Dark Souls 2 Beta Impressions — Yeah, This Game Is Still Really Hard

While it’s still a stinging disappointment that we won’t see Dark Souls 2 until March of next year, From Software at least softened the blow by giving a lucky group of gamers access to a nearly three-hour-long beta test that ran last Saturday. I managed to log a little more than two hours in the beta, and after getting skewered, stabbed, sliced, pounded and trampled — often repeatedly — the only thought on my mind was: “I want more.”

The beta placed players in an area known as the Huntsmen’s Copse, a region not much unlike the Darkroot Basin and Garden in Dark Souls. Much of the beta took place in large, wide-open woods, with many agile enemies waiting in ambush near the surrounding trees.

While there was much to explore, there were two main paths that each led to a different boss battle. Heading deeper into the woods would take players to the Skeleton Lord, while heading towards a large castle in the distance would put players against a chariot boss. We’ll talk more about those two later. For now though, we’ll go over some of the big changes in Dark Souls 2.

What’s Easier in Dark Souls 2

First, let’s talk about some things done that make Dark Souls 2 a little friendlier towards players. Don’t get me wrong, Dark Souls 2 still hates you. But it does throw a few pieces of candy your way to make sure that you don’t hate it quite as much.

These pieces of candy are actually called Lifegems. In the original Dark Souls, the only way you could heal your character was through the use of Estus Flasks, which would only be replenished when you reached a bonfire. In Dark Souls 2, not only do you still have Estus Flasks, but you also can find and purchase Lifegems. They’re usually found in large bunches, so you’ll rarely find yourself in a situation where you’re outside of combat and can’t restore your life because you’re out of Estus Flasks — a situation that was extremely common in Dark Souls.

Players also can now carry three weapons instead of two, which adds some versatility for characters willing to deal with the added weight. This was especially helpful for the Temple Knight class, which had a long-range halberd as its main weapon, a spellcasting mace as its secondary, and then an all-around useful axe for moments when battles couldn’t be kept at the halberd’s effective range.

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5 Comments on Dark Souls 2 Beta Impressions — Yeah, This Game Is Still Really Hard


On October 14, 2013 at 2:00 pm

When you talked about how it cuts your life while Hollowed, do you mean like in Demons Souls, how you have less HP when in soul form, or do you mean, you actually lose HP as in in cannot be recovered at all and is lost even when back in human form?

Also about the Skeleton Lord battle, since it sounds like you didn’t finish it, I’ll just tell you there’s a bit more to the fight than the 3 Skeleton Mages, taking them down will only drain about half HP, the other half is a horde of skeleton enemies, including the oh so hated Skeleton Wheels.

Mitchell Saltzman

On October 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

@Yuka It’s not like in Demon’s Souls.

Let’s say you die in human form. You’ll respawn as a hollow and have the same max life that you had while a human. But then, each time you die again as a hollow, you lose a small percentage of your max life that cannot be restored until you use a Human Effigy to become human again. At that point, your max life will return to how it should normally be and you’ll be able to restore it using an estus flask or lifegem. If you don’t turn human and keep dying as a hollow, you’ll just keep on cutting away at your max life until you’re able to turn human again.

And *shudder…* wheelie skeletons…


On October 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I’m not really a fan of the “invade anytime” change–I still have flashbacks to serial invasions in busy areas (e.g. the Forge in Dark Souls 1). PVP can be fun, don’t get me wrong–but a good PVP spec is different from a good single player spec, and single player play seems hard enough without letting invading players halt all forward progress at random intervals.

But, I haven’t played it yet so hopefully this is just a kneejerk reaction. :)


On October 14, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Oh I see, didn’t notice since the times I went hollow I usually tried ot go back to human for right away.

Also yes, it can get really crowded in the Skeleton Lord battle if you kill the 3 mages fast, (the skeletons spawns in groups, one after each mage goes down, and even more after all 3 go down.) and tho it’s not so bad with one or more summons (especially if at least someone one person has heavy armor/ weapons), but alone they can easily surround you and/ or stunlock you to a quick defeat.


On November 11, 2013 at 11:54 pm

im wish i had the enjoyment of playing and pvp i spent more time on load screen and invisable bp was ofbthree hrs