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.