Last we checked in with our erstwhile heroine, she was triumphant over her defeat of Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon, who slumbers no more, yo! She had thoroughly trounced the Ivory King with the help of her four Loyce Knights, and she only had one goal left in the DLCs*: beat Sir Alonne solo. Shocked and surprised that it wasn’t the Fume Knight? By the way, the nugget that he goes berserk if you dress up as Velstadt was interesting to me, so I tried it. I cosplayed as Velstadt, and, indeed, Raime lost it when I stepped through the fog door. He forewent the first part of the fight completely and jumped straight to, “MURDER THE ASSHOLE NOW!”, which means he only uses the Fume Sword and not the smaller sword. Funny note: It works if you’re only wearing Velstadt’s helm and not the full armor as well, but I can’t tell you if it’s the same if you only wear the gauntlets, chest, or legs.
Anyway, no. I beat Raime with my first tank character, even though it wasn’t easy. I remember blood, sweat, and liberal cursing for that fight, and while I tried him a few times solo this time around (and did decent damage. It’s just the slow, sweeping sword movement that got me every time), I eventually beat him with summons. I think it was the two NPCs, but it might have been with one NPC and one human. Might I say it’s so cool that these games are still being played? Not so cool was being invaded, but, yeah, I know it’s part of the game. A beloved part for many Souls players, so I begrudgingly accept it.
Sir Alonne had owned my ass every time we met in the past. I have difficulty with the quick human enemies, and he was no exemption to this. In addition, the area leading up to him is fairly brutal, and there’s a time limit to it as well–an interesting mechanic, and I was burned by it once or twice in the past. This time, I was resigned to spending two or three hours on him because I was going to beat him solo no matter what. I dug in deep and stomped my way to his fog gate with relatively little difficulty. I had to laugh, too, because one of the Let’s Players I watch (Super Best Friends, Woolie on the sticks for DS II, Pat ‘helping’, and I’m talking about Pat) was ranting about how he was grinding for the Blacksteel Katana, which the Alonne Knights in the Iron Keep drop, but rarely. The problem is, the enemies permanently disappear after 15 deaths (I think it’s 15), which means if you don’t get that drop by the fifteenth death, you don’t get it at all. I hated this addition to the formula, as did most Souls players. I understand why it was added, but enemies respawning is one of the mainstays of Soulsborne games.
Anyhoo, Pat was ranting about trying to grind for two of the Blacksteel Katana for hours and while he got one fairly early on, he didn’t get the other. The area was depopulated, so he couldn’t get the second one. What he apparently didn’t know/figure out was that the Alonne Knights in this area drop the Blacksteel Katana as well. In my first run, I got two from the knights themselves, and there’s one in the bottom area–which apparently Pat didn’t explore/didn’t remember. I cracked myself up over the idea of tweeting him to taunt him about my incredible luck, but I kept that to myself.
I took a deep breath and walked through the fog gate. I was pretty sure casting against Sir Alonne wasn’t the way to go, so I had the weapon buffs magicks, but no pyromancies. Also, this area is made of lava, so I knew my pyro techniques wouldn’t work very well. We started battling, and I was astonished that it wasn’t nearly as hard as I remembered. He wasn’t doing as much damage (probably a better load out, more suited to his agility), and I was dodging him better than I ever had. I think it’s probably because of my time with Bloodborne that my dodging has gotten better over all, and halfway through the fight, I allowed myself to think I had a chance. He didn’t do his charge-up attack for whatever reason, and I actually killed him on my first try! I couldn’t believe it, and I allowed myself to feel proud for a full minute as I looked around the room.
I beat Sir Alonne in one try. I have no idea why it was so easy this time when he was my nemesis for so long, but I’ll take it. I think it’s the combo of my beloved Greatsword +10, my light armor with really good stats, the Defender’s Shield, which is an excellent medium shield (shout-out to Pat again for letting me know this shield existed), and decent health/stamina. Oh, and a really good roll with more than decent iframes. I did more rolling than blocking on this boss, which is exactly the right lesson to learn from BB. He doesn’t have that much health, and two-handing the GS made short work of him. I was stunned after I beat him, to be honest. I had resigned myself to a three-hour session, and it took maybe fifteen minutes in total.
Oh! I forgot to mention that I took on the Ancient Dragon, who really isn’t a dragon, so I feel better about attacking it. It’s one of Aldia’s creations, and it gives you a Soul of the Giant (which would have been useful against Vendrick, but whatevs). Apparently, in the original game, it was nearly impossible to beat as its fire breath could kill you in one shot. I never attacked it because why should I? I didn’t really consider it a boss, but it is, so I decided to give it a go. I went in with Flash Sweat which greatly mitigates fire damage and the Flame Quartz Ring +3, which does the same. I loaded up with hexes and magicks, but it mostly came down to hacking at its feet whenever it landed. It was fairly easy, and I did it in half a dozen tries or less. Not bad at all!
Side note: One of the best things in DS II is that leveling is fairly cheap, comparatively. I’m something like level 183 and a few bosses into NG+. By the way, totally owned The Pursuer on NG+. Almost got him on the roof (when he first appears. If you kill him then, you don’t have to face him in his proper boss room), but got greedy and allowed him to curse me when he was down to a sliver of health. Plus, one of the grunts suddenly found his courage and was rushing at me during this part of the fight. Anyway, once he cursed up, I was doomed. I got my revenge when I easily demolished him on my first try in his boss room. With so many levels, I can have more of every stat except Dexterity, and it gives me more breathing room all around.
Let’s talk NG+. It’s interesting because DS II is the only Soulsborne game where things are significantly different in NG+. There are more red phantoms (NPCs) placed willy-nilly all over the maps. Indeed, one shows up in the tutorial area. I’m not keen on just adding a bunch of hard enemies as a way of adding difficulty, but I will admit it keeps me on my toes as I traverse areas I know like the back of my hand. In addition, they change up the boss fights in different ways. In the Flexile Sentry fight, they add two ninjas to the fight, which I’m sure is irritating if you’re doing the fight solo, but when you have two NPC, it’s trivial. I also know that the four big bosses give you different souls in NG+ (the souls of the four biggies in the original game), which I’m neutral about. In general, I applaud them for trying to make NG+ interesting by mixing things up, but I’m not sure it’s enough to keep me playing. In fact, it isn’t.
I recently unistalled DS II and reinstalled DS III (yes, I know I have a problem. Don’t @me). I’m doing a strength/caster build on this current run as well, but it’s not as viable as it is in DS II because it’s much harder to level in this game. I just beat the Nameless King with the help of an amazing summon, Hana–big shout-out to Hana who did crazy damage–and I probably have less than half the levels I do in DS II. I need more Vitality because we’re coming up on my absolutely favorite weapon in the game–Lorian’s Greatsword–and my burden equip is going to be much higher. I also will need more Endurance because greatswords are hell on stamina. Yes, I’m currently rocking the Executioner’s Greatsword +8, in part because it gives me FP back for every kill, but I don’t really consider it a greatsword. It’s 9 pounds, and Lorian’s Greatsword is 14. So, yeah, gotta pump those stats. I also want my Intelligence to be 30 so I can use Pestilence Mist on Midir. I would like my Faith to be 35 so I can use Lightning Arrow for the same reason. I also could use the Great Lightning Spear (if I reach rank 2 in the Sunbro covenant), which would also be helpful. At the same time, I need to keep my Strength at 26 for Lorian’s GS, unless I just two-hand it all the time.
You see my problem, right? I simply don’t have the levels I need to meet all those requirements, and unless I grind like mad (which I could do, considering I’m about to do the Grand Archives, a prime grinding area), I’m not going to get them in time for the DLCs. Which is the whole point of this endeavor. There are three bosses in the DLCs I haven’t beaten solo. Friede, Demon in Pain & Demon from Below/The Demon Prince, and, *sigh* Midir. Oh, Darkeater Midir. How I loathe you, and yet, no, I just loathe you. I’m still salty that I got one hit from beating him with my tank on NG+4 before he killed me, which means I essentially beat him, but I didn’t technically. I have a hunch it’ll be more difficult in NG because I simply don’t have the stats needed to slog through this fight. Since my whole purpose of this playthrough is to beat these three bosses solo, I may have to respec for each boss, annoying as that will be.
By the way, shout-out to all my fellow DS III players. I’ve had plenty of human summons, and it’s been so much fun. I love me some jolly co-op, and it’s one way I could grind for levels and rank in the Sunbro covenant. As I’ve said before, I’ve realized I’m a decent summon, in part because I know my role–which is to keep my host from dying as best as I possibly can. To that end, I usually carry a healing miracle with me when I’m being summoned, which can be invaluable. I also know it’s fine if I die as long as my host lives. Finally, the fact that I can do either ranged or melee is invaluable in a boss fight. I love co-op, and I usually try to do it with a boss I know fairly well so I don’t screw over my host. I need thirty sunlight medals to attain rank 2 in the Sunbro covenant, so I better hop to it.
I want to solo the DLC bosses in BB as well, but, man, that is a really daunting thought. I haven’t played BB in some time, and the DLC is the hardest of all the DLCS with maybe the exception of The Ringed City. In addition, my current character is a tank with strong blood tinge, which, quite frankly, is a waste. Blood tinge doesn’t seem to do jack or shit, and I’m dissatisfied with my character. I also wasted a lot of time using anything other than the Hunter’s Axe because I wanted to do something different on my second playthrough. Which, fine and dandy, but the Hunter’s Axe is hands down the best weapon in the game. I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that the only way to properly tackle the DLC is to start another character. *sigh*. My current character is at the Nightmare of Mensis/DLC, and I do not feel ready at all.
At any rate, I’ll be Dark Soulsing it for some time to come, especially as the original game remaster is coming out in a few weeks. Goodbye–it was nice knowing you!
*Because, again, fuck the optional areas. They SUCK.