Dark Souls 2 Beta Impressions — Yeah, This Game Is Still Really Hard
What’s Harder in Dark Souls 2
Dying sucks in Dark Souls 2. Yes, it has always sucked in the Souls series, due to the stress of having to reclaim the souls that you dropped when you died, but it’s even worse in Dark Souls 2 because of a new system that cuts a small percentage of your total life away every time you die in your hollowed form — meaning you have less health overall each time you die in hollow form. As much as I hate to admit it though, it’s actually a very smart system.
You see, in the original Dark Souls, you could pretty much get away without ever having to turn human, outside of the times when you wanted to kindle a bonfire. This meant you never really had to deal with other players invading your games, since you can’t get invaded while you’re in hollow form. In Dark Souls 2, though, you’re going to have to spend a lot more time as a human because reversing your hollowing is the only way to restore your max life.
The trade-off is that it’s now a lot easier to become human. It’s all done by an item called a Human Effigy and can be used at any time. The question I have is: How common will this item be? One can only hope that at the very least, it will be easily farmable, because running out of Human Effigies and being in a tough area where you die repeatedly seems like it would be a nightmare.
In addition to the effigy system, two more aspects of Dark Souls 2 that seem a lot more difficult are parries and backstabs. Parries have always been a high risk/high reward mechanic in Dark Souls, and in Dark Souls 2 both the risk and reward have been upped substantially. It may be because I wasn’t familiar enough with the enemies in the beta, but parries themselves seemed a lot more difficult to pull off than in Dark Souls. There seemed to be a bit of a start-up time to the parry animation, which took a lot of adjusting to before I could even land one.
Ripostes, the attack done after a parry, have also changed substantially. In prior Souls games, you’d simply press the attack button after a successful parry to trigger the riposte animation, during which you’re invulnerable. In Dark Souls 2, parries just knock the enemy down, and from there you must wait until the enemy is floored before pressing the attack button to trigger the riposte. While you’re waiting for the enemy to fall, you’re completely vulnerable.
Backstabs also seem to have a much smaller hit box than in prior games, and they also take a lot longer for the animation to complete, which gives other nearby enemies time to swarm around you.
One of the more interesting changes in Dark Souls 2 comes in the form of the polearm weapons like the halberd, which now only deals decent damage when the bladed part of the weapon hits. This makes it an extremely effective weapon to use against slow enemies with whom you can control the distance, but against quick enemies that can rush you down, it’s nearly useless.