Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: dark souls iii

Elden Ring v. Dark Souls III: cage match

I went back to my beloved Dark Souls III to see how it held up. First up: I really hope FromSoft gets it back online soon. Roughly at the same time that Elden Ring was released, it was discovered that there was a vulnerability in the servers (Bandai, not From, sorry) that made BamNam shut them down completely. They’re still not up, though supposedly, they are in the process of going live again. I don’t know why they can’t just be migrated to the other servers–oh, right. Elden Ring is not Bandai–oh wait, yes it is. So do it already, BanCo!

I played both DS III and Elden Ring yesterday. This was not easy to do, I’ll tell you what. The day before, I only played DS III. Because for whatever reason, you cannot cloud-share for DS III, I had to start a new character on my desktop. I was up to Farron Keep with one torch to extinguish. I am now up to Aldrich, the last of the Lord of Cinders needed to trigger the Dancer. Who I rarely have trouble with, but I like to summon for, anyway. And there are no NPC summons for her.

Anyway. I traipsed through the game with my usual character. Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo (with Lingering Dragoncrest Ring to extend the Hidden Body) with the Executioner Greatsword to regain FP with every kill, plus Chaos Bed Vestiges from the soul of the Old Demon King. I normally don’t have much trouble with him, but I was running lean this time. I wanted to use Pestilent Mist, which takes 30 Int. Therefore, I skimped on Vigor and Endurance, which is a no-no.

By the way, let’s talk about spell slots. In Dark Souls III, it’s connected to Attunement. You have to level up your Attunement to get more spell slots. I need five spell slots to get my shit done. Two for Chaos Bed Vestiges, one for Hidden Body and two for Tears of Denial. I use a ring that gives me one extra spell slot, so I only need to buy four. As a Pyro, I started with one Attunement slot (I’m pretty sure). I had 12 Attunement at the beginning, and I needed 12 more to get the 24 needed for 4 Attunement slots.

That’s not cheap at all. And, yes, Attunement also gives you more FP (mana), but it’s mainly so I can get more Attunement slots. As a result. I don’t experiment much with spells because I don’t have the slots for it. I may change it up a bit when I face a boss, but for 90% of the game, I have one set-up. And, it does me fine. It’s my comfort zone; it gets the job done.

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FromSoft hard fanbois are annoying

I’m watching Ellen from Outsidextra stream Dark Souls III (FromSoft, of course). She played the first game for the first time about a year ago with the tutelage of her colleague, Luke, and absolutely smashed the game. She took out Ornstein and Smough in two or three tries. I will admit I didn’t watch all of the streams because it was frustrating. Not because she was great at it, but because she was like, “The game isn’t really hard if you’re thoughtful and meticulous about it.”

That made me extremely frustrated because it’s not true. She, like many people in the biz, suffer from the other half of the Dunning-Kruger effect in that she underestimates how much better than others she is. In addition, she had a Luke to guide her every step of the way. He told her which weapon to get and she knew to upgrade everything. So she was able to use the Zwei by the time she fought the Bell Gargs. And  she knew there were going to be two of them. That’s huge! Having someone guide you through the game makes it MUCH easier.

Ian is doing his own run (which I’m shadowing) and he’s played up to Ornstein and Smough before. Never beat them–until now. He’s been going apace through the first half and still has had a few deaths per boss–and a few dozen against O&S. He’s doing much better than I did the first time I played the game, but now that he’s into the part that he hasn’t played before, it’s a bit slower going.

It’s been wonderful seeing the game through his eyes because I’m so jaded at this point. I’ve seen it all and it’s hard to find anything surprising on my own. So seeing Ian’s reactions to things I’ve seen before has been so great! Like falling off the invisible ledge in the Hydra lake (not invisible, but you have to look down) or his amazement at the big roly-poly cats in the Darkroot Basin. Speaking of roly-poly, there’s his reaction to the bone-wheel skellies in the Painted World of Ariamis as well. He is so chill playing the game, it’s amazing.

Anyway, someone brought up the question of  the FromSofct dev saying the game would take 30 hours and everyone in chat was like, “Pshaw! That’s loads considering you can beat Dark Souls in five minutes!” One person said, “Isn’t DS III beatable in 30 hours including DLCs?” Which, I mean, yes, if you’ve played it before, but on a first playthrough? I’m sure there are people who did, but to see everything including all the optional content? I doubt it.

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I feel it in my (dark) souls

I have not played Monster Hunter Rise (Capcom) today and I’m pretty sure I’m done. I have no desire to play it, which is a pretty drastic change for me because I was all about it just yesterday. Even then, though, the bloom was off the rose. Truly, I jumped into it enthusiastically, charmed by the graphics. It has a smaller scope than MHW, of course, which I actually appreciate. There was too much in MHW and it got overwhelming. Actually, I think it’s more that I’m just annoyed. There’s a ton to do in MHW, which, fine and dandy, but it always felt like I never was done with it. Which, yeah, I know that’s the purpose of many games these days. To get the gamer to play that one game forever. One way to do that is to have endless amounts of content. Which, again, I’m not opposed to. I mean, it’s not as if I have to do the arena quests if I don’t want to. And I really don’t want to. I hated the arena quests in the last game because they are so contrived. I mean, yes, the whole game is contrived as there is no such things as monsters, but at least in the world of monster hunting, they have environments with flora and, indeed, fauna. They interact with each other and said environments, which I appreciate about the games. In MHW, there were bespoke turf war animations that were really fucking cool. At least the first ten or so times.

All of this is taken away in the arena quests. In those, you just…kill the monster. Which, ironically, is my least-favorite part of the games. I know, I know, that’s a hot and unpopular take, but it’s how I really feel. I love tootling around and exploring. I love prepping for the quests. I love crafting armor and weapons. I love petting the Poogie and to a lesser extent, sending the Cahoot flying. I like talking to the NPCS, well,  at least in the last game. I find them less charming in this one. I don’t think it’s the fault of the NPCs, but that I’m not as into the game.

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Falling off Monster Hunter Rise

I was really digging Monster Hunter Rise (Capcom), pouring hours into it as I had into Monster Hunter World, the previous iteration. i was zipping through the village quests at a speed that surprised me because in MHW, I took my time and did quests over and over again to make armor and weapons. And, of course, I had to make armors for my Palico, Shadow. (Raven was my Poogie. In this game, Raven is my Palamute. Always with me in spirit). I put over 300 hours in MHW and barely touched the Tempered Elder Dragons–and hardly played Iceborne at all. I loved the game and really got into the grind. I wanted every switch-axe and didn’t care how long it took to get them. Not even having to get THREE Vaal Hazak jaws. I think? I looked it up. It was the final form of the Anjanath switch-axe, which needs FIVE Vaal Hazak fangs. Vaal Hazak is an Elder Dragon, just in case it’s not clear.

I did all that cheerfully, buying harder-to-get materials when they became available. I did quests over and over and over again until I got all the materials I needed. I did it willingly and cheerfully, never tiring of killing or capturing the mons over and over again.

In between each hunt, I loved going around  the town and talking to all the important people. The blacksmith, the one with the optional quests, visiting the captured mons, etc. I pet my Poogie every time (not a euphemism) and grew things in the garden. My loop in the town took me ten to twenty minutes and was part of the enjoyment I derived from the game.

In MHR, however, there simply isn’t as much of a reason to visit the townspeople. There’s the blacksmith, yes, and the pal blacksmith, who, by the way, is never specifically mentioned. Or if they are, it’s so fleeting, I didn’t remember. So I didn’t know how to make armor for my pals until I asked Ian about it.  That was several hours into the game. I fully believe the game mentioned it at some point, but they dump so much information on the player at the beginning without distinguishing between what is important and what isn’t.

They got rid of the optional quest giver and just mooshed it into your handler. Or in this game, the village quest maiden (as opposed to her twin, the hub quest maiden). I didn’t like the handler in the last game (as did not a a lot of players, as evidenced by the introduction of a new handler in Iceborne who was much better), but at least she only had one job–to handle your main quests.

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More about dem souls

Dark Souls III is my favorite FromSoft game. I probably don’t need to say that by now, but it’s worth repeating. By the way, I’m in NG+4 at the moment and was playing a bit for funsies. One of my favorite things to do is break everything once I’m this far in the game. I just cheesed the Curse-rotted Greatwood with Pestilent Mist which is the shit. It eats away at the humanity of any non-dead creature–including the caster. So ,with the Curse-rotted Greatwood, it is, indeed, a big  tree. It has, ah, shall we say, danglies between its legs. In other words, great big balls. And you’re supposed to hit it in the balls. Pustules. There are clusters on its back and limbs as well. You can break any or all of the cluster of pustules. Once you break a certain amount of them, the tree breaks the floor and we both fall down to our death–no, of course not. We just fall down to a level below and continue the fight.

Here’s the thing, though. With Pestilent Mist (which taken 30 Intelligence and used to be massively OP when it was Pestilent Mercury. So much so, they nerfed it), the tree doesn’t break the floor. No idea why, but my guess is because you’re not actually breaking the pustules with it. But, the thing is, you can do the same thing with pyromancy. With the Chaos Bed Vestiges pyromancy, I’ve managed to also have the tree not break the floor. But Pestilent Mist is funny because you’re not actually attacking the enemy–you’re engulfing them (and you) in a mist that eats away at them over time.

Anyway, I decided I might want to try killing–*spoilers*–the Dancer because why not sequence break? But I also didn’t want to fight her alone even though I rarely have trouble with her. So I went online to see if I could summon someone. The second I went online, i was invaded. I let a tough-ish regular enemy kill me because I like robbing the invaders of their kill (even though they still reap the rewards) and went about my business. I have many many humanities so I don’t mind wasting one now and again. But I hate invaders. But I’m impressed that people are still playing this much later. And I love that I can get human summons with regularity, especially on weekends. Anyone who’s still playing at this point is very good. Me? Not so good, but I’m a decent summon for a few bosses.

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I did it my (bad) way!

I love FromSoft games, but they don’t love me back. Ian and I have an ongoing argument about whether FromSoft games are for me or not. He says I’m the target audience. Someone who likes the game, but isn’t great at them. I maintain that it’s the fanbois who are the target audience, especially for the DLCs (which are as hard as balls). I think we have to clarify which game we are talking about, too. I’m catching up on other-Ian’s (Eurogamer) Sekiro playthrough. I like watching him because he’s good at it, but not preternaturally so. There’s one episode where Aoife from Eurogamer is guiding him through the game. She’s saying you have to learn to deflect and once you do, it’s makes the game almost easy. She likened it to a rhythm game, which I hate as well. She said that you cannot beat the game without learning to deflect. She also said that anyone could beat the game. So transitive property….

It’s the lesser-known result of the Dunning-Kruger study. People who are good at something underestimate how good they are in comparison to other people. Because it’s easy for them. Or rather, because you only know your own ability. So however you are at the games, well, that’s the norm. So people who are good at the games don’t know what it’s like to suck. I watched someone play the BB DLC and kill the bosses in two or three tries. I gave up after watching him apologize for taking three tries to kill Lady Maria. So Aoife repeatedly saying anyone can play Souls games is not uncommon, but it’s still frustrating.

I mean, I do think anyone can play. If I could beat the first game, then, yes, it’s possible for anyone who wants to devote time, blood, sweat, and tears to it. But no shame if you don’t. Also, it took me 150 hours to beat the game the first time around, including the DLC. But, there’s no shame in not wanting to put in the work to beat the games. It’s not easy for many people and more to the point, it’s not enjoyable. I had a Twitter friend tell me she tried the game, but then attacked the Crestfallen Warrior at Firelink Shrine because there was a note saying to do so and now she can’t rest there. I felt so bad because that’s a very important bonfire and one you do not want an aggroed NPC lurking around. She did not want to start over from the beginning, so she quit. Which is completely valid.

I recently watched Outside Xtra do a Christmas Challenge to see who could get to the Taurus Demon faster. I was intrigued and tried it myself. Even now, I take my time and over-level on my way to the Bell Gargs. I can take hours in the beginning bits because I want to make sure I can use the Zwei, which is 24 strength. Plus, I want a +5 weapon by the time I reach the Bell Gargs and/or the Drake Sword. Oh, and it’s beat the Taurus Demon, not just reach him. Luke did it in 11:30 or so. Ellen did it in 14 minutes or so. I decided to try it because it’s so not my style. Starting from the very beginning and getting to and beating the Taurus Demon as soon as possible? Alrighty then.

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Regrettable decisions in games

I love Dark Souls games. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone who knows me. Back when I first started got into them, I played them years after they came out. That meant I normally knew the twists and turns before I played them. I didn’t have a PS4 so I thought I would never get to play Bloodborne. I watched several playthroughs so I ruined myself before playing it. It was still great when I finally did play it, but the thrill of discovery was gone. When I played Dark Souls III, I was playing it real time which meant that I didn’t know all the tricks of the trade before going into the game.

I watch outsidexbox even though I don’t have an Xbox. I started watching PlayStation Access recently even though I don’t have a PS, either. Or rather, I have one, but I don’t use it. They’re both British groups, which I like, too. They both do list videos once a week. One time, on PlayStation Access, it was called Massive Mistakes We Made That Completely Ruined Games about how they fucked up a game they were playing after many hours.

I was watching, half-listening, when I flashed on my own moment in a game where I ruined my playthrough. It was Dark Souls III, the first time I played it. I wanted to have an organic experience so I stayed away  from the wikis as much as possible. I was enjoying the game, exploring everything along my path, when I got the option to Heal the Dark Sigil with the Fire Keeper in Firelink Shrine. This was something new! I had never seen this before so of course I had to do it. It cost a pretty penny (it costs more and more the worse you are hollowed), but I managed to scrape together all my pennies in order to do it.

Before I tell you what happened, let me explain what I had to do to get to this point and what NPC it involved. The ramification of healing the hollowing, I mean. Ok. Try to keep this straight. There is an NPC early on who you can have on your team. His name is Yoel of Londor and he’s a pilgrim/sorcerer. He offers to let you draw out your true strength, which is leveling up. If you’re like me, you don’t notice until later that there’s a new stat called Hollowing. And you get one per level you take from Yoel. Oh, spoilers. Obviously. So after five levels, he dies. Then Yuria from Londor shows up asking if you were mates with Yoel. She’s into dark magicks, which is right up my alley. I took to her quite quickly and she became my favorite NPC in the game. I talked to her periodically and we were becoming fast friends.

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Finally finishing up my endless awards of the year

All right. We’re at the end of the year (nearly) and at the end of my award posts (nearly). I have three awards left to give (nearly) in a year that defies definition. The fact that I am here to write this is amazing in and of itself. I can’t overemphasize this point enough–I should be dead. The fact that I’m alive at all is unbelievable. The fact that I don’t have any lasting damage (that I know of) is a miracle. And, yes, I’ve come around full circle to the word. I am a miracle. While I’m not embracing it, I’m not pushing it away, either. No, it doesn’t mean anything in my day-to-day, but it’s useless to deny or push back on it, either.

Before I get tot the awards, however, I want to say something about Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games because I finished the Jackie & Daria update and it really hit me hard. I did not care for the ungainly and clumsy platforming in the Daria parts–please, for the love of all the gods, if you are not a platforming game, do NOT include platforming in the essential gameplay sections. I’m including FromSoft in this because they LOVE their platforming sections and they’re all bad–and it got so bad, I nearly quit the update. The controls are squishy and there is overdrift in every direction. Having platforms that disappear is bullshit and being able to fall all the way down to the beginning of the section again is bullshit. I actually cursed during this section, which is not what a cozy game should engender in me while I play it. If Ian had been around, I would have made him do the platforming sections without hesitation.

Jackie, on the other hand, quickly wormed his way into my heart. A loud and foul-mouthed, crass, coarse, brash hyena who works as an orderly in a hospital and has an inflated view of himself–one that is clearly just a mirage. He knows that he’s not any of the stuff he’s saying he is and he knows that he’s a piece of shit. It’s funny because I was talking to Ian about dirtballs and how I have a soft spot for them. That’s exactly what Jackie is and the fact that his steady stream of cursing is similar to what’s going on in my brain.

It’s clear that he was in a lot of pain that he wasn’t dealing with.

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I like my games like I like….

Ever since coming home from the hospital, I’ve been relying on old games to bring me comfort. I still dip into Cozy Grove (Spry Fox) on the daily, but there’s not much to do. I really appreciate that they add new content every season and a season-appropriate festival every quarter. I’m eager to see what they do for Christmas, which should be in a week or two. Other than that, though, there really isn’t much to do. Yes, I can capture the new insects and fish, but that’s not really an incentive to play more of the game. I’m not mad about it, to be clear. I’ve been playing the game for eight months, which is good value! And it’s so cute, I don’t mind that there isn’t much to do any longer. I love that there are new outfits for each festival, which gives me one reason to visit during the fests.

Another game that is a comfort to me is Dark Souls III. It’s my favorite game of all time and I’ve played it dozens of times (I’m counting each NG plus cycle as another time playing it). It’s the first game I thought of trying to play once I was conscious again. I was nervous booting it up because I didn’t know what I would do if I couldn’t play it any longer. I think it was a week or so after returning home? Maybe two? Time is fuzzy at this point. This was the first game I tried after coming home from the hospital. To my relief, it was just as instinctual as it had been before. I kept it easy–killing scrubs outside Firelink Shrine–and I actually had tears in my eyes because it feltso good.

Now, I’m up to NG++ and about halfway through the game When I did the second DLC in NG+, there were summons for three of the four bosses. For the first boss, I used the two NPC summons and rocked it fairly easily. Which was funny because I had dragged my feet before doing this boss. I really hate this particular boss because there are two phases and the second phase is a whole different boss. It’s just long and tedious, much like all the fights of this DLC. Except the Halflight, Spear of the Church, which is the boss fight in which the boss can be a human player. This is my least-favorite boss in the whole series because I suck at PVP. The fact that it’s not optional makes it even worse.

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Dark Souls can still surprise me

I love the Souls games. I’m sure I’ve said that a time or a hundred, but it bears repeating. One thing I love about the games is that no matter how many times I’ve played them, they are still capable of surprising me. For example, I’m shadowing Ian in Dark Souls (my character is doing what his character is doing in case he needs a summon). I just killed the hydra for reasons before realizing that means he can’t summon me for the hydra. Whoops! That’s not what surprised me, though. That was just me playing on autopilot doing what I needed to do before heading down to Blighttown. Ian is sat at the bottom bonfire ready to take on Quelaag. I have the master key and can go in the backway, which I shall. It means I won’t get the best pyromancy in the game (Power Within), but I can get it later.

What did I need to do? Get my pyro flame up to +10 so I can trigger the secret pyro trainer in Blighttown. That meant grinding for 12,000 souls to go from +9 to +10. I also want to do the Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo, which meant killing the hydra to spawn the golden golem, killing it in order to spawn Dusk, then buying Hidden Body from her. What I’m saying is that it’s a lot. I did it, though, and then realized to my horror that I had killed a boss before Ian did.

Anyway, none of that is what surprised me. One, I talked about before. Summoning Lautrec for the Bell Gargs made him disappear from Firelink Shrine. That annoyed me because I hate invading him for Anastacia’s soul (don’t ask) and wanted the Ring of Favor and Protection as soon as possible. Imagine my surprise when I went to FLS after killing the Gaping Dragon and finding Lautrec sitting across from Anastacia again! I summoned him for the Gaping Dragon along with Solaire (same as the Bell Gargs), so is the game saying he chills at the FLS until it’s time for him to murder Anastacia? That would make sense. Some people speculate that he romances the Fire Keepers, then kills them for their souls. For the goddess he serves. Fina, the goddess of fatal beauty. That’s why he’s found locked up in the Undead Parish where there’s the soul of a dead Fire Keeper on the altar. It’s an interesting theory and one I can get behind.

At any rate, I’m pleased I was able to murder Lautrec in FLS and not have to wait until Anor Londo to invade him. I mistimed my kick and had to actually fight him, but that was no thing. Three or four swipes of my Zwei+10 and he was gold dust! I was tempted to do a quick run into New Londo to get the Very Large Ember so I could upgrade my Zwei ever further, but I’m not trying to get TOO large in this run. I don’t think levels matter if you play with a friend with a password, but still. It’s tempting, though. If it were closer to the beginning of New Londo, I’d do it. But it’s a fair bit of a way in so I’m going to wait.

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