In case you missed it, the internet pretty much exploded when the world premiere teaser for Dark Souls II appeared on the Spike VGAs. Depicting the dark, malevolent world the series is known and loved for, the teaser did little more than simply confirm the game’s existence. Nobody expected it, everybody’s excited about it and now here we are talking about a game no one knows anything about!
Before we proceed, know that I am a seasoned Souls player who has spent a vast amount of time in the universe. If you’re a fan of the series as well, you’ll understand that players go through these games very differently, so we’ll probably disagree on a few points. Please throw your own suggestions in the comments and let us know what you think of ours!
Ladies and gentlemen, we now bring you the 10 Things Dark Souls II Needs to Succeed!
Communicate Core Functions Better
Mysterious and great as Dark Souls was, the game’s most important features could be extremely difficult to understand. Bonfires, humanity, weapon symbols, covenants, sin, there’s a whole lot that remained unexplained. Without a proper in-game explanation, players who wanted to understand what the hell was going on often had to resort to the Dark Souls wiki for the required information.
Why it should be fixed: Anytime you’re forced to find basic information outside of a game is a black mark in my book. Now, I’m not saying that Dark Souls II needs to explain every little thing to its fullest detail, but they could explain what humanity is, what it does, and you know, why it’s important to the player. As big a role as covenants and sin played in the original, the majority of people didn’t even know what they were. My suggestion would be to create a Mass Effect-style in-game index to help explain things in greater detail. When you’re looking at your weapon, should you be forced to look online for what the difference between an ‘O’ and an ‘X’ do for damage types? The game can easily convey this without hurting its integrity.
Let the World Remain Shrouded in Darkness
The heavy veil that surrounded the world of Dark Souls was one of the reasons it was so compelling. No one truly knew what was going on, why the world was in its current state, or what the main character even was.
Why it needs to remain the same: There are plenty of gamers out there who have spent WAY too much time reading the items, trying to piece together the lore of the land, and for those people there’s a lot of story to be had. If FromSoftware truly wanted to make the history crystal clear, it would have been presented in a cohesive way. One of the best parts about the series is that we really don’t know what’s going on. This helps give reason to continue exploring, to find more bread crumbs and puzzle pieces that give you ideas of what’s transpired, but don’t perfectly fit together to reveal the truth. It’s important that we continue to grab snippets of current events and why they might be detrimental to the world in Dark Souls II, but we should never know everything about anything. If FromSoftware opens up and begins revealing critical information about the world, it simply won’t feel the same.
Multiplayer Must Function on Day One
This series hasn’t been good when it comes to server stability, and that needs to be history when Dark Souls II ships later this year. Souls multiplayer is incredibly unique and offers an incredible ‘always on’ experience that’s helped change how developers look at the multiplayer scene. Failing again would be disappointing.
Why it needs to be fixed: Dark Souls is my favorite game of this generation, but even with such high praise I can’t ignore the fact that the game shipped with a broken multiplayer component. It took months for them to iron out the kinks and even still, the game wasn’t perfect when it came to connectivity. For such an awesome, unique experience, Dark Souls II MUST fully function on day one. In a world where the internet is king, there are no excuses this time around.
Make Cooperative Play More Manageable
I’ve already sung my praises about the series’ multiplayer when it works, but in Dark Souls II, FromSoftware needs to step it up again. All the same ideas should remain intact, but along with better description, the multiplayer’s inner workings must be more defined. How it’s operated, what requirements must be established, everything should be fully laid out instead of being an enormous headache. Waiting for 15 minutes to get someone’s summon sign to appear isn’t a great way to get your co-op on with buddies.
Why it needs to be fixed: People love to play these games cooperatively and shouldn’t have to suffer through elaborate fixes and wait times to enjoy it. Re-logging, re-deploying the sign, going to a new area, resetting the game, these are all very familiar scenarios Dark Souls players have gone through to make their co-op experience begin. Perhaps it’s time to craft a more direct summoning method to make playing with friends more fun. Also, there are so many ways for people to get around the limited voice chat feature you may as well drop it, FromSoftware.
Covenants Need Improving
Awesome as the covenants were in Dark Souls, there were far too many issues that simply can’t afford to be transferred over to Dark Souls II. Instead of, once again, forcing the player to look outside the game for the information on what each covenant does, some of this should be provided in-game. Also, bug fixes. Cool as the Gravelord Servant is, it’s still unreliable because it’s super buggy. There’s no excuse for this to continue in the sequel.
Why it needs to be fixed: Seeing the return of certain covenants would be a welcome feature, but the prime focus needs to be on making sure each one actually works in the way it was intended. There’s nothing worse than joining a covenant only to find out that you’ll have to come back to it at a later time because of the game’s slip-up. Descriptions of each covenant and their rewards/rules also need to be revealed. While some might argue that a decision of that magnitude gives away some of the mystery, players are going to look up what the covenant does anyway. FromSoftware can provide what players seek while still being able to maintain the mystery that sets each covenant apart.
Provide a More Robust New Game+
Finishing a game and having the ability to re-enter the same world with all your findings is a great feature, but Dark Souls II needs to evolve from what its predecessor provided. The old NG+ offered higher degrees of difficulty with the reward of more souls. Bonfire levels would persist as well as the majority of your items, but you were still just going through the same game with the same strategies. Some things need to change.
Why this needs to be fixed: Allowing players to level beyond god-like is something every good RPG should allow, but I feel Dark Souls II needs to take the NG+ concept even further. I personally was never intrigued by simply finishing the game time and again. Instead I’d start a new character, which provided me with new experiences instead of just blazing through with my old setup. FromSoftware needs to come up with more reason to take your character into NG Plus, or maybe for starting a new character after finishing the game. Perhaps specialized challenges could become unlocked? Maybe allow for an elaborate way to reset your Soul Level? There are plenty of valid ideas out there.
Cater Better to the Player-Versus-Player Crowd
PvP is a big part of why the Souls series has taken off the way it has. There’s nothing like invading the world of someone and making their current life a misery. On the flip side, the adrenaline rush you receive while being invaded is unparalleled. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition helped streamline the PvP a bit more, but it was still an imperfect system that needs some help in Dark Souls II.
Why it needs to be fixed: PvP was a HUGE deal in Dark Souls and it will be once again in Dark Souls II. If you take a good look at the setups some of these players had, they were pretty insane and took a lot of hard work. Many character builds were centered around specific items and statistics, all of which took even more time to achieve. By implementing some sort of Soul Level reset (for a price of course) FromSoftware would be taking out the huge grind a lot of PvPers went through to make their specific builds. Dark Souls II could also provide more incentives to PvP by providing specific rewards and/or matchmaking setups like in Prepare to Die. There’s a lot of work that can be done here, but it’s definitely something the dev team should be focusing on.
The Philosophies of Music and Shortcuts Cannot Change
Something I always bring up in arguments about games is the fact that Dark Souls only used music in specific areas. It was an incredibly potent way of focusing on the atmosphere the game provided and it’s why I consider Dark Souls one of the best games of all-time. The world is also impossibly linked via shortcuts you never knew existed, making it feel even more alive. None of this can change. Ever.
Why it needs to remain the same: It’s important for Dark Souls II to carry the same weight as its predecessor, and one of the best ways to accomplish that is by following the same path. The absence of music in every area helped the feeling of desolation in Dark Souls, allowing you to soak in the torment you’re inevitably going to endure. By hiding super shortcuts that can get you across the world within a few minutes, the players who take the time to explore and find these gems are rewarded accordingly. These features felt like the backbone of Dark Souls, and I sincerely hope they remain in its sequel.
The PC Version Needs Love Too
Great as it was to see FromSoftware deliver on the PC version of Dark Souls, it wasn’t exactly what fans wanted. With the framerate locked, horrifically optimized resolutions and Games For Windows Live integration, it was pretty clear that FromSoftware was new to the whole PC scene. Thankfully, mods quickly surfaced to help unlock the port’s potential, but for the sequel we need to see some serious love for the PC version.
Why it needs to be fixed: It’s the PC version… You know, the land of infinite potential and high-resolutions? These players will make up a huge portion of the new game’s revenue now that it’s being released from the get-go. Make it happen, FromSoftware.
Overflowing with cheaters, the PC version of Dark Souls quickly got out of control. With no means to punish these traitorous goons, they were allowed to fly freely and that should not be the case in Dark Souls II.
Why it needs to be fixed: Cheaters ruin games like this, and something needs to be done about them. Whether that involves bestowing certain players with a limited power to call down an Angel of the Abyss to permanently kill the cheater in question, or simply banning some accounts, a line must be drawn this time around. Seriously, I’ll take that power for a bit. Can’t hurt, right?
There you have it! 10 solid suggestions on how to make Dark Souls II a better experience. Let us know what you think of the upcoming game and give us your suggestions! We’ll be praising the Sun until the game comes out.
When Andrew Whipple III isn’t writing or arguing about why Final Fantasy VI is the greatest game of all-time, he’s a dedicated New York Giants fan who loves to socialize and die in Gradius.