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.
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.
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?
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.
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.