Dark Souls 2 Beta Impressions — Yeah, This Game Is Still Really Hard
I’ve never been a huge fan of multiplayer in Dark Souls, mostly due to the fact that my experiences with summoning players and invading other people’s games typically involve more waiting around than actually playing with other people. Fortunately, with everyone in the beta centralized in the same area, that obviously wasn’t an issue.
For the most part, multiplayer in the Dark Souls 2 beta seemed pretty identical to Dark Souls. Messages can be left on the ground to warn others of traps, players that were in human form could summon hollowed players into their game to engage in jolly cooperation, and those with darkness in their hearts could invade other player’s games and try to kill them for souls.
The one big addition I noticed in the multiplayer came in the form of blue phantoms. Blue phantoms are basically the opposite of the invading black phantoms and are automatically summoned into a game when a player is being invaded. Once summoned, the blue phantom must help the player by protecting them from the invader. A player may opt into becoming a blue phantom thanks to a special ring that was part of the default equipment set of the Warrior class in the beta.
This was probably my favorite aspect of Dark Souls 2 that I got to experience from the beta. It’s a fantastic new addition to the series that now lets people engage in PVP multiplayer and feel like a hero, rather than a villain or a victim.
My biggest regret about my time with the beta is that I didn’t get to test out the boss battles as much as I would’ve wanted. I managed to do battle against the Skeleton Lord once and felt like I did pretty decently as the sorcerer class, but was eventually overwhelmed.
The Skeleton Lord seemed like a pretty basic battle against three very tough skeleton mages all at once. I had some slight success grouping two or more of them together and nailing them both with a sweeping soul greatsword spell, but it became very challenging dodging all three of their attacks at once. This battle felt difficult, but surmountable given enough time spent learning the enemies’ attacks.
Then there was the chariot boss battle, of which I unfortunately never got to see the second phase. This battle took place in a circular arena where a giant chariot would race around the track and trample anything that got in its way. By squeezing into small doorways along the wall, you could avoid getting crushed, but you then would have to deal with a constant stream of reviving skeletons that would wail away on your shield as you tried desperately to stay in the small safe zone of the doorway.
By fighting your way from doorway to doorway, killing the liches on the way that revive the skeletons, you could apparently make your way to a lever that would bring down the gate and cause the chariot to crash. I say apparently because whether by glitch or my own blindness, I never spotted that lever and ended up getting killed. I heard about the lever’s existence after the fact.
Like all limited play sessions with Dark Souls 2, the beta left me with a gaping hole in my gamer’s heart. A nagging regret that I wasn’t able to beat either of the two bosses. Fortunately, there will be another chance as another beta is planned for Oct. 27, this time opening its gates for even more players to participate. For more information, check right here.
Those who don’t make it into the beta can still have a completely unspoiled experience when Dark Souls 2 releases on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on March 11, 2014.