Dark Souls II is the follow up to 2011's Dark Souls. Like its predecessor, it was developed by From Software and published by Namco Bandai. The game is for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, with the console versions being released on March 11, 2014 and the PC version following on April 25th.The game takes place in the ruined Kingdom of Drangleic, an untold number of years after the events of the first Dark Souls. Your character has been cursed with undeath, as usual, and has entered the fallen kingdom on rumors that a cure can be found there. After learning that there is, in fact, no cure, your character sets out to seek audience with the long-lost king of Drangleic, Vendrick. But in order to get to him, and his castle, you first need to take down four Great Soul bearers and embrace their souls if you ever hope to rid the world of the Undead curse.Overall, the game is very similar to the first, but much larger, with more of an "open-world" feel. The hellacious difficulty level has in many ways been amped up, but some frustrating/obtuse elements have also been retuned (the different covenants are properly explained, for instance.)The game itself has been praised for its streamlined approach to several obtuse features in Dark Souls and returning difficulty. Several features of the game, including its easy-to-learn-hard-to-master melee combat system, involving swords, axes, clubs, greatswords, ultra greatswords, complex magic system involving straight magic, dark magic, miracles, pyromancy, and more, and simple archery system involving several bow types and arrow types were met with acclaim. The game was also met with acclaim for its environmental design, with many critics citing it as a step up from the previous 'Souls' games.On June 4, 2014, it was announced that there will be a three episode DLC pack titled The Lost Crowns Trilogy. Each episode will add new areas, enemies, bosses, and equipment, while delving into the past of previous kingdoms that used to stand in Drangleic. All three episodes have been named and given release dates: Episode 1 - The Crown of the Sunken King was released on July 22, 2014, Episode 2 - The Crown of the Old Iron King was released on August 26, 2014, and Episode 3 - The Crown of the Ivory King was released on September 30, 2014. All episodes were released across all three platforms at the same time.
Dark Souls II provides examples of:
Absurdly High Level Cap: Even more so than itspredecessors, where the level caps were in the 710s based on the starting class. The level cap in this game is 838 for all eight classes. To counter this, leveling seems to be slightly easier, as in Dark Souls the player would finish the game in the 80 to 90 region while in Dark Souls II it's much closer to the 120 region.
Action Bomb: The Undead Citizens. They come in three horrible varieties: the standard ones explode in fiery death, while the other two emit petrifying and equipment degrading gas. The latter are worse since they don't die when they "explode", meaning they can keep doing it.
Action Survivor: The player character once again. Because enemies have become smarter and more aggressive, it's up to the player to survive the onslaught.
Aerith and Bob: On the Aerith side, we have Blacksmith Lenigrast, Crestfallen Saulden, Maughlin the Armorer, Sweet Shalquoir and Benhart of Jugo, and we haven't even left the hub town! Later in the game is when the Bob's start showing up, like Steady Hand McDuff, Laddersmith Gilligan and a few of the NPC summons, like Jester Thomas. You can place your character on either the Aerith or Bob side of things.
Affably Evil: Mild Mannered Pate is heavily hinted at being this, but he never actually does anything to the player character, even after screwing over Creighton of Mirrah. All the evil we know about him is that his oddly specific choices of words and what Creighton of Mirrah has to say about him, and Creighton isn't exactly trustworthy himself. Like Creighton, he also "forgets" that one of the chests in the room that his key unlocks is booby-trapped, and he can be overhead mocking the player character when the trap goes off.
And Your Reward Is Rings: Clearing the game without dying or using a bonfire nets you a ring. Each ring makes your left or right handed weapon invisible, which makes them a hybrid of Cosmetic Award and Bragging Rights Reward for normal gameplay; in multiplayer, it's useful for catching enemy players off-guard.
Ambiguous Ending: The game's ending leaves it unclear if you can break the Vicious Cycle of the curse, or can at best perpetuate it in a way that's favorable in the short term.
Emerald Herald: What lies ahead, only you can see.
Backtracking is even easier now that you can teleport between bonfires right from the start (though, annoyingly, you have to go to one specific bonfire to level yourself up, putting a loading screen in between where you'd normally just spend your soul points). Enemies will eventually depopulate in a zone if you kill enough of them, which means you can get through that area more easily in the future (you can also bring them back with an item, if you want).
One covenant, Way of Blue, is available almost from the start and it causes defenders to show up to help you when you're invaded.
You can summon Phantoms a lot easier, and Shades (summoned through a Small Soapstone Sign) have a timer, but can be summoned even after defeating the area boss.
Ability to resurrect NPCs—most of which is necessary because those NPCs stand in front of a crowd of enemies.
If you can't beat the four Old Ones, there is an alternate way to bypass the Shrine of Winter. You have to have over one million souls in your Soul Memory, though.
Soul Vessel items that let you redistribute all your skill points, and thus salvage a botched character.
The Ring of Life Protection which saves your humanity and all souls obtained but breaks and can be repaired for 3000 souls.
Human Effigies, the game's equivalent to Humanity from the first game, are far more common as well. Making your gradual loss of health as a hollow more manageable.
The Ring of Binding, which greatly lessens the HP reduction from repeated deaths, can be obtained very early on (potentially before fighting even a single boss, provided the player takes the right path), even further reducing the impact of hollow form.
Fulfilling your duty as a Phantom or Shade also fully restores your health, spell uses, equipment condition (so long as it isn't completely broken), brings you back to human form and puts you right back where you were when summoned. The key word is "fulfilling", as dying (or having the host die) nets no reward, and returns you to where you were with the same amount of health as when you left.
Finally, there is a shrine in a late game area which, if the player has taken the necessary steps, will restore the player's humanity once they pray to it, if they don't have any human effigies in their inventory and don't have 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.
Upgrading weapons has been streamlined with regards to how many different kinds of items must be found, especially when adding special effects. In the first game weapon types had branches that each required finding a specific ember and blacksmith for ascension, a unique type of ore to upgrade, and getting the weapon to Regular +5 or Regular +10 before bestowing special properties. Now the ore requirements just depend on if it's a common (titanite shards, chunks, etc.), rare (twinkling titanite), or boss soul item (petrified dragon bone), regular upgrades are available to the max as soon as you have the required ores, and granting special abilities only requires finding a single ember, one blacksmith (McDuff), and one of a certain type of stone for each weapon you want to infuse. While you can't upgrade at bonfires anymore, all bonfires being warp points makes it a moot point.
The player no longer starts New Game+ automatically upon viewing the credits, but is instead dumped back at the Far Fire.
From NG+ and onwards, the credits become skippable, which is useful considering that they feel a lot longer than the six minutes they last. This is at least useful for those trying to get to the higher difficulties as fast as possible, but on the other hand, repeatedly fighting the Final Boss with bonfire ascetics does not make the credits skippable and forces players who just want to farm the boss souls to sit through them every time.
Anti-Grinding: In a change from the first game, certain enemies will disappear after 12 or so encounters, preventing the players from over leveling in the same area for too long. This is also an anti-frustration feature, to make getting to the boss room after multiple attempts quicker.
Arc Symbol: Ashes. Ashes crop up everywhere in the game, from your dying animation, several different areas (such as Sinner's Rise) and is what makes up Nashandra's throne. What they actually symbolize in the plot is open to interpretation.
It's possible to break the AI and circle around them, without them being able to do a proper attack, while others may just stop what they were doing and just stand there. Interestingly, joining the Covenant of Champions turns some of the Artificial Stupidityoff. Enemies will start doing things a smart enemy player would, like retreating when injured, and coordinating attacks together.
In the Sunken King DLC, if you lead Jester Thomas, back a bit to the room with all the floor spikes (as long as you haven't found the switch that lowers them), it's possible that he'll get caught in an infinite stagger loop because of the poise damage it inflicts and ineffectually use Firestorm because his AI is telling him he's being attacked by Melee. This is a bit surprising because he's otherwise the smartest AI invader in the game.
Late in the game you can encounter enemies who dual-wield shields, after the number of dual-shield playthroughs that were posted for the first game. The description of the greatshields in question even points out how the knights would "playfully" crush their enemies with shield bashes.
The achievement/trophy for Heirs Of The Sun covenant lampshades it with "Brilliant Covenant: Discover a most brilliant covenant".
Jester Thomas is considered an extreme badass by the entire community, compared to Iron Tarkus. So of course From decided to point him right at you as a surprisingly powerful and intelligent dark spirit invader in the first DLC, Crown of the Sunken King.
In the second DLC, Crown of the Old Iron King, defeating the challenge path results in acquiring the Pharros Mask, which on top of giving players the same amount of fire defence as if they had drenched themselves in water, also allows players to ensure that the legend never dies.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Prestigious enemies and bosses have much more intricate move sets when compared to the typical, listless Hollow.
Some of the higher level spells are powerful to the point of one-shotting tough enemies, but at the same time require a hefty price to use them, or are just plain awkward to use. Some notable examples include:
Forbidden Sun, a glorified super Great Fireball that leaves a trail of fire when it lands. While easy to aim and quick to cast, it requires several attunement slots for so few uses per copy.
Climax, the stongest hex and the most damaging spell in the game with at least 5000 souls in hand. The only problem is that it eats away all of the souls you are holding, and takes a big amount of space in your attunement slots. Unless you're going to pop large souls in the middle of a fight in order to use it at full power, you're better off using the slightly weaker version of the spell, Great Resonant Soul, which is already powerful enough to kill basically any player in two hits but only takes half the attunement slots and a tenth the number of souls.
Soul Geyser is a superpowered Soul Spear sorcery, but has terrible accuracy and slow casting time; one miss, and all the projectiles fly off into thin air.
Appease Soul is a powerful area effect Miracle that only damages Hollow enemies and is useless on anything else. Since Hollows are weak to begin with...
Outside of spells, greatbows have very high damage per hit and can knock many enemies down. However, they are so slow and stamina-consuming that most regular bows and crossbows outpace them in terms of damage. On top of that they are heavy, don't let you move at all when an arrow is drawn, and their ammunition is expensive and/or hard to get (most non-standard great arrows are only sold by Navlaan if you release him or complete his sidequest).
As far as physical weapons go, the Smelter Hammer sets a new record of gloriously unbalanced performance. It's got the strike type damage, meaning most enemies will receive more damage than with slash or pierce weapons, has extremely high durability, and features some of the wildest and strongest movesets for a great hammer. It would be grossly overpowered if not for its horrendous weight of 35 and strength requirement of 70 for one-handing, in addition to the generally cumbersome animation frames of the weapon class.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: The ending cutscene. The player character sits upon the Throne of Want after defeating every great beast and ancient evil in Drangleic, and as you sit down, it not only looks satisfying for them, it must feel damn satisfying for the player. And then the doors to the throne close...
The Bell Keepers. They all have a mad obsession with protecting the bells, but also with slicing and chopping intruders into tiny little bits, murdering them in the most violent fashion.
The Brotherhood of Blood covenant is an entire religion built around being Ax-Crazy Blood Knights who invade and fight players at will. Their leader is also a nutjob devoted to the God of War, Nahr Alma.
Bare-Fisted Monk: The Vanquisher's Ring (the final reward for the Company of Champions covenant) lets the player enter Power Stance with their bare hands, and gives their fists a humongous boost in damage.
Badass Cape: Many chest armours come equipped with a billowing one that shows off the game's aversion to No Flow in CGI. Notable examples include the Drangleic Armor, the Llewellyn Armor, and Velstadt's Armor.
Badass Normal: Benhart is one of the few characters totally unaffected by the curse - in fact, he's just passing through this land to find stuff to kill. Yet he manages to keep up with you wherever you go, even BACK IN TIME.
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.
The Grave of Saints. Large, underground catacombs/sewers ruled by the Rat King and swarming with giant rats are far below the hub town of Majula. But then, you can go even deeper, to the pitch black Gutter, where the only light is the light of your torch, where all the trash of Drangleic ends up one way or another, populated by Hollows and mutant creatures. And then, you can go down even further, to the Black Gulch, and the things that dwell down there...
The first part of the Downloadable Content adds Shulva, the Sanctum City. Large, towering pyramids that have been abandoned since long, surrounded by massive caverns and waterfalls.
Milibeth will not take kindly to you attacking any of the three retired Fire Keepers, even if it's a stray hit.
Destroying some of the eggs at the Dragon Aerie will make all of the Guardian Dragons get a substantial damage boost and aggression increase to their AI. Break enough, and they'll kill you by destroying the bridge to the Dragon Shrine while you try to cross it.
Gravewarden Agdayne will attempt to kill any player that shines a light in his room.
The Fume Knight will instantly go into his second phase should the host player wear any piece of Velstadt's set, as part of the enmity between Raime and the Royal Aegis.
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.
And one of the most ignoble deaths in the game can happen in the hub town - 3 piglets near the Map house can kill a player due to having such high health (for a starting enemy) and being very hard to hit due to their small size.
Crown of the Ivory King adds the one time summon Twiggy Shei. Compared to some other valiant knights and wise sorcerers, Twiggy is just a strange man with a bell on his head and a greatbow. That said, he's easily one of the most effective summons out there.
Big Bad: Similar to Demons Souls, King Vendrick is set up fairly early on as your ultimate foe and the reason behind the downfall of Drangelic. It turns out the real Big Bad is his queen, Nashandra, who influenced him to perform most of his foolish acts and is actually a Soul Fragment of Manus, the main villain from the first Dark Souls' DLC.
Big Damn Heroes: There is now an entire covenant devoted to doing this called the Blue Sentinels. Players can enter it to be summoned into others' games to protect them from invaders, though they only help out members of the Way of Blue covenant.
Big Red Devil: The Old Iron King, one of the four Great Soul bearers, looks a fair bit like Diablo.
"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: Rather surprisingly, the game is rated T for Teen. This is more than likely due to most of the enemies now fading away instead of becoming a ragdoll corpse that can be moved around. Enemies that do leave a corpse behind now don't have ragdoll physics on them, or at least physics that the player can manipulate.
This time, we get to see the gradual degradation into a Hollow for the player character. Each death without using an effigy makes the player character look more and more like a decaying corpse: with sallow skin, an emaciated look, and thinning hair. After a few deaths they look like, well... just watch this.
Several enemies. Among the most notable is The Rotten, a Wickerman-esque golem made of still moving undead, screaming for release.
The Darklurker. The player needs to go well out of their way to even find out how to reach the boss, let alone fight it.
The Ancient Dragon and the Hollowed-out King Vendrick, both of whom are only triggered by aggro-ing them and provide little to the story's progress. They're also some of the most resilient bosses in the entire game, the former being the crowning example of a Marathon Boss and the latter a serious case of Damage-Sponge Boss.
All bosses found in the DLC are, by definition, Bonus Bosses, but Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon takes the cake due to how deep into the first DLC you have to get. He's also one of the most mobile bosses in the game, prolonging the fight by a lot. Sir Alonne one ups the first DLC by being accessible only after clearing the majority of Crown of the Old Iron King, including having to defeat the main Bonus Boss of that DLC.
The first area of the game most players tackle is the Forest of Fallen Giants. The last major area in the game before the final boss are the memories of the giants, accessed through their corpses scattered throughout the forest. Even further than that, judging how similar they look and how it reacts to seeing the undead hero by flying into a berserk rageit isn't unreasonable to assume that the Last Giant may in fact be the Giant Lord himself, who hasn't forgotten the hero as he's been laying there, unable to die.
One notices a striking similarity between the massive spires at the beginning in Things Betwixt and the spires that make up 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.
The bastard sword can be obtained easily fairly early on in the game, has low stat requirements (meaning two can be dual-wielded with lower strength and dexterity)and middle of the range stat bonuses. It can take you well into New Game Plus due to being cheap to upgrade, can be enchanted with any of the four magics, and has one of the fastest and most powerful movesets for a longsword in the game with a relatively cheap stamina cost. A few of the other Ultra-Greatswords have better stat bonuses, but also have higher stat requirements, must be reinforced with expensive or rare resources, and have slower, less accurate movesets (like The Pursuer's Ultra-Greatsword).
The Drangleic Mail can be obtained after only the second boss-fight (if you take that particular path), has high resistances to physical and environmental attack, and has one of the best defence vs weight ratios; the torso armour in particular. It can carry a melee fighter well into New Game Plus. Only once significant leveling is put into Vigour (New Game Plus and beyond) will the heavier, cooler armours become the better option.
Boss Corridor: The whole level of King's Passage is this, though it does contain some enemies on your way to the Looking Glass Knight. The final level, The Throne of Want, plays this perfectly straight, with no enemy in sight save for online invaders who followed you from Drangleic Castle.
Bottomless Pit: These are everywhere, and are a fairly common cause of death throughout the game, especially in the Gutter where you can't see five feet in front of you without a torch, or the Dark Chasm of Old where you can hardly discern the pits from the floor.
Breakable Weapons: All weapons in this game degrade far faster than in the previous games of the Souls franchise; however, unless they actually break (in which case you will be notified) then resting at a bonfire will bring them back to top condition once more.
Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Drangleic was able to defeat the Giants, despite their numbers and the massive strength they displayed in battle with a little help from the Undead Hero. But it left the kingdom severely weakened, and the Undead curse came shortly afterward.
Bow and Sword, in Accord: Technically always possible throughout the series, but mechanically encouraged this time around. When attempting to fire a light or heavy crossbow immediately after a melee weapon attack, your character'll understandably skip the aiming part of aiming and firing it, making it a lot safer to use in close quarters and a good way for light weapon users to end strings of attacks with a burst of damage while backing away.
Call Back: Quite a few to the first Dark Souls, and some legacy ones to Demon's Souls and King's Field.
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 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.
The Great Souls possessed by the various Old Ones might actually be the Lord Souls. Reinforced in New Game+, where they actually give up souls that directly reference the holders of the Lord Souls in Dark Souls when they die.
The Black Dragon equipment mentions an ancient black dragon that lost to a brave warrior in a magnificent battle and its body was harvested to make said equipment, referring to the Chosen Undead's battle with Kalameet in the first game's DLC.
Listen closely to the song Milfanito is singing in the Shrine Of Amana. Sound familiar? That's because it's 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.
Blacksmith Lenigrast looks similar to the depiction of the Excavator/Burrower King on the Stonefang Archstone from Demon's Souls.
See that massive dragon corpse in Duke's Dear Freja's arena? Go to that little statue under it after attaining the Ashen Mist Heart, and enter the Dragon Memories. Look around. Seem familiar? That's because you're in the opening of Dark Souls, just after Gwyn and his allies defeated the Everlasting Dragons.
In the Black Gulch, Lucatiel speculates that the Curse is possibly one that everyone is born with. According to a certain primordial serpent in the previous game, she's more correct than she'll ever know.
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 final 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 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: Several of the more powerful Hexes work like this. They do very high damage, but drain a certain number of souls when used and if the player lacks the souls, do a pitiful amount of damage. The most potent of these is Climax, the reward for defeating Darklurker, which does an immense amount of damage, but drains all your souls in the process.
Casting a Shadow: Hexes, a new magic type for the Souls series, concentrate around offensive and disruptive spells that sometime drain a certain amount of souls to be used at full power. The potency of these spells scale from either Faith or Intelligence (whichever is less), and players must significantly invest both to attune hexes at all.
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.
Character Customization: Your character, clad in body-concealing clothing, falls into a weird vortex, wakes up in a strange place, and finds three creepy women who laugh at how hopeless it is now that you've gone Undead. Then they ask if you can even remember your name. Then they show you a human effigy, a representation of what you used to look like—this is your cue to choose your class and appearance. Then they chortle about how you're going to lose all your souls, again and again.
Chekhov's Gun: The Forest of Fallen Giants contains the corpses of Giants that have since turned into trees. You use them to go into the Giants' memories at the end and witness the war they fought against 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: Like in the first game, phantoms are color-coded in accordance to their covenant. Regular soapstone summons are white phantoms. Members of the Blue Sentinels covenant are blue phantoms. Members of the Brotherhood of Blood are red phantoms. The Heirs of the Sun are gold phantoms. The Bell Keepers are black phantoms. Victims of the Rat King's Covenant and the Bell Keepers appear as gray phantoms.
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 at -50%. This can only be reversed by sacrificing human effigies, which are somewhat rare and limited.
Cool Versus Awesome: In Crown of the Ivory King, if you took the time to rescue three Loyce Knights scattered throughout the area, they'll join alongside a fourth one on your way down to the Old Chaos, where they'll hold off the powerful Charred Loyce Knights in a spectacular clash of ice-based sorceries and laser blades versus edgy pyromancies such as Fire Snake. And that's before the Burnt Ivory King himself shows up, initiating a climatic Bonus Boss fight that concludes the Lost Crowns Trilogy.
Cooperative Multiplayer: Like helping other players? Then place a white soapstone down on the ground, and wait to be summoned as a Phantom, to assist the host in killing the boss. Try being an 'Heir of the Sun', who have an easier time connecting to other worlds, or a 'Blue Sentinel', whose job is to invade players who have sinned and kill them or protect 'Way of the Blue' covenant members.
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.
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: Played with and possibly averted. The previous game ended with the Chosen Undead deciding between preserving the Age of Fire or beginning the Age of Dark. One may assume the continued presence of bonfiresindicates the former, however there is another strong possibility: any of the countless repetitions of the cycle of the Undead Curse could have created an Age of the Dark, but the next cycle could in turn rekindle the fire and make a new Age of Fire. In short, II is so far into the future that which ending happened is unknowable and may not even matter anymore.
Damage-Sponge Boss: Both King Vendrick and the Ancient Dragon qualify, but it's made more apparent in the former's case; unless the player has collected at least 4 Souls of a Giant, the boss will take so little damage and dish out so much in return that the fight will essentially be pointless. If you obtain five souls, which is no small feat, he loses all of that extra defence, though he's in no way less deadly.
Crystal Lizards make a return, alongside rare Red Crystal Lizards. Naturally, one would expect these lizards to have even better drops than the normal blue ones, prompting you to rush in before they escape. The problem? The Red Lizards don't drop anything. In fact, they explode when you get close.
More to the tune of actual muscle memory. The jumping command has been changed in Dark Souls II for controllers. Cue many people reading the ingame tutorial gravemarker telling you the new command followed by people dashing and rolling off a pit of doom to their deaths using the Dark Souls command for it.
Another straight example is how bows work now for controllers. In the first game, you likely kept a bow in the spare slot of your shield arm. This was convenient as it gave you access to an extremely useful sniping tool, while also freeing up both slots of your main hand for your weapon and spell casting implement of choice. The part where muscle memory screws you over is when you go to do the same thing here, and suddenly find out that the side button that actually holds the bow also fires it. Cue new Bandit players wasting 20% of their starting ammo pool desperately trying to find the aim button, which is now mapped to the usual attacking button. In addition, they also changed the trigger under the bow's firing button to actually shoot the arrow type in the spare slot instead of switch to it. Hilarity Ensues.
In the original Dark Souls, pressing the dash button while on a ladder caused you to slide quickly down it. In this game, however, you must hold the button to do the same thing as simply pressing it causes you to let go entirely and fall the rest of the way down. Ever see a bloodstain next to a ladder leading down an incredibly far drop? Chances are the one who left it has played the first game.
In the first game, you could cut the tail of dragon-type bosses and obtain an unique weapon out of it. Here, only one dragon, Sinh the Slumbering Dragon from the first DLC, can have his tail severed, and it doesn't even drop anything. Worse, if you had thought about trying to cut the Ancient Dragon's tail without retaliation in a similar manner to the Stone Dragon from the previous instalment, you'll soon find out that you've provoked what is unequivocally the deadliest Bonus Boss in the entire game.
Death Course: The two Rat Covenant areas, the Doors of Pharros and the Grave of Saints, where non-covenant players get dragged into in a madcap race for the bonfire at the end as absolutely everything tries to kill them. Covenant members can make them even more lethal with Pharros Lockstones, activating more traps and unleashing more monsters, which they can fight alongside against players pulled in by their covenant rings.
Degraded Boss: The Ruin Sentinels from the Lost Bastille return in Drangleic Castle as semi-regular enemies. This is the same with the Flexile Sentry, who reappears in Shaded Woods, and the Guardian Dragon, who reappears many times in the Dragon Aerie. A weaker version of Velstadt can be summoned by Elana the Squalid Queen during her fight.
Progressing to the boss encounter in No Man's Wharf requires that you ring a bell to summon a ship. You could make a perilous trek up the cliffs to pull the lever that rings the bell... or you could shoot the bell itself with an arrow from the bottom level.
The Black Gulch is home to enemies who ambush you by hiding in pools of pitch black oil. You can bait them and engage them in melee combat...or light the oil on fire from a distance and laugh as they slowly burn to death.
It's entirely possible to deflect the large axes thrown by a Gyrm warrior by clashing your weapon (preferably a BFS) as soon as it approaches you.
Go into Raime, the Fume Knight's battle wearing Velstadt's helmet and he buffs his weapon as soon as you enter instead of midway through the fight because of his past connection to Velstadt.
During the fight with Sir Alonne, if you beat him under five minutes and don't take damage, his death animation shows him committing suicide out of shame.
The Heide Knight Sword (decent straight sword with lightning damage) and a Fire infused Longsword can be obtained very early in the game. The Fire Longsword is particularly useful in the early parts of the Forest of Fallen Giants since most of the area's enemies including the Last Giant are vulnerable to fire. Upgrading them can prolong their usefulness, though it might be wiser to save Titanite for other weapons.
The Greatsword is widely regarded as one of the best Strength weapons in the game and can be found early on in No Man's Wharf after defeating the Dragonrider, which can possibly be the first boss you ever face.
The Malformed Skull dropped by the Enhanced Undead at the bottom of the Sinner's Rise is an excellent heavy weapon which doesn't scale with stats aside from a strength requirement, has a high base damage and, when fully upgraded, gets one of the highest attack ratings possible in the game. Considering the Lost Bastille is one of the easier Great Old Ones dungeons, this weapon can carry you through the rest of the playthrough.
Trading with the crow siblings in Things Betwixt can earn you the Channeler's Trident, Old Whip, and Demon's Great Hammer very early in the game. The stat requirements for the Channeler's Trident and Old Whip aren't too hard to meet. The Old Whip in particular has good base damage and does extra damage to Hollow enemies, the first ones fought in the game.
The Drangleic set sans helmet (decent if heavy armor, decent greatsword w/ average strength scaling and better dexterity scaling, and a shield that blocks 100% physical damage) can be found fairly early as well. You just have to fight The Pursuer to get the gear. Unfortunately, they can only be upgraded with relatively rare Twinkling Titanite.
You can get the BlueMoon Greatsword within a few minutes of starting the game if you don't mind killing Benhart (and are able to). The high Strength requirement makes it so it'll take some levels to use it one-handed, but it's a lot more powerful than anything for a good while. And unlike the Drake Sword from the first game, it upgrades with regular titanite and the lack of scaling doesn't hurt its abilities in the long-run because the base damage is so high (with Raw infusion and just meeting the stat requirements, it does slightly higher damage than any other greatsword does at 40 Strength and Dexterity).
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 will be getting a 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.
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.
It appears that Brightstone Cove Tseldora may have met the same fate. The architecture before Duke's Dear Freja's Arena is very different from the architecture of the Tseldora above. The lore behind Tseldora implies that Lord Tseldora either created Duke's Dear Freja, or found it mining. Similarly, the architecture in The Lord's Private chamber looks extremely similar to the Duke's Archives from the first game...
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: Unlike in Dark Souls, you aren't forced to find the person who gives you your Estus Flask, and when you do get it, it only has one charge! You need to go hunting for more shards to make it hold more charges; so very early you're lucky to be able to heal three times before needing to use alternative methods. There's also a lack of shields that block 100% physical damage early on, meaning that some scratch damage will always make it through unless you dodge, which is quite a headache with limited healing as well.
Evil Laugh: Many of the NPCs in Drangleic like to laugh, oftentimes to mock you.
Excalibur in the Rust: Some of the best weapons in the game certainly don't look it. The Majestic Greatsword heavily 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.
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.
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 pass by Queen Nashandra's painting in Drangleic Castle, your curse meter shoots through the roof, foreshadowing her true intentions, and that she's the final boss, even using curse attacks during the fight.
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 Forossa.
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. 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.
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.
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 The only way to dodge getting launched into the air like a ragdoll, is either evading before the explosion of their flop kicks in, or have a good enough defense/poise/shield. If you do take the hit with a good shield, you'll probably suffer a good amount of damage anyway.. 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.
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.
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.
Hellish Horse: A two-headed one pulls the Executioner's Chariot. And tramples over you.
Heroic Sacrifice: The ending, in which the Undead Hero sits upon the Throne of Want and links the fire.
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 Varangians were an actual people during the 8th to 11th centuries. The others are the Gyrm, a nomadic race of inhumanly large "dwarves" who were forced underground.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Alonne committing seppuku could be a reference to the legend of Muramasa, whose cursed swords could force their wielder to kill themselves to sate their bloodlust. This carries the implication that Sir Alonne is either possessed by a cursed katana similar to Dark Souls's Chaos Blade note An Aborted Arc in that game consisted of you turning in the Chaos Blade to Shiva of the East, after which he'd betray and attack you similar to Master Satsuki from Demons Souls., 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 is originally named the Resonance of Giants. The Giant King's soul clarifies that the giants came from the north and weren't interesting 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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 wise king who turned to darkness and thus destroyed his kingdom. Like Allant of Boletaria and the Four Kings of New Londo before him.
Similarly, having to put a mighty and venerable king out of his misery after he's descended to a fallen, almost mindless state, like the True King Allant and Gwyn, Lord of Cinder.
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 Dark Souls had Darkroot Garden and its Forest Hunters. Dark Souls II continues this tradition with the Rat Covenant that protects the Grave of Saints, as well as the Bell Keepers who defend both Belfry areas.
Another crow nest requests you to give it items and trades them for better ones. note Much like Sparkly and Snuggly, but Dyna & Tillo only trades 4 items into a random item, based on a tier system.
An area that was used as a dumping grounds and has turned into a complete cesspit of nastiness, both figuratively and literally. note The Valley of Defilement in Demon's Souls; Blighttown in Dark Souls; The Gutter and Black Gulch in Dark Souls II.
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 Garl Vinland in Demon's, Paladin Leroy in Dark, and Velstadt the Royal Aegis in Dark 2.
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 Yuria the Witch, Quelana of Izalith and Straid of Olaphis.
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.
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 conveinently 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+.
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.
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.
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.
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: Current screenshots show that this is still prevalent. If Majula's beautiful sunset shores don't hammer home this game's beauty, nothing will.
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". However, said censorship can be easily removed, as the filter lists are easily found within the game files and can be removed or replaced. This even impacts someone that decided to name themself "Knight" something.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Patches fixed this, though.
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.
Straid's name being almost the same as Strayed, his back story sounds a lot like the Destruction Path in For Answer.
The Greatsword bears a striking resemblance to the BFS used by Guts in Berserk's Gold Age arc, while the Crypt Blacksword looks quite a lot like the more famous Dragonslayer.
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 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.
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.
Stable Time Loop: It's heavily implied that using the Ashen Mist Heart to venture into the Giants' memories actually sends you back in time to those events. The reason Drummond's corpse is missing his helmet? He gave it to you after you defeated the Giant Lord. The reason the Last Giant hated you so much? He remembers his ignominious defeat at your hands in the past.
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...
One of the NPCs encountered in Majula is a talking cat. note She thinks that you smell nice.
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.
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 where Vinheim was. 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.
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.
Dug Too Deep: The Gutter. A Blightown-like area, full of high drops and treacherous footing. The Old Iron Keep and Brightstone Cove Tseldora also count. The former having unleashed the Smelter Demon and apparently sunk into an inactive volcano. The latter having unearthed a colony of massive parasitic dewdrop spiders which overran the mining facility.
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.
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.
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 are a very good example of this, as not only do they fight you in a group, but they also cover one another and make up for each other's weaknesses. Varg attacks slower than Cerah or the Graverobber and can easily be dodged, but he No Sells nearly everything and his attacks do tremendous damage. The Graverobber has less health and poise than Varg and less maneuverability than Cerah, but makes up for it by constantly backing Varg up in close quarters, his attacks ignore your shield, and he constantly attempts to backstab you. Cerah has the least health out of the three and has little in the way of poise, but is very fast, very agile and great with a bow, preferring to loose arrows at you while Varg and the Graverobber distract you. Attacking Cerah will trigger Varg to charge in to the rescue. Getting too far away from Cerah will trigger arrows. The Graverobber will try to ensure that he and Varg are always attacking you at the same time. Overall, they use teamwork against you, and they do it very effectively.
An Axe to Grind: Once again 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: It's a series staple. And they've only gotten bigger this time around. Standouts include the King's Ultra Greatsword, which is basically a massive vaguely sword-like statue and the simply titled Greatsword and the Crypt Blacksword, both of which are Dragonslayer lookalikes.
Carry a Big Stick: Another returning type of weapon, and they're generally the heaviest weapons in the game, along with insane strength requirements. The crowner would have to be the Giant Warrior Club, which comes with a weight load of 30, needs 60 strength just to use it properly with one hand, and requires 90 if you want to enter power stance mode with it. The second DLC manages to top that with the Smelter Hammer, which requires 70 strength for one-handing, and weighs 35 units!
Double Weapon: Twinblades are a new weapon type this time around, and have a very versatile moveset, albeit with low damage to compensate for the multiple hits with each attack, and they drain durability very quickly. Although the third patch gave their durability a serious boost and the degradation rate was decreased some.
Drop the Hammer: Present in both standard hammer and great hammer categories. One particular example is the Gyrm Great Hammer, which is an anvil chained together on a heavy stick.
Good Old Fisticuffs: Though fist weapons were in Dark Souls, they are now much more viable as Caestus have an A scaling in both dexterity and strength and can be dual-wielded in power stance.
Laser Blade: The Ivory Straight Sword found in the Crown of The Old Ivory King DLC seemingly looks like a handle with no blade, but when swung generates a sword of light, making its reach rather deceptive. Additionally, the weapon itself is one of the lightest in the game, though its damage output is low and loses durability with each swing. The Burnt Ivory King can similarly buff his signature weapon to enhance the sword's range and power, making it aesthetically similar to a Soul Greatsword that's constantly ignited..
Jousting Lance: Another new weapon type introduced in this game, lances differ from the regular spears in that they're significantly heavier, slower and stronger, and usually scale better with strength, as opposed to most spears which favor dexterity. One such lance can be obtained from trading the Soul of the Executioner's Chariot with Straid of Olaphis. Another can be found in a chest hidden in one of the Giants' Memories.
Whip It Good: Whips make a return, and are considerably more viable compared to the first game, with longer reach, decent base damage (a fully upgraded Old Whip trumps most weapons in that regard), added damage against Hollows, and the ability to parry and riposte just like any other weapon. They are, however, very prone to losing durability.
Whip Sword: One weapon found in Crown of the Sunken King, the Puzzling Stone Sword, is a shiny blade whose strong attacks extend its segmented blade, allowing to hit farther than it would suggest.
Welcome to Corneria: While just about every NPC you interact with will have looping lines, the Emerald Herald is a shining example in that you will return to interact with her regularly. Due to the tendency to skip her repetitive dialogue, you will more likely end up hearing "Bearer-Seek-Seek-Lest-"...
"You are of the undead. Forever without hope. Forever without light."
The introduction cutscene goes to show what actually happens to people who become Undead. They slowly forget their own life prior to being afflicted by the curse, and possibly who they may have been. Becoming an Undead who knows nothing about their life prior to becoming Undead, with no real goal, constantly decaying in mind and body, sure isn't worth living forever for.
Potentially subverted in the Lost Crown Trilogy. Collecting all the available crowns and speaking to Vendrick will cause him to bless them, making it so that when you wear them, you never hollow, no matter what happens. And you still come back every time you die. Considering that hollowing was the main downside to being an Undead, it's safe to say that once again, Living Forever Is Awesome.
Zombie Apocalypse: Downplayed compared with the first game. While Drangleic has been completely decimated, there is evidence that, through researching both the dragons and the giants to grant true immortality, King Vendrick and Duke Aldia actually figured out how to defeat the Curse and just ran out of time, rather that it being completely hopeless to begin with.
In addition, the Curse of Undeath doesn't seem to have hit the surrounding world as hard as it had during the time of the first game, as the only nation mentioned collapsing was Forossa, and that was due to war, not undead. Lucatiel of Mirrah even asks you "Have you heard of the undead?" indicating that the Curse might be so limited that many are unaware the Curse even exists.
Chancellor Wellager's dialogue implies that Nashandra was the reason the curse hit Drangleic as hard as it did.
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