Hi, my name is Minna, and I’m addicted to Dark Souls games.
I’ve been addicted to Souls game for….three years now? Maybe four? But I can stop at any time. I can!
Let it all out, Minna. We’ve all been there.
Currently, I’m mostly playing Dark Souls Remastered because it just came out, and it’s been so much fun to return to my Dark Souls roots. I will say, if you have the Prepare to Die edition on PC (which includes the Artorias of the Abyss DLC) and are running it with dsfix, which, of course you would because there is no way to play it otherwise with the stuttering and other problems, there’s not really a reason to get the remaster. I am not a huge graphics person and from what I read from those who had a pre-release (read, reviewers and maybe certain YouTubers), there wasn’t much that popped in the remaster. I will say the sparklies added are really nice, though. Like, when you die, the white dust is brighter. When you get souls, it’s crisper. The white fogs are also more lively. I dig the enhancements and the extra noises.
What I don’t dig is something that isn’t in control of Namco Bandai Namco (the publishers. Bandai Namco more precisely, but they used to be Namco Bandai)–the hackers. They released the Steam edition early, and within hours, some asshole hacked in and was streaming himself invading players in the Undead Burg, dropping loot for them that got them soft-banned. In my first playthrough, I went human to summon for the Bell Gargoyles and Capra Demon just for fun, but then regretted it because it was so trivially easy. Of course I got invaded because tons of people were playing, and I contemplated starting over because I felt bad about cheesing the gargs and Capra (yes, I’m that person now), but I continued merrily on. I went to see Andre to upgrade my weapons and, what? He was dead?!? How the hell???
I quickly Googled it and on Steam, there was a user warning that this happened in his game after he was invaded. Yup, you got it–another hacker. I was livid. My hands were shaking. Andre is a very important blacksmith in the game and losing him that early was devastating. It reminded me when I played the first time and aggro’ed him by accidentally swinging at him instead of talking to him. Any time I returned, he would immediately try to kill me, and I Googled what to do. Most people advised starting over, but no way in hell I was going to do that. I finally got enough souls to absolve my sins so he wasn’t mad at me any longer, but I learned my lesson.
I really don’t understand the joy of trolling, especially when you don’t see the results of your troll, and I tweeted about how for me, it wasn’t that big a deal (despite how furious I was) because I could just start over and get back to where I was fairly quickly. I felt terrible for a newbie that this might happen to, however, because it can definitely be a run-ender. I did start over and got back to where I had been fairly quickly. I didn’t summon for the gargs or Capra and did them both in one. When I accrued many humanities and wanted to kindle The Undead Parish and the Undead Burg bonfires as well as the one in the Darkroot Garden (you get soft humanities somehow as you romp through the game), I went offline. I wasn’t having a stupid hacker ruin my game again, but it’s a shame because I love jolly cooperation. However, the messages aren’t working right now, and it seems to be something from the last patch.
Anyway, I stayed up late last night to make my way through Anor Londo. I have vivid memories of my first time in this vaunted place, how miserable and brutal it was. It’s a magnificent area of the game, but man, did it kick my ass over and over again. It’s the third of three brutal areas (Blighttown and Sen’s Fortress before it), and the boss of the area is legend as one of the hardest if not the hardest in the Soulsborne series. They (and, yes, there are two of them) are game-enders, and they almost broke me. Beating them for the first time is still one of my best video game moments ever. This time, I made it past the famed archers in one go. They wrecked my shit so many times the first time I met them. They’re jokingly known as the real boss of Anor Londo, and it’s ridiculous what you have to do to get into the damn church just so you can meet the bosses. There’s some RNG involved, too, as–look. It’s like this. They shoot heavy spears at you as you’re running up a buttress to a narrow ledge where they are. You can time it so you can juke past the spears on the buttress, but as you near the ledge, the one you’re not focusing on (there are two) can shoot you in the back, which will knock you off, as the one in front of you shoots at you as well. They can stunlock you easily, and then finish you off. For whatever reason this time, neither of them shot at me as I ran on the narrow ledge towards the one on the right. I was rocking the Zweihander +10 at this point*, and I made short work of the Silver Knight on my right.
A few nights ago, I decided I wanted to go back to DS III for a bit because I was watching videos on how to cheese the first boss of The Ringed City DLC. It’s hard to talk about them because first there are two demons named Demon in Pain and Demon from Below. Then, after you kill one, the remaining one is the Demon Prince. He will have either fire attacks or laser attacks depending on which one you kill. Most people think the laser attacks are easier to avoid. I agree, but I used to think it was the other way around. Anyway, the cheese I saw involved Dorhy’s Gnawing, the same miracle I used to cheese Sister Friede. I was intrigued, and I had already beaten the first phase of the fight using tips I had read in the forums/guides–which was stick close to Demon from Below (you want to kill it first to get the lasers in the second phase) and smacking that ass.
I jest, but that’s actually a viable strat in Souls game, so much so, it’s its own dank meme. With big enemies, you want to live in their asses. The problem in this fight, of course, is that there are two enemies, and if you’re locked onto one of them (as I am. I most almost always play locked on. I know Souls experts pooh-pooh this, but it works better for me), it’s hard to keep an eye on the other. Using the stay close method, I finished the first phase of the fight, but then the Demon Prince wrecked me soon after. Part of the problem is that I have to expend so much mental energy for the first phase, my brain balks at doing the second phase. For whatever reason, this fight just made me mad every time I faced it. I’m not going to get into that here because I explored my feelings about this DLC thoroughly in past posts, but even now with my determination to beat all the bosses solo, my will was weak.
Back to the cheese. This was my interpretation of it. Use Dorhy’s Gnawing to take out the first demon. Whack the second demon to death, including viscerals. Then, use a combo of both to take care of the Demon Prince. Dorhy’s Gnawing was the bomb. The amount of damage varies depending on bleed buildup, but I reached almost 800 on some hits. That’s badass, yo! I reached the Demon Prince with eight or nine Estus Flasks, and I just took my time. I also used Flash Sweat to mitigate his flame damage, which was a great boost. I ran out of Ashen Flask Estus near the end, so I had to get the final kill with my Onyx Blade +5. As you can see in the picture above, I am still wearing my beloved ridiculously big hat (it’s even called Sage’s Big Hat as a nod to Big Hat Logan). I love that I’m at the point where I can wear the hat I want just for the hell of it and not for the stats. Anyway, I felt so proud when I beat the Demon Prince because it was such an arduous and tedious fight. I think that’s my biggest beef with this fight–it’s boring. There’s nothing new about it that I hadn’t seen before. Two at a time? Yawn. Dude on fire? Double yawn. Really, it’s just the huge hp pool and the two phases that makes the fight challenging, and I was so glad to get it done.
I will say that my observations about a successful boss fight was true for this one. Things slow down, and my focus is strong. The most important part, however, is a little bit of RNG luck. In every boss fight, there is one move that is harder than others (which changes for different people, of course), and in a successful attempt, the boss doesn’t do that move as often as it normally does. In addition, when they have you on the ropes, they inexplicably don’t do the followup move that will one-shot you. I’ve seen this time and time again, and not just with my own boss fights.
So. I started this DS III DLC playthrough with the goal of soloing the three bosses I’ve co-oped on. Sister Friede, done. Demon Prince, done. The last one is Midir, and I am not looking forward to this at all. I came within a hit of beating him with my tank on NG+4, but then he did the ‘let me followup when I normally wouldn’t’ bullshit that is the opposite of the situation I described above and killed me. I was so angry, and I was able to summon someone on my next try (which, props to those still playing DS III on NG+4!), so I technically have not beaten Midir solo.
Here’s my dilemma. Before I started this quest, I didn’t feel any positive anticipation in doing it. I’m a completionist, which is what is compelling me to do this. Now, with Souls games, I don’t play them to have fun. I play them because they are absorbing and engaging, and the feeling of accomplishment I get from beating areas, bosses, etc., is off the charts. Doing this soloing the boss kill run is none of that. Yes, I felt a brief moment of triumph after beating Blackflame Friede (she acquires a name change in the third, yes, third, and final phase) and the Demon Prince, but it was more a relief than anything else. I could tick the box and consider it done. If I beat Midir, then I can put the whole game in the done file. Then, it’s on to Bloodborne and the *sigh* DLC bosses.
See, that’s the problem. I’m not looking forward to soloing the bosses I co-oped on; I’m dreading it. I watched the boys of Prepare to Try lose their minds after thirteen hours of Rory trying (and finally succeeding) to beat Laurence the First Vicar, and I’m like, “That’s going to be me.” I used co-op to beat Ludwig, Laurence, and the Orphan of Kos, and I didn’t even feel guilty about it. I beat all the bosses in the main game solo, including all the optional bosses. When I reached the DLC, though, as a squishy arcane build, I was done. I knew it was going to be brutal, and I just wanted to get through it as best and as fast as I could. That’s my issue with the DLCs for all Soulsborne games–they’re not any kind of enjoyable to me. Even Artorias of the Abyss which I soloed all the bosses my first time through nearly broke me with the difficulty.
I’ve written before about how I feel like the DLCs are fan service for the onebros who run around naked, punching everything to death, which most definitely is not me. I play Soulsborne games to explore twisted and dark environments, to see the intricate level designs and discover secrets, and to have engaging and difficult boss fights that aren’t hard simply because the boss has hyper-armor and a massive health pool (Midir). In addition, I don’t like playing on my PS4, which is what I’ll have to do to play BB again. I’ll probably do it at some point, but it’ll be with a sliver of resentment in my heart, which isn’t the best way to play a game. Still. It’s Soulsborne. It’s in my blood. I’ll be playing these games for the rest of my life.
*Yes, I know I’m over-leveled and the Zwei is boring. It feels good in my hands, and I’m fine with being overpowered. Don’t @me.