Dark Souls 2 coming to PS4 and Xbox One, substantial improvements promised

Did all you Souls fans ever think, back when you first popped Demon's Souls into your PS3 back in 2009, that the series would one day be popular enough to merit its very own new-gen update? Well, thanks to the dedication of you, and thousands of other people who don't mind accidentally rolling off cliffs while engaged in high-stakes battles, Dark Souls 2 is coming to PS4 and Xbox One.

The updated version, titled Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin, will release on April 3, 2015 across Europe and on April 7 in the Americas, both on new-gen and with fresh versions for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. It's an odd choice of timing, considering that Bloodborne will have released on PS4 weeks before. Nonetheless, the new-gen (and DirectX 11) Dark Souls 2 will boast a visually remastered take on the original game and its Lost Crown DLC trilogy, as well as an expanded multiplayer which can host up to six players in a single session.

Those points alone are enough to make it the definitive version if you haven't yet picked up a copy. But this next bit may convince even the most penny-pinching fans that it isn't just a cash grab: Scholar of the First Sin also boasts substantial 'improvements' to the main game itself, such as more NPCs to fill out the story, refined game balance, new item descriptions, and improved online matchmaking. And all current Dark Souls 2 owners will receive those ‘improvements’ (not the DLC, sorry) via a free patch - no need to drop more cash on the game to stay up to date, unless you just can't live without higher-res Hollow textures.

I put 'improvements' in scare quotes there because the Souls series is practically defined by its initially incomprehensible, ultra-tough bosses, creepy NPCs, arcane item text, and byzantine online implementation. Taking another pass at the game could easily dilute the intriguingly cryptic nature that series fans have grown to love, and which didn't deter them from voting Dark Souls 2 as the Golden Joystick Awards 2014 Game of the Year. It's difficult to improve on a perfect balance of confusion, cruelty, and rich rewards. This stuff is going to have to be done carefully.

Then again, developer From Software has earned the benefit of the doubt simply by offering Scholar of the First Sin's game-altering features to current owners for free. Can you hear the moans from a parallel dimension where the Souls series is in the hands of another company, one that insists these new NPCs and item descriptions are 'only possible with the power of next-gen'? I can. It sounds like a grim place to live - almost as grim as the world that Dark Souls 2 fans will eagerly plunge back into come April.

Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.