Like its predecessor, beating the game becomes a good pat on the back after a tireless journey through several locations, with countless deaths in tow. This time, you also get be crowned as the ruler of Drangleic!
After passing through the creepy area that is Aldia's Keep, seeing the Dragon Aerie and the Dragon Shrine for the first time has left many players speechless, largely because of the surreal setting which ditches the Dark Fantasy for a High Fantasy feel.
In the same area, going at the top of the Dragon Shrine will grant you an audience with an Ancient Dragon, who communicates with you telepathically and in an unforgettable Black Speech maner.
So many of the areas are utterly breathtaking, and not just from specific views, either. Cardinal Tower, for instance, allows you to clime a huge, stone sword (with a severed stone hand attached) that's jutting out of the castle wall...and then you see two giant stone statues on either side of the castle wall. One is missing a hand—the one you're standing on—and the other is missing its head. Much, much later in the game, you find out what happened to the head...
The Doors of Pharros are absolutely ethereal. It's like a place with an infinite number of stone doorways of an infinite number of sizes, all leading to untold places. Its pairing with water as its theme only makes it even more awesome.
Drangleic Castle, however, deserves special mention. The approach to it is utterly breathtaking, and practically every inch of the place is a sight to see. An obsidian-black castle in pouring rain and illuminated by a lightning storm has quite the impression.
Majula is practically made of gorgeous views, and not just because of the beautiful, ever-present sunset there. It's easy to stop by the cliff and stare at the shores for a long while, even if there are more important tasks at hand.
Things Betwixt is hauntingly beautiful and highly surreal. It's mostly dark, but the player can light a number of torches through out it, making it look like an illuminated path to the beginning of your epic journey. The impossibly-tall stone columns and trees in the middle of a vast ocean, all of which is seemingly inside a (somehow) hollowed-out mountain except for a single crack of sunlight...
Shrine of Amana is amazing to look at and think about. It takes place on a massive lake, hidden under a ginormous tree, that might even be an Archtree from Lordran. The echoing song of the maidens rebound off the walls of the cavern and back into your ears, giving you a sense of calm or unease depending on your disposition.
The Ancient Dragon's Memories, a small look at the world in the Time of Ancients, before Gwyn. And in it, the immense corpse of an Everlasting Dragon. You can even use its soul to craft a weapon with a pretty awesome callback to the first game's intro.
Alonne Knights. Giant, armored knights that act like samurai, such as sheathing and unsheathing their blades after every swipe, and have impressive looking armor. Not to mention their fairly intimidating death cry that matches the Black Knights' death cry from the first game.
Fans of the previous game get to see a Call Back as early as their trek in Heide's Tower of Flame. Once you make your way to the Blue Cathedral, prepare for a vicious church brawl against the Old Dragonslayer, accompanied by the ever brilliant soundtrack. It's just as awesome as it sounds.
Illuminating the Undead Crypt. Originally, it looks mostly featureless and black. But once the lights come on, you see what you've been missing...
It's heavily implied that King Vendrick was behind all the barriers and measures blocking your way to the Throne of Want, in an effort to stop Queen Nashandra from taking over. Even if he ultimately became a mindless Hollow, he succeeded.
The battle with the Looking Glass Knight. Not only is the boss himself visually astounding, his arena is equally beautiful, and to top it all off, you fight him in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. The game essentially drops all pretense and indulges in a cinematic tribute to Battle in the Rain.
The ending. Confronted with the choice of Linking the Fire or abandoning it, the Undead Hero does not even hesitate to sit on the Throne of Want.
The Crown of the Sunken King DLC is just chock full of awesome moments.
In the very first stretch of the DLC, it's entirely possible to use the switches to your advantage. Stare in awe as emerging structures bash unsuspecting Hollow warriors For Massive Damage.
Facing Elana is what the fight against Nashandrashould have been. A greater number of hexes to cast, she uses pyromancy, she can summon Mooks, she teleports!
And one of those mook summons? Velstadt.
Slaying Sinh the Slumbering Dragon is like facing Kalameet all over again and it is glorious.
Something added in that doesn't require the DLC being bought in order to encounter: you can now use the Ashen Mist Heart on Vendrick's clothes/armor in the Undead Crypt and encounter him before he Hollowed.
The Crown of the Old Iron King is also chock full of awesome moments:
Crossing a giant chain to reach a broken-down castle is awesome, looking down to see you are so far in the air you can't even make out the ground clearly, and what you can see is rivers of magma, and with ash falling from the sky like snow is mega-awesome.
The Phantom Mordlin the Assassin who challenges Jester Thomas for the position of smartest phantom, being the first one to run away to get backup from other enemies and heal when the fighting gets tough. Yes that's right, the phantoms are learning OUR techniques.
Dark spirit Quicksword Rachel, who comes at you with a sword that can assume any element she wants, combined with an unbreakable poise and heavy armour, she's a good challenge.
The boss lurking at the bottom of the Brume Tower, the Fume Knight (or Sir Raime the Rebel), puts you on the defensive right away with an ultra greatsword and longsword combo that strikes both fast and hard. Just when you think you have the the upper hand, he ditches his smaller blade and sets his BFS on fire, gaining the ability to swipe half the arena with dark fire and shoot out a 360 degree Fire Orb attack that can cause One-Hit Kill if you aren't wearing good enough armour.
The boss residing at the very top of the Brume Tower, Sir Alonne, is one of the fastest striking bosses in the Souls franchise. Wielding a katana as big as he is, which is big, he comes at you with tricky moves that require pinpoint dodging and the ability to carefully determine how much stamina you can afford to spend before being rendered defenseless. The very second you can't dodge in this fight, you have lost.
If you defeat him without taking any damage, he will commit Seppuku in shame. A true samurai to the very end.
And for the third and final boss, guess who's back? The Smelter Demon! And he got an upgrade. This time you fight in a near pitch-dark arena, the only light source being the hauntingly beautiful blue flames coming out of the massive demon that's charging at you with an even bigger BFS than before that's made of blue fire, and who has brand new moves to trip you up and some new details added onto his armour to make him look even more intimidating than before.
Returning to meet Vendrick in the Memories again and learning that a true king, the one who will defeat the curse once and for all, will be able to harness both Fire and Dark. And that shadow, despite being dark, is a servant of Fire. The brighter the flame, the darker the shadow.
The three bosses of the Old Iron King DLC are, in many ways, a moment of awesome for the game designers. They have managed to outdo themselves with the challenge of these three. The Blue Smelter Demon is essentially a second coming of one of the most deadly bosses in the main game, this time with Magic instead of Fire as his main theme. The Fume Knight is a battle the likes of which we have not seen since Artorias Of The Abyss. And Sir Alonne is one of the most incredible and most challenging duels in the game. The designers have set up the players with not one, but three Lightning Bruiser bosses that will challenge players to their utmost.
And now for the Crown of the Ivory King:
After defeating the final DLC boss and acquiring the titular crown, you bring all the crowns to Vendrick and he imbues all of them with a special power that prevents hollowing and has infinite uses. Seems quite useful... then the Fridge Brilliance kicks in and you recall that your character basically came to Drangleic in hopes to cure their undead curse - and has just succeeded in doing so. Sure, it's not perfect and the Undead Hero still will lose their souls after death, but as long they wear any of the crowns, they will not turn into a mindless monstrosity.
The King's Pets bosses. You fight huge spellcasting white tigers in the middle of a snow storm.
The final battle for the crown itself. This time, you're not fighting a dragon, or a fallen knight. Instead, you're fighting the Ivory King himself, tainted by the Chaos Flame. And not just any king, but one who, long before taking the crown, was the most powerful swordsman in Forossa, home of badasses such as Head of Vengarl. He makes his entrance by emerging from a gigantic Hellgate, and as soon as the fight starts, he makes sure you'll learn how powerful he is through leaps, jumps and howls which would make False King Allant proud.