Here's What The Developers Of Dark Souls II Can Do To Make It Better

Good morning! I want to take this opportunity to talk about Dark Souls. And since you've probably heard its praises sung a thousand times over, I'm going to instead talk about everything that could be done better in Dark Souls II.

Please don't get me wrong — I like this series. I probably like it too much. I've put hundreds of hours into both games across multiple platforms. I have Dark Souls apparel. My next tattoo is probably going to be a bonfire (inner left forearm). Sometimes I turn the game on in the middle of my work day and just leave it, listening to the sounds and waiting to fight the occasional invader.

But let's be honest: it isn't perfect. The good — the heart-pounding difficulty, dark, engrossing world, and inventive multiplayer — far outweighs the bad, but that's no reason to ignore what should be fixed as we journey on to Dark Souls II.

Tweaking Multiplayer

For one thing — and this stings for me as much as does it for all of you — Dark Souls' multiplayer is simultaneously its best and worst feature. Vicious PVP and jolly co-operation are what's kept me and thousands of others playing for over a year, but we all know it's broken; sometimes you just can't connect to anyone at all.

Thankfully, it's already known that Dark Souls II will feature new server-based multiplayer, so hopefully the current system's shortcomings will be taken care of right off the bat. Of course, that doesn't take care of imbalances like overpowered, laggy back-stabs, but that's another issue entirely.

Technicalities

Other technical shortcomings — the frame rate stutters, the muddy textures, the wanton glitches — should be ironed out as well, and Dark Souls II's new engine will hopefully help in that area. Beyond that, though, the series' AI needs a serious kick in the arse — imagine how difficult the game's grotesque and numerous enemies could be if they actually thought once in a while instead of just going through the same, tired motions every time they spawn?

Imagine if plot details were doled out through dialogue and character interactions instead of static in-game descriptions of shields and rings.

That ties into another issue: exploits. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've etched away at the Kite Dragon's health from a distance and taken shelter in the dead zone during Demon's Souls' Storm King boss fight. As challenging as these games are, I'll take any advantage I can. But with more dynamic AI, this type of exploit should be eliminated, and Dark Souls II will only be better for it.

Accessibility

Finally — and this may not be a popular opinion right now — a more accessible Dark Souls II might not be a bad thing. The new director's recent statements on the subject enraged fans, and understandably — no one wants Dark Souls to turn into Skyrim. But seriously, let's talk about this for a second. Imagine if you didn't have to check the Dark Souls wiki every time you wanted to upgrade an item, or if plot details were doled out through dialogue and character interactions instead of static in-game descriptions of shields and rings. As long as they retain a similar sense of wonder and sometimes desperate isolation, it can still be great. Hell, it could be even better.

Oh, and how about a half-decent PC port, and a Wii U version, too? That GamePad is begging for a worthy inventory screen.

That's my two cents, at least, but I'm sure you've got plenty to say on subject as well. Just remember, Kotaku readers: you have a heart of gold. Don't let 'em take it from you.


Comments

    I always had a tough time getting multiplayer to work in both Demon's and Dark Souls, so if they could improve how that all works it would be awesome.

    Motivation through story/character. Beyond just having good gameplay mechanics to motivate us, a story (that doesn't require reading wikis and youtube to understand) and characters to motivate us would be great.

    *maybe some spoilers here*
    Also, I think it would be good if we could have...a little happiness for some of the characters? For example, Crossbreed Priscilla. There was a rumour that Priscilla was going to be the heroine of the first dark souls game, which I thought would have been awesome!

    Imagine if she had her own covenant of some kind (which involved imbuing you with some of her powers or something), and in return you give her humanity. And the more you give her, the more she shrinks each time you visit (cause she's huge) - until she finally becomes human sized (maybe more human as well, except still with tail). Then it ends by her cutting off her dragon tail which turns into a weapon (a sword or dagger with lifehunt ability) , which she then gives you.

    Then when next you visit, she's disappeared, and Seath's people kidnap her. And then you have to defeat Seath to get her back (or if he's already dead, you defeat his followers that are using her to try and resurrect him, or something)

    And after taking the dark ending, she leaves with you, so it becomes a happy dark ending...

    Sorry, if it felt like gushing, but the Fair Lady and Priscilla were the most super-tragic and interesting characters to me.

    Anyways, making the story more easier to understand through the atypical 'Notes found on corpse' etc would be good.

      Shibuya (the new director) recently said that a keyword for the new game is "sorrow". I don't think you'll get what you want.

        I think the souls franchise may be the most depressing game series i've ever played.

    Here's one: A solid pc port.

    imagine how difficult the game’s grotesque and numerous enemies could be if they actually thought once in a while instead of just going through the same, tired motions every time they spawn?

    I don't agree necessarily. Part of why the last game was good and tolerable is because the AI is predictable, and there are many different enemies that have different attack patterns that make them unique. They do not need to be smarter. It would just make the game more frustrating when you have to fight different enemies that group together to attack you.

    But with more dynamic AI, this type of exploit should be eliminated, and Dark Souls II will only be better for it.

    Again I disagree. These exploits are there for players to make their own choice in how they want to approach enemies like the Kite Dragon. HITMAN ABSOLUTION tried to change up their AI and the results can be random and sometimes chaotic when you compound several of them at once.

    "Dynamic AI" is just another buzzword the gaming press likes to use have AI features from other games carried over but never describe in enough detail how they think it should work, and more importantly, why they think it would work. Dynamic AI should always be a goal in general, but these ideas applied for this specific game are horrible.

    The most important lesson for good AI is to allow the player to have more than enough power to maintain a good degree of control of any situation. The mechanics of the player must always supersede the abilities of the AI. The AI can be super powerful or fast (Or both in the case of Orstein & Smough) but must compromise on intelligence.

    E.g. It may not be "intelligent" for the AI in HITMAN to not recognise your face when it isn't even obscured by the costume you're wearing, but it's a compromise that makes the game work/sometimes fun.

    On the other hand, the AI in the game can also somehow recognise who you are despite being just a simple chef, or janitor. That's the kind of 'intelligence-and-then-some' that's unfair to the player because they've given you a shoddy way of dealing with it.

    DS had enemies that befit player mechanics and that If the mechanics of DARK SOULS II haven't changed, I hope they don't make too drastic a change to AI either.

    Last edited 24/12/12 9:59 am

      I agree. My rule for AI is: Tough. Fast. Smart. Pick two.

      This means that no matter the enemy there is always one aspect that the player has an advantage. If the monster has high HP, can do stupid amounts of damage and is fairly quick, then it is unfair if they do not have predictable attack patterns.

      In my opinion this is essential for the game mechanics of DS. The unforgiving nature is dictated by powerful enemies, but whenever you are killed, you know it is your own fault because the enemies are predictable. If they were smart as well, death would feel cheap, a sensation I never got whilst playing.

    Accessibility or the lack of it appealed to me greatly. I loved the fact this game didnt spoon feed Me like every other of its kind does. It made for more of an achievement and made the game deeper than just the combat, i wish more games were like this, not treating me like im stupid.

      Yeah but there's treating the player like they're stupid and then there's literally obfuscating elements of the game.

      As in with Demon's Souls, there would be no actual way I could have known about: item crafting, the value of a demon soul (apart from juicy exp), colourless demon's souls, the effect of world tendency, that assassin that will kill everybody, whether or not dragons could be killed, the value of rock lizards and so much more.

      It doesn't have to be easy and there's still a lot that players can discover, but Japanese games have held on the ridiculous notion that it's okay to actually hide entire mechanics and choices from their players until it's too late.

    I'd like to see a return to the more focused Nexus/world structure of Demon's Souls instead of the more open world approach taken by Dark Souls. That was the main reason I preferred Demon's Souls to Dark Souls - I just got sick of wandering around getting lost in Dark Souls, to the point I gave up on it without finishing it after I went away on holiday for a month and came back and just couldn't get back into it.

      Agree. I much prefered the way Demon's did things over Dark's open world approach. I hated all the running back and forth in Dark Souls and without looking up a guide I'd find myself completely lost with absolutely no indication of where to go next.

        Wow, you got lost in Dark Souls? That bewilders me.

        I also prefer NOT to be told what to do next and where to go. It feels more realistic and leaves the decisions to me instead of being forced down a particular direction. Make me learn which areas are too hard at a particular SL. I'm a grown up, I like that it treats me like one.

        Last edited 24/12/12 11:12 pm

      Wow you didn't even finish it? I love Demon's souls it had better art direction, NPCs and it's the original souls game. Though the one thing I did not miss was the Nexus, don't get me wrong The Maiden in Black was a better leveling system as were the NPCs in the Nexus but Souls games are about the atmosphere and the isolation that the bonfires imposed was a welcoming addition.
      I disagree with the article on a few levels too, the souls engine isn't as terrible as everyone claims one of its main issues is that it has too much draw distance crowded with complex structures (Blighttown). You also don't need to check the wiki at all, it ruins the game and lets players fend for themselves, if you want to be pandered and spoon fed go play wow.
      Also Dark Souls was never about the plot, it was about the atmosphere; the monomyth Miyazaki created was vague because he didn't understand the english in the western stories he was reading and I believe this helped create that isolated and dark atmosphere that souls games excel at producing and strive to make.
      I do think that Dark souls has a healthy evolution from Demon's souls, I am looking forward to Dark Souls 2 though I maybe slightly pessimistic due to this whole forced story dilemma and an easy introduction before becoming the "true dark souls" but also because its a direct sequel, anything which chooses to tack on a 2 and recycle the old formula generally isn't as good as the previous settings (Bioshock 2 for example, it wasn't terrible but it lacked the new design and effort that infinite is promising)
      This article felt slightly like Kotaku read the Edge article and just needed to put something out there, which isn't that big a deal I was just hoping for some new info though; Keep up the great coverage.

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