Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: dark souls ii

Walking away from the First Flame

I heard The Pina Colada Song on my way home from Cubs today, and it put me in the mood…to play more Dark Souls! It’s my Dark Souls fight song, and I’ve heard it twice in the past week. That must mean something, right? I recently learned that there is a second ending to Dark Souls II. Rather, to Scholar of the First Sin, which is the remake/update of DS II because DS fans were so upset with the vanilla sequel. It’s pretty cool that there are still things I don’t know about the games even though I’ve played the hell out of them, much like when I found a mini-area I had never seen before in DS II, but I doubt there’s anything big I’ve missed. Then again, I missed the second ending, so who knows what else I’ve missed? I think it’s because DS II is the least-talked-about game in the series. I haven’t played the vanilla version of this game, so I can’t comment on that. I have let it be known that I think SotFS is a really good game, but it’s not a great DS game. Anyway, the biggest difference is

*SPOILERS*

There is a character, Aldia, who is the brother of King Vendrick. He’s in the vanilla game, and you have to go to his keep for reasons. However, you never get to see him, and he’s more of an urban legend than anything else. FromSoft decided to change it up for SotFS. I mean, hell, even the name is in reference to Aldia, so it’s the first hint that he’s going to feature more prominently in the remake.

In the second half of the game, he shows up at bonfires to talk to you. He gets increasingly smaller every time he appears (which is three), and he’s not human. I can’t describe what he is, exactly, but he loves the sound of his own voice. Then, you have to do things in a certain order (and I will admit I knew this before going into the end game) in order to have a certain thing happen. Does that sound deliberately vague? Well, it is.

In the vanilla game, there is an area called the Throne of Want. You walk forever to get there, and it’s the boss arena for two different bosses. First, Throne Watcher and Throne Defender (a duo), and then the final boss, Nashandra–the queen. You can also kill King Vendrick at some point, but it’s optional (and a HUGE pain in the ass). In order to have Nashandra show up, though, you need something called the Giant’s Kinship, which you can only get from defeating the Giant Lord in a memory. You cannot access the memories without the Ashen Mist Heart, which you need from the Ancient Dragon in the Dragon Shrine–which you can only access after beating the Guardian Dragon in Aldia’s Keep. Yes, I am spoiling the whole end game, but it is under a spoiler tag, and the game is four years old, so I think I can get away with it.


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Letting the First Flame die out naturally

ain't no love like elder dragon love!
Luna and Teo, the yin-yang of Elder Dragon love.

First of all, health report. Feeling a bit shittier than yesterday, but still better over all. Got a bit of snow yesterday, which makes me happy. Got my instapot (yes, that’s what I’m calling it from now on because it amuses me) and bought the ingredients for vegan mashed potatoes and gravy. Will mess about with that later. By the way, let me reiterate how difficult it is to find recipes that are JUST dairy-free/gluten-free, but in this case, vegan is fine. That might be my hook if I start blogging/vlogging my cooking with my instapot endeavors. I’m only doing it because of my sensitivities–otherwise I’d be chowing down on cheese, bread, and pasta on the regular. I don’t want paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian, whole30 or top 8 free recipes. It’s frustrating because I can find gluten-free recipes and dairy-free recipes, but only gf/df recipes are few and far between.

On to Monster Hunter: World. I’ve been trying to quit the game for weeks, and I’ve been playing it less and less as time goes on. I didn’t play at all yesterday, butt I can’t give it up completely. Why? Well, there’s still a ton to do for one (Tempered Kirin, I’m looking at you). Two, they keep adding new content. They just announced the USJ: Gold Star Treatment and the USJ: Blazing Azure Stars! (related) a week apart in which you get the Azure Star loot. It looks cool as hell, and, of course, I need to get the Palico armor set first and foremost.

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Winding down Monster Hunter: World, oh, and yeah, Thanksgiving

femdante is way sexier than mascdante.
FemDante in all her glory! And the Dante Devil Sword–which is actually a Charge Blade.

I am writing this on Thanksgiving, which is a weird day to me. First is the fiction Americans are told as children as to how the Pilgrims came to America, were welcomed with open arms by the natives, and they celebrated together by eating turkey and maize and whatnot. It’s a flagrant whitewashing, and it took me way too long to learn the truth. Christopher Columbus was an asshole who got lost, brought death, slavery, and pestilence to Native Americans, and there was no happy turkey dinner. It’s true the Native Americans at the time helped out the foreigners, which I’m sure thy regretted by the time Columbus was through with them.

In addition to that, I hate holidays in general because they bring out the worst in people. Or rather, they put so much pressure on people to have a certain kind of day, it’s stressful. Thanksgiving and Christmas in particular fetishize families to the point where if you don’t have a good relationship with your family, are estranged from them, or simply prefer not to spend time with them if you had your druthers, you are made to feel like a freak, an unfeeling asshole, or a wide range of other negative things. I feel alienated on a regular basis, and no more so from Thanksgiving to Christmas,

How am I spending my Thanksgiving? Much like any other day. Writing, watching YouTube vids, reading, playing MHW (Lunastra dropped today, which I’ll get to in a bit), snuggling with Shadow, and overthinking things. I don’t think it’s sad, and I don’t have any desire to celebrate–especially as I can’t eat most of the staples of Thanksgiving dinner, anyway.

Jumping dramatically to another subject–Monster Hunter: World. Still working on the Tempered Monsters, and it’s still bullshit that you have to track them to get the investigations. Have yet to get a Radobaan quest, so I still haven’t fought him solo. I did the Kulve Taroth quest two more times so I could get the Golden Shell to complete the Palico armor set. It’s ridiculously gilded and pompous, but I love it. My favorite Palico armor set is from Xeno’jiiva, the ‘final’ boss (storyline boss). It’s ethereal and makes Shadow look like he’s late for the wedding. I really wish I could have done the Kulve Taroth Siege properly, but there was never anyone doing it when I went to dive in. Probably because it’s better with a coordinated team of four, which I don’t have.

I did the Code: Red quest multi as I predicted, and I had a blast! It’s a special arena quest in which you fight one monster after the other. First Anjy, then Odo, then Rathalos, and finally, Teo. I went with pure power rather than any element, and I was the team healer per yooz. It’s amusing to me that I’m a Switch Axe user (Swag Axe in the parlance of ‘the community’) and a healer because they’re not that compatible. I don’t care, though, because I’m a healer first and foremost.

Anyway, with a good team of four or even three (had to do it with only two other people once), we can get the deed done in roughly twenty minutes or less. I know each monster has less health than their solo counterparts, but it’s still a thrill to take ’em down. It’s the best when the team works as one, such as the time one of my teammates set a trap for Teo, set down two Mega Barrel Bombs, and the rest of us set down our Mega Barrel Bombs as well. That did HUGE damage to Teo, and he was easy peasy to kill. I did the quest six or seven times, and I even got a Teo gem from one of the fights! I have unlocked the ability for the Elder Melder to make Teo gems now, so I never have to fight Teo again if I don’t want to.

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Monster Hunter: World, Dark Souls II, and asundry

twice as much fun.
Tandem Bageljuice gliding!

I said last week I was nearing the end of Monster Hunter: World. There was plenty more to do as there is always a ton to do in MHW, but I felt as if I were running out of gas. I’m still playing, albeit more casually (in terms of time put into it). I took on the twin Tempered Bageljuices solo without even breaking a sweat. This is not a humblebrag–just the facts, man. I went in properly buffed. I have an armor/weapon loadout for each monster, which you can do when you have a-mill-and-a-half monies. I update the set whenever I fight the next souped-up version of the monster, and I try to make sure I have Divine Blessing Level 3, Health Boost Level 2 (prefer Level 3, of course), and Defense Boost Level 3 (or higher. I will forgo this for the other two, though). I’m very much defense-based, and I don’t mind if it takes me a bit longer to kill a monster than it would if I were more attack-based. I also had Fire Resistance Level 3 for this fight because the consensus is that Bageljuice does fire damage.

I buffed myself to the max for this fight. I drank my Mega Armorskin and Mega Demondrug, which are fucking amazing. I can’t stop raving about them. They buff your defense and attack respectively by a lot, and they last the entire quest or until you get carted. I got the Grimalkyne in the area, which are the trappers because the quest happens in the Wildspire Waste. Then, I boosted us by throwing a Hardshell Powder and an Attack Powder in the air like I just don’t care. I ate for defense, and then I went to tackle the two Tempered Bazelgeese.

One of the best things about this fight is watching the two Bageljuices go at each other, which they did four or five times during this fight. Not only is it epic to watch; they do significant damage to each other. I’m in the minority (of ‘the community’) in that I think Bageljuice is adorable. I love his podded face and body, and I just want him as a pet. Then again, I think the Nazgul, Dementors, and Ultralisks are adorable as well.

I thought time would be my biggest issue in this fight, but I didn’t even need half the time. My strat was to let the two of them fight each other for as long as possible before they both targeted me. Then, I’d Dung Pod one of them and attack the other. I had the Vitality Mantle and the Health Booster as my tools. The best part is that you can use a mantle and a booster at the same time. So, I’d plunk down the Health Booster, throw on my Vitality Mantle, and go to town on the one Bageljuice until the other one came around. The Health Booster lasts 60 seconds and has a 150-second cooldown. The Vitality Mantle lasts 120 seconds or until you get hit out of its protectiveness, and it has a 360-second cooldown. They are a great tandem, especially when playing solo. That Health Booster has saved my ass more times than I care to admit. Another way I use it is to wait until the monster flees, then plunk it down so me and my Felyne friends can fully heal.

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I’m all about that Souls, that Souls, that Dark Souls

a worthy foe.
I bow to you, Sir Alonne.

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.

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Dark Souls II revisited (but not remastered): The good, the bad, the ugly

the harder they are deaded!
The bigger they are….

I recently finished Scholars of the First Sin (SotFS, the remixed version of DS II, which apparently is much better and harder than the original–which I never played) and the DLC* for the umpteenth time, and I have more feelings about it that I need to share. Standard disclaimer: DS II is the hated uncle of the Soulsborne family. Many Souls fans rage against it and like to pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s very divisive within the community with some absolutely loathing it. Me, I’m more on the positive side. I’ve said time and time again that I think it’s a really good game, even if it’s not the best Souls game. I’ve also said that while Dark Souls is the best of the games (yes, including Bloodborne), it’s the one I’ve replayed the least (except for BB), including SotFS.

During this playthrough, I decided to be a pyromancer/strength character. First time through, I play pyro if I can, caster if I can’t. Huh. Come to think of it, it’s one of the reasons I don’t care as much for Bloodborne. Yes, there is arcane, but magic/casting really isn’t viable in that game. Yes, you can do gun stuff, but I’m not crazy about guns. In fact, in my arcane build (note: I do NOT recommend you do an arcane build your first time through. I’m a stubborn bitch and that’s how I roll, but, yeah, no. FromSoft games are known to be melee-focused, and none more so than this one), I substituted the gun parry with an Augur of Ebrietas parry, which was loads of fun. Anyway, you can’t start as a pyro in DS II. When the classes were revealed, I was so disappointed there was no pyro. You get the Pyromancy Flame fairly early in the game, but it still pissed me off. In addition, your Pyro trainers–both!–are petrified, which means you have to release them from their stone prisons with a Fragrant Branch of Yore. You get plenty in the latter game, but they’re precious few in the beginning, and you have to make hard decisions. Usually, it means putting off un-petrifying the better trainer for a bit, which is irritating as a pyro. In addition, one–Rosabeth of Melfia–blocks the way to a whole new and important area while the other–Straid of Olaphis (the better trainer)–blocks a bonfire and is in a room with five exploding zombies.

One of my biggest beefs about SotFS is that they don’t honor the safe room rule. If you have a bonfire or a vendor, the area around it/them should be safe. There should not be enemies, and you shouldn’t have to worry about getting killed or your vendor getting killed while you’re interacting in these areas. In this game, there are several instances where this isn’t true. The scene I described above is one. There’s another vendor, Weaponsmith Ornifex who is in a similar situation. She’s in a room that has enemies firing right outside, and I worry she’ll get hit with a Homing Soul Area or some such. I’ve had spiders follow me into the room, and I have to kill them while being careful not to hit Ornifex. With Straid, I just snipe the zombies with Magic/Dark, but it’s still irritating and annoying to have to do it every time.

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In Defense of Dark Souls II

all my single ladies!
Me and the girls wrecking shit.

I’ve recently been playing Dark Souls II from scratch (both as a caster and as a melee character), and I have a few thoughts about it. It’s generally considered the bad child of the family–the one that drinks and does the drugs and is disrespectful to the entire family. Many people in the Souls community hate it, and while many people like it, there are few who think it’s as good as the first and very few who thinks it’s better. I’m in the camp of, “I think it’s a very good game, even if it’s not quite up to the original. It’s immensely fun to replay.” I’m also in the camp of, “It’s a really good game, but it’s not a great Dark Souls game.”

What do I love about Dark Souls the original? Sit back and let me count the ways. Also, let’s remember that I hated the original game by the time I was done with it, and I never wanted to touch it again. It’s only in preparation for playing DS II much later that I tried the original again and was blown away by it. I had enough distance on it to appreciate it, and I wasn’t as insistent that I beat every boss on my own*, so it was much more enjoyable. I will say as a point of pride that I’ve beaten every boss in Dark Souls solo, including all the DLC bosses. There are a few bosses I haven’t beaten solo in DS II because there are So. Many. Bosses., and the few that I haven’t beaten are early in the game (comparatively) when you’re relatively weak or in the DLCs. I’ve beaten every boss in the third game solo, except for a few in the DLCs.

Anyhoooooooo….what do I love about Dark Souls the original? Let me count the ways. Before I start, though, let me say that it being difficult isn’t one thing I loved about it. That’s the problem with many of the clones (including DS II); they think the difficulty is the end game, not part of the journey. What I do love about the difficulty is how good I feel when I beat the thing that I previously thought was unbeatable. Whether it’s a hard enemy or a really tough boss (looking at you, Nameless King), the exultation when they finally turn into white dust is indescribable.

What’s also good is finding a way to cheese a hard enemy/boss. There is a boss in Dark Souls II, King Vendrick, who is really…not hard, but sturdy. He has physical defenses that is berserker hard, and you have to get a bunch of giant souls (it makes sense in context) to make him easier. He’s so hard, you have to be able to do a certain amount of damage just to start the fight. I have a special fondness for him because he made me change the way I played the first time through (as a caster, of course). Here’s the thing. He hits like a Mack Truck. Even with my not-fragile melee character, he could kill me in two hits. With my caster, yeah, it was pretty much one and done. After dying to him many, many times the first time as a caster. So many times! I decided I had to get radical. I stripped off all my armor so I could have the lightest roll possible, and then I did the classic, “Stick to his left side and smack that ass!” This is what you do with large beasts, which he kinda was. Since I had my shitty Battle Axe as a weapon, it took forever to kill him. It was much easier with my melee character this time around, but it was still circle around the left side and smack that ass. Anyway, beating him melee as a caster while wearing no armor (since one hit killed me anyway, why wear armor?) is one of my fondest DS II memories.  Continue Reading

I Can’t Help Falling in Love Again…With Dark Souls

I love the Dark Souls series. Longtime readers will not be surprised by this as I can natter about it for ages–and have. In fact, I have to bite my tongue from raving about OMIGOD HOW  FUCKING AWESOME IS THIS SERIES AND YOU SHOULD LOVE IT AS MUCH AS I DO WHY DON’T YOU YOU FUCKING WEIRDO? Seriously, this game changed my life. It’s…OK. Calm down, Minna.

::deep breaths::

This post is not about that, though. It’s about the fact that I’ve been replaying Dark Souls II (the red-headed stepchild of the series) as both a caster and a melee character (both SO fun in their own ways) and something amazing happened. I was romping through Brightstone Cove Tseldora as a pyro and doing the Pate/Creighton questline (#TeamCreighton, yo!). Once I was done helping Creighton kill Pate, I finished the rest of the room, and then…

First of all, some backstory. I have played each of the Souls games several times and know them like the back of my hand. Of the games I’d say I know Dark Souls II the least, but I’ve still finished it at least four or five times (including NG+), so I know the areas fairly well. When I replay the Souls games, I like to switch up spells and weapons I use along with other equipment loadout factors, but I follow the same path of how I do the areas more or less. It’s to the point where I can go into a room and think, “OK, there are seven or spiders in this room with a bonfire. Then, I open the door and there are two bastard mages, five more spiders, and a basilisk that pops up from the ground. Then, Ornifex is in that room, and there are two spiders and one spider-man in the next room.” Sometimes, I forget the specifics of a room, but I know the general layout.

learn something new all the time.
I swear to god this wasn’t here before!

Anyway, once I was done with the Pate/Creighton questline, I finished up the other stuff in the room, and was about to leave when, wait. What’s that? There’s a hallway I’ve never seen before. I know it’s not a patch thing, but how the hell is there a hallway I’ve never seen? I was gobsmacked, and I was fucking excited! Another room? What? I went down the hallway, and then I was in a small room I’d never been, then another hallway, then outside trying to kill a spider-man, and then I fell, and there’s another room with two spider-men and a spider, and what???  I repeated the process with my other character to get a better handle on this new mini-area, and it just fucking blew my mind. How the hell did I miss this my five or six other times I’ve played this game? I vaguely remember seeing a video of this area before, but I thought maybe it was from the original version, and I’m playing the Scholars of the First Sin (SotFS) edition.

No, seriously. How the shit???

via GIPHY

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