Dark Souls 2 Could Redeem Its Lore Through DLC

There were three games that had a chance at being my GOTY. Dark Souls 2 (of course), Trials Fusion, and The Witcher 3. With the Witcher delayed, and Trials being a tad disappointing for me, the ol' Dark Trolls has it pretty much wrapped up. But it ain't perfect — and with the second of three DLC packs released today, my fingers are crossed the extra content will plug some of the holes in the lore.

Hindsight is important in the Souls series. Lore is sparse, deliberately understated so that only players who delve into it find answers. Even then, it's impossible for one player to find it all — it typically takes the wider community several months to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I've likened the story of Dark Souls and Demon's Souls to a book that had every fourth page ripped out, leaving it up to the reader's imagination and clues found elsewhere to fill in the gaps. It's a brilliant by-product of producer Hidetaka Miyazaki's experience reading novels about the medieval West, in which he couldn't fully understand the English.

Trouble is, it's been a while now, and many big questions from Dark Souls 2 are still unanswered. With pretty much all possible information gleaned from the game, including cut content extracted by the data miners, we're left with puzzle pieces that don't really fit together. It's as if instead of writing the novel and then ripping the pages out, this time they simply didn't bother to write the unused pages — and it's not the same.

What did Vendrick retrieve from the giants? What's the true nature of Nashandra? How are the giants related to the dragons? How did Gwyn evolve into the Old Iron King, or is the answer actually just "something something Gwyn something something fire".

It's easy to speculate to speculate that this might be due to Miyazaki not taking the Producer role on Dark Souls 2, instead providing input on the project while overseeing his next game, Bloodborne. Perhaps that's reaching too far, but anyone who's read how he talks in Design Works knows how much thought he gives to why something is there. That's what's missing in Dark Souls 2. There are lots of interesting things... But why.

The community has been great in coming up with theories, and of course lore interpreters like VaatiVidya are in fine form, as always. But it's been long enough, now. We've been happy for a while to say the jury is out on Dark Souls 2 lore. Now, it appears the jury isn't coming back.

Enter the DLC. Three scheduled packs of content within three months, the second of which just went live today. I played through the first pack, Crown of the Sunken King, and it was well worth it for the large areas and boss fights. But, without giving anything away, there was an extra piece of lore hidden in there, and the promise of more afterwards.

Tonight I'll be hammering through the second pack. Literally — with a hammer. And I don't expect any major questions to be answered when I retrieve the second crown. But in a month, when I get that third crown? To not give us answers would be missing a huge opportunity. This is From Software's chance to retroactively fix the one lacking element of Dark Souls 2.

Maybe they did think about it, planned everything, and it's all there somewhere. If that's the case, then they should be looking at the community and saying, "Alright, nobody is even close to guessing it, it's time to throw them a bone."

Throw us a bone, From. We've licked the other bones clean of meat, and we're still hungry.


    “For Dark Souls II, we don’t even expect any additional downloadable content because we want to deliver a full game, the full experience, to fans who purchase the package from day one,”


    *sigh* :(

      IIRC, they followed up that very statement with something along the lines of "if the fans really want it, we will revisit the issue."

      And they did give us a full game. There are no missing chunks ala Assassin's Creed 2.

        Exactly. There is no issue of missing content or shady DLC. Just us customers wanting more content that was not planned and getting it.

        Well no, there's no missing chunks of game, exactly.
        But there are big holes in the story and lore of the main game, and if they are explained in DLC, I hardly think people who bought the game on release got "the full experience".

        take into account the bosses are just re-skinned bosses from the full game, so its a tad disappointing

        It might be a full game, but it really doesn't match up to the last two Souls games. They put too much effort into making it hard and forgot Souls was more than just that.

          I dunno... have you watched those "Dark Souls II Ending Explained" videos? There's a pretty great story in this game, too.

    how much thought he gives to why something is there
    That's one of the things that blew me away about Dark Souls 1, that I've not yet seen in DS2. My "holy crap" moment was finding out who the caster in Undead Parish served - that entire scene, from which enemies were there, and where they were in the area, implied a (rather sad) sequence of events that you stumbled into the middle of, that you don't even realise until much later on.

      Yep, prime example. There's just more and more of that in DS1, and it's brilliant. These questions are all there in DS2, but the dots aren't connecting, and the answers are either *really* elusive (so as to fool basically everyone in the community), or just not there.

        Wait. I thought I was on top of the lore of DS1. Who did the caster worship etc link please?

          Pretty sure he's referring to Seath's Channeler in the Church.

            Oh wow OK. I am going to have to delve further.
            Seath's story was awesome but I don't remember anything making me put that Channeller at the library in any direct connection to the church in Undead Parish.

            Last edited 27/08/14 12:44 pm

              Pretty sure it's in the item text for for either their armour or the trident. The Channelers are all Seath's. They're his eyes and ears throughout Lordran, and he used them to capture beings and bring them back to The Duke's Archives for experimentation.

                Yes that is all correct.
                Re-reading the original posters comment I think I have over thought it thinking there was more. He is just stating wow they are related and nothing more.

                  Specifically, if you assume the Channeller is there under orders from Seath, who was abducting women for experimentation, it may be safe to assume that the firekeeper soul that the Berenike knight is guarding was not too long ago a living firekeeper. If that's the case, she likely came from Berenike herself, seeing as the knight seems so protective of her - I'd guess she was of noble birth as she's got a knight for a bodyguard. The Channeller, seeking to abduct the firekeeper for Seath's experiments, fought the knight protecting her, and the firekeeper died (by accident?) in the ensuing battle. The Channeller, believing the firekeeper's soul to be a sufficient prize to avoid punishment for failing to capture her alive, started waiting for a chance to grab the soul. The knight, still protective of her even after her death, stands guard. This is the standoff you see when you enter the chapel - the channeller watching for an opportunity from above, the knight standing guard in front of the altar.
                  Of course, that's my interpretation, based on what I saw and read in the item descriptions (I could've sworn there was something in that firekeeper soul's description that led me down this line of reasoning, but looking on the wiki I can't find it), is the result of many logical leaps, and may be completely wrong. But the fact that I can read that much into something that is at its essence "enemy placement" is the reason I find DS1 so fascinating. There are stories all over the place, if you just stop and question.

        Yea, I thought I came across a few cases of enemies noticeably out of place, but when the answer's not "Vendrick did it", it's really never explained at all.

          Entire sections of the game are out of place. It is just bizarre.

            Examples, I might be able to clear something up?

            I've read enough Sci-Fi to not be too concerned about heading up a lift from a windmill atop a lone peak, and arriving in a caldera. Warped space is an easy explanation for that, it just requires an explanation for why - what warped it? How? I doubt the Bene Tleilax are a part of Drangleic's lore.
            I'm more talking about grave wardens in Earthen Peak, and turtle knights in Forest of Fallen Giants, and mastodon knights in Drangleic Castle, and the giant warriors under Black Gulch, and so on... Everything seems like it's so out of place that it must have a story behind how it got there, but they don't seem to be told - at least two of those I just mentioned are "Vendrick did it to fight the giants", which is extremely boring from a story perspective. And that's the problem - there's too much information still missing, and much of what we know to be fact is extremely dull.

              Again, I think everyone needs to give it time. The stories will evolve with time. I don't think its 100% as mapped as Dark Souls 1 was (but that game was by lore standards, perfection), but I don't think its all as bad as some people think.

              The interesting thing about the Ironclads in the Forest is that they're the Old Ironclads. Rusty and Moss covered. Did the Old Iron King send them long ago to retrieve something of Vendricks? They are located near one of the Giant trees.

              The Primal Knights are actually native to Drangleic castle (as Vendrick created them, probably with help from Aldia). The ones found at the doors of Pharros are undead hollow versions. So the question there is what did Vendrick want from that area?

              The Wardens I cannot explain and might be a case where the developers truly did throw the lore aside. An explanation I read suggested that since its possible to go through the crypt without upsetting the wardens, the player might never fight them, and the developers didn't want to waste an entire enemy unit like that.

              I thought the giants in Black Gulch were hiding. They came to attack Drangleic, the attack went south when the Giant Lord died, they hid. Time forgot them.

              Last edited 27/08/14 4:02 pm

                Near two of the giant trees, actually. The one below the fireball throwers is just round the corner from one, and the four(?) in the back (past the locked door) are near one that holds the giant's seed. But the Old Ironclad armour description heavily implies that Vendrick reanimated them, and the only reason I can imagine for doing so is to help fend off the Giants.
                Good point on the Primal Knights, I need to read more about the events surrounding the end of the war and Aldia's disappearance. The mastodon greatshield gives a good overview - created by Aldia at some point, died out and revived by Vendrick after Aldia left. I need to get the timeline straight in my head, though... cos it seems to me at the moment that Vendrick revived them to guard the castle long after the war ended... and that sounds like unnecessary lengths to go to.
                As posited below, the only reason I can think of for the Wardens to be there is to take her to the Crypt when she's ready. She predates the Old Iron King, and her reason for being in Earthen Peak is essentially to ingest the poison to remain young and beautiful. I can only imagine that the poison may have actually killed her in some sense, and the Grave Wardens are waiting for her to recognise that. Watching over the sanctity of the dead is kinda their thing, after all...
                Re. the giant warriors, that's what I thought, too... I only wonder about it because it seems a little atypical, given the behaviour you see from every other giant you encounter.

                  What lore bit makes you think the Primal Knights were created long after the war ended? I don't think Aldia created them by himself and then Vendrick reanimated them. In my head it goes:
                  Vendrick steals the object of power from the Giants > The Giants come to reclaim it > Vendrick needs a little more defence in fending off the Giants (what if they break through the Forest and reach the castle, I'll be doomed!) so he turns to Aldia (whose always been a bit twisted) and using Vendricks power and Aldia's knowledge of questionable science they create the Primal Knights.

                  I'm still wondering why they're in Pharros though. There's nothing for them there. I mean, it's possible Nashandra sent them on errands post Vendrick's hollowing, and that's just where they turned hollow, but ehhhh.

                  The description on the Mastadon Greatshield, which ends with:
                  Whatever was created by Lord Aldia was lost with his disappearance, but the King attempted to revive these things, even if only fragments remained.
                  The way I read this, it says Vendrick revived them after Aldia disappeared, using what little he could recover of Aldia's research. Seems like there were two instances where primal knights were "created" - originally by Aldia during his research, then later by Vendrick.
                  I was originally under the assumption that they were created to help fight the giants, but if so, why would Vendrick revive them later? I'm less sure of that assumption now - seems more likely that Aldia created them in one of his experiments trying to halt the curse, and Vendrick's recreation was when he needed them for the Giant war. But that means Aldia had left before/during the Giant War... and I can't find any info on how the "Aldia creates PKs > Aldia cleans up and leaves > Vendrick revives PKs" timeline intersects with "Vendrick steals from Giants > Giants attack > Vendrick revives PKs".

                  When did Aldia leave? If I knew that, I'd be able to tie the two lines together... If rumours are to be believed, the third DLC might be able to shed some light on that question.

                  As for the PKs in Doors of Pharros, I'd assumed that they were of the originals, somehow missed when Aldia cleaned up before he left. They stayed there, forgotten for long enough to hollow and for their armour to rust... As for why they were there in the first place, I've no idea - what would Aldia have sought in the Doors of Pharros...? Why was one guarding Santier's Spear, of all things?

                  Last edited 27/08/14 6:50 pm

    @junglistWhat did Vendrick retrieve from the giants?
    This is probably the least solved question of yours, but current theory suggests whatever it was allowed Vendrick to create/control the stone golems dotted around the land.
    What’s the true nature of Nashandra? That's pretty bluntly answered in the lore text. Shard of Manus. Specifically his obsession. All of her items are "item of Want"
    How are the giants related to the dragons? One of the more popular theories is that Aldia used the giant souls to create/revive the dragons. Ancient dragon dropping a Giant Soul. Emerald Herald being one of his attempts to do so.
    How did Gwyn evolve into the Old Iron King, or is the answer actually just “something something Gwyn something something fire”. The relation between the 4 great souls and the previous bosses still isn't entirely certain, but I think the best work has to do with cycles. Old Iron King isn't Gwyn. He's the Gwyn of this time. Events are just repeating themselves over and over and over again. Gwyn was a king who got a little too greedy and clung to his age of ruling, which was his downfall. Old Iron King was too greedy and it cost him his keep. After it sunk down into the lava he became the monster we see today. It has something to do with demons, but not entirely sure. Give it time. The 4 great souls of Dark Souls 2 aren't the 4 from one, but I suppose, reincarnation, or analogous.

    Now, a lot of that stuff isn't proven yet, but heck, a lot of the lore from Dark Souls 1 wasn't proven, just a common answer was ultimately agreed upon. On that matter, the community had years to craft and hone the lore for Dark Souls 1. Vaati's lore vids didn't start going up years after the game was released. DS2 is a few months old. Give it time.

    Last edited 27/08/14 1:23 pm

      Agreed on all counts. Nashandra arrived and told Vendrick that the Giants posed a threat, "oh, and while you deal with them, grab this for me, would you?" Vendrick declared war on the Giants, stole what Nashandra asked him to retrieve, brought it back to Drangleic and used it to reanimate/ensorcel a bunch of things - the stone golems, as you mention, the turtle knights of the old iron king (as seen in the Forest), the Mastodon knights (as seen guarding Drangleic Castle)... The giants came to reclaim what was stolen, and tore Drangleic apart in search of it.
      As for the four souls, I'm assuming that, like Manus' soul, once defeated they eventually gather, coalesce and reform - they're never really destroyed.
      There are still a few points I can't quite figure out, though mainly minutia... the geography makes no real sense, so I'm essentially chalking it up to "something screwed up space itself in Drangleic", and leaving it at that.
      Spoilered for rambling uncertainties.

      Regarding Mytha, why was she guarded by Grave Wardens? I mean, she predates the rise of Old Iron King, if I read into that correctly - maybe they're actually there to collect her after all this time? They're guardians over the sanctity of the dead... maybe all that poison actually killed her, and she didn't realise...
      What were the mages doing in Tseldora? From their clothes, I'd guess them to serve the Duke of Tseldora... were they trying to combat the spider "invasion"? It's fairly clear what happened to the duke (see the description on the Spider Fang)... so what do you encounter in his chambers - his soulless body, or someone else entirely? And why is Vengarl's body waiting by that bonfire? Vengarl paints it as a mindless killer... why was it in some random cave behind the Duke's chambers? If the Duke had imprisoned it to prevent it from continuing its carnage, surely there are better places than the room next to your Duke's chambers? If it was somehow persuaded to protect the duke, surely it would have been front and centre, not hidden at the back near the bonfire... or was it discarded to the back rooms when the Duke was corrupted and could thereafter defend himself?

      I've got more reading to do before I feel confident to answer any of these (and others), but, yes, I'm sure that, given time, the community will come up with and settle on explanations for most of it. There seems to be precious little to go on at this stage, though, and most of the great souls in DS2 seem to lack minions who could provide more details, like Seath, Gwyn, and Bed of Chaos had.

        Vengarl being there annoys me in both lore and gameplay ways. Lore wise, yeah, what's he doing there? I have zero clues. Gameplay wise: You meet his head, and he warns you about the body. Vengarl is awesome, and fighting the body of a great warrior sounds awesome. Problem is, you fight him him in a boring room, and by the time you get to him your level and gear is good enough that the fight is a pushover. Vengarl's body should've been roaming the misty part of Shaded Woods.

    Still hoping for that PS4 re-release, maybe sometime after Bloodborne? Also is it bad that I like the idea that they're thinking about annualising Souls games? That sounds fucking incredible to me.

      Hmmm? Who was talking about annualising them?

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