I'm not sure I'm done hating you yet, Dark Souls II, but I get you.
And if we're being completely honest, I also kind of love you.
After spending much of the last console generation avoiding the previous Souls games, I decided to give From Software's latest brutal RPG a try. And behind the often obtuse systems, occasionally baffling UI, and some initially rocky network performance, I found 8 ways to survive (and love) Dark Souls II.
8. Sometimes, Maybe Consider Killing the NPCs
Did you just try to kill an NPC? Maybe that mage/merchant at the top of the tower? Yeah, that probably wasn't a great idea. And now you're dead.
Okay, this is a terrible idea, but one that could yield interesting rewards and unique loot under the right set of circumstances (you're a bit higher level, have thoroughly bought everything you're going to buy from them).
Some of the NPCs in Dark Souls II are hauling unique loot, like stat-boosting rings which you might not have enough souls to buy outright.
And given how notoriously obscure some of the systems in the Souls games are, it almost feels like you're getting one over on Dark Souls II by removing something from the environment that's (theoretically) supposed to be permanent.
That's if, you know, you survive the encounter.
7. Skeletons Are Assholes. Avoid Them.
Here we have a game filled with flaming ambushes, blind walkways, and poison, poison everywhere. So what better thing to add than unkillable skeletons?
Reminiscent of the old Castlevania baddies, these guys will go down with a couple of satisfying thwacks, only to rise again, ready to return the favor.
There's probably a way to end them permanently, but as with most things Dark Souls II-related, I'm much too stubborn to let the game win and take to the Internet to find out. I mean, if some eager soul posted the solution in the comments that I compulsively read, then I'd have no choice but to find out there, but much like a stereotypical dude in a hacky sitcom, I refuse to get out and ask for directions.
6. Be Poised (Or, Build a Character That Can Take a Hit)
Finally, we're into the nitty gritty of the mechanics, right? We're at the point where we can start talking about what stats to dump where.
Well, not quite.
Frankly, even at 25 hours and something like 64 levels of character progression, I don't have a firm grasp on all of the stats in Dark Souls II, and I only know that you want to dump points into those stats that increase poise based on conversations with friends about the previous games.
But now my fairly hearty lady night with plenty of HP and a STR of 21 barely survives even the most cursory encounter with poison. Maybe I should have put more points into ADP?
My best advice: unless you're speccing out some kind of oddball challenge character (a naked brawler, perhaps), try to avoid having any stats in the single digits if you can.
5. Learn to Roll!
I lost 10,000 souls in the span of an hour the other night. It was a multi-whammy thing of getting killed in an area pretty far from my last bonfire, then, on the trip to retrieve them, getting whacked by a not-too-tough bruiser with a pair of scythes.
The look on my face, you'd think I was just forced to watch someone eat my puppy.
Evading enemies in Dark Souls II is a skill you'll have to hone over time; the dodge-attack-dodge rhythm all dependent on how your character is balanced and what weapons/armor you're carrying.
And it took me some time to learn this. Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, this is not: twitch strategies aren't welcome here, and before you even approach an enemy, you should be thinking about how you plan to get out of its way. Because there's no telling if it's got a second or third lunge up its sleeve, or a sweeping arc attack, or it's a suicide bombing ghoul.
Seriously, eff those guys. With arrows.