Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Dark Souls 2 - Scholar of the First Sin: New Aesthetics and Other Changes. Not necessarily for the Better.

OK.  Here's another complaint post which I believe to be quite valid.   Fanboys without a real counter argument can go elsewhere.

As I mentioned in the previous post about weapon durability, I have over 808 hours on the DX9 version of the game and I still like to play it.   For me, even on a limited income, $16.99 (Aust) wasn't a bad investment to upgrade to the DX11 version, though I have some reasons why the desire to play through more than once this time is already flagging.

Some of the changes are just baffling.   On one hand there are some nice additions and even a couple of clever ones, but a lot of things in places look like a child has been let loose with the developer tools and someone said, "Oh, how cute, let's leave that in."

Anyway, I imagine it's too late to change these things now, so let's look at some of the things I'm disappointed with, and in one case appalled about.

Aesthetics and Difficulty.  

I'll be adding to this review as I progress, probably in separate posts though because they will get rather lengthy.  At the time of writing I'm about to go to Aldia's Keep.  I've opened up the first bonfires of each DLC for convenience, but will go there a bit later.   Probably after Dragon Aerie to get the Ashen Mist Heart.

I don't have an issue with the added difficulty, however I have had some rage inducing moments which is to be expected I guess.  It's obvious that healing items are now healing even slower over time than before.  My stamina seems to regenerate even slower now as well.

For people who just want to kill stuff and don't care how things look it won't matter I suppose, but there's a point where it's done well and where it looks bad.  This is bad.   I'm not talking here about general graphic or lighting changes or perceived improvements, as that's something that doesn't really bother me.  Gameplay over graphics, in most cases, is my motto.

We now have a few surprises related to light and torches, which I won't spoil, but let's just say next trip through the entire Undead Crypt, if there is one, will be totally in the dark. 

There are a few other nice additions as well, which make me wonder about some of the other things I'm going to talk about below.  It's like two separate teams worked on the "upgrade" and neither knew what the other was doing.

Get ready to be "Pursued" all over the place. At least four times in the Bastille, and in the tutorial, but then he gives up again until the usual post Smelter Demon fight. 

I had my first ever crash with this game, and the DX9 version actually, which was during the fight with The Looking Glass Knight with three phantoms and myself.  I think it was co-incidence or just too much was going on for some reason, but it wasn't the first time playing with that number of phantoms as I was doing co-op helping people.  I was being summoned over and over for this fight, so business was brisk and I need those Sunlight medals.

I will say though that the added numbers possible for co-op can make it a confusing mess in boss fights.  I've helped with a few and it just gets messy with people getting in each other's way and the boss itself getting confused, not to mention steam rolled.  I much prefer one phantom, human or NPC, where available, as things go much smoother and controlled. 

I am NOT looking forward to invader gank squads which is why when the Effigy Effect wears off at bonfires where I've killed the boss, I will be burning another Effigy.  At least at places I wish to, or have to revisit for supplies. 

We already have more OP NPC invaders, I don't need human ones as well, especially now with the Agape Ring and "imaginary" meta that PvP players seem to thing is a "thing."   I am collecting Seeds and won't hesitate to use them if necessary.  Works well in DLC areas.   You invade my game and all bets are off.  I will fight and I will heal given the opportunity, and use whatever I can to remove you from my world.   If you can get there at all now that Effigies are more plentiful.

On to aesthetic changes that I think don't work which is really the main focus of this post.  More than once I've raised my eyebrows at some of these changes, particularly with creatures/monsters that seem to be on  the verge of extinction.  Can game developers please come up with new devices to hide stuff besides barrels and boxes?

It's weird.  Some areas have become easier and some harder.  Enemies have been removed in the former and not replaced, or replaced with easier ones, and in the latter we get more hordes and, as far as I'm concerned, too many stupid ambushes.

I do like what's been done to Heide's Tower.  Even the drake, which is easily killed with arrows from below.  It doesn't have that much health so you can also rush it and get behind before it flambe's you to death.   Now the Heide Knights have a place to call home, where they should have been all along.


The Shaded Ruins look absolutely terrible now.   Why, for goodness sake remove the Lion Warriors scattered around and replace them with ghosts.  It just looks bare and unfinished.  Hiding the remaining Lions behind wooden barriers and giant barrels is silly.   Those Lion warriors, tough and magic resistant, had character and belonged there, and now they are banished in favour of ghosts.  Bad.

This is happening with a lot of the normal enemies that just seem to have disappeared forever, like the beasts in the leadup to the Lost Sinner who have now been replaced with a Flexile Sentry that doesn't really fit well into the area, especially size wise.  Odd decision.  

I expected the Iron Keep to be hell now, but they just pointlessly shuffled the Alonne knights around a bit. The worst fight was an NPC invader that I'd met before in the Forest who has OP spells.  I had to summon help or I never would have gotten past the Keep with that guy invading me all the time. 

And I don't need to "Git Gud" either.  (I hate that saying, but I know someone out there is thinking it.)  I'm 60 years old and my reflexes aren't as good as they were, but I do just fine 99.9% of the time.  I don't die much either.  

I forgot to mention that the Dull Ember is now in a chest in the Bastille next to a bonfire.  I'm baffled why they did that.  May as well have just put it in McDuff's room and be done with it.  He still asks for it every time you talk to him though, even after you've handed it over.

Also, the Bastille key is now available out of the Gargoyle Boss fight, which I never bother with because I hate the gank covenants areas.  I wonder what the reward for the Gargoyle fight is now though, but not enough to do it.

My biggest disappointment so far though is Drangleic Castle.  It's now become incredibly ugly instead of regal.  The atmosphere has been totally ruined and the changes look very amateur to say the least.  We now have the original nice shiny textures accompanied by terrible gray "fake" statues haphazardly placed all over and some of which we know are going to come to life.   Predictable.

The "Sentinel" room is now unimaginatively filled with statues, some of which still come to life to open the doors of course.  The others are there to be a huge annoyance.  Not creatively though, just with no real thought to it.  I haven't done it yet, but fighting the Sentinels in that mess....sounds like fun, not.

Why are there Manikins from Harvest Valley there as an alternate way to activate the longest elevator in the world?   I was summoned several times for this section and each time the host didn't work out that he/she had to kill one of the Manikins in front of the golem.   Because, now, the actual statues are inert and put there to get in your way.    I tried to message one host, but wasn't able to, and I had to crystal out each time.

Why in the hell is the undead horse from the Chariot Boss in there now?  At least the Gargoyle makes some sense replacing the Alonne Knight archers when opening the shortcut to get the King's Passage Key.

It seems FromSoft have no real idea of how to fill an area or make it look more believable so they just throw any old enemy or a bunch of barrels and crates into the mix and hope for the best.  It looks like a kindergarten kid added some of the new stuff. 

If the Shrine of Amana wasn't annoying enough, but manageable with a bow, they make it even more irritating and I mean irritating, not just challenging.    And, what's the deal with a Hammer Knight just hanging around in the water now.  It's so out of place, it's looks ridiculous standing there.   I get the Dragonrider guarding the gate to the King's soul and gear.  Makes sense.

There's another Dragonrider in the Crypt before Velstadt now instead of a legion of Syan Knights which are going to be hard to farm now for their halberd.  Oh, well I prefer the Mastadon Halberd anyway.

Oh and another thing.  Some Mimics have been shuffled.   I wasn't paying attention got caught...lol.

To be continued as I progress.  As I said it's Aldia's Keep next.   Can't wait to see what's changed there.

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