Last Saturday I stayed up until 5 AM taking part in the 4th Dark Souls 2 network test. I recorded most of the gameplay and made a short highlight video which you can check out above.
So what’s changed? Well, the biggest update I noticed concerns the humanity system.
In the original Dark Souls, one could clear the entirety of the game without ever reviving from a hollow. This would prevent the player from summoning allies and being invaded — but it was possible.
Dark Souls 2 gives much more concrete incentive to revive: each time your character falls as a hollow, their maximum HP drops. Reviving with a Human Effigy (the new consumable form of Humanity) is the only way to restore your maximum health. What a great blend of the Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls systems!
Weapon performance seemed more realistic as well.
I stumbled across a Zweihander early on in my Network Test. If you’ve never seen this weapon, it’s a sword that hits like a truck that is about the same size. In swinging my Zweihander around, I quickly became aware of a bad habit I’ve developed: I take a step back before committing to a swing. In Dark Souls this was my means of altering my distance from enemies at the last second.
In Dark Souls 2, instead of taking a slight backstep, my habit caused my character to turn around and swing in the opposite direction of my enemy! This left my squishy posterior completely defenseless. But it makes sense, I suppose. With a weapon so large and heavy, it would require a solid footing to swing with any real force. Either that or it’s a bug… Overall it seemed like heavier weapons were harder to control while quicker weapons were easier to deflect, which makes sense.
Enemies were quite varied.
Early Dark Souls 2 info promised enemies with improved AI who could identify openings in the player’s defenses and strike accordingly. Enemies did seem to do more damage and take more hits to go down, though I didn’t see much evidence of improved AI. (Again, this isn’t the retail version of the game so I’m still optimistic) What I did notice was a broad assortment of enemies, including speedy rogues who attack in groups, dual sickle wielding giants, and red phantoms equipped with different weaponry. This had me frequently adjusting my strategies and gave me a lot to learn as a new tester.
The Dark Souls 2 Network Test left me not only exhausted, but wanting to see and experience more. It’s too early to say if the game will leave the same impact on me as its predecessor, but given the few tweaks I’ve seen, I can say I’m hopeful Dark Souls 2 will be one of the last greats of this generation.