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Getting motivated.

A Whole Lot of Dark Souls 2

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Disclaimer: This will probably end up a giant rant about the game, and I'm going to cover everything that comes to mind, so if you haven't finished or don't want to be spoiled on certain things, you have been warned!

8=====D ~ ~

Now, I mentioned I would compare my day one stats and my end game stats, and I plan to. But I'll even spare you the equipment, which I recorded because I'm nuts about these games like that. And yes achievements are in there because I like that stuff and some of you still secretly do too.

Day 1
Game Time - 12:59:03
Class - Royal Knight
Level - 54
Soul Memory - 155,109
VRG - 13
END - 15
VIT - 16
ATN - 4
STR - 24
DEX - 16
ADP - 10
INT - 3
FTH - 6

6 achievements for 60 points, 4 Bosses killed (Last Giant,Pursuer,Dragonrider,Orenstien)

Final Cut
Game time - 141:23:38
Level - 233
Souls to next level - 165423
Soul Memory - 9,766,680
Final* build:
VGR - 26
END - 25
VIT - 24
ATN - 40
STR - 30
DEX - 30
ADP - 9
INT - 4
FTH - 99 (max level, even with ring that gives +5 FTH)
Lightning BNS/DEF maxed out at 200 (leads me to believe other attack and def modifiers also max at 200, test pending)

38 achievements for 1000 points, All required and optional bosses killed on NG and NG+, the Four Old Ones and all bosses leading to them on NG++, the FOO on bonfire intensity 4, Looking Glass Knight bonfire intensity 5

Whew! Now that that's done.

Personally, this was my favorite Souls game. There are aspects and decisions I didn't like, but overall with everything on the table, it's easily the best amalgamation of all the good ideas present in each. I've read a lot of complaints about various things from graphics to gameplay strategies, but for every horribly jaggy shadow there's a gorgeous and unique vista just ahead, and for every rage inducing invasion there is a much more satisfying co-op session of taking out invaders. The game is balanced in almost everything it does.

One of the best parts for me was the atmosphere of each area. From did a great job varying up the locations, each of the 20 plus areas feels totally different and yet easily part of the same world. My favorite areas were the Iron Keep for it's badass castle design and lava errywhere, The Dark Chasm of Old for it's hopelessly claustrophobic feeling while still being able to see so the deaths don't feel cheap like in TotG, Majula for those warm hues and sense of community that The Nexus and Firelink didn't have, and Dragon's Aerie for it's interesting overlapping design and awesome dragons all over the place and those stairs...

There are really few areas that I genuinely didn't like. I wasn't a big fan of the Gutter, but it was easy to get through pretty quickly once I learned the way. Grave of Saints, however, was not fun. Mostly because of that shitty rat boss, who I equate to this game's Capra Demon in terms of dumb frustration. I also hate the Shrine of Amana. I've never been a fan of water sections in this series, and this level houses some awesome loot and is really cool looking in it's own way but it's such a slog with the damn water everywhere.

I like that they discourage farming in the game by limiting the number of enemy spawns per game cycle while increasing item drops in general and just throwing souls at you. Seriously, I never once farmed an area (save for after beating the game and trying to get enemies to drop Sunlight Medals) and still managed to acquire nearly 10 million souls in just under six days of game time. And to clarify, probably a good 10 to 15 hours (if not more) could be subtracted from my game time for time spent idle, on account of there being no pause and I don't like quitting out unless I'm done playing.

The decision to make more of everything seems like a solid choice to me, as one of the most fun parts of these games has been customizing a totally unique character build and making it work while still looking sweet. The sheer number of different weapons and sets of armor is staggering, but welcome since each area has different status and hit effects going on and customizing yourself for the job at hand is quick and easy. For the first half of the first run I used a Heide Knight Sword +10, then switched over to a Lightning Bastard Sword +10. I experimented with every weapon in the game and lots of them have unique moves and interesting abilities, but end up being not very practical in most situations. That freakin' Bastard Sword is a beast, though. Remove the Lightning and it's scaling improves, but it's wide arc moveset, low weight, and huge damage output made it my go to weapon, even into the NG++ playthrough with a different build than I started with. But the biggest damage dealing weapon I had was the Black Knight Halberd +5, it's scaling is great and at +5 it does like 450 total base damage. I'm going to respec to a 99str 99dex character and see what kind of damage that thing does.

OH YEAH, RESPEC-ING!!! Something I wanted in every Souls game, as I tend to make a really general character at first with some levels in everything and then my dude is just milktoast until I boost something. And not only once, there are 3 or 4 Soul Vessels per game cycle (I believe that's how many I picked up). This is a godsend if you're stuck and want to try another strategy completely, or if you're just bored of your build and want to try something new. I went straight melee and pyro through the end of NG, respec-ed to a Mage with a minor in Faith (and therefore, a powerful Hexer), and finally settled on a Faith melee build. That decision was made by asking "How can I get through this game as fast as possible?"

As I mentioned before, the Lightning and Great Lightning Spears, along with the god-tier Sunlight Spear, are pretty much the most powerful things there are with a good chime and high FTH (I used a Dragon Chime +5). That's not to say that once you have those the game is so much easier, as enemies get better at evading them, casting time can be tight and it has almost no crowd control, but they are blissfully powerful against most bosses and can ease frustrations in many of those fights. Similarly, Chaos Storm (pyro) has a hefty cast time (even with 199 cast speed), but once it gets going most things die quickly, assuming your pyro hand is at +10 (there are 14 or 15Fire Seeds per cycle, I believe, so DO IT). Spells were kinda meh for me in this game, but at my strongest my mage was running 65 INT so maybe I should try it again. Soul Geyser was pretty meaty against bosses like the Old Iron King, and also Soul Vortex on bosses who don't move a lot was doing real nice damage. Crystal Soul Spear is real nice but it's not until you've beaten the Duke's Dear Freija that you can even get it, and to get more you have to do that again, and she's a bitch the higher you go. Hexes... I tried them and just wasn't that impressed. Some of the better ones use your on hand souls to determine the power of the hex, and it can get real expensive real quick. The only one I never tried was Climax, which could possibly be the best spell in the game because it's determined by how many souls you have and it uses ALL of them to launch a single attack. The other day I was running around with 1.9 million souls and I thought of trying it out on Vendrick, but even though I had nothing to buy and didn't need to level I couldn't bear to use them all in one attack.

The way the story was presented was a welcome change. There were many more characters to encounter and talk to, and lots of them had good amounts of info and would change dialogue after meeting certain conditions. My favorites were definitely Straid of Olaphis and the insane Navlan. Their dialogues are interesting, odd, informative, and well voiced, and I especially enjoyed leaving a convo with Straid because of his emphatic "Feeble cursed one!" line.

There's probably things I was going to mention and just forgot, but this took forever and a day to write for various reasons, so maybe I'll add to it someday but for now I'm done. Congrats if you made it this far! :P

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