Underneath my yellow skin

Gaming for my dark soul

so we meet again.
Remember me???

As I wrote earlier, I had a migraine earlier this week. It’s been a while since I’ve had a full-blown one because normally, I can stave them off. I didn’t catch it in time this time because I was trying to hold off on the meds, but what that meant was that I had to take them four days in a row rather than just one or two. At any rate, I had the full migraine for a day and a half, and a residual migraine for two days. The residual is what I usually feel for a day when I catch it in time, and it entails…well, it’s hard to explain, but I’ll try. Everything goes gray as if the color has been leached from the world around me. How much color disappears depends on how bad the migraine is, of course, There is a shaking in my brain, more like a tremor. I feel as if I’m moving in molasses, and I have to keep everything at low.

I’m very lucky in that when I catch it in time, it’s nothing more than a medium irritant. This time, however, it was stabbing pains in my brain every time I moved. I ended up sleeping for most of the day, on and off, and then I couldn’t go to sleep for the night until five in the morning. I couldn’t game at all, and when the worst past and I was wobbly, I only played Dark Souls III. It’s my comfort game, and there are things I can do it in without taxing my brain. I’m in NG+, which means I can have even more fun than normal.

Apparently, I’m doing a hammer run this time through, which is not like me at all. I normally shy away from all the smashy-smashy weapons except the Quakestone Hammer. This NG+ playthrough, however, I have the Quakestone fully upgraded, Bordt’s Ice Hammer (Vordt’s Great Hammer) and the Great Mace that drops from the Cathedral Knights, though it took me many minutes to get it out of him. Gold Serpent Ring +3 and two Rusted Gold Coins later (used sporadically), and the Great Mace was mine. I also got the Black Knight Greatsword and have it +3, but I need four more Twinkling Titanite to bonk it up to +4. One thing I love about NG+ and beyond is that I feel I can play around with anything and everything. I can start pumping the stats that get neglected in NG. Since I always play as a strengthcaster (and I grind a lot), I ended NG with 30-something Strength, 30 Intelligence, and 30 Faith. 25 each on Vigor and Endurance, and 20-25 on Vit. Don’t remember how much exactly. I had 24 on Attunement and am currently at 29. Will get one more attunement slot at 30, then will leave it at that. My Strength is currently 40, which covers most of the weapons. My Dex is a measly 18, so I might put a few more points into that.

In addition, I’m two-handing my weapon more. Even when using a strength weapon, I have my shield in my off-hand and use it liberally. Now, I’m two-handing my weapon and switching back to my shield after I’m done blamming. I wear relatively light armor, which means I’d prefer not to be hit if possible. Back when I was merely a caster, I used to have Strength envy while watching a tank dual-wielding ultragreatswords and doing massive damage. I could only dream of doing 700 dam in one go as I plinked away with my Battle Axe for chip damage. It’s also why it drives me crazy to hear people sneer about magic is the Souls games as easy mood–it’s much easier to smash away your problems than to zing a spell/pyro/miracle in an enemy’s face.

Now that I’m a strengthcaster, I can say with utmost certainty that it’s MUCH easier to play the game as a tank than a caster. Now that I’m a strengthcaster, I feel that’s the ideal way to play–after the related stats are fully upgraded. In the original Dark Souls, Pyromancy was very powerful because you didn’t need any stats to use the pyros. In DS III, there are Intelligence and Faith stats for them, so it takes longer to be able to use them, but having mana (Ashen Estus Flask) instead of a limited number of casts for each makes them much more powerful. There are 15 Estus Flask sips total, and I have it allotted with 10 for regular Estus and 5 for Ashen Estus. Both Estus Flasks replenish at the bonfires. Because of this, I have nearly unlimited mana, and I’m not shy about using my Pyros (and Sorceries and Miracles).

I did a bit of sequence breaking in NG+.  How is that possible? I’ll tell you. There is an NPC, Emma, whom you meet fairly early. In the normal course of the game, after you kill three Lords of Cinder (in any order), you’re transported to her room where she’s lying on the ground. She dies after mumbling something about Prince Lothric and leaves you the Basin of Vows. If you walk towards her (which you probably would naturally), there’s a cut scene. The Dancer of the Boreal Valley drops from the ceiling, and you’re in a boss fight. When you beat her, you open up the last major few areas of the game–so we’re talking the last quarter of the game.

i know you know me.
Let’s never speak of this again.

In order to sequence break, you have to kill Emma before this point. Anytime before this point is fine. She drops the Basin of Vows; you place it in the appropriate place; Dancer drops down. Why would you want to do that? Because you can get the good upgrades early. Plus, you can grind at a much higher level very early in the game. Is it hard as balls this way? Yes. Would I do it on NG? No. Have I done it before? Yes, in NG+. Why would I do it if I didn’t need to grind for the materials? Because it’s fun. Also, because, and I have no idea how someone discovered this, if you go all the way through the optional Oceiros path and make it to Dark Firelink Shrine. It’s an abandoned and ruined Firelink Shrine with only the Shrine Handmaid in her usual place. If you talk to her at the Dark Firelink Shrine and then return to your Firelink Shrine and talk to the Shrine Handmaid thuru for the first time, you get one line (broken up in two subtitles) of dialogue.  Then  she goes into her normal dialogue, and it’s never spoken of again.

“Wait a minute, Minna,” I hear you saying to yourself. “You did all that just for a little bit of new dialogue? Which you’d actually already heard because you’d done it before?”

Yes, I did. Well, not just for that as it’s fun to sequence break, but the last time I did it, I thoughtlessly mashed through the Shrine Handmaid’s dialogue in my Firelink Shrine after returning, so I wanted to do it more carefully. As you can see in the two pics above, I  managed to not go on autopilot this time. That’s Bordt’s Ice Hammer, by the way, and I know his name is Vordt. For whatever reason, he’s Bordt in my brain. The only thing with sequence breaking is that it’s harder to get summons, and for Oceiros, I couldn’t even get Hawkwood because you have to progress past a certain part of the game for him to become available. I did beat Oceiros on my second time, and I only messed up on the first try ‘coz I was literally stuck in a corner.

I did get a human summons for Dragonslayer Armour along with Eygon–dunno why I thought I wouldn’t be able to get Eygon–and it was a cakewalk. I also had Eygon in on the Crystal Sage boss fight (which I did NOT need at all), so I wonder if I can find Eygon’s corpse now. Normally, he would show up in the Shrine after the Crystal Sage boss fight to rumble something at me and then I’d find him dead after the Dragonslayer Armour boss fight. Now that I’ve fought both bosses on which he can be summoned, is he dead? Does he need to monologue at me? I bet he’s not dead. Why? Because he needs to be alive to kick my ass if I dare to give Irina a Dark Braille tome as he warned me. Then again, that same situation would happen later in the game, anyway, so….I’ll have to check the next time I play. If he’s still alive, I might intentionally piss him off so I can fight him again. Yes, I’ve done that before as well. I’ve pretty much done everything in the game except PvP stuff. I’ve bought all the Miracles I need from Irina, so it’s no skin off my nose if Eygon takes her away from me.

I love this game, obviously. It’s quite probably my favorite game of all time. I anticipate playing it for years to come.

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