Dark Souls 2 PC Preview – From Soft Learns From Mistakes
Update: Our own James Heaney has put together a delightfully useful comparison video showing the exact differences between Dark Souls 2 on PC and Playstation 3, embedded above.
If you couldn’t tell from my review of the PS3 version of Dark Souls 2, I really, really, loved it. It’s far and away my favorite game of 2014 so far, and stands right up there along with the first Dark Souls — one of my favorite games of all time.
But while playing through Dark Souls 2 on the PS3, I couldn’t help but feel like I would love it even more if it weren’t held back by the constraints of last-gen consoles.
Fortunately, this time around, it’s not going to take fan outcry or a massive online petition to get From Software to listen to the hardcore PC crowd. You now have the developer’s complete attention, and as such, the PC version of Dark Souls 2 is set to arrive not long after its console counterparts. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a preview build of the game and was all too eager to jump back into the kingdom of Drangleic.
There’s an air of uncertainty surrounding the PC version of Dark Souls 2 because of the poor handling of the PC port of the original Dark Souls. The resolution for that game was locked at the console standard of 720p, framerate was capped at 30 frames per second, its mouse and keyboard controls felt tacked on and were virtually unplayable, and to top it all off, it was tied to Games for Windows Live.
So let’s clear the air: None of those problems exist in the PC version of Dark Souls 2. It seems silly to have to even mention it in this day and age, but you can, in fact, change the resolution to 1920×1080 in Dark Souls 2 without the need of a mod. You’ll also find all of the usual visual settings to tinker with, such as antialiasing, texture quality, shadow quality, motion blur, etc.
Mouse and keyboard controls are still not optimal, but they’re much more usable now. That’s thanks to the addition of a much-needed camera sensitivity slider, as well as just an overall tighter feel to the controls.
Finally, any presence of the doomed Games for Windows Live service is of course, nowhere to be found.
The best thing about my time with the PC version of Dark Souls 2, though, is its speed. My computer is far from top of the line, and Dark Souls 2 still feels blisteringly fast, both in terms of its load times and its framerate. For comparison’s sake, warping from a bonfire back to Majula in the PS3 version of Dark Souls 2 usually takes between 15-20 seconds. In the PC version, it takes no more than 3-5. Needless to say, if you’re planning on breaking the speedrun record for Dark Souls 2, you’re going to want to play it on the PC.
The bad news is that the game still doesn’t look nearly as good as it did during its E3 and Comic-Con demos last year. There have been some slight improvements to the lighting and shadows in the PC version, but if you’re expecting the game to look as stunning as it did back in 2013, when Namco Bandai showed off the Mirror Knight boss battle, you’re going to be disappointed.
Still, the ability to play Dark Souls in 1080p at 60 FPS with lightning-fast load times is more than enough to make the PC version of Dark Souls 2 the definitive version of the game. Add on to that the modding community that actually managed to fix the shoddy PC port of the first Dark Souls, and it’s just icing on an already incredibly delicious looking cake.
PC fans, mark your calendars, because your turn to die comes on April 25, 2014.
Mitchell Saltzman is a video producer at GameFront. You can read more of his work here and watch his many videos on the GameFront YouTube Channel and the GameFront Walkthroughs YouTube Channel. You can also follow him and GameFront on Twitter: @GameFrontMitch and @GameFrontCom.