I will assuredly try many.

@49th said:

Seems like you're drastically making the game less fun for yourself. It's ok to play safe but taking down each enemy one at a time will burn you out really fast.

I'd suggest playing online. Summoning is a great way to get better at the game since there are no consequences if you die while helping someone, plus you become human and gain way more souls if you succeed in killing their boss. It's a win-win situation. It's also fun to summon help and there are a few NPC quests where you need to summon to complete them. You rarely get invaded and it's a non-issue even if you do. Nothing is precious in this game, you might lose a few thousand souls but you'll likely be able to run back to where someone kills you if you're smart about it. Messages are a big part of the appeal of these games for me, people leave jokes everywhere and they help you find hidden stuff and prevent you from dying to stuff no human would naturally notice.

Eh, I'm really having fun with the game so far. I've got enough patience to where grinding and/or repetition doesn't bother me, and even hitting walls just makes me want to play it more because I don't easily accept failure. No burnout here yet. If I stop having fun, I'll change it up, but so far, so good.

As for online, I'm still not into it. This game has enough random bullshit without adding a human component to it. And to me, everything is precious. I've probably lost about 7000 souls total, which I imagine is pretty damn low for where I'm at level-wise. Yet it still eats me up that I lost that many. FWIW, if I had the choice, I'd keep the bloodstains/signs and turn off invasions/summoning. Oh well. I really don't feel like I'm missing that much, and there's an argument that it's a more "pure" experience to go it without some sign pointing out a secret you'd otherwise miss or telling you what's ahead. I'm fully enjoying going it alone so far.

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#23 Edited by bceagles128 (788 posts) -

OP, the game is much harder offline than online. The messages are extremely beneficial for your first playthrough and you really don't get invaded that often. Maybe 3-4 times total during your first ~40 hour playthrough, and frankly, if you know it's happening, and you don't want to deal with it, it's pretty easy to (a) get close to a bonfire (so that you can recover your souls easily) and then jump off a cliff, or (b) run ahead to the boss gate. The only places that I would advise playing offline are the two ganksquad bell areas.

@claybrez said:

I think sotfs is significant harder than vanilla ds2, specifically in the early game because of the absolutely careless new enemy placements. Way too many strong enemies that early imo.

I don't think they are careless. They have intentionally ramped up the difficulty, which I enjoyed in my playthrough.

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#24 Posted by Soulreaverm (93 posts) -

Play online. I recently finished playing through the game for the first time. Messages saved my life every ten minutes; I got invaded maybe twice in 50 hours. Seriously, the game is MUCH harder offline.

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#25 Edited by Shindig (4914 posts) -

Yeah, that direction you get from the community is a great tool, even if I think they've botched the system a bit by it being, "Be something of something, also SOMETHING ELSE!" It was a lot more to the point in Dark Souls.

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#26 Edited by notnert427 (2207 posts) -

More things DSII: SotFS is teaching me:

I'm a hoarder.

I do not fear death. I fear using a precious lifegem that I'll need later. I know I can buy lifegems, but that's just wasteful. I could be putting those souls towards stats, armor, or weapons, man! Yeah, I'm that guy who will sit on useful items because they're useful and end up not using them enough. I believe I'll have to abandon this strategy very soon, much to my dismay. It's tough to beat bosses without healing and without a full life bar, so it's about time to bite the bullet and finally use a human effigy (of which I actually have quite a few now) and start popping lifegems when necessary. Hollow, heal thyself.

And I die, a little each time...
And I die, a little each time...

I'm a pretty lady.

I fat-rolled for the first time and it made me sad, so I went on a diet and shed some gear. Except then I ended up pumping a point into vitality to put it back on, because I greatly missed my coffee can helmet. I mean, really, what's the point of having all this sweet gear if I can't wear it? Despite being a solid piece of gear, that Heide Knight helmet looks amateur as fuck in a way I really embrace. I thought I'd want my character to look like some badass, but there's something fun about instead looking like some awful costume a lazy dad tried to MacGyver together at the last minute for his kid's King Arthur play. "Just stab slits in the Folgers can, damnit; I'll get the spraypaint and aluminum foil. We're also gonna need the brown sheets and your sister's soccer shinguards."

'Cause I am beautiful, no matter what they say....
'Cause I am beautiful, no matter what they say....

I'm a nightmare.

I have this overwhelming urge to murder the sleeping Heide Knights. (Yes, I've gone to the dark side.) I blame their asshole brothers before the dragon. Given that they woke up and started wrecking me, I'm perpetually terrified that all the others will do the same. I'm also terrified that I'll kill them and then later find out that I can't access the second half of the game because they're supposed to open some door. I just know I'm going to get Dark Souled somehow by these guys, because why else would they be there? Are they merely part of the lore? Would they drop useful weapons/equipment? Sure, they look harmless right now, but I trust NO ONE. Fuck it; they've gotta die.

Yeah, but they were all bad.
Yeah, but they were all bad.

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#27 Posted by Shindig (4914 posts) -

I regret doing the Dragonrider boss first. Carnage.

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#28 Posted by notnert427 (2207 posts) -

@shindig said:

I regret doing the Dragonrider boss first. Carnage.

The bosses are destroying me so far. Well, actually, I've only attempted Dragonrider and Old Dragonslayer about five times apiece, and I've gotten each below half health, so there's that. My strategy is piss-poor, I'm sure. I always seem to get greedy and go for one more hit than I should, which backfires terribly. I'm finding my axe (though powerful) lacking in range on the bosses. I also can't seem to time the lifegems at all (pictured above), and I might as well not be using a shield right now because even getting successful blocks results in some health damage and a massive stamina hit at best, and often some awful stagger situation leading to death. I wonder if they can be parried. Anyway, I've permadeathed the rest of the Tower of Flame to where it's now boss battles or nothing, so I'll come back to boss time in a little bit.

For now, I'm going to push further into the Forest of Fallen Giants for a bit. I just met Cale. He really likes maps. I laughed my ass off at that conversation, both because Cale constantly steering the conversation back to map chat was ridiculous and because I felt like the game was actively trolling the player about the game's lack of a map (I enjoy that there isn't one, FWIW). Cale gave me the Majula mansion key and offered some ominous warning about what's inside, so I'm curious to see how that plays out. My arrow-hoarding paid off in the area just before Cale. Fuck those archers, man. Once they stuck me full of arrows from four different directions while I was fighting another guy (the most Dark Souls moment imaginable), I lost any and all qualms about standing outside their aggro range and cheesily firing arrows at them from afar. In fact, I greatly enjoyed it as my way of flipping them the bird.

My objectives now are as follows: I want to get my strength up to 20 so I can try out the Heide Spear. I think I might be a spear guy, and I'd like to find out. I'd like a better bow as well because I've already got the stats for one. My armor set seems to be solid for now, but I'd be down for finding another blacksmith who sells better weapons. I'm still chipping away at Intelligence to get to 10 so I can use some sorcery. I want to raise my poise a bit as well, because being staggered is bullshit. I haven't been a sword guy so far, but I'd like to reinforce either the Shortsword or Heide Knight Sword and use that more. I'm also only using three of four ring slots, so I'd like to find some kind of regen ring as well. Basically, I just really want all my stats and gear to be better. No big deal. I guess that's what keeps me coming back.

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#29 Posted by Shindig (4914 posts) -

I I would try and find a shield with 100% physical block. That's one of the things that narked me about Dark Souls II in that they don't just give you a shield that can do that from the start. And, whilst I thought numerous deaths would result in barren areas, it just seems to scale it back to more manageable places that you can actually explore, rather than run through.

Chasing numbers is how I got a foothold in Dark Souls, too. Either from loot or stats it gave me the little victories that kept me returning.

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#30 Posted by Spoonman671 (5874 posts) -

I'm almost 60 hours in and still haven't been invaded outside of the few designated (and optional) PVP areas.

You seem like a spear and shield kind of guy to me. The big advantage of this set up being that you can keep your shield up while attacking with a spear or rapier. Just remember that this is very costly on your stamina, as having your shield raised drastically reduces your stamina regen.

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#31 Edited by notnert427 (2207 posts) -

I am....good?

Okay, maybe "good" isn't the right word. Overleveled is more accurate. I had been avoiding bosses like the plague and wiped out virtually all the enemies in Heide's Tower of Flame and The Forest of Fallen Giants before taking on The Last Giant, so by the time I got to that boss fight, it turns out I'd gotten a bit beastly. I destroyed him on the first try, and it wasn't even close. I get the impression that this was supposed to be the first boss you play against, because the path to him wasn't that tough, nor was the boss itself. In comparison to the Tower of Flame enemies and the Old Dragonslayer and Dragonrider, he was nothing. I then proceeded to take down Dragonrider with ease, because I wasn't the same scrub he beat down before. I mean, I was, but I had better stats and equipment now and leaned on those. Old Dragonslayer presently remains an asshole, but he's next on my list.

This competence has been brought to you by a shitload of grinding.
This competence has been brought to you by a shitload of grinding.

I'm easily tempted to change my whole setup.

Just as I'm settling into a groove, the game decides to throw me a Grand Lance. This thing is fucking hilarious, and I almost want to devote my entire playthrough to throwing on the heaviest armor and sporting this like some insane, horseless jouster. The animation on it is this great charge-stab that could only be improved by adding Snake's full-auto machine gun yell from MGS3. I also procured a Channeler's Trident to role play an amateur-ass Poseidon. I was elated to discover that I could now do Vinny's ridiculous spinning, heel-clicking dance, and immediately did it several times in a row for my amusement until the Channeler's Trident broke. Worth it.

Okay, game, tell me what stats I need to permanently look this ridiculous.
Okay, game, tell me what stats I need to permanently look this ridiculous.

I'd like to axe you something.

Yeah, I may unintentionally have found my weapon. I beefed up my axe because I had the Titanite shards to do it, and it became pretty formidable. Then I found an even better Bandit Axe that does similar damage, swings faster, and uses less stamina. I'm much bolder now because it has taught me to be. Since I hit hard, I find myself getting in close and swinging with reckless abandon. I'm quite certain this strategy will backfire soon, but I should also be sporting a spear as weapon two by then and can choose if I want some range or if I'm going CQC. (Damn it, that's two Metal Gear references today. Dan would be proud.) I'm finding swords too wild and halberds too slow, so I think I'm going Pokey McSpear for my backup. Then again, I haven't even tried clubs, twinblades, katanas, whips, etc. yet, so who knows. I may be a magician by the time it's all over.

It's good for cutting firewood...and faces.
It's good for cutting firewood...and faces.

I have found my crystal lizard, and his name is Gavlan.

For a crazy person like me who empties worlds, useless gear accumulates. I think I had about 15 full sets of Hollow Soldier Armor and nothing to do with it. However, I had heard tales of a magical creature named Gavlan who buys items from you. (I've been actively avoiding walkthroughs, but learned of him in a "things not to miss early" article.) All I wanted to do was dump off all the bullshit, and it became my singular mission. I fought through No Man's Wharf and gleefully discovered him behind a gate, which was of course locked. I persevered, and got to the room where he was supposed to be just up the staircase. Now, the Xbox One has this weird thing where if you take a screenshot offline, you can't later share it online. So I switched online to take a screenshot for you guys, loaded the game back up, and started happily strolling up the stairs. Screen goes black. I thought, "oh, cutscene, cool!" No. I've played this game almost exclusively offline, so when I switched it back online, it forced me into an update. 5.4GB. God DAMNIT. I had to wait an hour, but the Gavlan payoff was completely worth it, figuratively and literally. Not only did my insane grinding feel slightly less insane, it netted me about 17,000 souls. Yesssss... He has moved locations. I miss him already.

Gavlan wheel, Gavlan deal. I let out a Gavlan squeal.
Gavlan wheel, Gavlan deal. I let out a Gavlan squeal.

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#32 Posted by The_Ruiner (1774 posts) -

Kudos on the Tool reference...

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#33 Posted by Shindig (4914 posts) -

Dragonslayer's next on my list too but that's mainly because I've hit a roadblock in the Bastille. Sadly that means going through Heide with all those guards.

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#35 Edited by notnert427 (2207 posts) -

I had a heart of gold, but let them take it from me.

Yeah, I killed my first non-enemy NPC. Blue Sentinel Targray rubbed me the wrong way from the start. He was a dismissive, condescending asshole, he had a halberd/armor that I liked, and his apparent benefit to the player is related to online stuff I won't use and selling non-critical items that can be found elsewhere. I stand by my decision. That smug fucker didn't even look at me while talking about how unworthy I was. Fuck you; I'm Level 87 and counting. How worthy does my axe feel? Yeah, that's what I thought, bitch.

No, see, you have that backwards.
No, see, you have that backwards.

I am learning to embrace the bullshit.

No Man's Wharf was full of Dark Souls moments. The one that made me laugh the most was the guys hanging of the sides of ledges, on ceilings, et al. to surprise you. It's fun to think about these guys just hanging there waiting for me to show up. They make me feel special. For the Lost Bastille, the game chose to go with exploding barrels littered throughout the level and were constantly trying to blow you up with fire arrows and whatnot. I also just expect The Pursuer to show up everywhere now. What an asshole. It's not like I can't beat him. I've already done it twice. I beat him on the small square arena with random fall-to-your-death holes in it, and then I beat him over by a bunch of exploding barrels. Now I apparently have to beat him in the dark. Sigh. At least he drops Twinkling Titanite.

This guy IS Dark Souls.  I shot him in the face with an arrow.
This guy IS Dark Souls. I shot him in the face with an arrow.

I seek tidy numbers and balance.

I mean, really, who leaves a stat at level 19? Okay, maybe I'm just OCD as hell. That numbers which don't end in 5 or 0 eat away at me probably isn't normal. I'm also trying to avoid picking a build for as long as I possibly can, even though it's becoming clear what stats I should probably focus on (STR/DEX). I don't like NOT having the stats to use something, even if it's something I probably won't use. I'm probably going to end this shit as the highest level Dark Souls II player at this pace. I'm sure purists who do Level 1 runs hate the way I'm doing this with my overleveled offline play, but supposedly there's no "wrong" way to play Souls games, so that's what I'm telling myself.

Look at it. It's beautiful. Except for the untidy 87...
Look at it. It's beautiful. Except for the untidy 87...

I achieved victory (eventually).

The Ruin Sentinels were a bitch. It turns out my strategy of pulling one guy at a time taught me some bad habits. Chiefly, an inability to face multiple enemies at a time. This fight forces you to battle, at minimum, two at once. Fuck. I struggled mightily with this. It didn't help that I couldn't even go human for the health bonus because Xbox Live has been limited for the past 48 hours and it made me waste an effigy with no joy and disallowed me to use another one. Somehow, I almost pulled off the win on the third try anyway, and I swear, the game screwed me. I had it down to one Sentinel left and had him one hit away, while I was one hit away from death myself. I decided to play "smart" and "patient". Since I had stamina and a 100% shield, I decided to block a hit, so I could counter it for the kill. His hit inexplicably glitched through my shield. Dead. It was horseshit, and then I of course couldn't get back in that position. I rage-quit after multiple failures, and then picked it back up the next day. It took me about a half-hour, but I did it. Extremely satisfying.

He's pumped, but out of estus flasks and needs to find a bonfire ASAP.
He's pumped, but out of estus flasks and needs to find a bonfire ASAP.

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#36 Edited by notnert427 (2207 posts) -

I should trust NOTHING.

So I made my way into Huntsman's Copse (which I managed to read as Huntsman's Corpse for the first 50 times I saw it), and apparently poison was really in. Poison raining from the skies, poison arrows sticking me in the back from afar, poison cloud-spewing giant frogs, etc. I half-expected an instrumental version of Every Rose Has Its Thorn to kick on as the area's ambient music. (Seriously, that would have been a nice touch. Maybe in DSIII...) I had noticed a butterfly earlier in the game above the Servant's Quarters bonfire, assumed it was something pleasant and harmless that I shouldn't kill, and let it live. After having this illusion shattered in Huntsman's Copse, I warped back and straight murdered that butterfly.

Hi, peaceful butterfly. Ooh, pretty green glowy OH GOD WHAT.
Hi, peaceful butterfly. Ooh, pretty green glowy OH GOD WHAT.

I am not observant.

Despite repeated advice to the contrary, I continue to stubbornly play offline, which means I'm not getting messages or bloodstains. I've actually come to enjoy this lack of help because when I find a secret wall, it's typically because I actually found it, and that's more fun that reading a "secret ahead" message. The downside is that I'm not that great at finding things. Strangely enough, I've done pretty well in terms of actual hidden areas and whatnot (yes, I'm cheaply checking my work via guides after I finish each level to make sure I didn't miss anything important, which I'm pretending is completely legitimate to offset my offline handicap in order to preserve my false sense of pride in doing it by myself), but I manage to miss entire paths. So that's not ideal.

I totally found this bonfire on my own. I swear.
I totally found this bonfire on my own. I swear.

I could use some work on my jumping.

So, aesthetically, I really enjoy the Chuck Norris roll that happens when you run and jump down. It's a cool animation that makes you feel like some kind of ninja who pops up ready to fight to the death. Functionally, it's not quite so great. It forces you to plan ahead and make sure that not only will you land the jump, but have enough room not to roll off whatever platform you landed on. The roll isn't quite as cool when it (along with poor planning) causes you to fall to your death. Not that I'm speaking from experience here or anything...

Hey, there are my 11,000 Souls. There's no way I'll roll off the edge to my death again and lose them all. *tumble...splash*
Hey, there are my 11,000 Souls. There's no way I'll roll off the edge to my death again and lose them all. *tumble...splash*

I am undead T-1000.

How awesome does this look? The Manikin blades are cool as shit. Security guards getting their morning coffee beware. It is not your lucky day. The problem is, they're not that effective. That's an issue I'm running into. I've got my Bandit Axe damn near maxed out, and I'm struggling to get another weapon up to similar effectiveness. I had the same issue with my attire. I liked my Maximus look with the Drangleic set, but grew tired of it. Then I ran into the Alonne Knights in Iron Keep (awesome area, BTW), and found my new look. After some upgrades, it's now both my best-looking and most effective attire. Win.

Call to John.
Call to John.

I am beyond redemption.

Upon approaching Belfry Sol, I remembered that I never went through Belfry Luna, so I backtracked and did that. This was a bit of a downer. While the Belfry Gargoyles boss fight was actually really cool (one of my favorites so far), the Bell Keepers were depressing. For one, you walk in on a pile of tiny corpses. These poor little guys have apparently been getting wrecked. After not joining their covenant, I went and slaughtered what's left of them. I didn't feel great about it, but the plucky little buggers actually hit pretty hard and went down swinging. Add them to the body pile.

I have seen a security hologram of him....killing younglings...
I have seen a security hologram of him....killing younglings...

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#37 Edited by Spoonman671 (5874 posts) -

If you're sticking with one-handed axes you may want to explore The Shaded Woods a bit. You might find something interesting. ; )

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#38 Posted by notnert427 (2207 posts) -

If you're sticking with one-handed axes you may want to explore The Shaded Woods a bit. You might find something interesting. ; )

Ha, that's the destination I already planned on playing through some this evening. The Iron Keep has done a good job of reminding me of things I need to revisit. First it was Belfry Luna, then I found the Iron Key and recalled that I never dealt with those Flame Lizards. (Fuck those things, BTW. I shot arrows at them from afar and feel no shame about it.) Then, that Iron Keep merchant's dialogue poked fun at big blue sword guy, which reminded me I never unpetrified that chick, which apparently leads into Shaded Woods. I've finally got a decent stock of Fragrant Branches of Yore, so that's the plan. I will keep my eyes open for mystery axes. It'll be hard to replace my trusty Bandit Axe +8. I'm not completely attached to it, but just like with the Alonne Knight gear replacing the Drangleic set, its replacement will need to be of similar/superior quality. That could be a tall order, as I have a ton of weapons right now and can't find anything with an overall combo of speed, damage, low stamina use, and a predictable attack moveset on par with the Bandit Axe. The Warped sword is the only thing that's come close. You've got me intrigued, though. Off to Shaded Woods!

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