Video Game: Dark Souls II

Once more, into the Dark...

"Like a moth drawn to a flame, your wings will burn in anguish, time after time. For that is your fate... the fate of the cursed."

Dark Souls II is the 2014 sequel to Dark Souls. It was developed by From Software and published by Namco Bandai for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, PlayStation 4 and X Box One.

Long ago, in a walled off land, far to the north, a great king built a great kingdom called Drangleic. A place where souls may mend the ailing mind of humans cursed by the Darksign, an augur of darkness that grants its bearer the inability to die. But in return, the curse will take your past, your future, your very light, until you're something other than human. A thing that feeds on souls. A Hollow. And so, one day all "Undead" find themselves standing before Drangliec's gates, without really knowing why...

You take the role of one of these Undead, an untold number of years after the events of the first Dark Souls. After discovering all that's left of Drangleic is a decrepit fallen kingdom, you are tasked with seeking out its long-lost king, Vendrick. But to do so, you must first take the souls of the four great Old Ones that now rule the murky, forgotten land.

Overall, Dark Souls II is a larger version of the first game, with more of an "open-world" feel. The Nintendo Hard difficulty level has in many ways been amped up, but some frustrating or obtuse elements have also been re-tuned (the different covenants are properly explained, for instance). Several features of the game were met with acclaim, including its easy-to-learn-hard-to-master combat system that allows you to mix and match swords, axes, clubs, greatswords, magic, hexes, miracles, pyromancy, archery, crossbows, and more. The game was also praised for its environmental design, with many critics citing it as a step up from the previous Souls games.

3 DLC episodes, titled The Lost Crowns Trilogy, were released between July and September 2014: The Crown of the Sunken King, The Crown of the Old Iron King and The Crown of the Ivory King. Each episode adds new areas, enemies, bosses, and equipment, while delving into the past of previous kingdoms that rose and fell where Drangleic now stands.

An Expansion Pack update patch, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, followed on February 5, 2015. It added a new story NPC, augmented item descriptions and re-balanced gameplay. A retail "all-in" Game of the Year Edition was released the same day with the update features and all 3 previous DLC. A "high-spec" Updated Re-release version was also announced for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC, with the PC version being upgraded from Direct X9 to Direct X11. The DX11 PC version was released digitally on April 1, 2015, with the console versions being released on April 7, 2015. The "high-spec" version includes all the aforementioned content, while featuring upgraded graphics and remixed levels.

Dark Souls II provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: The level cap in this game is 838 for all eight classes, even higher than Dark Souls level 720 cap. Most players won't finish above level 120.
  • Action Bomb: The Undead Citizens, who can explode into fire, petrifying gas and acidic gas. The later two don't die when they explode either.
  • Action Survivor: The player character once again is just a minor adventurer who ended up cursed, and now has to fight demons, ancient kings and dragons.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • Weird names: Blacksmith Lenigrast, Crestfallen Saulden, Maughlin the Armorer, Sweet Shalquoir and Benhart of Jugo.
    • Standard names: Steady Hand McDuff, Laddersmith Gilligan, Jester Thomas.
      • Almost all of the NPC phantoms added by the DLC have fairly ordinary Western names, such as Bashful Ray, Quicksword Rachel, Oliver the Collector, and Woodland Child Victor.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Mild Mannered Pate is perfectly polite and helpful to you every time you meet. But Creighton of Mirrah claims he was locked up by them, and Pate will mock you when you hit a booby-trap he "forgot" to warn you about at the end of his quest line.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: In Earthen Peak, the King did not return Queen Mytha's feelings for her. Mytha in turn did not return the feelings of the man who became the Covetous Demon. It corrupted them both and ruined the realm.
  • All There in the Manual: The official game guide confirms a number of lore facts hinted at in the game itself, most notably that Queen Nashandra is a reborn fragment of Manus from Dark Souls.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Both endings leave the future unclear.
    • Take the Throne: You never find out if the Bearer of the Curse linked the fire or let it die out, and if either choice will end the Vicious Cycle of the Curse this time around.
      Emerald Herald: What lies ahead, only you can see.
    • Leave the Throne: Its unclear where the Bearer of the Curse will go next, only that they will seek another way to end the cycle of Light and Dark.
      Scholar: There is no path. Beyond the scope of Light, beyond the reach of Dark ...what could possibly await us?
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Clearing the game without dying or using a bonfire nets you a ring each. All they do is make your weapons invisible, which has limited utility in multiplayer.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: There's no shortage of examples in-story. The Skeleton Lords and Undead Hunters in Huntsman's Copse were originally hunters of the Undead under the Old Iron King, who later went Hollowed. The Undead Crypt is also guarded by the Imperious and Insolent soldiers, who once tried to conquer it and instead were made its gatekeepers after their death.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature:
    • Backtracking is even easier now that you can teleport between bonfires right from the start.
    • Enemies will eventually depopulate in a zone if you kill enough of them, making repeated boss runs easier. You can also bring enemies back with an item if you want later.
    • One covenant, Way of Blue, is available after the tutorial and sends you defenders when you're invaded.
    • Phantom summons are easier, and Small Soapstone Sign Shades can be temporarily summoned even after defeating an area's boss.
    • You can temporarily resurrect NPCs you've killed for fixed amount of souls.
    • You can bypass the four Old Ones if your Soul Memory is over one million at the Shrine of Winter. note 
    • Soul Vessel items that let you redistribute all your stat points, and thus salvage a botched character build.
    • The Ring of Life Protection saves your humanity and all souls obtained if you die, and can be repaired for a measly 3000 souls.
    • Human Effigies are far more common than Humanity in the first game. Making gradual loss of health from hollowing more manageable.
    • The Ring of Binding limits HP loss from hollowing to 75% of max, instead of 50%.
    • Beating a boss as a Phantom or Shade sends you back to your world with fully restored health, spell uses, condition of unbroken equipment, and humanity.
    • There is a shrine in a late game area which will restore the player's humanity if they don't have any human effigies in their inventory or too high a sin rating.
    • After defeating the Last Giant, Melentia will have infinite Lifegems in stock and they go for a very cheap price.
    • Adding magic / fire / etc. damage now only requires a single item, instead of an entire series of unique upgrade materials.
    • The player no longer starts New Game+ automatically upon viewing the credits, but is instead dumped back at the Far Fire.
    • From New Game+ and onwards, the 6 minute credits can be skipped.
    • Scholar of the First Sin's Agape Ring will absorb souls earned in multiplayer as a means of controlling Soul Memory.
  • Anti-Grinding: Certain enemies will disappear after 12 or so encounters, preventing players from farming one enemy for souls. Though Scholar of the First Sin will make enemies respawn indefinitely for Company of Champions covenant members.
  • Arc Symbol: Ashes. You turn to ashes when you die; Sinners Rise, The Throne of Want and other areas are covered in them, and Ashes can be used to power up your healing items.
  • Artifact Mook:
    • The Rusted Ironclads in the Forest of Fallen Giants said to have wandered away from the Old Iron King's land into Drangleic. Alonne Captains from that land can also be found at Drangleic Castle.
    • Inverted with the Grave Wardens, who show up in the Earthen Peak before you see them in the Undead Crypt.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • Enemies will start using backwards attacks if you constantly attack them from behind.
    • DLC invader npcs will use player gestures and tactics against you, including "mock" if you lose.
    • Covenant of Champions members will see enemies retreat when injured and coordinate attacks
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • AI can occasionally be broken by circling around them, leaving them standing motionless.
    • In the Sunken King DLC, Jester Thomas can be caught in an infinite stagger loop by spikes, as his AI will think it's in melee combat with the spikes.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • In the Undead crypt, you encounter two enemies who use the dual greatshields build that was used for challenge runs in Dark Souls. Their shield descriptions even calls it "playful".
    • The achievement/trophy for Heirs Of The Sun lampshades Solaire fandom jokes with "Brilliant Covenant: Discover a most brilliant covenant".
    • Memetic Badass Jester Thomas became a powerful invader in the Sunken King DLC.
    • The Pharros Mask from the Iron King DLC allows fans to recreate the "Giant Dad" build from Dark Souls.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Prestigious enemies and bosses have much more intricate move sets when compared to the typical, listless Hollow.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • Higher level spells can one-shot tough enemies, but have long wind ups or impractical costs:
      • Forbidden Sun, a giant fireball that leaves its own trail of fire, but costs multiple attunement slots and has only a few uses.
      • Climax is the most damaging attack in the game if you have over 5000 souls. However, each use eats all your souls.
      • Soul Geyser unleashes multiple Soul Spear, but has terrible accuracy and slow casting time.
      • Appease Soul, a powerful miracle that only damages low-level Hollows.
    • Greatbows are high damage, but have a slow wind-up, high stamina cost, high weight, and expensive ammunition.
    • The Smelter Hammer deals strike damage, which few enemies can defend against, and has high durability. But its massively heavy, requires 70 strength to one-hand, and has a slow wind-up.
    • Old Whip, the highest damage whip, has extremely low durability.
    • You can parry most bosses, but they only have a second or two of vulnerability afterwards.
    • Three weapon slots gives you more flexibility, but using all three will usually overweight your character.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The Take the Throne ending Where you sit upon upon the Throne of Want and become the true king of Drangleic, after defeating every ancient evil that roamed the land.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • The Bell Keepers all have a mad obsession with protecting the bells... by chopping any intruders into tiny little bits.
    • The Brotherhood of Blood covenant is an entire religion built around being Ax-Crazy Blood Knight invaders. Their leader is also a nutjob devoted to the God of War, Nahr Alma.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: The Vanquisher's Ring from the Company of Champions lets the player enter Power Stance with bare hands, and gives their fists a humongous damage boost.
  • Badass Cape: Many high level chest armors come with a billowing capes. Examples include the Drangleic Armor, the Llewellyn Armor, and Velstadt's Armor.
  • Badass Longcoat: Similarly, a good number of armour pieces sport this, the most notable being the Faraam Armor, this game's Iconic Outfit.
  • Badass Normal: Benhart is one of the few characters totally unaffected by the curse - he's just passing through Drangleic to find giant monsters to kill.
  • Battle in the Rain: The duel with the Looking Glass Knight, which takes place at the summit of Drangleic Castle in the midst of a ferocious storm.
  • Beneath the Earth:
    • The Grave of Saints, Gutter and Black Gulch. Each is a series of catacombs, sewers and caves far beneath the hub town of Majula filled with rat kingdoms, mutants and other strange creatures.
    • The Sunken King DLC adds Shulva, a sanctum city of towering pyramids in a cavern miles below ground.
    • The Ivory King DLC presents the hellish Old Chaos under the frozen barrage of Eleum Loyce.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Milibeth will not take kindly to you attacking any of the three retired Fire Keepers, even if it's a stray hit.
    • Destroying eggs at the Dragon Aerie will make all the Guardian Dragons become more aggressive one will even destroy the bridge when you try to reach the Dragon Shrine.
    • Gravewarden Agdayne will attempt to kill any player that shines a light in his room.
    • The Fume Knight will instantly go into berserk mode if the host player wears any of Velstadt's armor, due to the enmity between Raime and the Royal Aegis.
  • Beware the Silly Ones:
    • The Bell Guardians are tiny, insane marionette midgets who are violently fanatical about defending their bells. And they will utterly destroy you if underestimated.
    • The only kingdom to survive from the first game to the second? Catarina, land of the onion knights.
    • 3 tiny pigs in Majula can easily kill a new player due to their high health and small hitboxes.
    • Crown of the Ivory King's Twiggy Shei, a strange man with a bell on his head and a greatbow. He's also one of the most effective summon allies out there.
  • Big Bad: Queen Nashandra, who caused most of Vendrick's foolish acts and is actually a Soul Fragment of Manus, the main villain from the first Dark Souls' DLC.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Blue Sentinel covenant, which will summon players into the games of Way of Blue covenant members to protect them from invaders.
  • Big Red Devil: The Old Iron King, one of the four Great Soul bearers, looks a fair bit like Diablo.
  • Blatant Lies: Licia claims that the door between Heide's Tower and Huntsman's Copse is powered by miracles. In actuality, its a key which you can see her use as soon as you bow your head to pray.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Some of the descriptions omit a lot of the lore details, and even misspell words: Flexile Sentry should be Sentry of Exile.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Most enemies fade away into ashes when killed, and those that do leave a corpse no longer have ragdoll physics.
  • Body Horror:
  • Bonus Boss: There are a number of optional encounters even harder than the final boss.
    • The Darklurker, which requires going through the optional "Pilgrims of Dark" covenant.
    • The Ancient Dragon, a Damage-Sponge Boss who will just sit there unless you attack it a few times.
    • King Vendrick, another Damage-Sponge Boss who will just walk around his room unless you attack him.
    • All the DLC bosses, who employ unique mechanics but are in entirely optional areas. particularly: Sinh the Slumbering Dragon and Sir Alonne.
  • Booby Trap:
    • There are now booby trapped chests, in addition to the Mimic enemy from the first game.
    • The Doors of Pharros is an entire underground city of traps. Ax-launchers, extra enemies, wall spikes, extra obstacles...
  • Book Ends: Several.
    • You return to the Forest of Fallen Giants, one of the first major areas in the game, for the late game Memory of the Giants section. The Giant King you encounter there is also the true form of the earlier Last Giant boss.
    • the massive spires at the beginning in Things Betwixt return late in the game, when you reach the Dragon Aerie.
    • Crestfallen Saulden even gives this one a mention. "Life is a journey... And every journey eventually leads to home..." You respawn at the Majula bonfire after defeating the Final Boss.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • The bastard sword is easy to obtain, equip and fully upgrade, making it the most powerful weapon you can have for long stretches of the game.
    • The Drangleic Mail can be obtained after only the second boss-fight and has some of the best resistance and defense to weight ratios.
  • Boss Battle: Just like the first Dark Souls and Demons Souls before it, Dark Souls II is host to an enormous amount of boss fights.
  • Boss Corridor:
    • The King's Passage is a straight hall to the Looking Glass Knight with nothing but statues. some of which are actually hidden enemies.
    • The path to The Throne of Want, a straight path down to the room where you fight the Throne Watcher / Defender and Nashandra.
  • Bottomless Pit: The Dark Chasm of Old is filled with these, where if you fall off the level you'll just go straight into an endless abyss.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: King Vendrick's Blessing. It will stop you from ever Hollowing, but getting it requires finishing all the DLC and beating Bonus Boss Hollowed Vendrick, all of which are in late game areas.
  • Breakable Weapons: All weapons in the game degrade and break if you don't regularly rest at bonfires or have broken weapons repaired.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Drangleic was able to defeat the Giants, despite their numbers and massive strength, but it left the kingdom too weakened to deal with the Undead curse that came shortly afterward.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Mechanically encouraged. When firing a light or heavy crossbow after a melee weapon attack, your character will skip the aiming part of aiming and firing it, making it a lot safer to use in close quarters.
  • Call Back: Quite a few to the first Dark Souls, and some legacy ones to Demon's Souls and King's Field.
    • The description of many Magics, Pyromancies and Miracles harken back to their originators, the Lords/Gods in the first game.
    • A number of invader enemies and bosses from Dark Souls return as Black Phantoms.
    • Manscorpion Tark strongly indicates that he and Najka were creations of Seath the Scaleless. The area of Brightstone Cove Tseldora, similarly, hints that it is the remnant of Seath and/or the crystal area he once inhabited.
    • The Lingering Dragoncrest Ring mentions Vinheim from the first game.
    • Straid's dialogue indicates that Drangleic might actually be the kingdom where the Northern Undead Asylum was located.
    • In New Game+, the four Old Ones drop souls that directly reference the holders of the Lord Souls from Dark Souls.
    • The Black Dragon equipment references the Kalameet boss fight from the first game's DLC.
    • The Milfanito in the Shrine Of Amana are singing a rendition of the Nameless Song, the credits theme from Dark Souls.
    • You can find the remains of the Lordvessel in the basement of the small mansion in Majula. The complete model for it appears outside the playable map.
    • Blacksmith Lenigrast looks similar to the depiction of the Excavator/Burrower King on the Stonefang Archstone from Demon's Souls.
    • The Dragon Memories area is identical the area from the opening of Dark Souls where Gwyn and his allies defeat the Everlasting Dragons.
    • In the Black Gulch, Lucatiel speculates that everyone is born with the Curse, mirroring the words of the Primordial Serpents from Dark Souls.
    • The sunken city of Shulva in the Crown of the Sunken King DLC has been compared to the Ancient City from King's Field IV.
    • In the Crown of the Ivory King DLC, the Old Chaos has tree roots protruding from its ceiling, a call-back to Lost Izalith and the Demon Ruins from the original Dark Souls.
      • The city-fortress of Eleum Loyce itself appears to be the realized concept of the cut Land of Giants from Demon's Souls.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: The rumors of a cure for the Undead Curse are nothing but lies to lure Undead to Drangleic spread by Shanalotte as part of her plan to find a champion to defeat Nashandra and claim the Throne of Want.
  • Camera Lock-On: Returns from the previous game, slightly tweaked. The Gameplay Demo shows the player turning around and sprinting away from the Silver Chariot without breaking lock-on.
  • Cast From Money: Some powerful hexes cost souls to use, and do a pitiful amount of damage if you have none. "Climax" in particular, the reward for defeating Darklurker, deals immense damage, but drains all your souls.
  • Casting a Shadow: Hexes, a new Dark magic type focused on offensive and disruptive spells, some of which cost souls to use. They scale with both Faith and Intelligence (whichever is less), and require points in both to equip.
  • Cave Mouth: A few entrances, such as the one to the Grave of Saints contain these. They make a return in Doors of Pharros. Why are they there? To warn you that entering these places contain players who are from the Rat King Covenant.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Desert Sorceress Set
  • Character Customization: You can customized your facial features, gender, body type and hair at the outset of the game, and change your armor and weapons to suit your playstyle or aesthetics anytime you like.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The corpses of Giants that have turned into trees in the Forest of Fallen Giants. You eventually use them to enter the Giants' Memories and witness the Giants' war with Drangleic.
    • The battlement-lined wall that runs alongside the path to Castle Drangleic is accessible in the Ivory King DLC.
  • Chest Monster: Mimics return and are more than happy to chomp on your face.
  • Clone Degradation: Though they're not literally clones, the lore states that knights who wear replicas of Syan's armor have gone thoroughly mad.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Phantoms are color-coded based on their covenant. White for regular soapstone summons. Blue for Blue Sentinels. Red for Brotherhood of Blood members. Gold for The Heirs of the Sun. Black for the Bell Keepers. And gray for victims of the Rat King's Covenant.
  • Competitive Multiplayer: Like PvP? Then become a Black Phantom, and invade other players worlds for their souls. Try the 'Brotherhood of Blood', to duel over the favor of the war god Nahr Alma, and to hunt your own Undead kind. 'Bell Keepers' protect the Belfry Sol and Luna, and the 'Rat Kings', defend the Doors of Pharros or the Grave of the Saints from would-be intruders. The 'Dragon Remnants', on the other hand, duel over dragon scales to level up in their covenant.
  • Confusion Fu: This is the tenet that PVP-oriented hex users are founded upon. With both enough intelligence to use strong magic, enough faith to use the best miracles, and enough versatility to use Hexes, they're very unpredictable opponents. Although since they've put all their points (generally) in Faith, Intelligence, and Attunement, they're incredibly frail, and tend to go down in one or two hits.
  • Continuing Is Painful: The penalty for dying is harsher than in the first game. In addition to losing your current supply of souls and having only one chance to retrieve them, each time you die you suffer a permanent reduction to your maximum health that bottoms out from -50% to -90%. This can only be reversed by sacrificing human effigies, which are somewhat rare and limited.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: In Crown of the Ivory King, you can gather the scattered the Loyce Knights and pit them against the Charred Loyce Knights in a spectacular clash of ice and fire. The battle then climaxes with the Bearer facing off against the Ivory King.
  • Cooperative Multiplayer:
    • Placing a white soapstone on the ground to be summoned as a Phantom and assist the host in killing an area's boss.
    • Joining the 'Heirs of the Sun' makes it even easier to connect to other worlds for co-op.
    • Joining the 'Blue Sentinels' allows you to be auto-summoned to the worlds of 'Way of the Blue' covenant members when they are invaded.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The first phase of the Executioner's Chariot boss forces you to duck into small alcoves to avoid the chariot running you over.
  • Creating Life: A good number of monstrosities in-game are results of life creation attempted by the great kingdom's monarches (anything found in Aldia's Keep, the Primal Knights guarding Drangleic castle, the Ironclad soldiers in Iron Keep, the Rampart Golems in Eleum Loyce, etc.). In case of Aldia and Vendrick, they did it to figure out a cure to the Curse and a solution to the Cycle of Fire and Dark. The Old Iron King presumably did it just because he could. And the Ivory King did it to reinforce the line of defense within Eleum Loyce, containing the abominations that come from the Old Chaos.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Your trip in the memories of Giants shows that the eponymous Giants completely wrecked Vendrick's royal forces, and that they were only stopped after you defeated the Giant Lord.
  • Cutting Off The Branches: Averted. The game suggests in the Eternal Recurrence of the Undead Curse, Ages of Fire have given way to Ages of the Dark, only for the next cycle to in turn rekindle the flames and begin a new Age of Fire. In short the two Dark Souls endings both happened, eventually.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss:
    • Unless the player has 4 Souls of a Giant, King Vendrick will take hundreds of hits to finish.
    • The Ancient Dragon takes approximately 30-50 hits to finish, even with fully upgraded weapons.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: A number of gameplay elements changed between Dark Souls and this game.
    • Red Crystal Lizards will explode when you get close, instead of running away with rare items.
    • The default jump button was changed to L3, causing some to dash off a cliff the first time they try to make a leap.
    • The same button now controls holding and firing a bow. Cue new players wasting their starting ammo trying to aim.
    • Simply pushing the dash button on a ladder now causes you to jump off it instead of sliding down (hold dash and movement stick down).
    • Only one dragon can get its tail cut, and there's no reward for doing so.
  • Dare to Be Badass: The Emerald Herald's decrees.
  • Death Course: The Doors of Pharros and the Grave of Saints, where non-rat covenant players get dragged into in a madcap race for the bonfire as absolutely everything tries to kill them. The more Pharros Lockstones the rat covenant members use, the worse it gets.
  • Degraded Boss:
    • The Ruin Sentinels from the Lost Bastille return in Drangleic Castle as semi-regular enemies.
    • The Flexile Sentry reappears as a regular enemy in Shaded Woods.
    • The Guardian Dragon, who reappears many times in the Dragon Aerie.
    • Elana the Squalid Queen will summon mook versions of Velstadt as during her boss fight.
    • A pale-skinned version of the Covetous Demon appears in Eleum Loyce as a miniboss.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • You can shoot the bell needed to summon the boss area in No Man's Wharf with an arrow, instead of actually walking up to it.
    • You can light the oil pools on fire in Black Gulch, killing the enemies inside.
    • Axes thrown by a Gyrm warrior can be parried or hit away like any other weapon attack.
    • Wearing any of Velstadt's armor against his rival, Raime the Fume Knight, will make him instantly go all out against you.
    • If you beat Sir Alonne in under five minutes and don't take damage, his death animation shows him committing suicide out of shame.
    • The Altar of Amana will only reverse your hollowing if you have no human effigies. It also knows if you dropped them all nearby!
  • Disc One Nuke:
    • The Fire Longsword in the Forest of Fallen Giants, since most of the area's enemies including the Last Giant are vulnerable to fire.
    • The Greatsword, one of the best Strength weapons, can be found in No Man's Wharf, which you can access after beating just one low-level boss, the Dragonrider.
    • The Malformed Skull, dropped by the Enhanced Undead, has one of the highest upgraded attack ratings in the game. And Enhanced Undead can be found at the bottom of the Lost Bastille, one of the easier Great Old One dungeons.
    • Trading with the crow siblings in Things Betwixt can earn you a powerful Channeler's Trident, Old Whip, or Demon's Great Hammer in the first five minutes of the game.
    • The Drangleic shield, which offers 100% physical blocking, can be found after beating just one boss, the Pursuer.
    • Killing Benhart can get you the Bluemoon Greatsword, which has extremely high base damage, in the first five minutes of the game.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Averted with bows. Archery previously required the player to be completely stationary while aiming and firing. This time around the player can, at the very least, back away from enemies while firing arrows from a shortbow.
  • Downloadable Content: Dark Souls II got a paid three-part DLC in which the Undead Hero seeks out the lost crowns of the Sunken King of Shulva, the Old Iron King of the Iron Keep, and the Ivory King of Eleum Loyce. There is also the Scholar of the First Sin content, although that is being released as a massive free update.
  • Dramatic Wind: One can't help but wonder if Majula was designed specifically to show off the new clothes physics, compared to the last game.
  • Drone of Dread: Almost immediately audible upon entering Aldia's Keep. It's probably coming from a magical barrier early in the Keep, but it may as well not. Between the autonomously bouncing cratesnote , suspicious mirrorsnote , petrified monsters, and a hallway completely covered in dozens of messages outright begging you to not pull the lever at its end, this is one place where being uneasy and trusting nothing certainly comes in handy.
  • Dual Boss: The Dragonrider from Heide's Tower of Flame returns in Drangleic Castle, and now he has a partner! With a greatbow! This is also the case for the Throne Watcher and Throne Defender, who can bring one another back to life at full health, should one die before the other. The Darklurker will clone itself when its health gets low, forcing you to fight two targets that share the same health pool.
  • Dual Wielding: Equipping two weapons instead of just one is a viable option compared to the previous games. You can even dual-wield two-handed weapons this time around. There's also the power stance, which allows you to attack with both weapons at once when pressing the attack buttons for your left hand. However, using the power stance requires two things: a pair of compatible weapons and you need 1.5 times the required stats for said weapons.
  • Dug Too Deep:
    • It's implied that the Iron Keep became a Lethal Lava Land as a result of the Old Iron King's greed, tunneling too deep and covering his castle in too much iron, till his castle sunk into the Earth and released the Smelter Demon and one of the Great Old Ones' souls.
    • The lore behind Brightstone Cove Tseldora implies that Lord Tseldora found one of the Great Old Ones' souls while mining. Not to mention the brightstones they dug out and built their prosperity on might were implied to be fragments from Seath the Scaleless.
  • Dynamic Entry: The Pursuer. Nothing says more dynamic than planting an at least two meter long BFS right in front of the player's feet, and then dropping from the claws of a giant eagle that carried you through the air. And he does it twice.
  • Early Game Hell: You need to go hunting for shards to make your Estus Flask hold more than one charge at the start of the game.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: The land of Lindelt in the lore was this. In the changed lore from Scholar of the First Sin, it is stated that the Archdrake sect where the Archdrake enemies hailed from existed for the purpose of keeping the history of the land's foundation, as well as the sect's itself, a secret. Further examination of the descriptions on the Archdrake Chime and the Slumbering Dragon Crest Shield strongly hint that they are connected to the survivors of the knight order that woke up Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon and brought about the destruction of Shulva, a sin that they later tried to cover up. It's also implied that those people found the current sect as a show of atonement for the ruined kingdom, by carrying on its knowledge.
  • Evil Laugh: Many of the NPCs in Drangleic like to laugh, oftentimes to mock you.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Mild Mannered Pate and Creighton the Wanderer. The former is a treasure hunter with a backstabbing streak, while the latter is a Serial Killer bent on revenge.
  • Excalibur in the Rust: The Majestic Greatsword implied to be Artorias' sword in Crown of the Iron King is gathering dust in a chest left behind in Brume Tower and is so ancient that it's fossilized. Wielding it left-handed makes it clear that it has lost none of its power.
  • Filk Song: Fires Far, courtesy of Miracle Of Sound.
  • Final Boss: Set up throughout the game to be King Vendrick, but is in fact his queen, Nashandra; Vendrick himself is relegated to being a Bonus Boss.
  • Find the Cure: The chosen undead comes to Drangleic searching for a cure for the undead curse. Vendrick also spent the later part of his rule searching for one, but Drangleic fell before he could succeed. Without the dlc you won't know that he actually did find one, and one that would work permanently to end the Cycle of Fire: Harness both the First Flame and the Dark Soul in tandem. While he was only able to partially harness the First Flame, he tells the chosen undead that it is the fate of the true, future king to end the curse once and for all.
  • Flash Step: The Alonne Knights utilize this technique in combat to deadly effect. Sir Alonne himself takes it up to eleven.
  • Flawless Victory: If you manage to defeat Sir Alonne without losing any health and in under 5 minutes, he'll commit seppuku instead. It doesn't do anything else.
  • Flunky Boss: Many bosses are accompanied by weaker enemies that spice up the battle.
    • The Royal Rat Vanguard within the Grave of Saints; the Vanguard himself is not only constantly surrounded by his rat minions, he also looks almost exactly like them.
    • The Royal Rat Authority does something similar, with four toxic rats backing him up.
    • The Duke's Dear Freja and her minion spiders.
    • The Executioner's Chariot is backed up by a few skeletons and dark mages. The chariot can trample over the skeletons as well, but if you don't kill the mages they'll come back anyway.
    • The Looking Glass Knight becomes one if he summons NPCs or other players through his mirror shield. However, he is quite capable in combat by himself, as he will happily demonstrate to you.
    • New Game+ add a few enemies to the Lost Sinner and the Flexile Sentry's fights.
    • Crown of the Sunken King adds Elana the Squalid Queen, who can call forth several skeletons, or, if you're unlucky enough, a clone of Velstadt the Royal Aegis. For added fun, it's also possible she will fail and summon... baby pigs.
  • Foreshadowing: When you look closely, the true nature and intention of Queen Nashandra are hinted at pretty early on. The description of the Giant Stone Ax (obtained with the soul of the Last Giant, the first boss in the game) implies that there's something wrong with her even though at that point her existence wasn't even known. When you pass too close by her's painting in Drangleic Castle, your curse meter shoots through the roof, hinting at her curse attacks during the fight. And the item descriptions on the King's Shield/Ruler's Sword (obtained with the soul of Vendrick) pretty much spells out her nature as a Child of Dark.
    • The twisted spiral-like alter in the Shrine of Winter does nothing in the vanilla game. The Crown of the Sunken King and Crown of the Old Iron King DLCs add identical alters to the Black Gulch and Iron Keep that allow the player to access Shulva and the Brume Tower respectively. In the 3rd DLC, Crown of the Ivory King, the Shrine of Winter's alter becomes the portal to the glacial kingdom of Eleum Loyce.
    • A more minor example. Upon entering Aldia's Keep proper you'll be attacked by a skeletal dragon that falls apart before you can have a proper fight. Guess what you're going to have to fight for real on the way out of the Keep?
    • Once Crown of the Sunken King came out, the lore pertained to Lindelt (found in the descriptions of the Archdrake items and several miracles) becomes massive Foreshadowing in hindsight.
  • Functional Magic: There's now four types of magic.
    • Sorcery, mostly dealing in damage, but also Utility Magic.
    • Miracles, which mostly focus on healing and curing, with some non-combat spells thrown in for good measure, but lightning spells and powerful force blasts are covered by it too.
    • Pyromancy now scales in effectiveness with your combined faith and intellect stats, but has no hard requirements to be used either way, so it can be used by anyone. They're mostly blow-stuff-up spells that let you chuck fireballs like grenades, but there's a couple of buffs and two poison spells. Due to how much of an edge the Pyromancer class had starting out in the first game, you can no longer start as a character who knows pyromancy.
    • Hexes are a new category encompassing the dark & abyssal magic of Manus from the first game, and require you to have both intelligence and faith (scaling is based on whichever is lower for your character), making these for advanced, dedicated spell-slingers only. These spells tend to be powerful and have really nasty debuffs that badly weaken enemies. However, hexes require either a sorcery staff or a sacred chime to be able to cast them, since some hexes require higher intelligence than faith to cast and vice versa. There are also six hexes that require souls to perform them with full power.
  • Game of the Year Edition: The Scholar of the First Sin retail release for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, a compilation of the main game, the 1.10 Expansion Pack patch, and the three DLC.
  • Gender Bender: There's a coffin in Things Betwixt, guarded by two Ogres, and hopping into it swaps your character's gender. Presumably this is for aesthetic reasons.
  • Genius Loci: In the changed lore on the description of the Tseldora set and the soul of the Duke's Dear Freja, apparently the Writhing Ruin on which Tseldora is based is an ancient thing "whose shadow remains cast over the land". The brightstones that the Tseldorans greedily mined are actually fragments of that being, and the people gradually became obsessed with "searching that which they lacked"... something alarmingly similar to a certain albino dragon which craved the immortality scales that it was born without in the first game. A likely interpretation of this is that the Tseldorans built their mines on the grave of Seath the Scaleless himself and close contacts with his remnant drove them to be possessed by his will, as well as led to the creation of the Duke's Dear Freja.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Demon of Song is just sort of...there. The only background information we get is that it took up residence in that area sometime before the game, and that the line of maidens who would appease it has died out.
  • Ghost Ship: There's one in No Man's Wharf, illuminated by blue flames and with no operating crew in sight save for a few Varangian soldiers and the Flexile Sentry. And you can ride it to the Lost Bastille!
  • Glass Cannon: The Undead Citizens are fragile and weak (a swift hit or two, when you first encounter one, is enough to kill it), but their method of attack is charging at you and do a bellyflop. A bellyflop that launches you into the air and usually takes down a large amount of your healthnote . May the game have mercy on your poor butt, if you encounter a group and they all charge at you. Oh, and one variant can petrify you with their attacks as well.
  • Golem: Drangleic was built on an army of them made by King Vendrick after he stole a "great power" from a race of giants across the sea...and triggered a counterattack by the Giant Lord's armies.
  • Griefer: It wouldn't be a Souls game without them in the multiplayer component! One particularly hilarious instance is the series of ziplines in the Dragon Aerie, where one hit to the player while they are zipping will make them fall down to their death. Someone had a field day with this.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: An early boss, The Last Giant, will rip off its own arm to use as a club when its health is depleted by half.
  • Grim Up North: Crown of the Ivory King lets you visit the castle of Eleum Loyce within the kingdom of Forossa, perpetually covered in ice and home to incredibly vicious frozen soldiers and golems. When you first enter the DLC, a violent blizzard will also blanket the entire area, limiting what places you can visit and making torches useless outdoors. You need to accept Alsanna's plight to remove the snowstorm.
  • Guide Dang It:
    • The game in general gets a little less inclined to point you in the direction to progress through the story until the later stages of the game. It's also VERY easy to miss the Emerald Herald entirely in your first several hours of gameplay, which means no estus flask and no leveling up. This also leaves you with the expensive and limited-quantity lifegems as your only healing method.
    • Turns out that there are two ways to open "illusory walls." You can either hit them with your weapon or use an unprompted press of you interact button. The tricky part is that attacking the wall only works on walls revealed by Pharros Lockstones, and pressing the interact button only works on "normal" illusory walls. It doesn't help that there are still walls that can be opened by hitting them just like in Dark Souls.
    • There are two rings that can be earned by beating the game: the Illusory Ring of the Exalted and the Illusory Ring of a Conqueror, which turn the weapon in your right and left hands invisible respectively. The catch? The Conqueror's Ring is obtained by beating the game without dying at all. The Exalted's Ring is obtained by beating the game without resting at a bonfire. Good luck.
    • Getting the Pickaxe. You have to lead one of the undead pigs from the army camp at the top of Brightstone Cove Tseldora all the way to the Duke's mansion at the bottom where you fight Freja, where it will dig up the Pickaxe for you. Video here.
    • Did you notice that the Throne Watcher and Throne Defender and Nashandra share a boss arena? Well, if you kill the Giant Lord before the Watcher/Defender and then beat them, then Nashandra literally enters the arena through the fog gate and begins the final boss fight immediately, with no break after Watcher/Defender at all. This is why most people take a detour to get rid of Watcher/Defender first.
    • Getting the treasures that are on the lava islands in the Iron Keep can be tricky since there is no item that makes it safe to run on lava like the Orange Charred Ring in the first game. It's surprisingly easy to get them once you realize that the seemingly useless jars of water and the pools created by the Pharros Lockstone Faces temporarily double your fire resistance. Just get your fire resistance as high as possible with the proper gear and Flash Sweat, roll into the jars and/or roll around in a pool and you're good to go.
  • Guns Akimbo: Okay, not actual guns, but you can enter power stance mode with two crossbows, allowing you to fire both weapons at the same time at the cost of a lot of stamina and an even greater reload time, depending on the crossbow used.
  • Having a Blast: Some spells are able to cause a violent explosion shortly after being cast.
    • Flame Swathe launches a small erratic fireball which flickers a bit before detonating into one of the strongest pyromancies in the game.
    • Lingering Flame lets out a small orb of fire that stays stationary for 30 seconds, setting off only when an enemy is nearby. You can place several at once for a chain reaction.
    • Dead Again is a hex that emits a large shockwave, and any physical corpse caught within it will burst in a powerful explosion of darkness.
  • Heal Thyself:
    • Estus flasks return from Dark Souls, and are supplemented by lifegems which drops from slain enemies in limited quantities. Healing methods have also been rebalanced somewhat: The flask's animations have been slowed down a bit, and its healing is cancelled if you get hit while it's taking place. Lifegems restore less health, and do it more slowly, but they're faster to use and damage doesn't interrupt them.
    • The higher Adaptability you have, the faster is the Estus animation.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The Old Ironclad Knights who wield giant maces. In a display of the more advanced AI, attacking them from behind will make them drop backwards on the player, squashing them under the hard and heavy shell. Frankly, there are a lot of enemies like this. Some of them are terrifyingly fast, too.
  • Heavy Hippo: One of the enemies encountered in Things Betwixt is the Ogre: a 20 foot tall bipedal Cyclops hippo with rhino horns and a long tail, who fights by smashing you with its arms, flopping on you, sitting on you, or eating you. More of them are encountered late into the game.
  • Heel-Face Turn: An exception among the Children of Dark, Alsanna the Silent Oracle abandoned the quest her sisters followed when the love of the Ivory King redempted her. After his descent into the Old Chaos, she would remain vigilant over Eleum Loyce to contain the spread of the demons and honor her King's wish.
    • In the lore, there's another case that heavily mirrors the above In Love with the Mark-induced Turn: Zullie the Witch who at first made many attempts to seduce Alva the Wayfarer and undo his religious dedication, but eventually came to support him and they spent their lives together.
  • Hellish Horse: A two-headed one pulls the Executioner's Chariot. And tramples over you.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: One of the endings, in which the Undead Hero sits upon the Throne of Want and links the fire.
    • After a lifetime of battle to contain its horrors, the Ivory King fed his soul to the Old Chaos to appease and delay it from completely wiping out Forossa.
  • Hitbox Dissonance:
    • Many enemies seem to have their weapon's hitboxes come out before their attack physically begins on-screen, causing the player to take damage even if they kill that enemy as long as said attack animation was starting just as the player landed the final blow. Notable examples are The Pursuer's curse-stab and The Rotten's grab attack, both of which can hit you even if you're off to one side.
    • There can also be times where the player rolls but their hitbox remains where the roll was initiated. Example here.
  • Hopeless War: The Giant War, which was part of what reduced Drangleic to its current state. According to Captain Drummond, both his father and his grandfather fought the giants, and so many giants fell in the long siege that an entire forest sprouted from their remains. Apparently, whatever Vendrick stole from them drove them to such fury that the giants kept constantly attacking Drangleic, repeatedly devastating the country's armies, until the player him/herself traveled back in time and killed the Giant Lord himself.
  • Horny Vikings: Two different versions. One are the Varangians, who were pirates along the northern coast of Drangleic. note  The others are the Gyrm, a nomadic race of inhumanly large "dwarves" who were forced underground.
  • The Hunter Becomes The Hunted:
    • After obtaining the Crushed Eye Orb, and venturing to a certain location, the eye activates. If you use the eye, you invade the nearby NPC, who has been invading you several times throughout the game. Said NPC is Lucia of Lindelt, the priestess you first encountered after the Dragonrider battle.
    • Also, the Pursuer, to some degree. You can fight him 3 times, with one of those times being his actual death.
  • Iconic Outfit: The Faraam set. Like the Elite Knight set of the previous game, it was featured heavily in advertisements, trailers, and official art. Namco Bandai even had the Faraam armor forged in real life by a modern day blacksmith for a commercial. To a lesser extent, the Alva set, which is used for the gesture icons.
  • Immortality Hurts: Dying makes you more hollow and you lose more of your max HP. If you accumulate enough Sin, you can even be reduced down to 10% HP.
  • Infinity–1 Sword:
    • Caitha's Chime for hexers. It's less powerful than the Chime of Want, but it's also available far earlier in the game, can be upgraded with standard titanite, and has a faster casting speed to boot.
    • The Greatsword. Likely the very first ultra greatsword the player will ever find, available as early as No Man's Wharf. It has tremendous base damage and superb strength scaling, offset by being incredibly heavy and slow, and can easily last a player the entire game. It's also a near perfect replica of the Dragonslayer.
    • The Gyrm Greatshield has the highest stability of any single shield in the game, as well as 100% physical AND fire damage reduction, but is monstrously heavy and has subpar resistance to every other damage type and status ailment.
  • Infinity+1 Sword:
    • Hexing is the most powerful magic in the game. The Chime of Want is the most powerful hexing chime in the game. The bad news? To obtain it, you have to kill the Final Boss and then cart its soul over to Weaponsmith Ornifex (not a completely straightforward task in its own right), meaning that it'll only really be of practical use in the New Game+ or revisiting bosses with Bonfire Ascetics.
    • The Curved Dragon Greatsword is the heaviest and most powerful out of the curved greatswords and has a unique ability that makes it stand out from a good portion of your arsenal, but you can only acquire it late in the game and by backtracking to an area where you previously lit a Primal Bonfire.
    • Similarly, the Curved Nil Greatsword is acquired late in the third DLC and in a room full of dangerous enemies, and it only reveals its full power once the player has gone beyond NG+9. Its unique moveset and sheer power appropriately make up for that effort, though.
    • The Bone Fist requires you to backtrack through Eleum Loyce after the snowstorm is lifted, and into a hidden cave containing two minibosses. However, once you obtain it, it's a weapon with an extremely diverse moveset, that scales magnificently with your strength and dexterity, offering little variation upon upgrading and easily dealing massive damage to armoured enemies with its slow but powerful punches.
    • The Ruler's Sword is one of the strongest greatswords in the game. However, getting it requires defeating a Bonus Boss who is Nigh Invulnerable unless you have certain key items in your inventory (one of which is dropped by another Bonus Boss) and taking its soul to the aforementioned Ornifex. Said Bonus Boss is only encountered at the very end of one of the last areas in the game. Its power is also dependent on the number of souls you are carrying. You need at least a million souls to get the full bonus. Furthermore, the Soul that is used to craft the Sword cannot be farmed with Ascetics since the boss doesn't actually drop the Soul upon defeat it appears in a different area behind a locked door that only opens when you're human.
    • Much of the above also applies to the King's Ultra Greatsword, which is crafted using the same Soul needed to make the Ruler's Sword. The KUG is certainly an Infinity Plus One Sword for a Strength build, since it has bar none the best Strength scaling in the game. It also has a good moveset and can be buffed with resins/enchantments, though its reach leaves something to be desired.
  • Jack of All Stats: You have to be this to get the most out of the Mundane infusion, since its determined by how high your lowest stat is.
  • Joke Item:
    • After going through the utter hell that is NG+, you can enter Maughlain's shop, and find a new chest. Inside is the Moonlight Butterfly set, that increases your jump height, poisons nearby enemies, and looks absolutely ridiculous.
    • It's possible to obtain a soup ladle. As a weapon. It has about the worst base damage in the game, no scaling, and breaks in ten hits. However, each attack has a very low stamina cost. Upgrading it to the Mundane type gives a fixed damage bonus to every attack that it won't lose if it breaks, so if all your stats are fairly high it is very capable of a Death of a Thousand Cuts.
    • The Crown of The Iron King DLC adds the Chime of Screams, obtained from Nadalia's soul. At first it seems like a decent chime, with the added perk of boosting your faith by 3-4 points. Then you notice that the casting speed is 25, the lowest in the game by more than four times over. It's so slow that the amount of spells you can cast in a minute with it is almost never more than 5, and that's before getting into the already snail-pace healing miracles.
    • Crown of the Ivory King adds a similar item to the Chime of Screams in the form of Azal's Staff. Decent-to-high scaling for Dark magic? Sounds good. Casting speed of 30? Not quite.
  • Jump Scare: In the Scholar update, lighting the bonfire in the Undead Crypt causes Alida to spew forth, despite it not being a primal bonfire.
  • Kaizo Trap: Unlike Dark Souls, the game only registers a boss' defeat once the entire death animation, victory text and potential allied phantoms are gone, meaning it's possible to get caught up in a boss' post-mortem attack (like the Royal Rat Authority's poison pool or the Duke Dear Freja's minion spiders), forcing you to fight them all over again. Also, Vengarl's body will attack you in the primal bonfire room after you killed the Duke's Dear Freja.
  • Killer Rabbit
    • The undead pigs found in Majula have a ton of HP, deal lots of damage, and will chase you forever. And those particular pigs are just babies. The full-sized ones (and even bigger ones that spawn only in New Game+) hit even harder, though they are at least much easier to hit.
    • The Basilisks make a return, with the same appearance and petrification abilities And there are variations now.
    • Aww, look at those scruffy, goofy-looking mummies waddling towards me! And look, he tripped, how adorab—BOOM. By the way, they will do this continually, so blowing themselves up doesn't even hurt them.
    • Hey, look! Classic dwarves! You'd probably never suspect that they hit like a ton of bricks and that their ranged attacks are just as bad.
    • Crown of the Ivory King adds frozen rabbits, which can cover themselves in ice spikes and roll towards you like the Bonewheel Skeletons. The mere contact of them will drain your health quickly.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The Denial miracle. This is extremely useful for preventing One Hit Kills; but Poison, Petrification, and Scratch Damage from multiple enemies easily work through this buff.
  • Legacy Boss Battle:
    • The Old Dragonslayer is Dragonslayer Ornstein from the previous Dark Souls.
    • The Belfry Gargoyles are a clear tribute to the Bell Gargoyles of the Undead Parish. And they invited their whole family this time!
    • The battle with The Rotten shares many similarities with Gravelord Nito. Which makes sense, since The Rotten is implied to be a reincarnation of Nito's Lord Soul.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: As Dark Souls II takes place very far in the future (we're talking many cycles of Rekindling the Flame since the Chosen Undead's time in Dark Souls I here), tales of the Gods and Lord Souls bearers as well as the roots of many Pyromancies, Magics and Miracles have been lost to time, and are only vaguely alluded to in the item descriptions. One can still make the connection if one looks closely enough, though. In addition, the Vicious Cycle of nature in this world makes sure that though the Gods are long gone, the impact of their actions still affects the present.
  • Leitmotif: Every single boss has their own battle theme, though some share tracks together like the Ruin Sentinels and the Smelter Demon. Majula and the old Fire Keepers' house in Things Betwixt are the only locations that get a song outside of boss battles.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The Pursuer, a heavily armed and armored knight who hits like a freight train and flies as fast as one.
    • The Old Dragonslayer, who is quick on his feet and dashes across the boss room to lunge at you with his spear.
    • The Lost Sinner, who shows you just how vicious her swordsmanship can get with the crazed flurries and ninja lunges.
    • The Royal Rat Authority, who is not only big and fast, but hits hard enough to break your guard even if you wield the sturdiest shield.
  • Losing Your Head: In the Shaded Woods, you can find a talking head named Vengarl. He's initially irritated when the player disturbs him, but he'll quickly warm up if you kill his psychotic old body.
  • Lost in Translation: As a result of having three different companies working on the English translation, a fair amount of the lore present in the Japanese version was lost or changed.
    • Alken and Venn were countries rather than kingdoms, and nothing about their founder is mentioned in the Japanese text.
    • The "Bewitched" in Bewitched Alonne Sword is derived from the Japanese word "Youtou", which is a type of folkloric sword which gained sentience and often seeks blood of their own accord, possibly by possessing the wielder.note  This carries the implication that Sir Alonne is either possessed by a cursed katana similar to Dark Souls's Chaos Blade note , or simply strong enough to control it, a depth of lore that is not really apparent in the English localization.
    • The description of the Pursuer, whose Ring of Blades refers to him as the Mad Warrior of Alken, states that the name of the Mad Warrior is Adgars.
    • In a strange variation of this trope, the Ancient Dragon's speech makes absolutely no sense in any language. If anything, the localization removed the ambiguity about who the dragon referred to.
    • The Old Iron King's corpse became the vessel for the monster known as Ichorous Earth, but in the Japanese version, it's instead mentioned as molten earth, implying the Old Iron King's demonic form had no particular name. The Japanese version also makes it clear that the entity that the Old Iron King met after sinking into the lava was Gwyn from the first Dark Souls game.
    • The Undead Huntsmen were originally Undead Hunters, implying that they weren't so much hunters who became undead but hunters of the undead who became undead themselves, in keeping with the area's lore.
    • Giant's Kinship was originally named the Resonance of Giants. The Giant King's soul clarifies that the giants came from the north and weren't interested in conquering Drangleic, just laying waste to it on their way to take back what Vendrick stole from them.
    • The Royal Rat Authority was originally named the Rat King's Test, in line with his actual purpose of proving yourself worthy to the Rat King.
    • The Emerald Herald at the Dragon's Aerie states that the Undead hero was led to Drangleic by a bunshin of her in the Japanese version, possibly explaining how she was able to pop up in sealed off locations. In the English version that implication is lost.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Nashandra is waiting for you to get the Giant's Kinship, so she can kill you and have the Throne of Want for herself.
  • Magic Feather: Implied with the Dull Ember. Lenigrast specifically tells you that blacksmiths can no longer use embers, yet when you give it to Mc Duff, he stops his incoherent rambling and tells you he can infuse weapons.
  • The Many Deaths of You: In keeping with tradition, the Tokyo Game Show trailer showcased the various ways to die.
    • There's now a death counter that tracks how many times you've died. Playing offline just tracks your deaths, but playing online tracks every death across the world, which after just two days after the game was released is well into the millions.
    • The official website even has a break-down of how players have died (falling, other players, AI enemies, traps, and "Other").
  • Maximum HP Reduction: Returning from Demons Souls, but slightly less punishing; dying in Hollow form reduces your maximum health with each death, with a soft cap of a 50% max HP, or 80% if you have the Ring of Binding. The hard cap is 10% of your max HP, but it only goes into effect if your Sin level is incredibly high.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Averted for most of the game, where enemies will ignore each other even if they seem like members of different factions, to the point that merchants that get hit by enemies will aggro against you. Finally played straight at the end of the game when you enter the past, where Giants and Drangleic Knights are actively fighting each other while both are hostile towards you.
  • Mini-Boss: Several of them, including the Heide Knights in the Forest of Fallen Giants, the Lost Bastille and the Shrine of Winter, the Red Phantom in front of the Undead Purgatory, the return of the Flexile Sentry in the Shaded Woods, the giant basilisk in both the Shaded Woods and Aldia's Keep, the list goes on...
  • Mirror Boss: The Looking Glass Knight, appropriately enough, can use his mirror shield to summon another player to fight alongside him, similar to the Old Monk gimmick in Demons Souls.
  • Morton's Fork: The Shrine of Amana is downright mean when it comes to getting through the water and past the casters' Homing Projectiles. Try to block the projectiles, you'll probably get hit anyway half the time because the casters are too far away to lock on, forcing you to manually point yourself in the direction the attacks come from, and take significant damage even when you do block because few shields have good magic protection. Try to dodge them and you'll probably end up falling into a Bottomless Pit. Stick the path, you'll aggro as many enemies as possible. Go off the path without a torch, you have to either point the camera almost downward, making it even harder to defend against projectiles, or risk walking off a barely visible underwater ledge. Go off the path with a torch, you can't hold a shield and weapon at the same time, you can't roll without extinguishing the torch in the water, and the light will scare away the fireflies, drawing the lizardmen's attention from an even greater distance.
  • Motion Blur: Weapon swings now have the added effect of creating a small blur, making it more realistic. This is more pronounced with the twinblades' whirling animation, given they hit multiple times.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The first time the player meets Benhart of Jugo, his way forward is blocked and he is, as he puts it, "in quite a pickle".
    • The description for the Great Lightning Spear states that "the gross incandescence of our magnificent father shall never wane."
  • The Nameless: The Great Old Ones are so old that their names have been lost to history. The fact that the Duke's Dear Freja has a proper name is a hint that it is not a true Great Old One. The Great Old One is actually the fossilized dragon that Freja and her kin are using as a nest.
  • Nerf:
    • Compared to the first game, heavy armor is less useful: poise damage from melee weapons has been magnified by a factor of about three for one-handed attacks and five for two-handed attacks, taking a hit while not attacking slows you down even if it doesn't cause you to stagger, quite a few attacks ignore poise to cause an automatic stagger unless you're in the middle of attacking with certain weapons, and the Poise meter regenerates so slow that it may literally take several minutes to recover from a single attack (and since it instantly refills after you've being staggered, it may as well not at all). Elemental damage reduction also works completely differently, now being percentage based, with most armors providing a rather insignificant reduction unless you stack them together with temporary buffs—even the best armor for a specific element only reduces damage by about one fourth of the base damage. On the other hand, the rehaul to encumbrance tiers makes your mobility suffer less as long as it's below 70% when rolling or 100% when walking or sprinting.
    • Patch 1.04 reduced the damage of some spells as well as increasing their casting time and stamina cost, toned down the damage/health of some enemies/bosses, made some weapons unbuffable (like the Moonlight Greatsword), and reduced the effect of two rings. Subsequent calibrations have also cut the number of uses for several spells, and in some cases reduced the damage dealt by them.
  • Never Found the Body: A late-game NPC asks you to assassinate other NPCs, but only asks for specific items that they own as proof of their death. Every single one of your "targets" can give you said items if you fulfill specific conditions. Heck, you can even buy the item from your first victim. Your contractor just assumes you actually killed them when you bring the items back to him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • If you don't take a cue about the written messages in Aldia's Keep and press the wrong switch, you will end up releasing Royal Sorcerer Navlaan from his magic prison, who will invade you several times throughout the remainder of the game.
    • If you disregard the Ancient Dragon's hospitality and try to strike it, it will stand up and engage you in an extremely brutal Bonus Boss fight.
    • There was also one case in the lore of the Crown of the Sunken King DLC. Sir Yorgh sought the blood of dragons, so when he heard Sinh the Slumbering Dragon was resting in under the Sanctum City of Shulva, he invaded it, deposed its king, and struck the dragon with his signature spear. Not only did the dragon survive, but he became unable to contain its store of poison any longer, plunging the entire city into a deathly miasma of toxic.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Frozen Reeindeer found in the Frigid Outskirts of Crown of the Ivory King are a strange mixture of ice-skinned, darkness-covered horses / stags that shoot out bolts of lightning.
  • Nintendo Hard: Another one of its taglines is even "Prepare To Die...Again." Even better, dying makes it easier to die again, so you have to do better than before just to make it as far as last time.
  • No Flow in CGI: Averted. The 12 minute debut has the duster covers on the Player Characters armor flow with a surprising degree of fluidity, likely because of the new game engine. Hell, some think that the constant breeze in Majula was put in just to show this off. Even just swinging weapons generates visible wind effects (most easily observed by swinging a weapon around Straid).
  • None Shall Pass: The Rat covenant and Bell Keepers covenant is set up like this. If you manage to fight your way though the Grave of Saints and beat the Wolfpack Boss that guards it, you too can join the rat covenant and try to attack other players attempting to invade your precious catacombs!
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The giant ant queen hiding in a cave in the Gutter looks pretty scary but it won't attack. It also emits a blue gas that cures poisoning, though it also slowly degrades equipment.
  • Nonindicative Name: Two weapon classes are "Greatswords" and "Ultra Greatswords". The weapon simply called "Greatsword" belong to the latter category.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: In the first game, very quickly opening the menu and hitting "Save & Quit" let you survive death from very high falls; when you continue you'll be safely on the last surface you stood on. Now being in mid-air automatically closes your menu and prevents it from opening until you land.
  • Once per Episode: A number of set pieces and other elements from Dark Souls and Demon's Souls return once again.
    • A Dragon guarded bridge, like the Red Dragon in Boletaria and the Hellkite Dragon in Undead Burg. Though this time there's dozens of dragons instead of just one.
    • A once mighty king who turned to darkness and thus destroyed his kingdom. note 
    • Similarly, having to put a mighty and venerable king out of his misery after he's descended to a fallen, almost mindless state. note 
    • The analogy with Gwyn is drawn again with the introduction of another heroic king who descended into the flame to save his kingdom and commanded a legion of knight who burned away following their king to his death, the Burnt Ivory King.
    • A Giant Crow serves as transportation to certain areas.
    • A woman fused with an arachnid that serves as a boss, as well as another person/arachnid hybrid that can only be spoken to by way of a specific ring.
    • A Dragonslayer serves as a boss once more.
    • Be sure to say hi to Trusty Patch—erm, Pate, when you see him!
    • An area that's guarded by invading players. note 
    • Another crow nest requests you to give it items and trades them for better ones. note 
    • An area that was used as a dumping grounds and has turned into a complete cesspit of nastiness, both figuratively and literally. note 
    • A maiden born of an ambiguous mixture of humans and dragons. Specifically, the Emerald Herald.
    • An out-of-the-way covenant that yearns for the ushering of Dark (specifically, the Pilgrims of Dark).
    • A corrupted holy knight, wielding a gigantic mace, serves as an opponent. note 
    • A somewhat mysterious mage, hidden in an out of the way area that is very easy to miss, who teaches you immensely powerful spells. note 
    • A powerful sorceror who requires your rescue in a dungeon-themed location and is credited with the creation of many powerful artifacts and spells. note 
    • A sorceror's apprentice who ran into trouble while following their master, gets rescued by you and teaches you many spells in gratitude. note 
    • A Mad Scientist note  who once resided in a now-abandoned and sealed mansion, conducted many inhuman experiments and created many monstrosities scattered throughout the game, with their servants still carrying out grisly ritual note , and at some point in the lore achieved immortality.
  • One-Hit Kill: Way too many to count, putting the original Dark Souls to shame.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same:
    • The Gyrm are a customized Aversion. Yes, they're as stout and stocky and bearded as dwarves. Sure their chief can be seen taking swigs from a large wooden stein. But the Gyrm are actually the around the same height as humans and were once a surface-dwelling race, being driven from the surface and forced to live underground after humans regarded the Gyrm as an inferior race.
    • The Bellkeepers are another aversion. Like typical dwarves, they are shorter than humans, and the axe is their weapon of choice, but they're Artificial Humans who were created to guard the bells from trespassers at all times. They're also completely Ax-Crazy.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Dark Souls II seems to have multiple types of giants. King Vendrick and his knights are similar to the lords in Dark Souls in that they appear to be very tall humans. Meanwhile, the creatures referred to as Giants in the dialogue appear to be made out of earth, have a black hole where their faces should be, and turn into trees upon death.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling:
    • An extremely early example is in Things Betwixt, the Tutorial Level holds easy to kill enemies that will net a 550 soul profit a run. However the real early game meat lies in the Ogres, three hulking one eyed beasts that can kill you in just a couple hits, but are conveniently located near doorways they cannot pass through, chipping away at them nets you 1k souls per Ogre and a Ring that lowers enemies poise, a great way to start a Nintendo Hard game. Patience will net the player 9600 souls before ever having set foot in Majula.
    • An extremely late example is the Giant Lord boss, who can be killed for over 500,000 souls in less than two minutes with the right equipment. The process can be repeated infinitely thanks to the fact that the area contains a bonfire ascetic, an item which can be used to respawn everything in the area, including the boss and a new bonfire ascetic.
  • Playable Epilogue: Unlike the first game, New Game+ does not start automatically upon beating the final boss. It only happens once you select it from the bonfire in Majula. While extremely few NPCs acknowledge the difference, some items can only be bought from merchants in infinite quantity, or at all, after beating the Final Boss—most notably Titanite Chunks, which gives you a way to upgrade most equipment more for taking down Bonus Bosses or before moving onto New Game+.
  • Playing with Fire: Pyromancy. Its effectiveness scales with both the Faith and Intelligence stats.
  • Power Floats: An early boss called the Pursuer is able to levitate as it fights you. The most powerful boss in the game, the Darklurker, also hovers above the ground, and can fly for a few of its' attacks.
  • Power Nullifier: The Profound Still Hex, which prevents all enemies in an area around you from casting spells. The caster is immune to this effect, of course.
  • The Power of Hate: The Giants practically run on this. The Last Giant ignores the stalagmite still impaled in its chest and even tears off its own arm in its desperation to take its revenge against the warrior who defeated it in the past. The entire reason the Giant War lasted so long in the backstory was because the Giants absolutely refused to forgive Vendrick for stealing from them. Even in death, their hate for Vendrick is so strong that the mere presence of their souls weakens him.
  • Product Placement: A very subtle one, but the "Heineken" brand can be faintly made out from observant players looking at... a puddle of corrosive acid. It was silently removed in one of the patches.
  • Puzzle Boss: The Executioner's Chariot has two ways to defeat it. One way is to perform a Corridor Cubbyhole Run until you reach a lever, which you pull to lower the gate and send the chariot and rider crashing into it. Then you can kill the horse. The other is to take your time whittling down its health until it's too weak to make the jump across the pit in the boss arena. Once it misses and the horse is trying to hang on, you can hit it so that it falls.
  • Quicksand Box:
    • The game is a lot more aimless than its predecessor. It's even very easy to miss the Emerald Herald entirely for the first several hours of gameplay, who gives you the estus flask and is the only way to level up!
    • An entire branch of areas (usually necessary for progression save for Sequence Breaking) can only be accessed by exhausting a certain merchant's dialogue (said merchant only shows up after defeating a certain boss), at which point she moves to another location you probably no longer pass through due to warping between visited bonfires. Then you'll have the option to open up this new path at the cost of 2000 souls.
  • Rage Helm: Played straight by Vengarl's helm, which is set in the visage of a snarling dragon or lion. Unusually, it doesn't actually hide the wearer's face. Chillingly inverted by the Looking Glass Knight's helm, however, which has three faces, the foremost one being set in an expression of utter calm with tears flowing from black, empty eye-sockets.
  • Scenery Gorn: Dragelic is littered with half destroyed fortresses, cities and so forth.
  • Scenery Porn: Most of the area backdrops are detailed and provide a near-seamless fantasy experience, sometimes making you forget that it's still a game.
  • Schmuck Bait: In Aldia's Keep there is a hallway with a series of messages telling you to "Pull Back." At the end of the hallway is a lever marked "Don't You Dare!" Go ahead and pull it. Go ahead. It releases Royal Sorcerer Navlaan, a very powerful and very crazy wizard who will invade you at many different locations.
  • Scunthorpe Problem: The PC version of the game uses the name input for the character rather than the player's Steam Profile name. However, the character names have a filter that they are put through that censors them if they are offensive. The filter list that character names are put through, which replaces any word or word fragment with asteriks, is completely ridiculous, banning even words whose meanings are usually innocuous or only vaguely obscene in any way and making many other common words incomprehensible—most infamously, banning the letter sequence "ho", affects a large number of common words like "hood" and "home". This even impacts someone that decided to name themself "Knight" something. However, said censorship can be easily removed, as the filter lists are easily found within the game files and can be removed or replaced.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: The ever-classic Soul Level 1 run returns, but without any of the comfort of the Pyromancer or Royalty classes brought. In this game, the only class that starts at level 1 is the Deprived. Outside of a specific ring, you aren't able to use any magic on a SL 1 run in Dark Souls 2.
    • In addition to the above, there are two items in the game that can only be obtained by completing two specific challenges: A No Death run, and a No Bonfire run. The reward for doing either is a ring that turns your left/right hand weapon invisible. While arguably a cosmetic effect either of these rings will give you a huge advantage in PvP, borderlining Game Breaker status.
    • And of course, the Company of Champions Covenant, which disables co-op, but still lets you get invaded by hostile players, improves enemy AI and increases the health and strength of every boss.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: Played with. The game removes some of the more frustrating aspects of the first game, though any ways those changes happen to make things easier and more than compensated for in difficulty.
    • More bonfires and the ability to warp between any bonfire from the beginning of the game. The game also subverts this in some cases, by either making the areas between certain bonfires utter hell to get through, making some of the bonfires extremely hard to find or even outright inaccessible without special conditions, or actually having a scarcity of bonfires in certain areas. In particular, Sinner's Rise has only one bonfire, which is as far away from the boss as possible, and is directly in view of the three Hollow crossbowmen right next to you (it also requires reaching an elevator that is in the middle of a crossfire of at least four Hollow crossbowmen).
    • The Curse effect has been changed to turn you Hollow without killing you, instead of instantly killing you and decreasing your max health. This is more because, in the first game, Curse and Petrify effects were one and the same. Now, the effects are separated, making Curse far less dangerous but much more common. Petrify remains as dangerous as ever, and is caused by more enemies than before, too.
    • You no longer have to rest at a bonfire (and respawn all the enemies) to respawn there; lighting it is enough.
    • Enemies will eventually stop respawning (after killing them over a dozen or so times), making it possible to clear a straight path to the boss.
    • Attacks and environmental hazards that cause equipment corrosion only affect armor and rings, not weapons.
    • While you still can't summon Phantoms of other players after the boss it beaten, you can still summon Shades, which are otherwise the same except they have a much shorter time limit.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Oh yeah. On all fronts.
    • There is a covenant called the Company of Champions, that makes the game much harder: you deal less damage, enemies deal more damage, you cannot summon any phantoms to help you, you can't be summoned yourself, you have greater chances of being invaded, and the enemy AI is made smarter. That said, it is optional and it even asks you three times if you want to join. The Scholar of the First Sin content/update will make it so that enemies will respawn indefinitely while a member of the Company of Champions.
    • Weapons and armor have much lower durability this time around, and rings actually have durability and can break. Corrosive hazards are all over the place, too. However, equipment durability is replenished when you rest at a bonfire so long as it isn't broken. As part of these changes, there are now four ring slots and three weapons/shields can be equipped on each hand at one time.
      • The PC version has it worse. Due to a bug with the game engine, durability is tied to the frame rate. Equipment degrades twice as fast on the PC version (60 fps) than the console versions (30 fps).
    • In terms of multiplayer: Hollow form no longer prevents players from being invaded by black phantoms and summoned allies now have a time limit, although for Phantoms this last so long (40 minutes) you're unlikely to notice. However, unlike in the first game, there is no Red Eye Orb (infinite uses), only Cracked Red Eye Orbs (consumed with each use, hard to find, and only purchasable in New Game+ at 10,000 souls each), making invasions far less common outside of special areas that allow invasions through other methods.
    • Enemy numbers and concentration are greatly increased, as are sight ranges and aggro range. It is very, very easy to walk into an ambush, trigger ranged attacks by archers, or aggro multiple enemies by accident while fighting another enemy.
    • Poison and toxic status effects are much nastier this time around. Although duration (and thus total damage) is much shorter, basic poison now damages you as fast as the worst kind of toxic did in Dark Souls; toxic is even faster. Although both are now cured by Poison Moss instead of having a separate item from each, said item is much rarer now. Certain environmental hazards can also get "stuck" to you, continuing to cause poison buildup for a time even after you get out of them.
    • The Blacksmith has only a finite number of Titanite Shards to purchase. You don't get a merchant with an unlimited number until possibly very late in the game.
    • Because of the aforementioned mechanic of enemies disappearing after dying enough, you can only get so many souls from grinding the same area over and over.
    • You'll be hard pressed in finding a shield that blocks 100% of physical damage without investing several levels in Strength. The earliest one you can acquire requires you to defeat The Pursuer and The Last Giant. Even worse, free healing is much more limited, making the chip-damage you take from non-100% shields even more problematic than before.
    • Combat for the player character has slowed down, meaning blocking, attacking and healing with Estus all take far longer. Dodge-rolling does not go as far unless your Equip load is very low and doesn't have any many invincible frames until Agility is increased significantly. On the other hand, regular movement speed doesn't slow down until above 100% equip load while roll speed doesn't go down until you hit 70% equip load (rather than starting to "fat roll" once you hit 50%).
    • Many more enemies have attacks with autotracking: they can change the attack's direction some times after starting, making the window for dodging smaller.
    • New Game+ doesn't just have stronger enemies. There are also more of them, including red phantoms.
  • Sequel Escalation: The world is twice as large as Dark Souls, the bosses are even more horrifying, and equipment has stricter stat requirements.
  • Sequel Hook: Once two of the DLC crowns have been obtained, speaking to Vendrick reveals that to end the curse once and for all, the First Flame and Dark Soul must be harnessed in tandem, something that is not accomplished by the end of the game.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • In true Dark Souls fashion, a great number of areas can be skipped one way or another. To access the Final Boss without too many bosses in the way, you only need one Fragrant Branch of Yore, the King's Ring, the Ashen Mist Heart, the Giants' Kinship, and either one million souls in your Soul Memory or four Souls of a Great Old One (this last requirement skips bosses that would otherwise be necessary to open the Shrine of Winter).
    • In the vein of Sequence Breaking the developers didn't intend to be possible, you can bypass the Shrine of Winter entirely by jumping off the stairs to the front gate, the ground above the path to the gate, and the ruins that show you a path behind the gate. Which, as previously mentioned, lets you bypass a very large amount of the game—there have already been speedruns that complete the entire thing in less than fifty minutes. A patch made this specific route impossible by putting up an Invisible Wall on the ruins, but people have since found other ways to get around.
    • The Binoculars Speed Glitch and Skywalking Glitch used to allow for ridiculous sequence breaking to the point that the game could be beat in around a 20 minute speedrun if you knew what you were doing. It was eventually patched.
  • Shock and Awe:
    • The Looking Glass Knight boss can cast lighting over a fairly large area. The Alonne Knight Captains in the Iron Keep will put away their greatbows to draw swords of lightning when you're up close. A handful of endgame sorcerer enemies will also shoot homing lightning projectiles at you from long range.
    • Offensive miracles like Lightning Spear have you emit and launch powerful bolts of lightning. Their damage scales with the Faith stat.
  • Shout-Out: Knowing the few previous references the developers have made Silver Chariot likely is one to the Stand of the same name. Although it's named the Executioner's Chariot in the final product.
    • The black hood items description mention the characters Straid and the ancient king of old Olaphis. Now who do those two kind of sound like...
      • Straid's name being almost the same as Strayed, his back story sounds a lot like the Destruction Path in For Answer.
    • The Crypt Blacksword looks quite a lot like the Dragonslayer from Berserk. The Greatsword looks like a combination of the Dragonslayer and the thinner BFS Guts used during the Golden Age arc.
    • Another Berserk reference is how the Ironclad soldiers are basically dressed as Bazuso, except with a slightly different helmet.
    • The Ogres are, again, remarkably similar in shape to their Berserk counterparts, even if their heads are less 'sperm whale' and more 'hippo'.
    • The Old Knight Ultra Greatsword looks a lot like the Buster Sword.
    • The Smelter Sword looks a lot like Soul Edge, though it lacks an eye in its hilt.
    • The Curved Dragon Greatsword bears a strong resemblance to the Tessaiga from Inuyasha, complete with a furred mantle for a guard, and a Blow You Away Special Attack.
    • The Lost Bastille, Royal Swordsmen, a Lost Sinner in an Iron Mask? Remind you of anything?
    • The Old Whip gained from trading with Dyna & Tillo seems to be one to the Vampire Killer from Castlevania, having an innate attack boost against Hollow enemies.
    • There is a book in the library of the mansion in Majula that is also in the Duke's Archives in Dark Souls. The cover is low res, but the title can still be made out. Said book is a real novel by French writer Paul Acker which is titled "Le Desir de Vivre", or "The Desire to Live".
    • The first time you encounter Chloanne, she will say "Perhaps we'll meet again, if we live that long." This is a reference to Maria's quote after meeting Alucard for the first time in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - "Perhaps we'll meet again, if you live that long."
    • The Bone Fist from the Crown of the Ivory King DLC lets the player perform a Hadouken when dual-wielded.
  • Simple Yet Awesome:
    • The lance weapon class' moveset consists of nothing but slow, straightforward thrust attacks. Doesn't stop them from being some of the most destructive weapons in the game.
    • Power-stancing clubs or maces can be like this. They require little stats, have incredible scaling, are available almost from the start and hit like almost nothing else with sufficient investment. One of their moves is a triple strike, with a third hit that automatically breaks poise. If it can be poise-broken, you WILL poise-break it with these weapons, and you can make the Ruin Sentinels a complete joke by stun-locking them into oblivion.
    • Similarly, there's the caestus. Low stat requirements, excellent scaling for Strength, and when power-stanced, they hit incredibly fast (the L2/Left Bumper one-two punch has almost no lead time) and are blunt attacks so their pierce armor and can stun lock very easily. If you get around their extremely short range and learn to dodge effectively, you can easily punch your way through most bosses and enemies.
    • The Alva the Wayfarer set is a decent and light-weight armor set that is relatively easy to obtain (purchasable in Maughlin's shop after spending several thousand souls).
    • The Large and Great Clubs are just really big sticks, but their reach, strike damage, good base damage, simple upgrading requirements, and high strength scaling makes them two of the most useful weapons in the game. Their item descriptions note that they are crude but effective weapons.
  • Skippable Boss: In order to fight the Final Boss, you just need King's Ring, Ashen Mist Heart, Giant's Kinship, one Branch of Yore, and either one million souls memory or four great souls. If you skip the four great souls, the only bosses you need are The Last Giant, the Giant Lord and the Throne Defender/Watcher (will unlock the Nashandra fight); Guardian Dragon (will permit you to reach Dragon Shrine and get the Ashen Mist Heart to then go to the Memory of Jeigh); To get the King's Ring in order to get to Memory of Jeigh and Aldia's Keep: Branch of Yore from bottom of Gutter, before Black Gulch. Twin Dragonriders; Looking Glass Knight; Demon of Song; Velstadt the Royal Aegis.
  • Small Secluded World: The Dark Chasm of Old counts. You have to find Darkdiver Grandahl three times, in increasingly out-of-the-way locations, to even access it.
  • Soul Jar/Gem Heart: The Lifegems are crystallized souls.
  • Space Compression: Quite a few areas are visible in the distance from others to make the game feel larger. This does not mean the actual path to them will be at all like the one a player would assume is taken. One of the more jarring cases is the path to Heide's Tower of Flame which, despite it being at least three kilometers away from Majula, is possible to reach on foot within five minutes.
  • Spiked Wheels: The Executioner's Chariot has them. All the better for trampling you.
  • Spiteful A.I.: Enemy mobs just love ganging up on whoever has the lowest health while playing online, often redirecting their attention at the recovering player even if they had been thoroughly distracted by allies beforehand.
  • Squishy Wizard: Most spell-caster enemies are relatively fragile. They make up for it either by stationing themselves in out of reach places, surrounding themselves with beefier enemies, or both.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The Prince and Princess who built the Belfry Towers were this. The bells allowed them to communicate, even if they could never be together. It's heavily implied that the Old Iron King was the prince of the tale
  • Stuff Blowing Up: A great many things are able to cause spectacular explosions in this game. From the powder kegs in the Lost Bastille to the stronger pyromancy spells, "kaboom" has never been more defined in a Souls game.
  • Stylistic Suck: A fairly subtle example. The enemy AI in starting conditions has a number of minor holes in their tactics ability that seem to have been intentionally put in, as becoming a Champion makes the enemy NPCs use better strategies and become less easily confused.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: It would be much, much harder to kill the Old Iron King if he didn't keep smashing his fists into the platform.
  • Take a Third Option: Zig-zagged. King Vendrick tried to find an alternate solution to the curse than linking the Flame. The current state of the game-world tells you exactly how well that worked. However, zig-zagged in that his efforts were sabotaged from the get-go by his queen Nashandra and he contracted the Undead Curse - Nashandra was, in fact, a soul fragment of Manus. It's unclear whether Vendrick would have succeeded if his efforts had not been ruined by Nashandra.
  • Take That, Critics!: The trophy attained at the player's first death is called "This Is Dark Souls".
  • Taken for Granite: A few statues of NPCs are here and there, courtesy of those goddamned basilisks. Fortunately you can cure them with a rare item and they'll get out of your way, and some even reward you back at Majula, like the pyromancy trainer. On the other hand, some of the others try to kill you...
  • Talking Animal:
    • One of the NPCs encountered in Majula is a talking cat. note 
    • Another covenant leader, found in a crypt beneath Majula's well, is a talking rat who lets you join the Rat Covenant (mostly about laying traps and attacking other players also entering the crypt).
    • Somewhat in the form of Manscorpion Tark, if you can find the ring that allows you two to communicate.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The old ladies (former Fire Keepers) mock you and tell you to your face you're finished. One says that if you can hold onto your souls you might retain your sanity, but then she scoffs and says you're just going to die and lose your souls over and over again. This also counts as a Take That, Audience! towards players who thought that making the game more accessible to newcomers meant that it was going to be made easier.
  • Time-Limit Boss: The player character can only remain inside the memories of the giant invasion for five minutes each, and seeing as one of the memories contains the Giant Lord, this trope certainly comes into play.
  • To Hell and Back: The ultimate scenario presented in Crown of the Ivory King, given you dive down several miles underground into the hellish Old Chaos, fight the Burnt Ivory King and his knights, and retrieve the titular crown, before warping back to the cathedral via a beam of light.
  • True Final Boss: Defeating all four Primal Bonfire guardians, Vendrick and Nashandra in Scholar of the First Flame grants a final encounter with Aldia.
  • Unfriendly Fire: The hex Lifedrain Patch creates a stationary orb that deals multiple hits to anyone who steps in it, be it enemies, allied phantoms, or the caster themselves. Cue some more trolling.
  • Updated Re-release: Scholar of the First Sin for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and DirectX 11 PCs. It includes the 1.10 Expansion Pack update patch, the 3 DLC episodes, remastered graphics, remixed levels, and improved multiplayer capabilities (6 players max).
  • Useless Useful Spell: The Dead Again hex, which allows you to cause the bodies of dead enemies to explode with dark energy. Perfect for ambushing invaders, right? WRONG! Due to the sheer number of enemies that now fade into ash when they're killed, using the remaining few enemies that do leave a corpse makes the hex completely situational and making it nigh useless.
  • Vain Sorceress: The Desert Sorceresses emulate Queen Mytha in her pursuit of beauty.
  • The Vamp: The item lore on the Desert Sorceress' equipment mentions that they use their beauty to make their enemies lower their guard. Even people who are aware of this often fall for their wiles. One of the Sorceress' signature attacks is to grab the player character if he/she stands next to them for too long and give him/her a passionate kiss...that drains his/her lifeforce.
  • Vestigial Empire: Dark Souls II is set in the fallen kingdom of Drangleic, which was decimated by a war with Giants from across the sea. Some Dark Souls loreists have interpreted this to be referring to the gods from the first game, who crossed the sea when the First Flame started dying. The Lingering Dragoncrest Ring's description also indicates that Drangleic is currently located in a place where the ring was used, possibly indicating Vinheim. Other interpretations put Drangleic where Lordran itself stood. Straid's dialogue indicates that this isn't far off, even if it's not precisely where Lordran was.
  • Video Game Perversity Potential: Wearing the Smelter Demon Armor as a female can give you quite the view if you position the camera right. There is also a certain female character who will wear any equipment you give her. Including the aforementioned Smelter Demon Armor.
  • Video Game Setpiece: In Aldia's Keep, a giant dragon skeleton comes to life and attacks the player, shattering itself in the process.
  • Videogame Settings
    • Abandoned Laboratory: Aldia's Keep, where captured dragons and various mutant monsters were experimented on.
    • The Alcatraz: The Undead Purgatory, where the Old Iron King kept the Undead for his kingdom's Undead hunts. Also the Lost Bastille and Sinner's Rise, the former being a massive fortress turned prison for locking away the Undead in hopes of staving off the curse and the latter being the deepest reaches of the Bastille that housed only the worst heretics and sinners.
    • Boss-Only Level: The Blue Cathedral, which houses the Old Dragonslayer. Also, the Throne of Want, which consists solely of a long pathway leading to the arena housing the penultimate and final bosses.
    • First Town/Player Headquarters: Majula. It makes Firelink Shrine look like an empty cliff, with its abundance of friendly NPCs, beautiful lighting, and calm atmosphere.
    • Gangplank Galleon: No-Man's Wharf, a dark, dank cave hiding a pirate ship.
    • Haunted House: Aldia's Keep. There is still some life left in the dragon skeleton littering the foyer...
    • Lethal Lava Land: Iron Keep, a massive metal fortress filled with lava and fire.
    • Lost Woods: The Huntsman's Copse, a dark pine forest filled with zombies and hulking barbarians. Also, the Shaded Forest, which is heavily bathed in fog.
    • Planet Heck: The Old Chaos found in Crown of the Ivory King, which is located miles below a massive cathedral and is made completely of lava, with the roots of a World Tree visible in the distance. Not only does it references Dark Souls's own Planet Heck that was Lost Izalith, but it's also the boss arena for the Burnth Ivory King and his Charred Loyce Knights.
    • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Heide's Tower of Flame. A collapsed tower that's fallen partially into the sea. All that's known is that it's possibly an important city in the game, possibly a pyromancers haven, and that it was owned by some dude named Heide.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss:
    • The Pursuer is fast, strong and deadly, and depending on what path you take, he's the second boss!
    • The Lost Sinner. Fast, aggressive, and hits like a freight train. She's also likely to be the first of the Great Souls bosses you kill, being anywhere from the fourth to sixth boss faced.
  • Wolfpack Boss:
    • The Skeleton Lords would all be very easy to deal with on their own, but become more of a challenge due to the fact that they are a trio and spawn several more skeleton Mooks.
    • The Belfry Gargoyles have a rather middling amount of health individually, but you have to fight six of them, possibly all at once if you don't watch where you're hitting.
    • Afflicted Graverobber, Ancient Soldier Varg and Cerah the Old Explorer from Crown of the Sunken King, who fight as a group and cover each other's weaknesses.
  • Weapon Tropes
    • An Axe to Grind: Divided into the lighter regular axes and the heavy greataxes, although they're no longer among the strongest and heaviest weapons available.
    • Automatic Crossbows: The Avelyn, returning from the first Dark Souls. Of note is that powerstancing two of them allows you to unleash 6 bolts at once, at a reasonable reload time.
    • BFS: A series staple. Examples include the King's Ultra Greatsword, a massive vaguely sword-like statue, as well as Dragonslayer lookalikes like the Greatsword and the Crypt Blacksword.
    • Carry a Big Stick: Clubs, which are very heavy and have insane strength requirements. The Giant Warrior Club has 30 weight and needs 60 strength just to use with one hand. The Smelter Hammer from the Iron Crown DLC weights 35 and needs 70 strength for one-handing!
    • Double Weapon: Twinblades, double ended swords that deal multiple hits at low damage per hit, and have middle of the road durability.
    • Drop the Hammer: In standard hammer and great hammer categories. One example is the Gyrm Great Hammer, which is an anvil chained together on a heavy stick.
    • Good Old Fisticuffs: the hand-to-hand Caestus, which have an A scaling in dexterity and strength, and can be power stance dual-wielded.
    • Laser Blade: The Ivory Straight Sword found in the Crown of The Old Ivory King, a handle which generates a blade of light when swung.
    • Jousting Lance: lances, which are heavier, slower, stronger, and usually scale better with strength than regular spears. You can trade the Soul of the Executioner's Chariot with Straid of Olaphis for one, and loot a chest hidden in the Giants' Memories for another.
    • Whip It Good: Whips return, with longer reach, improved base damage, added damage against Hollows, and the ability to parry and riposte. However, they all have low durability.
    • Whip Sword: the Puzzling Stone Sword, from Crown of the Sunken King, is a shiny blade whose strong attacks extend it into a chain whip.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Almost every NPC has looping lines. the Emerald Herald in particular will always deliver her similar "Bearer-Seek-Seek-Lest-" speeches...
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?:
    • "You are of the undead. Forever without hope. Forever without light."
    • The intro shows Undead slowly lose their memories, forgetting everything about their past and loved ones.
    • Even if you get Vendrick's cure for hollowing in the DLC, the rest of the world will still go Hollow anyway.
  • World Half Full:
    • Crestfallen Saulden cheers up as you gather more and more people in Majula.
    • One of the old Firekeepers who mocked you at the beginning of the game will be impressed the more you progress.
    • the Emerald Herald becomes more hopeful that her mission to break the cycle might not be in vain after all when you reach the final dungeon.
    • The Lost Crowns Trilogy explores a potential cure for Hollowing, which Vendrick will transfer from himself to you if you beat the DLC content.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The curse of the Darksign has left many of Drangliec's residents as mindless Hollows seeking to feed on those that still have souls.

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Alternative Title(s):

Dark Souls 2