Originally Posted by DeepO
1. NPCs get additional dialogues as you progress through the game and most of them are in various ways tied to mini story arcs. If you explore youīll find some of the NPCs visiting various places and progressing through their own stories, which you can in various ways influence. There are some choices and consequences even. One spoiler-y example of a mini story arc with some choices:
If you explore a certain cathedral, youīll find an imprisoned guy. Via exploration you can obtain a key that will unlock his prison. He will than move to the Firelink Shrine, a sorta gameīs central location. If you donīt free him, heīll eventually find his way out on his own, however if you do free him and talk to him at Firelink Shrine afterwards, you can summon him as a help for a certain boss fight and he also offers an insight into another group of characters, which may help you decide how to approach their story.
Moreover, as a lot of other NPCs this dude isnīt presented as a particularly nice fellow, so you may decide to kill him (you can do this after he helps as well). If you do so, youīll get a certain nice ring early.
If you donīt, eventually he will kill the Firelinkīs firekeeper and leave. That means that for the time being you canīt use the Firelink bonfire at all. However, at the place where fire keeper was killed youīll find an item that hints you may yet be able to find him (plus nice robes useful for characters who like to travel light).
Eventually youīll be able to invade the place heīs hiding in. If you defeat him (in a fairly difficult fight, particularly since you canīt use healing potion when invading) youīll get his armor set and a fire keeper soul. You can either use the fire keeper soul to make your healing potions more potent or use it to revive Firelinkīs fire keeper after which the bonfire will work again and youīll get a speech or two from the keeper as well.
2. There are no books in the game, but pretty much all items youīll find offer bits of story or lore in their descriptions.
3. In a broader sense, Dark Souls is one of the more puzzle-filled games released in recent years. A lot of these are of environmental variety, aka how do I get to that item over there, there are also illusory walls which, besides few implemented in a truly obscure fashion, can be revealed if you pay attention, and there are even few traditional ones that include manipulating a contraption.
Unlike most puzzles in Skyrim (maps being an exception), these puzzles fit organically within the gameworld and solving them often actually requires a bit of attention.
Navigating the gameworld and opening the short cuts is a sorta puzzle in itself.4. As for the exploration itself, it gives you more insight into the gameworld, letīs you experience various story bits, either via NPCs or level design/loot/enemy placement and opens up variety of covenants with own benefits and story aspects, though these are more an online thing.
Plus, exploration expands the portfolio of how you can progress in the game significantly - itīll net you not only more powerful items or spells, but also items or spells that will open doors to new play styles. As such it plays an important part in your characterīs growth and ties directly into the roleplaying aspect.
You, on the other hand, generally just really like holding down "w".
In general I just like games which do what theyīre focused on well and if there are some less successfully implemented aspects, I donīt mind them if these donīt negatively influence the good stuff much. For example, I donīt mind Tormentīs sorta suck-y combat, because the gameīs focus is largely on unveiling the story and interacting with characters in an unusually imaginative gameworld (which is what I like Torment for).
For similar reasons I consider ME2 to be a better game than ME1, since it, in my book, does better what it focuses on (combat, interactions, lore "delving" - the world only truly opens up in ME2, in ME1 a lot of the lore was just codex entries), while the weaker stuff pretty much rests on the periphery/in background (a rather weak core plot). ME1, on the other hand, is diluted by bloated and half-assed RPG systems (inventory, itemization, skills), one of its major components, exploration, is dreadful (and most definitely not worthwhile) and its combat, also a major component, doesnīt approach decency neither as a shooter-y nor as a tactical party-based iteration.
Your evaluation of the games may differ, but thatīs in this case besides the point.
As for ME3, yes I find its combat system enjoyable and donīt really mind most of the rest (and like some of it).
The series worked well for me as easygoinī popcorn entertainment I donīt mind engaging in once in a while and I like them for the setting, cinematic nature of storytelling with a strong emphasis on character aspect and, in the case of the latter two, combat. Combat alone would not cut it.
The only difference is that once you engage with most of the bosses, you have to defeat them if you want to survive.
There are many other obstacles, be it environments, lone enemies or group of enemies, where a single mistake will cost you a life, the bosses just tend to fall into the most difficult category of these.
It precisely is. It is content that you donīt have access to unless your character is of adequate level, which is also what makes it a bad kind of gating as itīs artificial restriction at odds with verisimilitude and game rules. I mean, a heavy weapon requiring a certain level of strength to be wielded effectively is gating that makes some sense, content of chests being aware of what level a pc is doesnīt.
It also isnīt much of a surprise it doesnīt stop you from making sweeping assessments of these games.
Yes, puzzle is the wrong word. Most, if not all, enemies could be characterized as puzzles in this manner, they just tend to be easier to defeat than the bosses.
No, you just have to pay attention.
A book or a bit of level design here and there doesnīt quite save most of the dungeons from being linear, filled with same-y enemies, scaled loot and mostly devoid of unique challenges. Different city layouts and thousand of NPCs donīt really overshadow generally poor quality of interactive writing (aka writing not presented in the in-game book format) and repetitive quest design.
Personally I found exploration in Dark Souls more worthwhile because I prefer when it is challenging, appropriately rewarding and doesnīt feel like its main reason for existence is to provide players with sightseeing.
I did like Skyrim overall, but mostly because itīs a fairly unique experience as a whole, not because itīs a well woven together set of design elements, like Dark Souls is.