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44 comments

  • scifly - March 5, 2014 5:47 p.m.

    I feel like I would enjoy Dark Souls, but the hardcore fans really ruin the series for me. "Oh, you think it's too hard? That's just like you you dirty casual. Dark Souls is the Messiah of video games, you either believeth in it or you can burn in hell with all the other casual gamers. Go play Barbie Dress-up or something. You twat." Or at least that is how all my interactions with the hardcore fans have been.
  • FlagrantPilgrim - March 5, 2014 8:42 p.m.

    I've had similar run-ins with people that play Street Fighter, Magic the Gathering and table-top RPGs. The reason for it is that in the case of the Souls series, going back to Demon's Souls, people have trashed the game without even making it past the second boss. You get used to people complaining about the "artificial difficulty" only an hour into the game, so you start assuming anyone that isn't already into the game isn't going to get into it. It's not by nature that Souls fans are so caustic, it comes from years of being shit on by people that don't have the patience to actually stop an think about how to progress in the game.
  • gilgamesh310 - March 5, 2014 3:32 p.m.

    I never managed to get far into this game. There was just a range of things that bothered me about it, like how bosses are near impossible if you don't find specific weapons that are hidden in areas that just won't be found unless the player is very meticulous in searching, right from the off. The game doesn't even tell you the function of many items as well, and there's no manual that comes with the game. I probably should get back to it and try and push on further but it just requires an awful amount of time and patience.
  • TheVoid - March 5, 2014 5:40 p.m.

    I'll grant you that the game doesn't explain many of it's functions particularly well (the Covenant system in particular struck me as a complete mystery, to the extent that I didn't join any of them out of fear of inadvertently making things more difficult) but I would say your perception that bosses are impossible unless approached with specific hard-to-find weapons is inaccurate. Case in point, I beat the game and most of it's bosses using a powered-up (but otherwise vanilla) black knight sword. Admittedly that's not a common drop, but I did manage to acquire two before I beat the game, so it couldn't have been that rare. Before that I primarily used the Drake sword, which was hidden but fairly easy to obtain. A better argument can be made of my friend who favored a ridiculously common Bastard sword throughout. I'm sure he leveled it up throughout the game, but fortunately that system was fairly accessible/intuitive compared to the more "obscured" aspects of the game. Now - this isn't to say that tackling bosses with relatively underpowered weapons won't make things any more difficult, but to this article's point it's less about your level and gear and more about learning each boss' attack patterns, weaknesses, etc. One could have the best gear in the game and still get pummeled if not paying the utmost attention to what each boss is doing. At the same time, one could probably take down every boss in the game with any of the starter weapons, provided the player knows the ins-and-outs of every boss like the back of his/her hand. Although doing so might take a while. ;) At least Dark Souls 2 is boasting more accessibility in terms of those more mysterious mechanics. I'm just glad that when they announced "improved accessibility" that's all they meant. It is one of the very few aspects of the game that could stand to be improved.
  • TheVoid - March 5, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    Well penned, Mr. Houghton. In this you have made so many fine and commonly overlooked points regarding the winning formula that is Dark Souls. From game mechanics to design elements to every aspect of feedback that the game delivers, you've managed to successfully nail the "common thread" throughout. I simply could not agree more. I took a crack at this myself somewhat recently in response to H Coop's belly-aching over DS2 not having an "easy mode". All of his reasons were mini-facepalms in of themselves, each making a stronger case as to why he continues to miss the point of Dark Souls so utterly and completely. Clearly he doesn't get it. Clearly you do, so clearly in fact I'm hard pressed to think of a better analysis regarding why Dark Souls "works", let alone "rules". Thank you for this. THIS. Hopefully this article gets a lot of hits and encourages more than those already loyal to the cause excited about Dark Souls 2. Admittedly I'm just a wee bit skeptical, only because Dark Souls sits proudly near the peak of my "greatest games of all time" list. I just can't imagine the sequel being any better, although I'll gladly settle for "more of the same", especially with nothing else like it out there. I'm also a bit chagrined by THIS, having given into the "Dark Souls is great because it's so damn hard" line of thinking when attempting to boast it's merits. Deep down I knew that wasn't everything, in fact my standard follow-up statement has always been "...because when you eventually topple those seemingly insurmountable odds, the sense of victory is like nothing else in any other video game, ever". But that's putting it lightly compared to the light you've shed on the situation, particularly in regards to your calling out how EVERYTHING matters in Dark Souls, with the path to glory being as simple as your understanding (and embracing) of that EVERYTHING. Although I still stand by my claim that Dark Souls is not for everyone, nor should it be. I can see why some get frustrated by it, or simply do not have the time for it. That's fine. But the last thing the series should do is lower that barrier to entry and try and cater to everyone. As it stands, either you have what it takes to conquer Dark Souls or you don't - it ultimately comes down to YOU. Not some super weapon or high level stats (although those do help), just YOU and YOUR CAPACITY TO LEARN what the game tries to teach over and over and over again. Patience. Diligence. Risk. Reward. And I wouldn't say that "conquering Dark Souls" necessarily means beating the game. While I have, several of my friends have not, yet they love the game just as much as I do. They don't simply wish they had beat the game, they actively WANT to beat the game. They'd scoff at the inclusion of an "easy mode" just as much as I would, mainly because they too "get it" and wouldn't even want such an option to exist. Because if it did - as you put it so well - the very core of Dark Souls, the thing that keeps us coming back for more, would cease to exist. Rather, they would much rather die over and over again, learning as they go, so that when the day comes and they fell that last boss, they can join the ranks of those that have beat the game on it's terms, which is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
  • db1331 - March 5, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    There is no artificial difficulty in Dark Souls. It's not even a difficult game. The problem people have with it is that it's not an easy game, either. Dark Souls just seems hard to some people, because modern games have become so easy. Think about all the games you've played in the last 5 years. How often did you die in the Arkham games? Or any Assassin's Creed title? When was the last time you died playing Zelda? The one game I died a lot in recently was The Last of Us. And what do you know? There is a large group of people complaining about the learning curve being too steep, and the game being unfairly difficult sometimes. In 99% of games today, death is a fail state. In Dark Souls, it's a game mechanic. People just can't understand that. There are people out there who tried the game, thought the Asylum Demon was bullshit-hard, so they quit and never went back. These people are utter morons. They're the same ones who run by all the messages on the ground detailing every move in the game, then complain that they were never explained the controls. They're also just bad at the game. I've seen a video on Youtube of a 5 year old beating the Asylum Demon. My wife, who isn't even remotely a gamer, killed him on her second try. She literally couldn't even hit "Square" without looking down at the controller to find it first, and it only took her two attempts. Anyway, the game is all about learning the controls, enemy attack patterns, and lessons from your deaths. I'll never forget the first time I beat it, after 60 or so hours and who knows how many deaths. I immediately started back in NG+, and in under two hours I had beaten O&S without dying once. My first time through the game, that probably took upwards of 30 hours and several dozen deaths.
  • pl4y4h - March 5, 2014 12:15 p.m.

    "They're the same ones who run by all the messages on the ground detailing every move in the game, then complain that they were never explained the controls." I'm getting some severely painful Game Grumps flashbacks
  • Jackonomics2.0 - March 5, 2014 1:44 p.m.

    Arins nostalgia is why he makes the same damn mistakes.
  • universaltofu - March 5, 2014 4:34 p.m.

    some grep fans in the house!
  • Jackonomics2.0 - March 5, 2014 1:40 p.m.

    Funny thing about Modern Difficulty, when said people are given an actual difficult game,they whine "Cheap" and ignore the other qualities of the game and slap a 6 on it despite the company who made said game is known for making easy as shit games.
  • BladedFalcon - March 5, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for writing this article Mr. Houghton, it's about time someone took some proper time to sit down and explain the true nature and appeal of Dark Souls, and the way you've done it is a way more articulate, comprehensive way than anything I've ever attempted to myself. SO seriously, thank you so much for this, I now know where to link whenever a moron shows up and screams that Dark Souls is nothing but cheap, retrograde crap that's hard for the sake of being hard. ...Not gonna name any names, but certain GR Editors from the US branch could use giving this article a good read. Also, RYAN! If you ever read this, maybe consider doing a Dark Souls Weekly episode centered around this article. Honestly, that'd be fantastic, although I'm not sure how viable.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - March 5, 2014 9:53 a.m.

    Artificial Difficulty:The Game:The Sequel
  • GR_DavidHoughton - March 5, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    Quite the opposite actually. The difficulty is entirely fair and totally necessary. That's the point.
  • BladedFalcon - March 5, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    You have no clue of what you're talking about.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - March 5, 2014 1:43 p.m.

    It was supposed to be a sarcasm joke actually, however I seemed to forgot putting quotations.
  • StrayGator - March 5, 2014 9:48 a.m.

    So if i understand correctly, using a guide/faq to advance through DS is actually a way to not play the game, much like point&click walkthroughs. Is this pattern also characteristic of Demon's' Soul'se's?
  • GR_DavidHoughton - March 5, 2014 10:16 a.m.

    I missed Demon's Souls, but as for Dark Souls you understand correctly. There are one or two mechanics you could do with knowing, but overall it's about discovery. Accept that you'll understand nothing at first, then set to learning to understanding.
  • BladedFalcon - March 5, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    Yeah, Demon Souls works pretty similarly to Dark souls. The key difference is that there are no bonfires in Demon's Souls. Instead you have a central hub that functions as both your safe haven to level up and trade, and the place you choose the next world you want to go trough. Basically, think of Demon's Souls level design similar to a Mega Man game, whereas Dark Souls is more like Symphony of The Night. But the core of the gameplay and soul collecting is almost the same.
  • BladedFalcon - March 5, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    Pretty much, using a FAQ defeats the entire purpose of the game, you might as well not play it if you're gonna rely on a walktrough. Only scenario I can find it justifiable is AFTER you beat the game, and want to find secrets you no doubt missed the first time. Because I WILL say that Dark Souls can be a dick at hiding shit and giving you no real clue on how to find it.
  • TheVoid - March 5, 2014 2:31 p.m.

    Ok I'll admit I did peek at a Dark Souls Wiki on a few occasions during my initial playthrough, but NEVER for walkthroughs/strategies, rather just to see what was required to craft certain "super weapons" (lest I dump a rare item on the wrong thing). So I kind of sort of cheated in that regard, although I can proudly state that none of those super weapons ever "took" for me - rather I ended up beating the game using my tried-and-true Black Knight sword that I acquired relatively early in the game. Nothing else felt right - in time I, with it, would become an unstoppable force within the game. Emphasis on the words "in time". That's another thing about Dark Souls that flies in the face of modern gaming conventions - no weapon or armor is inherently better than another. It really boils down to personal preference with an extensive arsenal to draw from. I found great success with my Black Knight sword and stone armor. I certainly acquired tons of other weapons and armor throughout the game, many of which looked better "on paper", but nothing else really clicked with me and my play style as much as that sword/armor combo - everything else was either too heavy, too light, too unwieldy, too weak, etc. As such I firmly believe that conquering Dark Souls comes down to what feels right for you. Whatever works, works. After all, you can't argue with results.

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