RPGWatch Forums - View Single Post - Dark Souls II - What they can do to make it better @ Kotaku
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December 28th, 2012, 02:21
Originally Posted by DeepO View Post
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:
That doesn't actually sound like much of a story - more like a series of minor events. I suppose that could be considered a "mini story" - but it's not really what I'm talking about. I'm talking about books, notes, dialogue and interaction - not minor events in a chain. Story in the form of words - not a handful of NPCs acting according to something you did or didn't do - which you typically have no way of establishing before it happens.

Incidentally, this is yet another aspect that's identical to Demon's Souls - where you also had some mostly faceless NPCs go about doing a few things based on your actions - with minimal story elements.

Now, I'm not saying there's NO story - but that it's a minor element. What you're describing doesn't really change that. I suppose the story bits you unlock represent something, but I seriously doubt they'll suffice for what I want.

Let me guess, you don't get even get much of a story about the guy in question?

2. There are no books in the game, but pretty much all items youīll find offer bits of story or lore in their descriptions.
Tiny bits, sure

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.
Yeah, there was some environmental interaction in Demon's Souls as well, though I wouldn't consider them puzzles. It was more about pulling handles after progressing that would allow shortcuts.

Could you describe some of the puzzles? Because if there are actual puzzles or riddles - I might reconsider playing it.

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.
Ehm, why don't you think the puzzles in Skyrim fit organically into the gameworld? There are plenty of those.

But I wouldn't say the puzzles are the strongest part of Skyrim. The best parts are more about the books/notes you find that expand the lore and most locations have some kind of history or reason to be there. I like that.

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.
Wow, you're really stretching this aren't you. Opening short cuts is a puzzle? The tiny bits of text on items represent story? They're bits - that's fine - but it's not very meaty and you know it.

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.
I believe I've already conceded that you find items, and I don't think mentioning that those items expand your arsenal changes anything. That's what items and spells do in RPGs.

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).
I like that Dark Souls does what it does well - but it's just not enough for me. Again, I guess you just really like combat - because no matter what you claim, that's basically all Dark Souls is.

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.
I completely disagree about the lore in ME2. ME established pretty much all the lore and ME2 offered nothing that could even come close to what an entire universe and its lore represents.

But I get what you're saying - you like the entirety of games based on how well its features are implemented, regardless of whether that's narrow or particularly interesting features?

Nah, ok, ME2 had better shooter mechanics than ME and it removed some features that were poorly implemented in ME - and that's about it. Apparently, you liked the entire game better because of that. Except you also seem to have imagined ME2 being "lore delving" where ME1 wasn't? Which is really, really strange.

Also, you didn't like exploring in ME1 - and I found exploration more interesting for the main quests.

But I believe we've been through that already.

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.
90% combat, however, DID do it

But that's ok - and a lot of people liked ME2 and ME3 more than ME.

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.
Yeah, that's my point. Bosses will kill you much faster - and most other enemies will allow for a few mistakes and will not necessarily demand perfect timing. Bosses also have a lot more hitpoints. That's the pressure I'm talking about. They also have more elaborate mechanics that you can't learn before the encounter - and you will almost certainly die while learning them in most cases.

Could you be fair? Or are you just going to pretend that bosses aren't actually bosses - exactly like I'm describing them. They all have attack patterns and unique tactics you need to learn to overcome them. Looking at the wiki - they're describing strategies for all of them.

Normal enemies tend to have simpler mechanics and have fewer hitpoints - and they tend to not kill you in one hit. That's what makes them normal enemies.

That doesn't mean that normal enemies are easy - or that you can just bash away. If it's anything like Demon's Souls (and so far, it sounds identical - pretty much) - you need to time your attacks differently for each normal enemy and if you're going to be argumentative - you could call them all mini-bosses, but you'd know you were being silly for doing so.

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.
You don't seem to understand the concept of content gating. Gating is an obstacle to overcome so you "unlock" access to new content in the form of new areas or bundles of content representing progress. Scaling like in Skyrim is just about as far away from gated content as you can get, because you have access to pretty much everything regardless of your level and your experience. Again, no, we're not being 100% literal - and yes you CAN find chests that are locked for your level. I've noticed that you like to be literal when arguing stuff - rather than reasonable. I guess that works for you, but it doesn't help your case with me much. All it does is reinforce the impression that your point is a weak one that needs the help of semantics to survive a little longer.

Anyway, Skyrim is the opposite end of the spectrum.

That said, I don't like level scaling at all. I like neither content gating nor level scaling. I like the Gothic way of doing things - which isn't gating and it isn't scaling. It's just a hard world where you can explore and do things almost at will, but you'll have to train hard to get good at fighting. But you won't find many huge bosses that you have to figure out unique and gamey mechanics to overcome.

It also isnīt much of a surprise it doesnīt stop you from making sweeping assessments of these games.
You mean that you disagree with my assessment, and therefore I must be wrong and you're desperately exaggerating the strengths of Dark Souls in an effort to prove it.

It might suit you to own up to reality and just accept that Dark Souls have certain strengths and not certain other strengths. I mean, honestly, you're trying to paint a picture of Dark Souls like a game with a ton of story and lots of meaty NPC interaction. You're pulling all you can from the game that resembles what I'm looking for - and you're fully aware that those things won't suffice. Also, you're trying to make me into some nut that just haven't experienced the wonder of the game and I'm making these extreme statements about what it is and what it isn't - without having played it all the way through.

This, despite the fact that I put 30-40 hours into a game that's nearly identical according to pretty much everyone except you.

Dark Souls is GREAT at what it does - which is combat and atmosphere. It's got great level design - and if you like exploring mostly barren levels where findable objects aren't actually visible in the game, then it's probably good for that as well.

You overestimate what it takes to determine the core nature of a game - but that doesn't mean my mind can't change and I can't accept the weaknesses if there's something surprising that you can't know without having played all of it.

But the core of the game is not going to change.

I understand that you liked the game, and you have a hard time accepting that I don't - but it's not necessarily because I'm wrong. I'm probably just a different person who likes my story and exploration handled in very different ways.

We've already established that you think very, very differently when it comes to ME2 - so it's hardly a stretch that it's the same with Dark Souls.

For instance, you just mentioned that ME2 was more "lore delving" than ME - and that really tells me that we have very different ideas of what lore means.

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.
Yes, you could strictly categorize a lot of things as a lot of things. But I think puzzle in quotation marks will suffice for anyone not stubbornly ignoring the facets of boss fights that resemble puzzle solving - if only partially. Looking at the wiki, the boss fights are not at all just regular fights - they seem to ALL have unique mechanics that you couldn't possible learn through playing normally until the encounter. So, you're not being truthful - or the wiki is a liar. Which is it?

No, you just have to pay attention.
Yeah, for some reason I need to pay attention to experience the story that's being told. Unlike other games that just tell them outright.

I have to watch some guy react to a few key actions and then boom, there's a story magically conjured up that I needed to pay attention to.

Even with those events, I'm willing to bet they're rare and that story is, indeed, quite sparse. But you're not going to acknowledge that, are you?

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.
A book and a bit of level design? Now you're really being fair - aren't you. I will concede that Skyrim lacks challenge and you need mods to get the best out of it, but I think you're vastly underestimating the quality of unique content in the game - but that's down to taste.

Considering how broad and ambitious Skyrim is - I think it's a near miracle in terms of how the design elements work together. But that's me.

I'm not particularly impressed when a narrow design is executed well, because I care more about the overall experience - and I tend to be bored by narrow designs.

Dark Souls is like a harsh Diablo with a different perspective. It's about combat, combat and more combat - and your character developing in strength and finding items. That's about it. It even shares a very familiar gothic atmosphere with the first Diablo - which I believe is one of the prime inspirations for both Dark Souls and Demon's Souls. Furthermore, it doesn't have that many NPCs - and they mostly just spout a few lines of loosely connected story at you - just like Diablo, where most of the story was told in the manual.

A fine Diablo - except it's got a somewhat boring character system and an underwhelming loot system. Yeah, I know there are several items and you can craft a lot of stuff (well, I assume it's not different from Demon's here either) - but it's nothing compared with a strong loot game. Also, I doubt it can compare in terms of replayability.

The combat system, however, is outright fantastic - there's no denying that. Perhaps the best combat system of any RPG.

I'll grant that.
Last edited by DArtagnan; December 28th, 2012 at 10:16.




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