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Default Dark Souls - Retrospective @ Playdar

October 9th, 2013, 12:14
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post


I will concede that Demon's Souls is more about the skill of the player - and Diablo is more about the strategy behind the build of the character. That's really the most significant difference to me, except for Diablo having a less elusive story presentation - and obviously the impact of having a third person 3D perspective in Demon's Souls.
Certainly sounds familiar the way you put it.

I guess Dark souls took the series in a more Gothic like direction on several fronts. Only a good thing imo
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October 9th, 2013, 12:17
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Ok, we must have had very different sessions. I tend to find some weapons I really like - and I keep them for quite a while and often for hours after reaching the higher levels.

You kept upgrading every few minutes from start to finish? Wow, you must have had some serious luck! I'd often have to play for what seemed like hours before finding something that made a difference towards the end.

If my experience with Borderlands had been minimal upgrades every few minutes - and I couldn't see how different the weapons behaved, I'd probably have much the same opinion as you.

But that wasn't the Borderlands I played, so I can't agree with your conclusions.

It's all good, though.
Hours eh?

Very different experience indeed.

It might not have literally been "every few minutes" that I was upgrading, but I certainly never had one weapon for hours.
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October 9th, 2013, 12:24
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Hours eh?

Very different experience indeed.

It might not have literally been "every few minutes" that I was upgrading, but I certainly never had one weapon for hours.
It's not like I've been timing it - but yeah, some weapons last for hours once you get past the initial stages. It's all down to luck, though, and sometimes you want to try something new and you'll naturally switch up more.

I always play a Sniper dude - so I tend to focus on them, and I tend to get attached once I find a really sweet weapon. This means that other sniper rifles might be better if you adjust to a new firing rate, clip size, scope or whatever else might be different. It's not a game I've been obsessively powergaming in - so I didn't really go OCD with the system.

But ok, if we're talking 30-60 minutes - that might be a reasonable representation of much of the game - especially if you use all weapon types.

That's not really super frequent in a game that lasts 20-50 hours, though.

Not to me, anyway.
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October 9th, 2013, 14:42
DArt, with all due respect, talking about a game that you played only superficially (that is, like 10 hours from 120 hours + game) results in things you are saying being not true at all.

The upgrade system is exactly what you say you like: small and large changes at the same time. The attribute system takes baby steps that over a longer period make up huge changes for your character, partly by unlocking gear requirements or giving you boosts on mains, like health, stamina, damage, etc.

The large changes are gear upgrades, and, finding gear in the first place. This is not Diablo where gear is poured on your head 24/7. You can miss stuff. You WILL miss stuff. And all the stuff is valuable for one build or the other. All of it. There are no useless items in the game (maybe a few fun items or easter eggs), they are maybe just not for the type of character you are building, or not for the level range you are in. And since all the non-generic items (like longsword) have ONE single iteration per playthrough, and since high-end upgrade materials are very very rare, each and every upgrade has final consequences. You really got to put thought into what to use and how. It's not just damage increasing somewhat, it's stat-dependencies changing, damage type changing, etc.

Add to that the fact that there are no two weapons that share the exact same move-set. And in this game, move-sets are everything. Different move sets are good for different encounters. And it's not obscure either. If a boss has long hands, you gotta have something with better reach. If - and here's where lore ties in - the guy is a demon, you should try lightning damage, since lightning was wielded by the gods, their enemies. If the boss shoots huge blue magic orbs at you, you should give a shot to Magic Barrier or armor with high magic res. If you feel you are slow, try lighter armor. And you gotta be changing stuff around, exploring and obtaining. Because if you don't, you will die. Encounters will not go down due to attrition. Everything is more durable than you, since you are a human, a weakling in the beginning, and you are challenging the powers that be.

There's also no two players preferring the same weapons or move sets, and everyone finds their own style, only to later discover how other styles work really well, too. I've had full caster, full melee (DEX), Dex-Caster, Strenght-armor builds, and all of them are viable (and these are not all of them, by far). Classes are pretty similar in the beginning (except some have better gear and better foundations for certain builds), and you need not follow the class build.

Around level 25, characters look and play very different. Mid game they are vastly different. They can choose from different equipment, have completely different spells and moves, you feel it's a whole new aspect of the game. And what is genius is, that all of them are useful (and not in the "Diablo 3 skills are all useful but make no difference and feel no different" kind of way…).

As for the areas, the initial one does feel a lot like Demon's Souls, but beyond that it's more diverse, larger, and quite different. You get forests, lava lakes in caverns, the city of the gods, crystal structures, a pitch black cemetery, a flooded city, etc. I loved Demon's Souls areas, and Dark Souls gives more variations. I would not call it dark and bleak (especially since the first areas are sun-drenched and teeming), but more like, murky and rotting away. The world is ending. You are fighting the long defeat. But that doesn't make it worthless, since in the end, you get to decide the fate of all creation. And by that time, it somehow matters to you.

A sense of history is very much there, and you can delve into it deep. I have seen few games that inspired so much valuable fan theory and speculation - in a good way. The game is full of intriguing symbolism and commentary on humans and human nature. How the best of intentions can turn out a disaster if power is wielded without responsibility. If we meddle with things we do not understand. I think you'd like it.

I also get the Diablo 1 comparison you made, but I don't agree with all of it. I never felt for a single moment I had to do any pattern learning or skill-based gameplay on the scale of the Souls games in Dio1. I had to click click and then see if the loot dropped is a small upgrade to the King's Sword of Haste I have. At level up I put most points into the most important attribute for my class, out of 4. Occasionally I got uniques that were good but not great.

I don't mean to offend, or educate, but I thought there should be info from someone who actually played the game to bits and pieces.

Edit: Sorry for the wall of text.
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October 9th, 2013, 14:54
Actually, I was talking about Demon's Souls mostly - which I know very well. I just said that Dark Souls SEEMED to be very much like Demon's Souls - but I'm prepared to be wrong about that.

However, I must say that your position sounds a bit over-the-top. I know for a fact that there are many players who prefer the same specific weapons - for instance - and while I'm not denying there's a depth to the combat system I never appreciated - you do sound a bit like you're overdoing the praise thing.

As for not learning patterns in Diablo - I don't know which Diablo you played. But every single enemy has a specific "tactic" that you must learn to overcome. Some spit on you from a certain distance, and you have to avoid it and get out of their acid pool. Some summon minions - and you have to kill the source before too many enemies spawn - and so on. First time you play Diablo, you need to figure out how they work - and if you play on Hell, you're going to die if you don't study and time your movements.

King's Sword of Haste is not a trivial weapon to find - and you typically have to play a LONG while before you find it.

There are several builds in Diablo that's NOT about stacking the primary stat - like the Mage build that stacks vitality. In fact, the stats are more like they are in Demon's Souls than you'd think, because Diablo uses a similar stat-based requirement system for weapons and armor. So, most builds need a specific amount of DEX or STR to wield certain weapons or be efficient when it comes to hitting stuff.

That's another way in which I think Demon's Souls was clearly inspired by Diablo.

But I'm not holding up Diablo as the holy grail of action RPGs - I'm just pointing out where Demon's Souls is similar to it.

Diablo is a very old game - and it has been surpassed in many ways since 1996.

As for the lore in Dark Souls, you seem to be describing exactly the kind of storytelling I'm not fond of. I don't like "symbolism" and a few comments on the human condition. I could come up with enough of that to fill several books. That doesn't make the lore compelling at all. Not to me, that is.

But, you're overestimating Dark Souls and underestimating Diablo - as far as I can tell.

But again, we each like different things for different reasons.
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October 9th, 2013, 15:00
@Soulbane How about some spoiler tags the next time ?

I managed to avoid most of the damage but not all

Edit: Was referring to the Story/area bits.

Edit 2: Although to be fair this is a thread for a retrospective. So maybe I shouldn't have poked my nose in it in the first place…
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October 9th, 2013, 15:15
Well said Soulbane - your description and details are spot on - true words from someone that understands the complex and clever design and balancing in Dark Souls beyond the generic hype.
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October 9th, 2013, 15:43
@DArt

Sorry if I "sound" enthusiastic about something I feel err.. enthusiastic about.
But try to separate facts I'm writing about the game from the intertwining commentary on my part, it's not that difficult. The praise is not the point of the post, the info on how things work are.

I was talking about Diablo 1, since you made a comparison to that. Clearly, there are monster mechanics you describe. They have attack patterns, abilities to look out for, even more so in Diablo 2. But right up until Hell I never felt they make a big difference (and less and less so with successive Diablo titles). Much of them are not very well implemented. And also by the time you hit Hell you could tell their patterns in your sleep. On Hell I recall having to pay attention, but also remember that if I utilized corners, all monsters became trivial.

I also think that since you are not so much in control of your character in Diablos (ie not to the extent of say Dark Souls), those things are less significant.

My buddies and me always had tons of King's Sword of Haste-s, and that basically made most other items obsolete. I do recall having fun with a melee wizard build once, though.

But yes, Diablo is an old game, and I don't think it's a good idea to compare it with DS in depth and complexity. But I didn't make the comparison first. I think, if anything, King's Field games inspired Dark Souls and Demon's Souls, and games before 1992. As a thematic or atmospheric inspiration for Souls games, maybe yea, Diablo could be there, since Miyazaki said he played Western fantasy RPGs back when, and had tons of inspiration from several titles. He didn't speak English, so he sorta put together the story in his head, which is something he wanted to emulate (the feeling, not the stories themselves). But on atmo level, I alwasy felt Diablo much more optimistic. In the end, good always triumphs, and demons mean little, except some targets to click on. There's a certain yankee optimism there, "let's imperialize hell!". It's a lot more of an order of heaven and hell than humans, but parts of lore are very well written I think.

As for over/underestimating, I don't think so. All Diablo games and Souls games I played a lot. I had great times with all of them (except maybe Dio 3, I had mediocre times with that one). I don't think they are of a kind, being action RPGs and all. Isometric and 3rd person are so different, with different degrees of control. Loot is very different, like I said, random generated in Diablos, fixed location (with 10% drop-based) in DS with fixed stats that can be altered vastly. I also consider the most hardcore piece, Diablo 1, as much less of a demanding experience than Dark Souls (not to mention Demon's Souls). So yea, very different, I would say.

But bottom line is, since I know all of them pretty well, I can make estimations.

The lore is much more than that, of course, I just gave a gist, very generalized. It's not a "few comments" (underestimating, maybe? ) on human nature, I assure you. I could go on for hundreds of pages, it's that comlicated. Without much written drivel, too.

But I can see how it won't appeal to everyone, no game can.

@JonNik

Terribly sorry, brother, I did not consider any of it a spoiler, they were so general and oversimplified, and also seen in every trailer, demo, even the game's own intro. Also, since it is Dark Souls, in the end it may be that you will come up with your own very different conclusions. But I'll be more careful next time.
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October 9th, 2013, 16:23
Originally Posted by Soulbane View Post
Terribly sorry, brother, I did not consider any of it a spoiler, they were so general and oversimplified, and also seen in every trailer, demo, even the game's own intro. Also, since it is Dark Souls, in the end it may be that you will come up with your own very different conclusions. But I'll be more careful next time.
No problem, To be completely honest I just caught the first few lines and froze so you may be right and the rest of it was not too spoilerific either. Not going back there to risk it though.

Mainly meant it as a request for your future posts as I do enjoy reading your thoughts on the mechanics.
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October 9th, 2013, 16:28
I'll happily oblige, and thanks.
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October 9th, 2013, 16:31
Thank you kind sir!

And now I have a spare hour before the workout, what shall I do… Hmmm ….
you guessed it!

Ah Dark souls, she is a harsh demanding mistress, but I reckon a fair one
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October 9th, 2013, 18:39
The lore is much more than that, of course, I just gave a gist, very generalized. It's not a "few comments" (underestimating, maybe? ) on human nature, I assure you. I could go on for hundreds of pages, it's that comlicated. Without much written drivel, too.

But I can see how it won't appeal to everyone, no game can.
You could go on for hundreds of pages about the lore?

Hehe, ok then.

Well, in any case - there's really no point in trying to argue back and forth about games we clearly have different experiences with.

As I said, I'm happy that people are enjoying Dark Souls - and if there's this massive amount depth of mechanics and lore that I've managed to completely overlook - I might be able to look forward to a great time in the future, once I get back to trying it out again!
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October 9th, 2013, 18:44
What can I say? I'm a sucker for story and storytelling. I'm a writer and storyteller, so no wonder.
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October 9th, 2013, 18:46
Originally Posted by Soulbane View Post
What can I say? I'm a sucker for story and storytelling. I'm a writer and storyteller, so no wonder.
That means you fabricate imaginary tales for a living, doesn't it?
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October 9th, 2013, 18:58
By that definition I could be a conman, too. Hehe, yea.
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October 10th, 2013, 00:56
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I understand that Demon's Souls and Dark Souls both have the same intricate character system - and I'm sure there are tons of "builds". But when we're just talking about larger health/magic/strength/whatever pools - the builds don't seem to set themselves apart as much as a, say, Dual Wielding/Frenzy build versus a Whirlwind build - each with an entire subset of passives that can change everything up.

Maybe I'm wrong, though, and I've missed some of the finer nuances of the DS system. It just seems to me that no matter what "class" you go for, you're still doing the same things as any other class. Well, except you'll be casting more spells as one class, and fewer spells as another - but the spells remain the same.

You know?
I think you're failing to understand the nuances of an open class system in general.
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October 10th, 2013, 09:28
Maybe, or maybe I'm not a big fan of the implementation as it exists in Dark Souls.

Open systems tend to feel too generic - and these games are far from alone in this. Games like Morrowind and Oblivion are even more generic because of the TES system, for instance.

One of the reasons I love D&D 3.0/3.5 so much - is that it's a great hybrid. It's a class system with all the flavor of the classes - but it's also very open, so you can actually combine classes in a flexible way.

That's the kind of system I prefer.
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October 10th, 2013, 11:48
Me too, but I see how it wouldn't work for Dark Souls, where you need to meet very different challenges by being more flexible than it is sometimes possible in 3.5 DnD for instance, and especially in 3.0. That said, you can find solutions to said challenges with almost any build, but you may need more patience for one or another.
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October 10th, 2013, 11:52
Originally Posted by Soulbane View Post
Me too, but I see how it wouldn't work for Dark Souls, where you need to meet very different challenges by being more flexible than it is sometimes possible in 3.5 DnD for instance, and especially in 3.0. That said, you can find solutions to said challenges with almost any build, but you may need more patience for one or another.
I'm not asking for it to be different in Dark Souls. It's a game designed in a certain way with a certain vision - for a certain audience.

The thing of it is that the vision doesn't really appeal to me - at least so far.

That's all, really.

Is it impossible to imagine I can feel that way without being wrong, somehow?
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October 10th, 2013, 12:01
The only thing you were wrong about were factual assumptions of the system, DArt.

Otherwise I am with you all the way. Some of the gamers I know can't get into Dark Souls (though most give up around or right after the tutorial area, and tend to get scared of non-streamlined experiences in general). Sometimes people start out hating it and come to love it later on. Like I said, no game is for everyone, and this, especially, is for a very specific audience - as you say.

I trust your ability to see a vision for what it is even from a glimpse of 10 hours or so, but I would really like to come back to talk about the game with you if and when you decide to give it some more time. That would be much more fruitful I think. It is a very demanding game, and it does not open up easily.
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