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  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • Some of Straid and McDuff's intonations in their respective dialogues leave little to the imagination.
      Straid: Still a bit stiff, I'm afraid. Heh heh heh... / Ooh, you're tough, cursed one! Heh heh…
      McDuff: Hpmh! Hmm! We've got a wild one here! Shape up! Shape up, I say! Oh-hoh hoh hoh! That's it, yes, that's the way!
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    • Stone Trader Chloanne can sometimes come across a bit flirty.
      Chloanne: Well, I've only got one thing to provide, and we both know what that is! Heh heh...
    • The Retainers' death cries in the third DLC sound much more like suggestive moans than anything else.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Lore-wise, the Giant Lord gets hit hard by this. One one hand, the Giants' invasion of Drangleic could be attributed by their feelings of hatred (it's stated that humans tried to reconcile with them, but the Giants didn't understand forgiveness) and disproportionate revenge for Vendrick having attacked them first and having stolen "a prize" from them, which was allegedly all according to Nashandra's plan to harness the key to the Throne of Want. On the other, it's probable that he was an Evil Overlord and planned the invasion all along, and Vendrick was doing his best to stop it, with or without Nashandra's manipulations.
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    • Now properly explained in the Scholar of the First Sin content: Vendrick captured some of the giants as slaves during his invasion for Aldia to use guinea pigs for their experiments with the golems and breaking the cycle.
    • Sir Raime, The Fume Knight, Obviously Evil Black Knight or Defector from Decadence who saw what Vendrick and Velstadt could not about Nashandra? Is he a slave of Nadalia or a Willing Channeler with his own will? Fits further into the argument about just how evil Nadalia herself is.
    • Sir Alonne, likewise, is either a honorable Samurai who kills himself if you best him completely, or a Ax-Crazy Blood Knight controlled by his cursed blade, who is killed by it for his inability to sate its thirst for blood.
      • The pristine appearance of his arena may suggest the former. Usually during major bosses in the series, the arena reflects their inner state.
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    • Nadalia, evil like Nashandra and Elana? Or simply broken by despair and loneliness?
    • For that matter, there is a small camp of fans who view Nashandra as tragic and not just evil, partially brought on by her soul description which calls her a "prisoner of desire", thus implying that while she may have truly loved Vendrick, she ultimately could not move past the desire for power that is in her nature as a Child of Dark.
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • The Last Giant looks incredibly intimidating for what can potentially be the first boss, but is one of the easiest bosses in the game due to his moveset consisting of little more than simple swings at the player, and a stomp attack if the player is attacking his legs. Due to his attacks having a wide arc to them, all a player needs to do is get between his legs and strike, while occasionally rolling to avoid being stomped on. The only notable difficulty of the fight is that the player might not do a lot of damage when they strike at him, but he's so slow that players can land a hit or two and safely roll away before they get hit. Even when he rips off an arm to use as a club, the boss only increases his range and damage, meaning a player can just easily go between his legs and attack him still provided they don't get smashed by the new angles of attack. Compared to the other first bosses in the series, namely the Asylum Demon, and Iudex Gundyr, the Last Giant is a pushover.
    • The Dragonrider boss is presented as a formidable foe, but is one of the flat out easiest bosses in the game thanks to having very basic attacks that the player can easily avoid. On its own that would be bad enough, but for whatever reason, the boss is not programmed properly to handle the boss arena, and so it is incredibly easy to go to a specific spot or angle and watch it walk off the edge to its death. This is especially notable given two bosses from the first game, the Tarus Demon and the Iron Golem, could only be knocked off their platforms if you did specific things that the game was prepared for. The Dragonrider though just casually can walk off, making it potentially the single easiest fight in the game.
    • Everything leading up to the Old Iron King has players anticipating an epic duel of awesomeness. From the moment they enter Huntsman's Copse and learn about his undead hunts and torturing them for sport; to his mighty castle of iron containing some of the most formidable foes thus far; to a giant fire demon literally rising out of the lava to fight you; yet for all of this, he's one of the simplest bosses in the game. His attacks, while powerful and capable of sending you into the lava for a One-Hit Kill, are easily telegraphed and you can hide behind a wall to evade most of them. Considering that reaching the King requires navigating one of the toughest levels filled with powerful enemies, and a boss frequently regarded as That One Boss, it could be seen as a relief. On New Game+, though, he is a totally different monster... One common joke is that the Old Iron King isn't the real boss; it's the hole to the right of the doorway into the arena, which kills 90% of the players who fight him for the first time (the other 10% are those who otherwise get knocked into the lava by one of the Iron King's many attacks that cause enormous knockback).
    • The battle with King Vendrick ends up being disappointing, especially with how the game has been building up your encounter with him. He's a Marathon Boss that you need four Giant Souls to even stand a chance against him, but once you do, he only has a few attacks that are fairly easy to avoid. Although like Old Iron King, he can one hit kill you if his attacks connect. Of course, this could be regarded as intentional, as he has long since hollowed and is barely a shell of the king who founded Drangleic; were this not the case, he could very well rival Raime in difficulty, as the latter was his servant.
    • Queen Nashandra, especially with a ranged build, since she moves very slowly and can't turn around very quickly. Your biggest worries are the spheres of darkness she summons, which curse you immediately, and those can be almost completely negated with the right equipment.
    • The Darklurker is a rather strange example, as, depending on your build, he can either be the hardest boss in the game, or almost as easy as Pinwheel. In general, melee-based characters will have an extremely difficult time with this boss as he throws enough spells at them to make the fight look like a Bullet Hell shooter, especially once he clones himself. Ranged characters, on the other hand, especially pyromancers, can completely steamroll the boss, as he's embarrassingly weak against fire and lightning attacks and most of the damage from his own attacks can be negated with high magic defense. There have been cases of people casting high damage pyromancies such as Chaos Storm at the start of the fight and killing him in seconds. As a further insult, the boss can be rendered helpless if you cast Vow of Silence, which makes him unable to cast spells for 30 seconds, allowing you to whale on him with impunity.
    • The Ancient Dragon, while he has an extremely large amount of HP his attacks are easy to avoid and obviously telegraphed leaving the player to cycle a very rote routine. That is avoiding his downward breath-attack, running away, then either getting him to use his forward breath attack to be free to attack or alternatively just standing in the safe spot between his rear toes and then repeating for 10 minutes with very little variation.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Scholar of the First Sin rectifies the whole Anti-Climax Boss business with Nashandra. If the player lights all four Primal Bonfires and defeats Vendrick and Nashandra, they get themselves a properly tough True Final Boss fight against the Scholar himself, Aldia. Defeating him also grants players a choice between taking the throne or walking away, whereas the vanilla game left the player automatically assuming the throne. While the quality of the boss is up for debate, adding another boss at least makes the finale more intense than it was originally.
  • Awesome Music: Wouldn't be a Souls game without it!
  • Badass Decay:
    • The Dragonriders were the best of the best within the Drangleic army. Every Dragonrider faced is well beyond their prime, which explains their status as breather bosses.
    • This might also explain why The Old Dragonslayer/Ornstein is not nearly as difficult as the illusion of him was in the first game.
    • Perhaps intentionally, Vendrick is one of the easier bosses in the game, due to having hollowed long ago. Keep in mind, this is the man who fought the Giants, founded Drangleic, and commanded the loyalty of such powerful warriors as Velstadt and Raime. If his weapons and the Giant Souls are any indication, a Vendrick in his prime would be Nigh-Invulnerable and would probably put the player down without a sweat.
      • Confirmed in Scholar of the First Sin. You meet Vendrick in his prime and he’s so obscenely strong your attacks cannot even deal damage to him. He’s so above you that he can’t even be made hostile, he just chides you for your foolishness in attacking a god who wants nothing more than to help you.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Elana the Squalid Queen is either a really fun and unpredictable fight that forces you to think on your feet with her summons, or a lazy Palette Swap of Nashandra who's only hard because she summons another boss to fight you for her.
    • The "Dudes in Armor" bosses. Detractors usually snark about how the majority of the bosses look, feel, and fight the exact same way - a big guy in a suit of armor who usually takes a couple swings at you before going idle, and then starting again. This gained increased prevalence after the release of Dark Souls III, which also had "Dudes in Armor", but gave them special features that provided them with much needed identity. To add to it, many of the "Dues in Armor" boss fights feel derivative of bosses from previous games, one example being the Old Dragon Rider literally being a previous boss from Dark Souls but having a much weaker moveset. Meanwhile, proponents point out that many of the Dudes have distinctive designs and/or fighting styles, with special mentions going to the Pursuer, Velstadt, and Looking-Glass Knight, who all have slick designs and twists to their battles that elevate them above the likes of the Dragonrider. Another common argument made in defense of the game is that the other entries in the series have just as many examples of reused boss designs and fights, so it's unfair to point to DS2 as having a particular problem with "Dudes in Armor" bosses (Dark Souls 1, for example, actually Palette Swapped its tutorial boss, the Asylum Demon, not once but twice as the Stray Demon and the Demon Firesage).
      • Partially addressed in the DLCs, where the "Dudes in Armor" bosses (Fume Knight, Sir Alonne, and the Burnt Ivory King) are frequently regarded as among the best bosses in the game, and sometimes in the entire series.
  • Best Boss Ever: See the page.
  • Breather Boss:
    • The Old Iron King is pretty simple and leaves lots of open space to heal. This comes after the Smelter Demon, who is probably one of the bigger examples of That One Boss, and a pretty frustrating and difficult area.
    • Prowling Magus and Congregation is far and away the easiest fight in the game, and is the only boss in the game which does not award a boss soul upon victory. The former has some damaging attacks, but he's a Squishy Wizard that dies with a few good hits. The latter can soak up much more damage by virtue of being a Wolfpack Boss, but they're much slower and can be run around easily, and it's easy to separate them enough to keep them from ganging up on you note . If you bring Benheart of Jugo along for the fight, he can practically solo the entire boss fight!
    • Covetous Demon is an absolute cake-walk compared to bosses prior and even the rest of the level you face it in. Its attacks are laughably slow and telegraphed, and unlike Dragonrider, it doesn't have the reach or arena gimmicks to make up for it.
    • A similar example is the Demon of Song, which, while not as infamously easy as The Old Iron King, is still easy for the area it's in, that being the Shrine of Amana, which is considered one of the hardest areas in the game.
  • Breather Level:
    • After the AGONY that was the Shrine of Amana, the Undead Crypt is like a walk in the park. At least until you accidentally ring the black bells and get swarmed by Leydia Pyromancers without destroying their statues, then it can potentially become That One Level.
    • Other than a couple of cheap scares from Ogres behind doors and a boss, all the hostiles in Aldia's Keep are behind bars until you decide to pick a fight with them. Then you go to Dragon Aerie, where the dragons won't bother you as long as you don't break their eggs and the pesky explosive undeads are off to the side areas. The Dragon Shrire likewise has only a few duels (on Sot FS edition at least), the nearby knights won't attack you unless you chicken out of them, and the Ancient Dragon has no quarrel with you.
    • Finally, the way to the Throne of Want is a straight path towards the final fight without any enemies on the way, unlike the Kiln of the First Flame.
  • Broken Base:
    • The biggest point of contention is that, compared to its predecessors Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, Dark Souls II is more of a High Fantasy. They're all still pretty dark, but DSII is notably lighter. The visual design of the game is a lot closer to a typical fantasy RPG than the other games in the series, leading many players to complain about it feeling uninspired in comparison to the bleak, mysterious look of its predecessors. This extends to the bosses as well, with Darklurker in particular being singled out as looking like a rejected design from World of Warcraft.
    • Being Hollow no longer protects the player from invasions in Dark Souls. One camp believes this is a good thing and tells others that if they don't want to be invaded they should play offline. The other believes they shouldn't be invaded while Hollow and that they play online for the ghost and player messages. On the other hand, invasions happen very rarely if you don't play New Game+.
    • There's a surprisingly intense argument among the lore fans as to whether or not Drangleic is located on the ruins of Lordran or Vinheim. Proponents of the former note significant similarities in rough geography as well as a number of creatures, items, and other leftovers from Lordran. Proponents of the latter argue that the Lingering Dragoncrest Ring is clear evidence that Drangleic is Vinheim, and are backed up by Word of God that Drangleic is far away from Lordran.
    • There's some debate over the implementation of the Lifegems mechanic. Its detractors argue that the original game's healing system was an important part of the game, limiting how much healing a player could get for each bonfire, and thus giving them only a set amount of mistakes. Lifegems, on the other hand, can be obtained in an infinite supply for relatively cheap souls, so a player can load up on them and heal up as often as they like, even during boss battles. This also leads to a major issue of the Estus Flask being delegated as a "back-up" item because of changes made to the speed at which you can drink it. Its supporters argue that the Lifegems don't usually heal fast enough to be very useful in the heat of combat, while also adding a new element of strategy, not to mention preventing those moments where you know you don't have enough Estus to make it to the next bonfire, but have made it too far to go back.
    • The implantation of Valve Anti Cheat for the PC version. Some fans are happy to see some form of anti-cheating measure being added in the game, as hacking was a major issue with the PC port of the first game. However, having VAC also means that players cannot use any mods that alter the game engine, as they risk being banned. It's terrible for users who wish to use texture and graphical mods.
    • Just as in the first game, hackers are a pretty big problem. Now, however, cheat engines can be used to change the game in much more interesting ways, meaning that there's quite a few "fun hackers". These people tend to invade and act as powerful minibosses, combining spell effects to make them more elaborate or powerful looking, or changing the movesets of weapons on the fly. As always, the community is split on whether these kinds of hackers are just as bad as the usual unlimited health, unlimited stamina kind, considering that these fun hackers are generally pretty well behaved, entirely possible to be killed, and are actually fun to fight against.
    • Finally, is the updated Scholar of the First Sin edition (which mixed up enemy and item placements as well as including all 3 DLC campaigns and a new ending) an improvement over the base game, or is it actually worse? Since Scholar's alternate ending and True Final Boss (Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin) were added into the base game as well and you can buy the 3 DLC campaigns, Scholar has no automatic advantages over the original other than the remixed layout, and some people claim that not only do the rearranged enemy placements exacerbate the problems the game has with unfair gank-fests, they don't even make thematic sense. Others feel that many of the changes make things more interesting and that while the pricing is not good, Scholar acts as a new way of playing that improves elements of the game.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • You will feel nothing but joy once you kill Maldron the Assassin for good in his second and final appearance in the Crown of the Ivory King. There's also a definite satisfaction to be gained from using a Seed of a Tree of Giants on him in his first appearance, causing his cowardly tactics to backfire by turning all the enemies he's surrounded himself with hostile, leaving him to be torn apart with hardly any effort on your end.
    • In Scholar of the First Sin, retrieving the Eye of the Priestess in Eleum Loyce will have the added benefit of rendering the invisible assassins in the Shaded Woods both visible and capable of being locked on to, allowing you to return to that area and wreak vengeance on them now that their main advantage over you is gone. Doubles as a minor Author's Saving Throw, as the Shaded Woods was one of the most unpopular areas in the game due to those bastards.
  • Cheese Strategy: There are several of them for the bosses as shown in this video. One notable example is the Dragonrider as it can be lured to fall in the Bottomless Pit of its own arena, or sniped through an opening from a certain platform.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • During the early days of Dark Souls II, various melee-hybrid builds focusing on spell buffs were very common due to how much stronger magic damage was.
    • This was eventually averted as multiple patches came. The game is usually well remembered for the diversity in character builds that were viable in both PVP and PVE. Add in powerstancing and that adds more to it, even encouraging players to rely less on turtling.
  • Complete Monster: Nashandra is the most wicked and ambitious of the Children of the Dark. Seducing King Vendrick of Drangleic, Nashandra sought to claim the Throne of Want from him and manipulated the fall of Drangleic by having Vendrick start a war with the giants that led to their extinction, with some being involved in horrific experiments to make them into golems. Thanks to Nashandra, an undead plague ran rampant in Drangleic, destroying the once mighty kingdom while Nashandra seeks to use the Bearer of the Curse to destroy and kill those who hold the keys to the Throne of Want, all so she may claim the First Flame for herself.
  • Contested Sequel: While some people enjoy the game, finding it even better than the first thanks to its mechanical improvements, some people hate it, criticizing various aspects of its gameplay design, music, storytelling/lore, and visual aesthetic as uninspired, lazy, and poorly thought-out compared to the first game.Some people think it is still a pretty fun game, but just doesn't live up to the memorable experience of the first, even taking Dark Souls 1's flaws into account. There isn't really a consensus.
  • Critical Dissonance: The game sold millions of copies on both consoles and on PC, and received extremely positive critical acclaim for most of the part. However, you wouldn't know it when reading this page, which contains a catastrophically high number of Broken Base arguments, as well as related Internet forums, all of which will inevitably bash on one subject after another.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Despite being, ultimately, rather more optimistic than the original and possibly even High Fantasy instead of Dark Fantasy, several critics took issue with DS2's attitude towards failure, highlighting in particular the opening sequence with the old women who taunt you about how you're going to die and lose your souls over and over again and that your failure and degeneration into a mindless hollow is inevitable. They felt the point of Dark Souls' infamous difficulty was to challenge you to overcome, not beat you into submission, and that the developers had ended up fixating on the "You Died" aspect of the game over "Victory Achieved". This distortion of the original's deliberate and considered design ethos can be seen in the game's gank fests. Whereas Dark Souls was generally forthright with the challenges its enemies posed and kept their scale comprehensible,note  Dark Souls II just puts more enemies in its levels and places them in ways that surprise and possibly overwhelm the player – or just take time to clear – and justifies the player's deaths with a "This is Dark Souls" trophy, showing its simplistic focus on how you were supposed to "Prepare to Die" in the original.
  • Demonic Spiders: Too many to count.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Lucatiel of Mirrah remains the most popular character in the game, owing to her tragic character arc and backstory, slick design, and for being a badass female knight. Her armor set returns in Dark Souls III, and her mask bears her name.
    • Vengarl of Forossa (or at least his head) has rapidly gained quite a few fans, due to his mellow attitude, cool equipment, and rather unique side-quest. The fact that he's a potential summon for the Final Boss doesn't hurt either.
    • Sweet Shalquoir seems to have plenty of fans, mostly due to her cheery personality and fountain of exposition.
    • Jester Thomas is a one-off summon with no background, no lines, and only does only one thing: whup ass. And the fandom loves him for it.
    • Gavlan due to the Memetic Mutation below and for his friendly, and amusing, dialogue.
    • Sinh the Slumbering Dragon from the first DLC has gained a colossal fandom due to his interesting story and the fact that he's one of the best boss designs introduced to the game. Being a dead ringer for the ever-so cool Black Dragon Kalameet also helps.
    • The Fume Knight, despite being widely considered the most difficult boss in the game, is beloved for his BFS, interesting backstory ( especially his connection with Velstadt), and deep, imposing battle theme.
      • His difficulty and badassery were so memetic that his Fume Ultra Greatsword makes an appearance in Dark Souls III.
    • Similarly, Sir Alonne has become an instant favourite due to being an absurdly long list of badassery: badass motif, badass weapon of choice, badass battle theme, badass boss fight, etc. In a world where most knights end up dying pathetic deaths or get maimed horribly by a curse, he stands out as a man who is purely made of honour, and the fans love him for it.
    • Bradley of the Old Guard, exclusive to the Scholar of the First Sin version. Shows up in the middle of one of the more frustrating early parts of the game, with excellent AI and a plethora of miracles to both fight and heal. No wonder the fans love him.
  • Even Better Sequel: Not the game itself, but the Lost Crowns Trilogy of DLC adventures, all of which were considered to be a considerable cut above most of the content in the base game in quality.
    • To be fair to the game, there are a lot of ways in which it unambiguously improves on its predecessor, most notably the drastically improved menusnote , rebalanced stat systemnote , streamlined equipment upgrade systemnote  and improved rolling abilitynote . There are some people who consider DS2 to be a flat-out better game than DS1, although they are still in the minority.
  • Evil Is Cool: Sir Raime might as well call himself Manus' wet dream. For starters, he can be considered as an Evil Counterpart to many characters in the series, and always ups the ante in one way or another. The result is a terrifyingly powerful Bonus Boss who's able to wield the maddening power of the Abyss as if it were a toy.
  • Fanon: In line with the Souls series' tradition of building the lore through the description of various items instead of a narrative, fans took it upon themselves to clean up the iffy bits of the Dark Souls universe. This is helped by credible explanations from reputable loreists.
    • The Great Old Ones being reincarnations of the Lord Soul bearers from the first game is an obvious conclusion, further reinforced by the extra soul they drop in New Game+. The Japanese version descriptions outright confirm that the Old Souls are the latent power of the Lord Soul holders.
    • The Last Giant is almost always referred to as the Giant Lord you defeated in the Memory of Jeigh due to the conspicuous similarities and shared leitmotif. Scholar of the First Sin confirmed that they are one and the same.
    • Up until Scholar of the First Sin's release revealed otherwise, the Ancient Dragon's identity was usually agreed to be Lord Aldia, who sought a cure for the Undead Curse by abandoning his human body.
    • It is generally surmised that the Old Iron King and Sir Alonne clashed against each other when it was time for the samurai to leave his liege, who at this point had become a power-hungry fool basking in the glory of his kingdom. What ensues next is the Souls series' greatest example of Tragic Bromance as Sir Alonne disappeared and the Old Iron King slipped completely into despair.
      • A second version of that scenario is that the Old Iron King killed Sir Alonne when the latter grew disgusted with the Old Iron King's lust for power.
    • Mytha, the Baneful Queen, is generally accepted to be the Old Iron King's wife. This is further reinforced by the presence of Belfry Sol within the Iron Keep, suggesting that the Old Iron King was the "Prince" of Venn, in love with the Princess of Alken. This love likely drove Mytha to poison herself and the Harvest Valley.
    • Sir Raime having defected from the service of Vendrick because of Nashandra. The only thing the supplementary material states is that Raime challenged Velstadt and lost thus leading to his exile. The idea that he did it because he realized what Nashandra was mainly originates from various Youtuber's lore videos which have mostly speculation. This interpretation is so widespread that it appears on This Very Wiki.
  • Franchise Original Sin: One of the biggest complaints about the game by fans of the first was that it reused many characters, plot points, and themes from the first game rather than creating its own truly unique setting. The same could be said about the first game too, which borrowed many ideas and character archetypes from Demon's Souls, such as the Crestfallen Warrior, the idea of an Eternal Recurrence, and the player character being the one to prolong it or let it end. However, because Demons Souls was held onto by Sony, it meant that the developers couldn't really make a sequel for it when they switched to Namco Bandai, meaning Dark Souls borrowing many ideas and characters was done to get around any legal issues, plus Dark Souls created a completely unique world and setting so the game felt distinct and different from Demons Souls. II however is a straight sequel that borrowed the same concepts without making many of them truly unique, and the games story is another plot about the Age of Fire and the ramifications of it.
  • Game-Breaker
    • Santier's Spear. Normally, it's an overly heavy spear with underwhelming damage and an average moveset, with its durability of 500 making it a good candidate for no-bonfire runs. However, once you bring its durability down to zero, instead of becoming next-to-useless in combat, it turns into a very powerful unbreakable weapon that combines the movesets of a spear, halberd, curved sword, and twinblade, making for an impossibly diverse Confusion Fu that quickly drains away an enemy's health. As of the 1.06 calibration, it's been nerfed.
    • The Black Knight Halberd makes a return, and this time it gains a devastating running attack that covers a lot of ground, dealing a lot of damage in the process and punishing players who are susceptible to getting blindsided by the weapon's swings (i.e. dead-angling).
    • Spellcasting in this game is much more potent, and sometimes cheeses bosses with little effort. Hexes in particular are a nasty offender, since the stronger spells only require a minute amount of souls for the destruction you're about to unleash.
      • Sunlight Spear. Few things will DESTROY bosses like a couple of Sunbros chucking Sunlight Spears at it. Praise the Sun indeed! If your target is immobile, or is standing in water, expect this formerly easy to dodge projectile to outright annihilate a human opponent as well.
      • Flame Swathe, one of the earliest possible pyromancies, is able to scatter crowds with an impossibly large radius of explosion, doesn't require much to get it to full power (and it hits HARD), takes only one attunement slot, and is infinitely farmable, provided you have a lot of Bonfire Ascetics and some time to kill in Belfry Sol.
      • Great Resonant Soul, a Soul Spear-like hex with relatively low requirements that can potentially rival spells that need heavy investment in either Intelligence / Faith, all with a decent attunement allocation and great number of uses per copy. With a fully upgraded, dark-infused chime, this spell can wreak havoc on anyone and everyone at the cost of a measly 500 souls per casting. It's frequently defended by its proponents by how easy it is to strafe or roll to dodge, as it doesn't have any appreciable homing capability, which is certainly true...but both its cast time and projectile travel time are exactly long enough for an attentive opponent to notice and dodge. Were they doing anything else in the meantime, or something that took longer than .75 seconds, such as attacking with a greatsword, or casting a spell with a slower cast speed (which is almost all of them)? They're either dead or almost dead.
    • Don't want to get close and personal in PVP? Simple. Just get two Avelyn crossbows upgraded and enter power stance mode, where you can fire 6 bolts at once. Due to how nearly useless poise is in this game and how the Hitbox Dissonance often prevents you from dodging effectively, it's easy to get clipped with a single projectile, let alone receiving several at the same time. And since it's a weapon, the attack power of every shot can be considerably heightened by static boosts like Mundane infusion, Ring of Blades+2, and the Sacred Oath miracle. It can be blocked reliably with a greatshield, but heaven help you if you don't have the stamina for it.
    • Thanks to an obvious oversight, the Dark Fog hex is far more deadly than it should be. A fairly obscure, gimmicky catalyst called the Bat Staff is supposed to cause minor poison buildup when you bludgeon an enemy with it. It also accidentally uses this poison stat as a multiplier for a poison spell channeled through it. Basically, cast Dark Fog through a Bat Staff and your target is almost-instantly poisoned by a huge cloud of effectively undodgeable toxins. The only counter to a slow but effectively guaranteed death in a little less than a minute by this method is to stop and eat some poison moss. That's right, stop. And likely be shot dead instantly by Great Resonant Soul, Sunlight Spear, or a pair of Avelyns that you probably thought you'd learned how to dodge or block perfectly by now. Although it has been fixed in the 1.06 calibrations.
    • Before patch 1.03, the Moonlight Greatsword could be buffed by spells. Unlike the first game, the Magic Weapon sorceries add a fixed amount of magic damage and a percentage of the magic damage the weapon did otherwise (as high as 30% with Crystal Magic Weapon). The Moonlight Greatsword does entirely magic damage and a very high amount, so using Crystal Magic Weapon boosted its power to utterly ridiculous levels.
    • Also before being nerfed (or perhaps, fixed), the Monastery Scimitar was infamous for its parrying ability. Weapons can only parry during certain frames of their animation. Normally, there's some delay between the animation starting and these frames, but the Monastery Scimitar was unique in that its parry frames started immediately and lasted longer than they do even for shields meant entirely for parrying, so it would parry just about any incoming attack at the press of a button with no effort required.
    • Normally, the attack time on all weapons are at the very least slow enough to only guarantee two or three hits before an enemy can dodge away. The same goes for all weapon combinations that can be Power Stanced. On the other hand, there are some weapon combinations that aren't capable of being powerstanced nor were they intended to be used together, but when used one after another can hopelessly stunlock enemies into oblivion. The only real way to escape from this is to wait until the person doing it has run out of stamina and hope you're still alive by then.
    • The Sanctum Crossbow, Loyce Straight Sword, Ice Rapier, and Red Iron Twinblade are all well on their way to being Game Breakers for various reasons each.
      • The Crossbow has a ludicrously powerful special attack, which even un-upgraded or un-infused does some incredible damage to just about anything (it deals out around 350 to Nashandra, a boss that's nominally resistant to Dark damage, and over 700 to the Giant Lord). Infused and upgraded, it's capable of damage on par with some backstabs. All the while it's got good tracking and consumes no ammo. It's almost as powerful as Great Resonant Soul pre-patch.
      • The Straight Sword is an absolute beast in PvE (less so in PvP). Despite its drawback of using 10 durability on each attack (less with the Bracing Knuckle Ring), the sheer damage it does to some bosses is astounding. The two-handed heavy attack can hit upwards of 700 damage without any upgrades (against the Ancient Dragon anyway), allowing you to cut a swathe through the end-game content or through NG+ and beyond.
      • The Ice Rapier has become prominent in PvP due to its reach (it is the longest Thrusting Sword in the game; having the same reach as some Greatsword class weapons) and the special attack's damage output. Coupled with the counter-hit damage, the weapon is quickly becoming hated by the competitive community.
      • Out of all of the weapons in the game, few will come close to the sheer popularity of the Red Iron Twinblade. This weapon has become many a speedrunner's go-to weapon, capable of tearing bosses and players apart in mere seconds. While fairly tame on the PvP side due to its slower attack speed (and easy parrying), it still can hold its own in moderately skilled hands (or with a buff, due to an issue with the netcoding giving buffed weapons a significant case of Hitbox Dissonance). The issue arises from just how fast it can obliterate the AI.
    • Ring of Life Protection/Ring of Soul Protection plus the Pagan Tree in the Crown of the Sunken King DLC. Basically once you have one of the two rings and have access to the Pagan Tree that's hidden in the Sunken City, you can use the latter to repair them indefinitely at the cost of zero souls, meaning that you no longer have to worry about running out of Human Effigies and having to endure the penalties of losing humanity and not being able to use summons against a difficult boss except in cases where you get hit with Curse. It's a little tedious to get to the Pagan Tree every time you need it, even after you permanently clear the path to it of enemies, but it still lets you negate one of the game's main challenges, managing humanity and dealing with soul recovery after dying, more or less completely with ease.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • The poison-spitting statues in the Gutter and Black Gulch are one of the odder examples. One hit from their projectiles, which can catch you by surprise, is often enough to poison you on the spot if you don't have significant poison resistance. Some are placed in tricky locations that makes destroying them hard if not impossible with certain weapons. Worst of all, they're not enemies, they're objects. Destroying them yields you no souls or items, but they still eat at your weapon's durability, and they will all still respawn when you die or reload the area. Your only respite is that they don't repair themselves if you rest at a bonfire. This reaches a new apex of ridiculousness in the Crown of the Sunken King DLC, which introduces turtles-like creatures that carry several statues on their back and are very difficult bring down due to their wonky hitbox. And then there's the petrification-inducing variants...
    • Another one is the Undead Laborers. They aren't much of a bother in most areas since they're laughably easy to dispatch but once you get to the Undead Crypt it's a different story. Not only do they gain a damage boost and can stunlock you when you're busy fighting some more menacing enemy, they spawn infinitely in some areas. Worst of all, they are dead-set on ringing the bells that summon the Leydia Pyromancers AND piss you off with its very loud ring. Perhaps the most obvious example is the one(s) under the stairs in the room preceding the boss fight that makes your boss-run a chore if you don't deal with him.
  • Goddamned Boss:
    • The Ancient Dragon has gained notoriety for the most tedious and aggravating endgame Bonus Boss in the Souls series. For starters, all of its attacks are One Hit Kills unless you stacked maximum fire resistance, it has impossibly large area-of-effect attacks that force you to back far away from it, and possesses an incredibly random attack pattern depending on the direction and distance you're facing it from. Even if you negate its fire damage (which is possible by stacking maximum fire resistance), there's still a mountain of health to deal with, making the boss a complete chore to go through. There's a reason fans look down on this dragon as a Memetic Troll of the highest order.
    • The Looking Glass Knight isn't a particularly hard boss, and actually has one of the best looking boss arenas in the base game. What puts it into this territory is its mechanic of summoning players to aid him, creating a boss that goes from a potentially straightforward boss into a boss that can simply become Unwinnable by Design if the summoned player takes advantage of being summoned into a boss arena while still having PVP enabled. A trolling player can do things like flat out heal the boss with Miracles, or spam ranged attacks while the Looking Glass Knight charges at the player, turning the fight into a flat out tedious game of "Please don't let the player summoned be a troll" rather than a fun and unique boss fight.
    • The Throne Watcher and Defender have received a lot of flak for how they embody the two greatest things that could go wrong with a Dual Boss fight.
      • Both of them have unpredictable attack patterns, forcing you to wait until both of them are left open at the same time; their attacks don't deal that much damage by themselves, but waiting for an opening can be a chore in and of itself.
      • Even worse, if you down one of them and then take too long to finish the other off, one will revive the other. Given that the standard method for defeating dual bosses is to focus on killing one as fast as possible in order to reduce the pressure, this isn't even possible against these two, so you will have to deal with both at the same time for the entire fight, bringing one down as low as possible before killing the other.
    • Some people consider Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin, the new True Final Boss added to the Scholar of the First Sin Edition to be a step down from Nashandra, thanks to his infuriating habit of swathing his entire body in fire whenever you attack him, not only reducing the damage you deal but very quickly draining your health unless you get away from him quickly, turning the fight into a marathon of running in to hit him when he's vulnerable then running away and dodging his blizzard of attacks until he becomes vulnerable again. Most of his attacks aren't that difficult to avoid either (although they can do pretty spectacular damage if they connect), making him more of a chore than an actual challenge. Just to add insult to injury, you get absolutely nothing whatsoever for beating him other than the right to choose an alternate ending if you wantnote .
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • The Binoculars Speed Glitch, which occurs when one uses the binoculars in one hand, uses it to zoom, then press dodge and heavy attack for the other hand. The result is an incredibly fast run that doesn't drain stamina. The Skywalking Glitch, where after you parry an enemy and then press the roll and attack buttons almost simultaneously to walk on the air and out-of-bounds of the game world. Both of these bugs were fixed in the 1.03 Patch.
    • The Burnt Ivory King is glitched, as he will sometimes pause indefinitely while you hack away at him with impunity. This is on top of a cheesy strategy where you can insta-kill him by luring him into one of the gates that's in the middle of being frozen by the Loyce Knights, in which case he'll get trapped in it and die.
    • Occasionally, fighting Vendrick immediately after killing Velstadt will have him take the same amount of damage he would have taken if the player possessed all of the Giants' Souls. However, dying during this fight resets the damage values, requiring the actual Giants' Souls to deal damage.
    • The Attunement Glitch, which can only be done on the PC version of Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin. Basically, this glitch allows you to swap the number of casts on your spell by left clicking on one of the available bonfires to bring up the "back" option, then going to the attune spells option, and just before the load screen pops up, by clicking on the spell you want the number of casts from (most commonly Soul Arrow due to having the most number of casts). With this, a spell such as Forbidden Sun which is normally inhibited by its limited casts can have much more viability thanks to this glitch.
  • Growing the Beard: The Lost Crowns Trilogy is generally well more received than the base game (which was already one of the most critically acclaimed games to come out in early 2014), even by detractors. From the boatload of awesome moments, cool setpieces and unforgettable bosses, fans can see that the developers put a far larger effort in it than expected.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the first Dark Souls, Shiva was supposed to have a sidequest in which you retrieved the Chaos Blade for him and he'd turn on you à la Master Satsuki and his Makoto from Demon's Souls. Crown of the Old Iron King features Sir Alonne, whose armour set is strikingly similar to Shiva's, comes from the East like Shiva, and will dice you up with something even more wicked than the Chaos Blade as a badass Bonus Boss.
    • On the subject of the Old Iron King DLC, there are three bosses. two of which are The Fume Knight, who has the most literal example of the Dragonslayer BFS (read: heap of raw iron) and the Smelter Demon, who resembles Nightmare from the Soul Series. In Death Battle, there was a duel between Guts, the one Artorias and Raime were based on, and the aforementioned Nightmare. Guts won because of his experience of overpowering those who overpowered him.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: "Great soul embraced."
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Jester Tomas. Armed with only two Pyromancy Flames, he's powerful enough to defeat Mytha, the Baneful Queen all by his lonesome, on top of being able to kill invading players for you no sweat. Some fans have called him the second coming of Black Iron Tarkus.
      • May have become an Ascended Meme in the "Crown of the Sunken King" DLC - he invades the player, and is notoriously tough to down.
    • Heide's Tower of Flame didn't crumble because of the sea. It did because it was unable to support Masterless Glencour's awesomeness.
    • Jester Thomas may kick the most ass, but Ashen Knight Boyd -ahem, BRO-yd- has the most asses to kick, and takes a laser to the face like a champ (while the Undead Hero next to him keels over and dies from the same attack). He's also unusually smart during the Looking Glass Knight battle, making liberal use of his weapon's armor-piercing traits and capable of instantly backstabbing boss-summoned phantoms the moment they step out of the shield!
    • Transcendent Edde is famous among the fanbase through the sheer virtue of being able to tank an absolutely gigantic stone-and-toxic dragon with his face.
    • Benhart of Jugo, for a variety of facts that would rival Chuck Norris.
    • In the game proper, Felicia the Brave is an average summon for the Shrine of Amana, often clipped by the water and throwing herself against swarms of Archdrake knights and priestesses. In Fanon, however, she's ramped up to be an impossibly powerful Dumb Muscle, i.e. "FELICIA THE FUCKING STRONG, 99 STRENGTH, 1 INTELLIGENCE". Up until the 1.03 version update, which turned her into a Nigh-Invulnerable tank that matches the fanon version, able to rampage through a small army of enemies and survive. Thank you ENB for the name...
    • Sir Alonne keeps the floor of his boss arena clean by waxing the blood of countless players on it.
    • According to the game developers themselves, game data shows the Fume Knight to be the boss players have the lowest rate of success against: the odds of him killing the host player are 93%. Only a mere 7% of fights against this boss are successful, so beating him is a mark of sincere skill and perseverance.
  • Memetic Loser:
    • The Covetous Demon, who is generally considered to be one of the easiest bosses in the entire series. It's essentially a giant slug that vaguely looks like Jabba the Hutt whose only attacks are massively telegraphed swipes, bites, and rolls that are trivially easy to dodge, and it mostly just sits there and lets you wail on it as it impotently tries to retaliate. A great many players of the game have never died even once to this boss, and it's almost universally considered a laughingstock.
    • The Dragonrider gets it almost as bad. He's visually more impressive than the Covetous Demon, but all his attacks are slow and easy to dodge, his dodgy AI means that just circling around him can make him completely unable to hit you, and summoning Masterless Glencour into the battle turns the fight into a massacre. The biggest point against him comes if you haven't raised the platforms in his arena, which means he can quite easily be baited into walking off the edge and killing himself, leading to jokes about the Dragonrider being suicidal. It only got worse when Scholar of the First Sin made it so that it's possible to fight Dragonrider as a non-respawnable unique enemy, and at least one can be baited into killing himself by falling off a bridge into the water to drown.
  • Memetic Mutation: A few memes return from the previous game, but also introduce a whole new beast.
    • "Gavlan wheel. Gavlan deal!"
    • "Praise the Sun" returns!
    • "Spin2Win"; while not unique to the Dark Souls fandom, it crops up an awful lot when talking about the halberd's game breaking two-handed running Spin Attack, which covers a lot of ground. That, or the equally overpowered great hammer two handed Spin Attack. It got to the point that the Ruin Sentinels use their own Spin2Win on you!
    • More of an in-game meme, when you find skeletons littered around the world, people tend to leave 'encouragement' messages along the lines of "Don't give up, Skeleton!"
      • On that note, all of the raunchy player messages near environmental corpses in 'risque' positions. ("Try tongue but hole" beside a corpse bent over a fence for instance.)
    • Boulders are being worshiped as if they were the sun. You will find plenty of "Hurrah for boulder!" messages in celebration of the random rocks and tombstones of Drangleic.
    • Sudoku Explanation 
    • "horse" Explanation 
  • Memetic Troll: The Ancient Dragon, if only for how it revels in the frustration of players who died way too often to its incredibly random attack pattern, sometimes taking flight just for the sake of it (and not raining down fire) and crushing some hapless soul upon landing. And just when you thought cheesing it with the Gower's Ring of Protection (invincible if hit from behind) worked, the ring got nerfed in Patch 1.06 to where damage is no longer negated, but mitigated, which is not saying much in the face of the dragon's One-Hit Kill moves. Cue fans touting the fight as a glorified trolling session with the cheapest boss in the entire game.
  • Narm Charm: The Moonlight Butterfly robe set is fabulous and totally out of place in a Dark Fantasy setting. Yet, it's equally hilarious to wear it, then defeat foes that are distracted by its outrageous looks.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: Dark Souls II is the only game FromSoftware have made since the release of Demon's Souls got the whole "prepare to die" franchise started to not be directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki. As a result it's broadly considered the weakest game in the series.
  • Padding: A retroactive problem, admittedly; those in the fanbase who love this game may be disappointed to find out that Dark Souls III barely even brings the events of II up except in flavor text and some recurring items here and there. Meaning that the series pretty much ended with Dark Souls III, even with all the added questlines from Scholar of the First Sin, serving little to no purpose in the overall Myth Arc.
  • Polished Port: Outside of the problems explained under Porting Disaster, the PC version of 2 is a massive improvement over the first one. It offers a wide variety of resolution options, a lot of graphical options, the ability to run at 60 frames per second, and it's pretty amazingly optimized.
  • Porting Disaster: They hope to avert this when it comes to the PC version by inverting it. Essentially, it's apparently going to be built for PC first, with the console versions being the ports. According to Durante in this article, they succeeded.
    • That being said, initially after the PC version was released there has been a tidal wave of complaints in the Steam community review section for the game, including that the in game instructions are for controllers and not mouse and keyboard.
    • There are issues with mouse acceleration, input lag (impossible to do a guard break or jump attack reliably. Also, if double click detection is active, click input lagged considerably, and you have to disable double click every time you start the game, because the game won't remember that option setting properly), low res textures, or the simple fact that the default bind for use object is Enter instead of Q.
  • Quicksand Box: The game is a lot more aimless than its predecessor. It's even possible to miss the Emerald Herald entirely for the first several hours of gameplay. And she not only gives you the estus flask, she is the only way to level up.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Titchy Gren's voice actor change compared to the Network Test (where he had an Obviously Evil sinister baritone) initially left some players slightly miffed about his Vocal Dissonance. He has since then made a massive comeback in popularity due to how well said dissonance goes in hand with his psychopathic, came-out-of-an-asylum demeanor.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Being able to teleport between any bonfire now: good. Having to teleport to one specific bonfire to level up: annoying for some, as it puts a loading screen in front of a process that was instantaneous before.
    • The new healing mechanic. You can use your Estus, which has a slowed down animation but heals instantly, or a Lifegem, which heals slowly over time but isn't interrupted. Now, the problem that arises is that one leaves you open to attacks, and the other doesn't, despite its finite quantity. This means that in a way, the Estus is less useful in combat, and more of an "After battle"-heal. The fact that you have a skill (Adaptability) entitled to speeding up the animation, may drive the point further, as to why it's a scrappy mechanic.
    • The Soul Memory system: it keeps track of every single soul you obtain. Not bad. The fact that this factors into the level range for co-op summons and invasions? People are crying for it to be patched out because it may hinder co-op summoning severely, and also dramatically increases the chance of being invaded by someone way out of your depth if you've lost a lot of souls.
    • Limited respawns for enemies. In Dark Souls, players could infinitely farm areas for gear and more souls than they would ever need. Enemies in Dark Souls II have a respawn limit of somewhere around 15 (or less/more), making it a double edged sword. On one side, it makes it easier to make trips through the areas and to the bosses since all the "junk" enemies have been eliminated. On the other side, players who get RNG screwed on equipment drops hate the idea of not being able to infinitely farm weak enemies for equipment. There are items to bring these enemies back, however, and the combination of a greater number of enemies and enemies dropping a wider range of random items can make farming viable if the player is patient. Of course, the respawn limit is only for some enemies. It's obvious on paths leading to the bosses, but not all enemies are limited.
      • This one in particular is noteworthy for actually removing an Anti-Frustration Feature from the first game. Originally, enemies with limited (usually one-time) spawns would guarantee dropping whatever items you had yet to collect, so you wouldn't need to go all the way into NG+ to farm them again. Now, since everything has limited spawns but you can infinitely reset this spawn count while making enemies up to nine times stronger, these drops are no longer guaranteed. Some of the worst offenders had a ridiculously low drop chance, and required killing the area boss over and over just to have another attempt at whatever enemy held the items you wanted. This eventually became such a hated feature that the majority of these more difficultly-farmed items were made into much more easily acquired loot in the Lost Crowns trilogy.
      • The Scholar of the First Sin update put the infinitely respawning enemies back in... however, only for members of the Company of Champions covenant.
    • In the first game, killing a Crystal Lizard would result in the drop automatically going into your inventory. Not any more...which means that if the Lizard dies and falls off a ledge (which it often will) or you kill it and die before you can pick up the drop, it's lost forever.
    • On a smaller scale, not many people are fond of the fact that you need to use a Human Effigy every time you go to fight the Darklurker, especially since getting to the boss in the first place requires you to first kill a number of powerful NPC phantoms in the Dark Chasm of Old, who can easily kill you on their own and need to be killed in order to open up the fog gate leading to the boss.
    • The Giant Memories aren't that fondly regarded to begin with, but get especially frustrating since each of them is on a time limit, for the irritatingly vague reason that "One cannot reside within memory for long". This time limit serves no gameplay purpose at all, because all it does is limit your ability to explore each level. It doesn't help that the Giants which serve as the mooks for the level are massive tanks that come in groups and can thus be time consuming to kill, meaning you can be booted out of the level right in the middle of a fight, forcing you to start all over again.
    • Adaptability. In the first game, your roll had a consistent speed and amount of invincibility frames depending on your equipment burden, however in Dark Souls II you gain more invincibility frames by raising your Agility, which is tied to your Adaptability stat. This has led to many players complaining that rolling to dodge attacks early game is much more frustrating and ineffective, because by default your character has less i-frames than the worst roll in the first game, never mind the fact that you need to invest several level-ups to gain a decent roll at all.
  • 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 SL1 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: In some aspects, while in others the game maintains the difficulty of the series.
    • More bonfires and the ability to warp between any bonfire from the beginning of the game.
    • 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 (as well as instantly killing you it causes three times as much hollowing as a normal death), and is caused by more enemies than before, too. So it's not really a Difficulty Drop at all, now that we think about it.
    • 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.
    • While you start with only 1 Estus Flask and the items you find to upgrade it can't take your maximum uses above 12, you always get that maximum back whenever you rest at a bonfire, unlike in Dark Souls 1 where each bonfire will by default only give you 5 flasks, has to be kindled with Humanity to give you more (opening you up to invasion) and you need the Rite of Kindling from the Catacombs before you can go above 10. Additionally, you get access to a wide variety of different consumable items that can keep your health up, including a ring that gives you slow but permanent HP regeneration right after the first boss.
    • Equipment in general is far, far more generous. There are only two roll types now, standard and "fat", you don't start fatrolling until your equipment weight exceeds 70% of your maximum, rather than 50%, and getting close to the limit only reduces the distance your roll carries you rather than your actual invincibility frames (although your stamina recovery is also slightly penalised for every 10% of equipment burden), meaning you're no longer forced to agonise over every single tenth of a point of equip weight to make sure you're still able to roll properly. Additionally, you have three weapon slots for each hand now, four ring slots rather than two, and ten item equip slots rather than five, making it much easier to equip a versatile loadout capable of dealing with many different situations.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Oh yeah. On all fronts.
    • There is a covenant called the Company of Champions, that makes the game much harder: you deal less damage, enemies deal more damage, you cannot summon any phantoms to help you, you can't be summoned yourself, you have greater chances of being invaded, and the enemy AI is made smarter. That said, it is optional and it even asks you three times if you want to join. The Scholar of the First Sin content/update will make it so that enemies will respawn indefinitely while a member of the Company of Champions.
    • Weapons and armor have much lower durability this time around, and rings actually have weight, durability and can break. Corrosive hazards are all over the place, too. However, equipment durability is replenished when you rest at a bonfire so long as it isn't broken. As part of these changes, there are now four ring slots and three weapons/shields can be equipped on each hand at one time.
      • The PC version has it worse. Due to a bug with the game engine, durability is tied to the frame rate. Equipment degrades twice as fast on the PC version (60 fps) than the console versions (30 fps).
    • In terms of multiplayer: Hollow form no longer prevents players from being invaded by black phantoms and summoned allies now have a time limit, although for Phantoms this last so long (40 minutes) you're unlikely to notice. However, unlike in the first game, there is no Red Eye Orb (infinite uses), only Cracked Red Eye Orbs (consumed with each use, hard to find, and only purchasable in New Game+ at 10,000 souls each), making invasions far less common outside of special areas that allow invasions through other methods.
    • Enemy numbers and concentration are greatly increased, as are sight ranges and aggro range. It is very, very easy to walk into an ambush, trigger ranged attacks by archers, or aggro multiple enemies by accident while fighting another enemy.
      • As an addendum to this, in Dark Souls I only four boss encounters ever forced you to face more than one enemy at a timenote - the Bell Gargoyles, the Capra Demon (and its two attack dogs), Gravelord Nito and the infamous Ornstein and Smough, and all of them except Nito were considered to be major Difficulty Spikes (and Nito could still be very difficult if you got overwhelmed by the respawning skeletons by not having a Divine weapon). Dark Souls II has HEAPS of gank bosses, whether they're Dual Bosses, Flunky Bosses, or Wolf Pack Bosses, several of which are considered openly unfair. NG+ adds even more by adding extra enemy spawns to some battles that were one-on-one duels the first time around.
    • 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.
  • That One Achievement:
    • The Lucatiel and Moonlight Greatsword Trophy/Achievement which require you to summon Lucatiel and Benhart in 3 out of 4 boss fights. It's annoying for those who want to complete their game first time on a Solo/No Outside Help run against bosses. The real kicker is both Lucatiel and Benhart have to survive until the end of each boss fight for the requirement to count and it makes surviving to end of the boss hard thanks to their Artificial Stupidity. It pretty much becomes a race of how fast you can defeat the boss before they kill Lucatiel or Benhart. Thankfully, the 1.03 patch 1.04 calibrations are buffing their defense to make these easier to get.
    • The achievements for obtaining all of the sorceries, miracles, pyromancies and hexes vary from a bit of a hassle to a lot of a hassle, since they can only be completed by leveling up in covenants (or purchasing some from Wellager in NG+2). The Hidden Weapon sorcery is unlocked after attaining the second rank in the Bellkeeper covenant, and the Sunlight Spear miracle is unlocked after attaining the third rank in the Warriors of the Sun covenant. While it is possible to level up in each covenant offline, it's very tedious and time-consuming. Great Chaos Fireball and Bountiful Sunlight (for maxing out the Brotherhood of Blood and Blue Sentinels covenants respectively) are far worse, requiring 500 points in each, which even aside from the grind involved is almost impossible because of how they work (fortunately you can get these ones from Wellager at least). You also have to complete the Pilgrims of Dark covenant to defeat the Darklurker and use its soul to craft the Lifedrain Patch hex, whch is one of the game's more frustrating sidequests. And unlike the equivalent achievements in Dark Souls 1, they do count the spells added in the DLCs (and there are far more of them than there were in DS1's sole DLC as well).
  • That One Attack:
    • The Ogres' grab attack can come out of nowhere pretty fast and it deals LOADS of damage.
    • The Covetous Demon's bite attack. The Demon is a fairly easy boss, but not if it gets you in its mouth, since that not only damages you, but unequips all your items.
    • Anything that inflicts Curse. It is a lot less annoying compared to Dark Souls, where it instantly killed you, but still fairly annoying: you turn Hollow without really dying and suffer all the things you get after you normally die, such as not being able to summon and a shrinking HP bar, and it stacks. The only way to cure it is through Human Effigies...or praying to the Milfanito shrine in the Shrine of Amana with no Effigies or souls. Fortunately, there are equipment that can null this.
    • The Ancient Dragon fight would be so much easier if not for it favoring to fly upwards and rain fire down on you. Besides the attack having an immense radius, without stacking fire resistance it is almost always going to kill you in a single hit. Good luck outrunning it. Better luck surviving it.
    • The Old Iron King's beam attack is the only one that cannot be avoided by hiding behind the wall. Even if it's blocked with a shield that has 100% fire resistance, it lasts long enough that it will break your guard and send you into the lava. The only saving grace is that he takes a few seconds to charge the beam, granting you a window of opportunity to attack his hand. Just don't run into the beam by accident.
    • The Fume Knight's second phase is host to a slew of stamina-crushing BFS swings that can throw off your sense of dodging, but none more so than his 270-degree sweep, which is agonizingly slow, but is enough to break the pace when all you've been doing in the fight was avoid his attacks at lightning pace.
    • Sir Alonne's lunging stab is notorious not just for how damaging it is or how often he likes to use it, but for the sheer Hitbox Dissonance on it that can result in your character seemingly avoiding it only to suddenly have their character model yanked across several meters to be impaled on the end of it. This can trigger even if you successfully rolled behind the hilt of the weapon.
  • That One Boss: Par for the course.
  • That One Level:
    • No Man's Wharf: There is exactly one bonfire at the start. Pray your weapon durablity, limited estus, consumables, and spells lasts long enough to get towards the shortcut at the very end. The only redeeming features of the area are Bradley of the Old Guard, who'll carry you through one section as a Shade, and that you meet Gavlan, who is Gavlan.
    • Most of the "underground path" you can take to get down to Black Gulch is rather challenging, and is often considered the most difficult of the four Lord Soul holder paths to take on. The Gutter is where it really gets tough due to being a combination of Blighttown (dodgy footing and a great many threats trying to poison you) and the Tomb of the Giants (pitch-black darkness with a few impossibly strong enemies), the two least popular areas from the first game. The follow-up area Black Gulch is also unpopular due to the constant poisoning, forcing you to spend a good few minutes trying to get rid of all the poison-spitting statues lying on the ground.
      • The aforementioned Black Gulch can qualify on its own. Besides the rows of poison-spitting statues, usually on both sides of the main path, to reach certain areas you have to drop down onto often narrow ledges down an abyss so dark it hinders precious visibility unless you have a torch or you're relying on messages left by other players. You'll also have to deal with the Coal Tars, who will always try to ambush you from dark pools of water with a devastating opening attack, likely while you're distracted trying to destroy the poison statues, and a fairly tough NPC phantom. There is mercifully a bonfire near the boss room - but it's somewhat hidden and requires a particular item to reach. If you don't happen to have it, you've got the whole level in its poisonous glory between you and the boss.
    • Shrine of Amana. The area has mages which can aggro you from far away and shoot Homing Soul Arrows. These Homing Arrows follow you across great distances and can even change their trajectory. It doesn't help that these mages are almost right next to each other, so you will have more than one coming at you most of the time. There are also monsters that hide under the water that inflict Bleed, and the water slows your movement speed, while they remain unaffected. And similar to Ash Lake from Dark Souls, there are points where the water is actually a Bottomless Pit. Finding out where requires either carrying a torch, which will go out if you roll in the water and means using up a hand that could hold a shield, or pointing the camera completely down, making it a bit difficult to notice certain enemies and projectiles. This is also the first area where there's a respawning Ogre, who can do a One-Hit KO on an unwary player.
    • The Iron Keep. Lots of powerful enemies, often with ranged support, on narrow catwalks jam packed with extremely damaging and instant kill traps over rivers of lava. It's also home to The Smelter Demon.
    • All of the areas related to the Bell Keeper and Rat King covenants. While each of them is rather short and can be fully explored rather quickly, you are highly likely to get invaded, which depending on the opposing player's skill can make getting through these locations a huge pain. If it's one of the Belfrys, the entrance will be blocked, so you'll have to either beat the invader, or make it to the end, which you might not be able to find quickly if it's your first time exploring. If you take too long here, you might even be invaded by a second player. The Rat King areas, on the other hand, reverse the roles and allow members of Rat King covenant to pull you into their world, where not only them, but all AI enemies will be able to attack you together, and they can activate traps that poison you and degrade your armor, among other things. This is especially bad in Doors of Pharros, where you will always spawn in knee-deep water with two enemies immediately headed for you, with some more enemies throwing axes at you from a higher floor with no fast access. While dying in the Rat King areas doesn't cost you anything, beating the odds and winning doesn't really get you much good either, and considering the frequency of these events they'll start to get annoying fairly quickly.
    • Shulva, Sanctum City can reach this, especially if it's your first time. The area is rather large and has multiple shortcuts, items, and of course, powerful enemies. The Sanctum Knights in particular hit extremely hard with all their armaments, the bugs have gas that reduce equipment durability, and there are poison statues that follow you around and are almost indestructible unless you can hit the tiny creature carrying it. Once you reach the Dragon Sanctum you'd expect a bonfire in one of the earlier rooms but that's not the case. It's a slog making you walk from the entrance to releasing the traps and countless ghost enemies. Many a player generally have a rather favorable opinion of the bosses due to them being challenging but impressive and fun, but the area is held in contempt by most players.
    • While all of the multiplayer-centric areas in the Lost Crowns trilogy have been panned as some of the most annoying in the game, the Crown of the Ivory King DLC adds the Frigid Outskirts which might just beat out the others. Once you get in, there's no way out without beating the boss, dying, or using a Homeward Bone, so your only real option is to get to the boss. Easier said than done. The boss happens to be on the direct opposite side of a massive snow-covered field, through which a blizzard is constantly blowing and limiting your view to a few feet to either side of you. Even finding the boss would be nearly impossible if the blizzard didn't let up every once in a while, though only for around five seconds at a time. Of course, rather than packing in twice the enemies as was done in the first two DLC, this area only has a few. Unfortunately, these few all happen to be Elite Mooks, the main ones being ice-covered reindeer that will continually knock you down until you either deal with them, or they find someone else to attack. To add insult to injury (or more accurately, injury to injury) the boss itself, Lud and Zallen, the King's Pets, is considered one of THE hardest boss fights in the entire series, not to mention a disappointingly lazy rehash of Aava, the King's Pet from earlier in the same DLC- same giant cat boss, only now there's two of them (so they absolutely brutalise you if you can't get one of them down as soon as possible), they heal themselves, and they're black! So rewarding...
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Some armour sets are just ridiculously hard to acquire. The Heide set from the non-respawning Hollow knights requires you to use Bonfire Ascetics just to kill them repeatedly and obtain one random piece of equipment. The Visible Aurous set takes a step further by requiring you to defeat the area boss, and the red phantom NPC that drops it is more likely to yield a Stone Twinblade instead of the desired pieces.
      • The Heide Knight set is much easier to get, minus the Great Helm in some cases, in the Scholar of the First Sin Edition, where Heide Knights are now actually found in Heide's Tower of Flame, they're also respawning. It's also fully averted with the Visible Aurous set, as a chest containing the full set can now be found in the Gutter.
    • The Company of Champions covenant turns the entire game into one if you're trying to get the signature ring, which is acquired as the final reward for ranking up. Leveling up in the covenant is tedious in itself, too, with the item needed for doing so only dropping when in the covenant, only from specific enemies at an absurdly low drop late, or at a guaranteed drop... from black phantom invaders. While you can simply farm black phantom NPCs through repeated use of Bonfire Ascetics, they become incredibly hard-hitting as with other mobs, making this a very risky process. This is on top of making the game much, much harder overall. There's a reason the game warns you that you're about to go on an "arduous journey" when you join it.
      • Although the Scholar of the First Sin update made the Awestone drops much more frequent to make the process easier.
    • Both the Brotherhood of Blood and the Blue Sentinels, by way of being the two most popular covenants, have their own share of annoyances. The Brotherhood of Blood has been considered painfully difficult to rank up in, because to do so you must win duels in the available arena. Not a bad idea in itself, except that losing duels will reverse your progress, meaning that the vast majority of players are stuck at the lowest rank even if they have above-average skill. The Blue Sentinels on the other hand rely on their covenant ring to summon them and aid Way of Blue members. The issue with this is that the Way of Blue is a largely underpopulated covenant, on top of the Blue Sentinels ring just flat out not working most of the time. Their alternative method is to use Cracked Blue Eye Orbs to invade sinners, which are known to be notoriously difficult to acquire in decent quantities. Yet just like with the Blade of the Darkmoon in Dark Souls, these orbs rarely find a world anyway.
      • Worst of all, to reach rank 3 and unlock the final rewards (the Great Chaos Fireball pyromancy and the Bountiful Sunlight miracle, required for the Master of Pyromancy and Master or Miracles achievements and only otherwise acquirable in NG+2, Bonfire Ascetics not counting) you need 500 points!
    • Obtaining the Loyce Knight and Ivory King sets in the Crown of the Ivory King DLC requires the player to first beat the DLC's final boss and then present his widow with souls from the Charred Loyce Knights that acted as his mooks during said boss fight. Depending on how much trouble the boss gives you, you'll probably accumulate quite a few souls just from retrying the boss over and over again. However after you beat the boss you can go back to his arena and fight constantly respawning Charred Loyce Knights for their souls. The main issue here is that you will no longer have the help of your own Loyce Knights while trying to do this, making the encounter much harder than it was before. How many souls do you need to get the Ivory King Set? 50. Have fun.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • While still easily the most controversial entry in the series due to its rocky development, gameplay alterations, and how fast and loose it played with certain aspects of the story and lore, fans of the franchise are viewing it more favorably since Dark Souls III helped clarify some of the lore it added to the series and utilized Vendrick's third option as one of its endings. The added references to the game included in The Ringed City also helped cement it in the lore of the franchise rather than making it seem like the odd game out (including a revisit to Earthen Peak and adding lore onto the Ruin Sentinels, Desert Pyromancers, and the nature of dark, the First Sin, and the Abyss).
    • Some of the game's elements, such as its initial world openness, its PvP variety, and its willingness to establish its own lore instead of relying on the characters and settings of Dark Souls I, have been more well-received in hindsight given some of the criticisms directed at Dark Souls III in all of these fields.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: In addition to maintaining a solid 60 frames per second at max settings on mid-to-low-end PCs this time around, the new engine is capable of some downright gorgeous lighting and blur effects.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Parry timing is MUCH more severe in DSII, and the animation seems counter-intuitive to the way it was in DSI. Basically, you have to parry in advance, and your parrying animation is done by the time you get hit, making it look like your enemy's weapon bounced from your exposed face. See video here. Many players are livid because of it.
    • This went into overdrive from Faith-based players once the first DLC came out, as it also sported a patch that severely decreased the available cast amounts of the Lightning spells. However, the damage of those spells also went down by roughly 25%, along with possible scaling issues with lightning weapons - this was unintentional, though, as the plan was to increase the damage to compensate for the reduced usages. And even though they said "we'll fix that mistake", they still haven't.
    • The change to backstabs and parries. In the previous games, getting either of these allowed you to perform a powerful attack that gave you invincibility frames. This made them a strategically valuable tool in fights because it often could save you, nearly kill or outright kill an enemy, while also forcing the enemy to miss their attacks. II changed them to no longer provide invincibility frames while also making parries have a strange and overly drawn out time window. As a result, performing parries and backstabs are outright a hazard unless in one on one encounters because you can get killed without being able to do anything about it. The developers later adjusted it to give some frames to the player, but players still hate the change.
    • Adaptability and the changes to invincibility frames has been arguably the biggest criticism of the game since launch. Not only do you now have to level up a stat to get more invincibility frames that would be comparable to past games, but the fact it controls things the speed at which you drink an Estus Flask, makes it a One Stat to Rule Them All in a game where players are supposed to be free to make their own unique builds. Combined with the already wonky hitboxes the game is rife with, and you essentially are forced to put points into it in order to even play the game properly.
  • The Woobie:
    • Lucatiel of Mirrah. She learned swordsmanship from a young age so she could move up from her impoverished state in the world. Then things progressively went From Bad to Worse when she became afflicted with the curse. But the worst part is that she's in the process of going hollow. Every time you meet her, she's losing more of her memories and getting closer to the Despair Event Horizon.
    • When you reach the end of the Undead Crypt, you'll see that King Vendrick qualifies. Before you even started your journey, he has become nothing more than a shambling simpleton of a Hollow, wandering his room in the Undead Crypt naked and no longer even aware of what he once was. What is more saddening, however, is that unlike every other Hollowed enemy Vendrick is not aggressive. Either he actually does remembers who he was just enough to not attack those around him or he isn't even aware of his own surroundings. Crown of the Sunken King reveals that he does, in fact, seem to be very much aware of the events that transpire over the course of the game, if his dialogue within his memories are anything to go by. With the addition of Dark Souls III, it's also confirmed that Vendrick was remembered eternally as a failure with an insatiable lust for power, while the person actually responsible for this, Nashandra, seems to be revered on a level similar to Gwynevere.
    • Pretty much every NPC is this, really. With the exception of Rosabeth, who is still human, every character is losing their memories, little by little. With a few characters, such as Maughlin, it seems like it won't be long before they are hollow.
    • The Milfanito. These ladies really got a raw deal in life, having their very individuality stripped away and forced to spend the rest of their days singing to keep monsters pacified cut off from the outside world. Even worse, only two are still more or less okay. As for the others...One was imprisoned in Drangleic Castle and immediately dies after being freed, another is already dead and used as bait by the Demon of Song, and the rest are mindless Hollows.
    • Sinh's backstory implies that he was oblivious to the poison he contained, and was content with the disposition and worshipping the kingdom of Shulva granted him. Of course, Sir Yorgh just had to ruin it and seek his blood, and Sinh's subsequent rampage was an accident he could never control. What's more, Elana feeds off on his soul, perhaps slowly creeping at his vitality.
    • Following the release of Crown of the Old Iron King, the titular monarch gets painted differently from the vanilla game's lore as an Asshole Victim and has instead become a Jerkass Woobie; Sir Alonne's departure is implied to have marked the beginning of his kingdom's downfall, and the drastic actions he undertook (hunting the Undead, mining the entire land to the ground) felt that much more tragic.
    • For someone who might just take the cake, in the final DLC Crown of the Ivory King, we have Alsanna. Like her sisters before her, Alsanna is a fragment of Manus, yet while the others were personifications of more horrifying aspects of Manus's personality like desire or rage, Alsanna was the personification of his fear. Quite literally, her entire existence is fear for how weak and isolated she is in the world. When the time came for her to corrupt the Ivory King just as her sisters had done with their respective kings, the Ivory King instead comforted her and eased her fears by simply loving her, causing her to renounce her original duty to be with him. For a time. At least until the Ivory King was forced to plunge himself and his knights into the Old Chaos to hold it back, leaving Alsanna alone in the world once more, now in a kingdom of mindless frozen hollows and completely helpless to even put her beloved to rest. Even so, she chose to remain and use her power to hold back the Old Chaos, to fulfill her king's last wish. In fact, once you've helped her enough by Mercy Killing the Burnt Ivory King and given her the souls of the dead Loyce Knights to be purified, she flat out gives you her soul, as if just to make it clear how purposeless she is now.
    • Scholar of the First Sin confirms the Last Giant/Giant Lord to be one, or at least Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. He sought to avenge his people after they were captured, enslaved, and vivisected by Vendrick and Aldia, only to be defeated and tortured for centuries until he became the pathetic Empty Shell we see today.
  • Woolseyism: Some changes in the transition from Japanese to English have been for the better, despite the rampant cases of Lost in Translation. For example, the Gutter's original name would have been something like "At the bottom of the rubbish".
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