Mechanical Irony and the Suspension of Disbelief

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This kills me. This is right by the Shrine of Winter in Dark Souls 2 (which I love, by the way. Perhaps an article on that some other day). This tiny bit of rubble — one that would take two big steps to clear — is responsible for half of your epic journey. You spend hours tracking down powerful souls and risking your life, rather than just finding a stool.

I call this mechanical irony. Mechanical irony is when the limitations in control we have over our character become all too real. “If only I could climb over that” or “if only I could jump off this ladder” or “if only I could step over this gap”. or whatever. When the sensible, real life to a video game problem becomes obvious, it becomes difficult to sustain immersion and the suspension of disbelief. To an extent this is unavoidable. We’re making games and not simulations. We don’t want to give the players the ability to do all these things, we want to convince them to think in the verbs we’ve given them. We want the player to trust us and give we get that, they will give us a lot of leeway.

Bionic Commando for the NES is very good at this. The game requires a large conceit (.. can you even use that word like that?when talking about mechanics?) from the player. You can’t jump. You have to move around with your bionic arm. You’d think the game would be litered with moments of “if only I could jump, I wouldn’t have to go through all this hassle”, but it’s surprisingly not. Every situation where you wish you could jump is quickly solvable with the mechanics the game provide. The game doesn’t want to remind you that you can’t jump, it wants you to focus on swinging around. To a degree, new players still get frustrated with the inability to jump, but when you consider what a huge concession that is, the game does an amazing job of making the player think about it’s core mechanics.

The Shrine of Winter in Dark Souls 2 does not do that. It’s downright taunting. It could possibly be ignored as a dead end, except for the item on the other end. While many areas of souls games could be destroyed with climbing skills, you generally don’t think about it (though probably also in Belfry Sol!). Here, it’s preposterous. Here it looks like, without invisible walls, you could possibly even jump over it with the mechanics given to you in the game. It could even get you to think about other things. Like, what is that shrine even for if it would be so easy to walk around in real life? Little stuff exists like this every where (welp, fell down, time to walk all the way back to the stair case instead of pulling my self up from the edge) but usually those are so minor, people don’t notice. Here? It’s HALF THE GAME and totally avoidable. No one looks at the Lordvessel door and goes Well you know, if I had some TNT or a hammer…”. People just go with it. If the Shrine of Winter blocked a bridge, most people wouldn’t think about “simply getting rope”. That’s because they’re not having their face rubbed in it. They’re not being taunted. The players want to be immersed. Not everyone is going to fall down little thought-holes like this, but they’re best to avoid when possible, especially when trying to construct games with structurally sound worlds.

Now, taunting isn’t always bad. Dark Souls taunts all the time (though usually not in ways that damage the integrity of the world). A good example of this is Vini Vidi Vici in VVVVVV, where the character, who can’t “jump” is forced to reverse gravity and fall through several screens of spikes to get around an ankle high block. VVVVVV has little “immersion” to speak of and it serves as an excellent gag for an excellent challenge. You could even argue for this in more serious games. Again, the Belfry Sol is an annoying taunt, but it’s repercussions are mild. Is it a good gag? I personally wouldn’t do it, but I could fancy an argument for it. In most cases though, if you’re making a game with any kind of “world” you want to avoid bringing attention to aspects like this.

24 thoughts on “Mechanical Irony and the Suspension of Disbelief

  1. Total tangent, but what do you love about Dark Souls 2? Cause, imo, it’s the weakest of the series. Still fun, but not nearly as good as Dark Souls 1 or even Demon’s Souls :\

    I could go on with a huge list, but these are my major issues with it

    Limited Respawn system, terrible system that goes against the very essence of the souls series foundations. Makes the game easier for players in a very significant way

    Ring of Life Protection and Ring of Soul Protection, same issue, they make the game too easy. They are rings that make death no longer even be a real punishment in the Souls games (combined with the limited respawn system especially, cause then it’s just bash your head against the wall of enemies until they no longer spawn and you have a clear shot to bosses and no risk at all to lose souls or humanity beyond the meager souls you spend to repair the rings).

    Bosses are fairly dull (in NG, NG+ they are better, but still not THAT hard). There are far more humanoid/knight type bosses proportionally than previous games and that really makes the game’s boss designs feel dull and almost ALL the bosses are easily beaten by circle strafing and almost not needing to even hit the dodge roll button to avoid attacks because so many attacks will swing way over your head. And a lot of the arenas you fight the boss in are fairly spacious making it easy to dodge and move around. And some bosses are so easy with such slow attacks and obvious tells (y helo thar Ancient Dragon) that it’s a joke to call them hard, even if they could one shot you if they hit.

    Finally, the level and world design of Dark Souls 2 are just not interesting at all compared to Dark Souls 1. Oh, much of the art and environment deisgn is good. Many areas look good and the areas are very different from one another, but unlike Dark Souls 1, there’s no interconnectivity between areas. This feels more like a “game” in that there’s one hub area and then 4 linear paths from that one hub area unlike Dark Souls 1 the world design was great. There there is a hub area of sorts, but many areas link together in very clever and interesting ways. Furthermore, the actual level design is far easier for players in Dark Souls 2 and also far more linear and the areas are overall shorter (some are pretty decent in size like Forest of the Giants and Bastille and such). And those areas that are of a decent size often have SO MANY bonfires that you’ll barely or never have to really run through them much. Hell, a lot of bonfires are placed next to a boss or so close that you almost never have to run by any enemies or more than 2. Unlike Dark Souls 1 where bonfires still were of a good distance from bosses and even if there were short cuts they often didn’t make the path back to the boss easier. You still had to risk running through a fair number of enemies that could and would kill you, especially if you rush it or get frustrated and especially during your first blind play through.

    Most things about this game just feels it was designed to be easier and that frustrates me as a Souls player from the very beginning. I want my game that will kill me because it’s tough, but fair. But I don’t want it handing me ways or forcing systems on me that make it easier….

    If you wanna see more and a lot more of my arguments against the limited respawn system (countering many arguments I’ve found “for” the system) well, I have a reddit post here

    http://www.reddit.com/r/DarkSouls2/comments/20m08s/my_thoughts_on_dark_souls_2/

  2. I think a big thing here is I don’t actually find Souls games -that- hard. A lot of this might also come to style/ Limited respawn actually makes stuff harder for me since I can’t farm without taking the risks involving bonfire ascetics and stuff. For most bosses, I just run past everything anyways, so the fact it doesn’t response generally doesn’t matter too much (also in regards to bonfire distance, both games only have one boss that’s any deal of difficulty to run to, so the game sparing my time isn’t something I’m going to complain about.) Also as someone who’s never paid much attention to his souls unless I’m grinding or fighting a boss, those rings didn’t matter much to me anyways. Having to pay to not lose my life/souls seems more of a hassle than it’s usually worth and might just end up useful for when I do PVP stuff. I did the whole game hollow with a ring of binding and never bothered unhollowing. I found it about the same as I found all the souls games. “Reasonably difficult”. The only one that seemed particularly hard was DeS because it was my first.

    Overall, as someone who tends to be somewhat underleveled all the time in these games, I found the bosses to be a decent challenge. Nothing was quite O&S or Maneater, but the average boss difficulty was pretty good. I guess Ruin Sentinels are the closest to being a boss I got stuck on? But still, good time. Lots of good multi bosses at least. Lost Sinner and Smelter were good solo bosses. They are more monotonous though, that’s for sure, so I agree on that. I think basic enemies wise, DS2 is a bit more interesting and throws around a better variety. I also think you’re overestimating the size of DS1 areas. Again, as a long time ‘run through everything’ guy, areas in both games are really short. DS2 just happens to have more of them, which I enjoy. I also really enjoy the art direction. DEFINITELY agree about the lack of a cohesive, interconnected world, but I don’t think that’d be possible given the scope of the game. I lament the loss of that, but scope is good too. I like the negative effects of being hollow more in DS2, even if they don’t effect me much (dat 75% life lyfe) too. In DS1 I literally never cared that I died. Like whoops oh well, whatever, time to try again. Even if you can bypass that with rings in DS2, that’s at least something you need to spend time caring about, as opposed to literally not caring. Also with the lack of farming, you can’t just have like, unlimited effigies or whatever. I like that their are less I-frames on rolls so you have to time things instead of being a ridiculous invincible entity. and had to have some degree of timing. I like how weight is handled better. I like how upgrades are handled. I like how guard breaking works (though the PVP system still aren’t great). Soul Memory is a real shitty system though like god damn. Also still don’t like that they’re trying to overly restrict invaders (you WANT more shitty people invading who haven’t earned it. That’s what makes invasions fun and not some gross stomp), but it’s an improvement to DS1. Covenants in general are just plain nicer and don’t seem crazy incomplete. Better weapon movesets, blahblahblahblah. I feel it’s a mechanically better game, with content that is overall weaker, but has great moments and is lot more abundant. I kinda like all the Souls games differently anyways, that’s easy to me. I also didn’t have super high expectations, so I’m thrilled I wasn’t thoroughly disappointed.

    Also I think they did a lot more to make NG+ a real part of the experience and encourage you to do it instead of just ignoring it (something I’m guilty of in older souls games).

  3. Mechanical irony. Surprisingly, I think of this quite a lot in many games – but at the same time it never really bothers me, since I rarely get immersed anyways. Games are games, no matter how well they are designed to immerse you, I will always think in “game terms” and “game units” to clear challenges.

    As a result, me those “taunts” are usually fine for me, regardless of game. But I can definitely see why it is appropriate in VVVVVV, but not in Dark Souls 2. I would not have implemented it in such a way in Dark Souls 2, it doesn’t look right in this context (Please note, I never really played any of the Souls games). If the world design couldn’t be changed, I would have at least put in an ingame explanation in form of a “force barrier” which somehow needs to be bypassed.

  4. I agree. The origin of the phrase ‘suspension of disbelief’ posited that with a “semblance of truth”, people can overlook the more unrealistic aspects of a work of fiction. This means you usually need to ground your fiction in *some* kind of consistency or believability, or else you risk the reader/viewer questioning everything (and not in a good way).

    Often times when a work of fiction is being picked apart, I’ll see people throw around the idea that “you just need to suspend your disbelief!” I feel like this misses the point though. It’s not a failure of the observer if details like this start to bother them, it’s a failure of the creator in not doing a sufficient job in maintaining that semblance of truth.

    Simply put, the Shrine of Winter fails in this regard because there isn’t a reasonable explanation for why you wouldn’t be able to make it around. It’s obvious from a game design perspective — beat enough main bosses (or get enough souls?) to open the magic door that’s blocking your path. But the Souls series, particularly Dark Souls 1, is known for having some pretty good attention to detail. It feels like an oversight to settle on ‘because gameplay’, and to not have the barrier of the Shrine of Winter better justified through different world design or lore.

  5. See, you claim the games are never that hard, but are you remembering your first time through Dark Souls 1 or are you remembering your.. 10th? Or whatever it might be? That’s something I’ve been encountering a lot about people who claim Dark Souls 2 is harder than Dark Souls 1 or that Dark Souls 1 was easy. They remember their time AFTER they learned how to deal with Ceaseless Discharge or the Gargoyles or Capra Demon or Moonlight Butterfly (yes, even butterfly got rage hate back when the game came out and no one knew about Beatrice and had to learn how to dodge his lazer attacks) or Sif or nearly every boss. People remember the boss they had the hardest time with (generally seems to be S&O) or the boss that just had some really awesome aspect (like in Demon’s Souls many remember Dragon God because he’s this big ol’ angry Dragon) or ya. Basically, compare your first time playing Dark Souls 1 with Dark Souls 2 and see if it really is harder.

    Personally, I say Dark Souls 2 is way easier. Most bosses are so easily circle strafed to victory and so many attack so high over you that you don’t even need to dodge (did that with Vendrick and Aegis and even Ruin Sentinels and others). And so many areas are so wide and make it so easy to avoid attacks and maneuver around. Unlike, say, Taurus Demon or Capra Demon or Centipede or other bosses where there is so very little room to maneuver or so few safe places during the fight. What fights were like that in Dark Souls 2? Some might think it’s not a good comparison, but a boss fight is more than JUST the big boss with the HP, it’s the entire fight, the area it’s fought in, the little adds they might have, etc. So when so many fights in Dark Souls 2 are just the boss and a big area to fight? And so many attacks can be easily avoided by staying close and circle strafing? And even then, many bosses attack fairly slow (an exception being the Lost Sinner, she attacks a bit faster than most bosses)? Well, it all comes off easier.

    Tou mention that they make NG+ more of an experience, but why should we have to play through the game once to get a real challenge or, imo, more of the real souls experience? I do like that NG+ is more than just a health and damage increase, I like that enemies are placed differently and they added new monsters, but it feels more like the real Souls challenge there and it sucks you have to play through the long game once through before you can get some more key lore pieces of loot or do fights with any real challenge. Though, beyond NG+ it’s still basically a damage and HP increase.

    You also mention farming in Dark Souls 2 is harder, I’ve countered that enough. No one in Dark Souls 1 farmed regular enemies for the majority of their souls. Most would put their soap sign down and help other players. That was the safest and most efficient way to get souls. Something you can still very easily do in Dark Souls 2. That wasn’t hindered at all. And, let’s remember something, levels in Souls games don’t make as huge a difference as in other RPGs. They help, no doubt, but they don’t decide your ability to be victorious in the games. So I don’t think the argument that “you can’t farm now so it makes the game harder” is fair. Especially when you can still farm.

    I do agree that I think DkS2 has better regular enemies over all. I liked that the regular enemies are more aggressive in DkS2 and I do think the overall variety is a bit more. They do have some AI issues where they derp up and stop attacking entirely. But that’s likely something they can patch. Sam with other glitches I’ve seen like hit box issues, input lag, and sound lag.

    I also like that there are less i-Frames on rolling and that backstabbing takes even more skill/timing as well as makes you vulnerable to attack (as in not invincible while performing a backstab, for the most part) and ya. Dark Souls 2 does some great changes to the combat. I think, of the series, it’s the strongest in terms of combat system. I love that dual wielding is viable and far more interesting.

    I don’t think I’m wrong in saying comparing DkS1 level to DkS2 level that the DkS1 levels are bigger (with less bonfires) in terms of total areas to run around in the area (meaning hidden passages, paths, etc) on average. Yes, DkS2 has way more, but more doesn’t = better if the quality is less so too. For example, in DkS1 you could see other levels from the level you’re on. In DkS2, tell me, how the hell does Harvest Valley connect or relate with the Iron Keep at all? That quality is just less in the game. And to say that they couldn’t have interconnectivity while having a larger game, well, I think they could have, but that’s gonna take a lot more time. I’m ok with a game taking longer to develop if it’s to truly improve it. But we saw DkS2 made in the same time frame as DkS1 and DeS. Of course there will be something lacking.

    I dunno, I just think DkS2 could have been way better and could have not implemented systems that goes against the very core of the series that Miyazaki said he created the series for. To be a series with fair challenge that’s uncompromising. And it seems all to obvious Miyazaki was forced out of developing the series when he himself said he was “deeply saddened” he couldn’t be involved in Dark Souls 2’s development. Ah well, we got what we got. It’s not all bad, but I’d say I still enjoy DkS1 more than DkS2 overall because, while the combat is better in DkS2, I think the atmosphere and bosses and levels are better in DkS1 (though I’d say Demon’s Souls has the best atmosphere too me).

  6. No, honest, I didn’t find DS1 THAT hard. I found DeS much harder (and the only game I used white phantoms to help me regularly) and I chalk that up to not really knowing the games well enough yet… Not that the game was easy and O&S put the hurt on, but I didn’t have a particularly hard time with the game and distinctly remembering wondering why people were complaining about certain bosses. O&S took me for a ride (like they did seemingly everyone) but I really didn’t have too many hangups otherwise. Upper blight town? Maybe bed of chaos(does that count, when she’s just stupid instead of hard). Maybe Four Kings? I have to ask, which one did you play first? I literally played DS1 immediately after DeS. Like the next day or whatever. I went into DS1 with built up skills and totally warmed up.

    As for farming, I suppose thats player tendency. I don’t do co-op. I hate co-op. I hate co-op in everything. My greatest joy is that the Souls series allows me to take co-op away from other people. Still, souls aren’t too hard to come by, you’re right and many things I’d usually farm (upgrade materials) can be gotten without farming (I love you, belltower). Still, I can’t help but to feel that DS2 is a more finite world and somehow I feel that and it effects my behavior. Perhaps it’s not harder, but I like how it feels.

    As for bosses, I found enough of them challenging enough. Ruin Sentinels, Lost Sinner, Smelter… Were all pretty good. I’d say I like some of the bosses+swarms like Freja and Rat Authority. The problem I’d say with DS2 bosses, for me, isn’t the difficulty, but that they’re just not interesting. Easy or hard, they’re basically all ‘big dude in huge arena’ and the exceptions are kinda ‘meh’ (way to be a chump, Old Iron King).

    As for area quality, I think the individual areas fair well to DS1, but the world is soddy. So so so soddy. But I consider that a separate issue. If I found the individual areas “more” but “worse” I wouldn’t be happy, but I am happy with a large amount of what I consider to be quality areas. I’m just not pleased at all how those areas link together. I mean, Aldia Keep, Draenglic and part of the shaded woods are all overlapping. Reaaaaally bad map.

    But whatever, I don’t think there is much to actually argue here. Stuff like difficulty is pretty subjective and I think we’re just valuing somethings more or less. I will say, DS2 is the most gamey souls game and while that has some pluses, it has a lot of minuses and it’s something I’d like to see less of in whatever DS3 looks like but I can still enjoy it for what it is.

  7. I played Demon’s Souls when it came out and then right into Dark Souls 1. I still felt a significant increase in challenge (for bosses, traps and enemies weren’t all that improvements between Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls 1, I do think Dark Souls 2 improved regular enemies more so), but not every boss, certainly. But most bosses did kill me fairly well the first times through Dark Souls 1. And I definitely have lost many souls in Demon’s and Dark Souls due to bosses. Not as much in Dark Souls 2.

    And I can see your point with the world being finite and liking that. Just personal preferences there I guess, but I feel if they wanted to they could also have kept all enemies in as still a threat, but stopped their souls drops and explained it in the lore that they “have fully hollowed losing all their souls” perhaps, but I dunno.

    I do agree about that with bosses in Dark Souls 2. There were none that really had compact areas to work with that could be a part of the challenge/feel of a boss. Some were cool designs though in terms of the boss appearance. And ya, I was surprised how easy Old Iron King was. Especially when I did The Lost Sinner for my first “old one” fight and went to Old iron King right after (well not right after, but I went down huntsman copse and to him).

    And I agree, a lot of it will come down to subjective points. And I do still enjoy Dark Souls 2, but I would like to see what they do with Dark Souls 3 (or whatever new Souls game they make, I think a new world and lore and a new “Souls” game would be a better idea myself). Though really I’d love Miyazaki and the rest of the lead design team from Demon’s/Dark Souls 1 come back to the team. Keep the improvements in combat with Dark Souls 2 and get the level designer back from Demon’s and Dark Souls 1 as well as Miyazaki directing and it could be the best souls experience to date. But that’s all speculation.

  8. Difficulties with Souls games are different and subjective for everyone.
    One thing we all know is that the First Souls game in the series that any one touch will always be the hardest.
    For me personally DeS was my first Souls game and it was difficult. Redo a whole level on death was amazing, losing souls on 2nd death is frequent due to no checkpoints.

    Either way generally all the franchise is hard by the start of the game due to lack of replenish items as you progress difficulties will get easier. Boss Encounter and Boss AI difficulty various around different games.
    Des: FlameLurker, King Allant
    DS: Ornstein&Smough, Kalameet
    DS2: Lost Sinner, Ancient Dragon

    But General Monster AI gets smarter and smarter every SOUL game which is good thing.

  9. I dunno, I played Demon’s Souls first, I still think Dark Souls 1 is the hardest of the series as a whole. Granted, after all my experience it’s mostly easy, but even now I’d say a few bosses will give me more challenge than what I fought in Dark Souls 2.

    I do like that general monster AI is way better in Dark Souls 2 than 1. And obviously better than Demon’s Souls. I agree with that :P

  10. I found they focused more on set your own challenge with rewards for deathless and no bonfire rest. I do like the better AI though.

  11. That’s making the game easier though in a normal play through.. aka casualizing the souls series… that goes against the core, the essence of the series, the very soul (hehe) of the series that Miyazaki set up. By his OWN interviews he’s stated that the series was created cause he longed for a game that was challenging, hard, uncompromising, punishing, but fair. Once you compromise the difficulty where people have to impose personal limitations on themselves or do OPTIONAL things to make it a significant challenge from the getgo, then you no longer have the same essence that the creator wanted it to be.

    It’s a pity he and the rest of his lead design team was not allowed to work on DkS2 :\ and no, they weren’t allowed. He himself even says how he is “deeply saddened” he wasn’t involved in the DkS2 development cycle.

  12. Honestly of all the things I missed in DS2, difficulty was not one of them. The game is plenty hard for most people and every time I hear the word “casualizing” thrown around I just roll my eyes because this is just some whiney nerd e-peen wanking shit. “Waaaaaah I played DS1 for 234823904823084 hours and the next game in the series isn’t as hard for me”. The game requires the same god damned virtues it requires in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls 1. Maybe it’s easier? It doesn’t actually matter as long as the game is still hard (WHICH IT IS).

    I am seriously extremely done with this topic.

  13. Ya, I put ridiculous hours in Demon’s Souls too and felt the challenge in DkS1 which I also put ridiculous hours into. Going from DkS1 to DkS2, I didn’t really feel the difficulty increase. Perhaps that’s due to my experience, perhaps they don’t have the ability to keep that level of ramping up the difficulty from game to game and partly because if they did that then new players would definitely be discouraged and that’d be bad for the series, but I’d still have liked some feeling of difficulty, at least the optional bosses to be significantly harder. But most still suffered from the same easy tells and easy to avoid attacks. I can understand designing a game to try and appeal to new players, but the series still was designed with specific virtues in mind. You claim DkS2 was designed with the same virtues in mind, I don’t really necessarily agree. Oh, it has similar mechanics, but some of the design decisions clearly go AGAINST the virtues the founder of the series set in place.

    And they just nerfed a lot of bosses and enemies recently. And I’ve heard people say “DkS1 did the same thing” except anyone who actually played from NA release knows it wasn’t true. Now, I’m told by JP players there was a supposed “nerf” to the game’s difficulty in that they increased souls dropped from enemies and bosses (and later after NA release I know they changed some mobs like ghosts and skeletons to actually drop souls) so that supposedly made it “Easier” cause levels were more easy to come by previously, but having played since NA release the levels weren’t that significant in making the game easier. Of course they do help, but they won’t make a boss go from completely stomping you to a complete joke like levels do in games like FF or Dragon Quest or most typical RPGs. But no, DkS1 never got a nerf like this darksouls.wikidot.com/game-patches

    If anything, they got a nerf to the player damage and that made the game “harder” (though I don’t think it made it that harder anymore than I think the soul buff seems to have made the game any “easier”).

    And you can roll your eyes all you want, but if you think publishers or higher ups in development groups aren’t telling the actual developers to make sure it can “appeal to more people” and compromise the game series own virtues and standards and expectations, well, you’d be just woefully naive. I don’t give a damn about comparing my challenge with others or bragging I can beat a hard game where as others can’t (cause, tbh, I bet anyone could beat even the most challenging games with persistence and learning which everyone should be capable of, like even your game, IWBTG, once you learn the traps and mechanics you can persist through the game), I merely only care about my experience with a game series and some series have expectations tied to them. If the expectations aren’t met, obviously there’ll be some disappointment. But that doesn’t mean I think the game is bad either. I just expected better.

  14. My only problem with his video (which I realized was a problem with myself) is that I wish he had also listed the positives of the game cause he himself states he still enjoys it and it’s a “good game” :P that’s generally why when I was compiling my own list I have them broken up into “minor good, major good, minor bad, major bad.”

    But ya, I’d say that video was fairly interesting to watch.

  15. “Dark Souls 2 (which I love, by the way. Perhaps an article on that some other day)”

    So I’ve just recently finished DaS2 (I waited for the PC release), loved it a ton and would definitely like to hear your thoughts. I’ve been getting really into PvP lately which I never did in DaS1 because I got into it so late so things were getting pretty dead and really invasions seems like nothing more than a nuisance to me at the time. Would be nice to hear from somebody with more experience with both!

  16. Thoughts on doing a review kinda up and died. Not a lot of interesting stuff to say. PvP, system wise, seems poorly designed though. DS2 is worse than DS1 in terms of ill conceived PvP requirements.

    Demon’s Souls: Best invasions (at least at the time. Now they’re probably stupid because only really experienced people are going to be invading). You’d get invaded by scrubs all the time. Occasionally a killer would come in and you’d get wrecked. Great diversity in experiences. Easy to get a black crystal and rewards are great for succeeding, encouraging a lot of people to just go for it.

    Dark Souls: Hiding Dark Wraiths behind a boss. Not only a boss, the game’s only “DPS check”. Invaders of any level pretty much have a max elemental weapon by default because they basically need one to become a darkwraith early. If you’re invaded in DS1, hope you got phantoms with you because the person who invades you is gonna be a killah. Darkmoon Blades barely work because Darkwraiths aren’t generally alive and trying to go through areas. Poor rewards, so only jerks like me do it.

    Dark Souls 2: Not to hard to get to the Brothers of Blood, but the restriction on stones means that only the best people are going to invade other players regularly until NG+. Poor rewards AND a hassle once you get in, so not a lot of invaders, the ones that exist are die hards and it makes it impossible for the Brotherhood of Blue to really function or be appealing.

    Belltower in DS2 has this effect though. Lotta scrubs, lotta killers, because everyone wants chunks. They really need to make invading easy and rewarding but find ways to regulate how often people get invaded differently to balance it.

  17. Speaking of Demon’s Souls, do you think this Project Beast will be Demon’s Souls 2 or a new IP with some Souls elements?

  18. Stuff like the fog gate AGAIN makes me lean toward Demon’s Souls. Also considering it’s a sony exclusive.

  19. I like to joke that Project Beast is the return of the Shadow Tower series.

  20. Man, Bloodborne looks really interesting. I like the aesthetic a lot. From what I can tell is that there are no or at least a far less emphasis on shields too o.o that’ll be interesting too kinda how DkS2 made the emphasis on shields less.so and did, I think, a pretty good job at allowing you to play without a shield. Interesting that they’ve been working on it since they finished Artorias DLC. Would make sense then why they weren’t involved in DkS2 much.

    Being a PS4 exclusive, looks like I’m getting a PS4 :o

  21. I guess this is where we go to talk about Dark Souls 2 on this blog?

    Anyways, I just played/am playing (beat NG, but still playing DLC) DkS 2 (vanilla, not SotFS), and enjoyed it WAY more than the first one. Oddly, I suspect that this is for the reasons most people liked the first one more; DkS 2 tries less hard to be a good world and tries harder to be a good videogame, so its “action-adventure core” is better (and is really, really good), but a lot of people seemed to like DkS 1 more because of how it was “as a world”, which was harmed by the new focus in DkS 2.

    There’s several mechanical things that lead me to liking DkS 2 more than 1, but the big ones were that shields seemed weaker, the game’s overall design allows (and even requires) less “waiting behind LB” in general, and the revamped RPG systems seemed improved, both in terms of stat balance and in terms of staying out of the way of the “action” part of the game.

    Both level design and enemy design seemed to lead to the game rewarding initiative more, with the sniper-heavy design leading to a lot of fun “charge the enemy and fuck him up before he can get his sword out” kind of action (and generally keeping me moving when that wasn’t possible, such as the first sniper on top of the ladder at the start of Forest of Fallen Giants), it at least forced me to keep moving instead of cowering behind LB. More enemies and the new shared aggro in the AI combined with the harder strength requirements on shields seemed to make things more about a slightly DMC 3/4 “trickster-style”-ish game attacking first when possible and using movement and “dodge and counter” tactics when getting the first attack or getting a stunlock wouldn’t be possible, with the long-ish attack recoveries and stamina bar making sure it still has the “grounded”/”consequential” feel of Dark Souls combat. The fact that fewer enemies seemed to use shields, that the fwd + RT guard break move is more powerful, and that a lot of moves seem to just slip past shields entirely pretty regularly (the longsword’s 2-handed RT move in particular) also helps speed things along.

    (I just did that thing that all of my college English professors and TAs always complained about where I combined two thesis points into one and handled them in the same paragraph. Whoops.)

    As far as the character system goes, Endurance was really badly overweighted in DkS 1, since it effectively controlled the stamina bar, equip weight, and roll quality (because of the kinda awkward 25%/50%/75% equip weight thing). Breaking those all out into different stats is a marked improvement. I also like making elemental damage scale based on stats, although I guess that does reduce the viability of tank builds (now that I think about it, that’s probably not a bad thing, though?). I also felt like less grinding/farming was required for weapon upgrades; once you’re to an area where you start getting the right kind of titanite to continue your upgrades, the game starts absolutely throwing it at you, so you’ll be able to afford the upgrades you’re supposed to have without needing to consciously farm things. The limited respawns and the bonfire ascetics resetting the respawn counters at the cost of throwing the area into NG+ was also apparently intended to curb farming, but I think the cost was too high on this one; in areas where I was struggling, the early parts of the area would get totally emptied, which both denies me the opportunity to really learn and conquer the area, and is just kind of a drag in general (does anyone like walking through an empty world?)

    On the always-hot topic of “which is harder”, as someone who only played through DkS 1 once, I thought that DkS 2 was clearly a harder game. Not by a ton, but certainly noticeably more difficult. Maybe this was because I played shieldlessly almost the entire game, but I never found a 100% damage resist shield that I had the stats to use anyways. Still, the level design seems a lot more malevolent with its use of ranged snipers everywhere, the new “shared” aggro in the mob AI, and the increased willingness to through groups of enemies at the player. Even in terms of bosses, I had a lot more problems with Ruin Sentinels, Belfry Gargoyles, and Throne Watcher + Defender than I did with any boss in Dark Souls 1. Ruin Sentinels and TW+D finally forced me to cheese my way past by summoning another player, something I never once did in Dark Souls 1.

    Also, I didn’t even notice that certain areas of the world map overlapped until I read it in the comments here. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the “WTF” elevator to Iron Keep had I not seen it mentioned all over the internet; such things really don’t bother me in general. I tend to be happy as long as whatever area I’m in does a good enough job at keeping the right atmosphere, and Dark Souls 2 managed that just fine.

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